Sometimes it's the little things that just make your day. For me, it was driving home from an appointment earlier this week, when I noticed that our local produce shop was once again open for business after a winter that seemed far too long (even if it was mild). Our family's been shopping there for years and within the past few seasons they've also opened a community vegetable garden next door, so those who can't afford to buy organic or fresh produce have the opportunity to grow a row for their tables. What I love most about this little shop was open again is the fact that it often heralds the arrival of Ontario-grown asparagus, fiddleheads, radishes and greenery. Ultimately, the beginning of local harvest season means tomato season is just around the corner.
I'm honoured to now be part of a healthy cooking and blogging event series called The Recipe Redux. This event series is founded by registered dietitians (though any health-conscious blogger can participate) and each month centres on a different theme ingredient or concept that we embrace in a healthy way. For April, the theme (chosen by Katie of HealthyBites) is “The First Shoots of Spring” - the tender, baby plants beginning to crop up around us. While a lot of the more commonly accepted "spring" veggies aren't available here yet, the few that are are packed with vitamins, minerals and the innate energy that comes from reviving after a long winter dormancy. Think of the common winter crops out there - mostly plants that are storing all their goodness in their roots, forming starchy or sweet vegetables like beets, potatoes, turnips and carrots. Come the thaw, the energy comes back to the stems and leaves, fueling the plant growth and giving us the treats like spinach, rhubarb and asparagus.
Given that we actually do have some local asparagus now, I chose to focus on it's fresh, green flavour when it came time to find an Easter dinner side. The recipe is a variation on my award winning (and recently published) Sautéed Asparagus and Mushrooms in a Lemon – Thyme Butter, where I swapped out the mushrooms for blanched carrot coins (since we were also serving a mushroomy dish). I also opted to add a touch of rosemary to the thyme butter to pair well with that night's roasted turkey. The flavourful but light medley was, to quote my mom, "a reminder of why I loved the original".
Lemon and Herb Scented Spring Vegetables
3/4 lb carrots, sliced on an angle into coins
2 tbsp salted butter
1 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced finely
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary leaves
1 lb asparagus, sliced on an angle into 1" pieces
zest of one lemon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
- In a steamer, cook carrots until very al dente - about 2-3 minutes. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
- Heat olive oil and butter together in a deep saute pan until butter melts and is bubbling slightly.
- Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add thyme, rosemary and asparagus and cook 1 - 2 minutes, until asparagus is bright green.
- Add carrots, lemon zest, salt and pepper to the pan and toss lightly to mix.
- Saute 4 minutes longer, then remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice.
- Serve hot.
Calories: 82.0Total Fat: 4.9 g
Cholesterol: 10.2 mg
Sodium: 68.0 mg
Total Carbs: 9.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.2 g
Protein: 2.3 g