Spring fruit and vegetables: add a bit of sunshine to your dishes!
Spring food to smile about
Did you know that spring vegetables are also sometimes known as young or early vegetables? These names suit them well as they are the very first open-field vegetables produced each year. These crunchy and tasty veggies are to be found fairly easily on local market stalls and in supermarkets. Want to add a taste of sunshine to your dishes? Here are a few tips to take a bite out of spring !
Choosing the stars of the season
It’s time to say goodbye to the cabbages, leeks and winter squash which helped us to fill up on nutrients in the face of winter. In spring, you can colour your dishes by adding lettuce, radishes, asparagus, peas, peppers, artichokes to your recipes. Harvested as soon as the first rays of sun grace the fields, these soft-fleshed vegetables are rich in water, very easy to digest and offer lots of nutritional benefits. For dessert, there are many spring fruits including rhubarb and in particular strawberries, which everyone loves, children included. !
Relying on local produce
With the arrival of the good weather, fruits and vegetables begin to grow again in abundance in our temperate regions. No more excuses for not eating local produce. Relying on food produced near you is good for the planet because you are reducing the consumption of energy for long-distance transportation. Plus, you’re helping small producers in these difficult times. In France, there are organisations such as AMAPs (Associations for the Preservation of Small-Scale Farming) and food box schemes set up by producers to help continuing the flow of production, despite the restrictions on markets and the restaurant industry.
Take the right steps to preserve freshness
Early vegetables are harvested before they reach full maturity, which is why they have that mild and slightly sweet flavour. With a high-water content, they are also fragile and become shrivelled faster than other vegetables that spent more time in the ground. To keep them fresh, buy them gradually, so you only keep them for a few days in the refrigerator’s vegetable drawer. Cook them soon after purchase and freeze them if necessary. In terms of cooking, stewing or steaming the vegetables is the best way to preserve their flavours and nutritional benefits.
Take care of bodies and minds !
Kneading, smelling, tasting... Cooking brings all our senses to life. And while it’s good for our bodies, it also nourishes our minds! Convinced of the meditative values of cooking, several American researcher groups have set up treatments proving that time spent in the kitchen can help reduce their patients’ anxiety. According to the researchers, following a recipe step by step, carefully chopping vegetables and arranging food nicely on a plate helps us concentrate and let go of anxious thoughts and leaves us soothed and relaxed. Another important benefit is that making a dish and treating your loved ones (and your tummy) is a great boost to your self-esteem. Just what you need in times of lockdown and social distancing!! !!
Enjoy the summer
It's time to say goodbye to stews, soups, and such comfort food, which to be honest, take quite a bit of time to prepare! Now, we can tuck into spring by choosing foods which are lighter and simpler to prepare. Not only does this allow us the time to go outside, when heated too much, fruit and vegetables lose their taste but also their vitamin and mineral content, which aid in boosting our metabolism and immune defences. Asparagus will be perfect as a tartare or simply seared, with succulent carrots and peas cooked for just a minute. As for strawberries, its best to pick the British-grown varieties and they can be enjoyed as they are, with just a dollop of homemade whipped cream or chocolate ice-cream, if you like.
Green asparagus carpaccio
Rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre, green asparagus can also be eaten raw. Here is a fresh and elegant starter, made in two stages, with four simple steps. .
Ingredients for 4 people
500 g green asparagus
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp mustard
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp chives, finely chopped
1 block of parmesan
Ground salt and pepper
1. Wash the asparagus. Cut off the tough part of the stalks. Lay them flat and cut them into ribbons lengthwise using a peeler or a mandolin.
2. Make a vinaigrette dressing by mixing the olive oil, lemon, mustard, salt and pepper. Add the chopped chives to the vinaigrette.
3. Put the asparagus on a plate and cover with the vinaigrette before placing in the refrigerator for an hour.
4. Once out of the refrigerator, garnish the dish with some parmesan shavings. It’s ready to eat! !
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