Spring 2014 Newsletter
After a long winter, there’s nothing quite like stepping outside to a spring of new growth and vibrant colors (and, well, quite frankly the desire and ability to just step outside!). Among all of that verdant new flora is some amazing produce just waiting to be picked.
So, for this edition of Hot Dish!, we’ve put together a list of a few of spring’s best (and often overlooked) seasonal fruits and vegetables, including what they bring to the table in terms of nutrition, how to pick and store them, and some of the best ways they can be used.
A great source of fiber, folate, and vitamins
A, C, E, and K, asparagus is also packed
with antioxidants (which may help slow the aging process).
Asparagus should be used as quickly as possible after harvesting, to avoid loss of
flavor. When buying, choose bright green,
firm stalks with tightly closed tips.
To store, wrap the ends of the stalks in wet paper towel and put in a plastic bag. Store in the refrigerator for up to three or four days.
Asparagus is super simple to cook, but it’s
also easy to overcook, which adversely affects its color and nutritional value.
Roast asparagus by placing on a baking sheet, drizzling with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and cooking at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes. Toss a couple of times during cooking.
OR cook asparagus on the stove-top by placing spears in a large skillet and topping them with about an inch of lightly salted water. Bring the water to a simmer, and cook, covered, for about 3-5 minutes.
This versatile green can be used in everything from salads and sandwiches to soups or sauces, and is one of the most nutrient-packed vegetables out there. It’s an excellent source of vitamins A and C, as well as calcium.
Choose green watercress free of any yellow areas or torn, bruised, or slippery stems. To store, place in a plastic bag along with a paper towel (to absorb any excess moisture), leave the bag slightly open, and place in the vegetable crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
To prolong storage for up to five days, place the watercress in a glass of water, keeping all leaves dry, and cover loosely with a plastic bag. Replace the water daily.
To use, add to sandwiches or salads for a light, peppery component, or chop into small pieces to add to a vegetable soup. You can also add watercress to smoothies, juices, or even an omelet or stir-fry.
These small (and often overlooked) fruits are high in fiber, water, and vitamins A and C. They are also a good source of potassium.
Because apricots are also higher in sugar than some of their fruity counterparts, it’s best to choose the fresh version versus the dried one (when water is removed from the dried apricots, it actually increases the content of all other nutrients, including sugar). But that also makes it a great substitute for a higher-calorie sweet snack or dessert.
When buying, choose apricots that are firm to the touch and uniform in color (which should be a deep orange or yellowish-orange). Store them at room temperature until they are ripe, and then inside a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 3-5 days after that.
Use them in pies and cobblers, serve with pork or poultry, or cook them fresh and store them as preserves.
You can also poach apricots. Start by cleaning and cutting them into halves. Remove the pits, but leave the peel intact. Place them into a medium-sized saucepan and cover with water. You can add cloves, cinnamon, or other spices to the saucepan with the apricots. Poach them for about eight minutes or until they are very tender (soft when pressed with a spoon, but not falling apart). Remove them from the poaching liquid and serve them warm.
They may be small in size, but peas pack a big nutritional punch. In fact, they contain nearly twice the amount of protein as most vegetables, which also makes them an ideal substitute for fattier proteins. They are also an excellent source of vitamin C, and contain decent amounts of vitamin A, folate, and fiber.
Choose medium-sized pods that are firm, bright green, and show no decay or wilting. To store, place in a perforated plastic bag for 3-5 days. Don’t shell them until immediately before you use them.
Fresh peas can be added to green salads or eaten raw as a snack. Or try cooking them with stir-fry or adding them to rice or potato mixtures.
To steam the peas, first remove the pods. Add enough water to the bottom of a saucepan that it sits below a steamer basket when placed in the pot. Bring to a full boil.
Place the fresh peas in the steamer basket, and place the basket into the saucepan, over the boiling water. Cover and allow to cook for around two minutes. When done, the peas should be crisp-tender and bright green. Remove from basket, season with salt and pepper, and add a little butter for additional flavor.
© 2014. A publication of Quintessential Quilt Media. No portion may be reproduced without the expressed written consent of Quilts, Inc.