Find goodness in gardens
“That God once loved a garden we learn in Holy writ. And seeing gardens in the Spring, I well can credit it.” — Winifred Mary Letts
Preparing a delicious life with garden-fresh ingredients is such a delight. Nothing tastes fresher or more flavorful, or provides more natural goodness than blessings from the garden. While this spring has been somewhat suspended by chilly temperatures and a recent plethora of rain, warming temperatures are on the way and will encourage the growth we cooks are craving.
Lighter, fresher food preparations are a hallmark of spring. Heavy stews give way to fragrant soups, root vegetables are refreshed by including sturdy spears of asparagus, tender baby lettuces, young spring onions, delectable herbs such as chives, and as the season progresses, baby peas.
Fresh garden peas are such a treasure, that it is not uncommon for gardeners to plop themselves down in the garden patch, and pop open pods to snack upon. New peas are so pretty, a pleasing powdery celadon green, possessing a singular sweetness unmatched by any other crop at this time of year. Sugarsnap peas are considered to be the sweetest variety, while snow peas and English peas have their own unique flavor profiles.
If garden-fresh peas are available at your local farmers’ market or supermarket, be sure to snap them up, as the season is not all that long. Peas can be added to salads, stir fries, soups, or pasta, bringing bright color and tempting texture to so many dishes. Lightly steamed peas tossed with chopped fresh mint and a small knob of butter are an outstanding side dish with fish. Peas combined with baby potatoes, particularly gold potatoes, Greek yogurt, lemon zest, chives and parsley make for a superb Spring version of potato salad.
Peas can be transformed into petite pancakes, serve with smoked salmon and crème fraiche for an elegant Spring brunch, or whir them up in a blender or food processor with roasted garlic, a bit of sweet onion, salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne for a lively, luscious hummus.
Enjoy this recipe for Spring Pasta as you prepare your delicious life!
1 clove minced garlic
½ cup minced sweet onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
small piece of butter
2/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock (preferably homemade, but organic store-bought will be OK)
½ package low-fat cream cheese (4 ounces)
½ cup low-fat ricotta cheese
half-pound of pasta (a wider noodle is nice for this)
1 cup fresh green peas (or frozen baby peas)
2 cups asparagus tips (save rest of spears for soup or stir-fry)
pinch of sea salt
good grinding of fresh black pepper
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 ½ tablespoons minced chives
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
In a good-sized saute pan, saute garlic and onion in butter and olive oil until translucent. Do not over-cook. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat a little and add cream cheese and ricotta cheese. Whisk until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
In a separate pot, cook pasta until almost done. Drain pasta, but reserve one cup of the water first. Add pasta to saute pan and stir until coated with cream cheese mixture. Add a bit of cooking water if mixture is too dry. (You do not have to use the whole cup of water) Add asparagus tips and peas and stir together for 2 minutes, just until asparagus and peas are barely cooked, tossing well to combine. Taste and season again with salt and pepper if desired. Serve pasta, sprinkling each serving with chives, parsley and lemon zest.
Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook”, is a passionate food and wellness professional who earned her certification in holistic health counseling from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teacher’s College. She earned her cooking experience in the kitchen! Robin specializes in teaching healthy cooking classes to children and adults utilizing, fresh, natural ingredients and simple, delicious recipes. She conducts cooking demonstrations for many local organizations and is available for cooking parties and private instruction as well. For more information go to www.theconsciouscook.net. Robin’s blog is confessionsofaconsciouscook.blogspot.com.