Fresh and Healthy Spring Side Dishes
Spring has sprung and the color of the season is GREEN. Add a touch of green to your plate at lunch and dinner to boost the health benefits of your meals. For super fresh spring sides, start with the freshest veggies in season. Asparagus, fava beans, fiddlehead ferns, tender spring lettuce, sugar snap peas in or out of the pod, fennel, and spinach are all at their peak at the beginning of warm weather season, so the less you do to prepare them, the healthier and fresher the taste!
Snap off the bottoms of each asparagus stalk by hand. Set in a microwave safe dish in a few tablespoons of water and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, just until the stalks soften a bit. Drain asparagus and spread it on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil over the asparagus stalks. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of seasoned breadcrumbs and a pinch of grated parmesan cheese over the asparagus. Broil about 3 inches from the heat source on high for 2 minutes or until lightly browned.
Sautéed Fiddlehead Ferns
Fiddleheads are available in the specialty vegetable sections of many markets, including Whole Foods. They are similar in flavor to asparagus, and recent research shows they are even higher in antioxidants than blueberries, so they’re definitely worth a taste test if you’re looking to add a new super-food in your life. For an extra green flavor, add them to a chopped salad but if you’re new to fiddleheads, you may want to sautée them with salt, vegetable oil or grapeseed oil, chopped garlic and red pepper flakes.
Spinach 3 Ways
Baby spinach is softer than regular spinach, with no woody stems, and is available just after winter’s chill dies down. It’s lovely and tender raw in a salad with mandarin oranges, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped walnuts, a handful of feta cheese and a light raspberry vinaigrette. Or sautée it the same way you prepare the fiddlehead ferns above as a side dish to a heartier meal like burgers or barbecued chicken and ribs.
Or, for a new take on an old staple, try crispy spinach. It tastes decadent and adds a nice crunch, but retains most of the health benefits of raw spinach. Toss spinach leaves with a little bit of olive oil and sea salt, spread it on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes, then flip the spinach and bake for another 10 minutes or until it is crispy but not browned. Drain on paper towels and enjoy with an Asian inspired meal like Thai noodles or Chinese Dim Sum. Got kale? Swap it in for the spinach!