Goodbye Root Veggies, Hello Spring Greens!
Peas, Spinach & Asparagus Delicious & Nutritious
Spring means tulips, little league, and fresh, tasty green vegetables. This week Savvy Vegetarian and the letter “D” (for delicious) bring you three of our favorite spring vegetables: Peas, spinach, and asparagus.
In addition to being delicious, peas, spinach, and asparagus are brimming with Vitamins and Minerals!
Frozen peas are available year round so many people don’t realize that peas are in fact a spring vegetable. Gardeners know that peas can be planted long before the last frost. They are truly the first veggies of spring.
The freshest peas are those that you pick from your garden, but peas from the farmers’ market are a close second. Your children will love shelling them with you. If you can’t find fresh peas, don’t worry. Frozen peas are frozen fresh off the vine, and will make a good substitute. Just make sure you don’t overcook them for the best taste.
Peas are an excellent source of Vitamin C, iron, protein, folate, and more. Snap peas and Snow peas can be eaten raw in a vegetable platter served with a vegetarian dip or in a green salad. Snow peas are also delicious in stir fries.
Basic garden peas must be shelled before eating, try them in Indian Cabbage & Green Peas or Cumin Flavored Peas & Carrots.
For most of the year asparagus is expensive and not very tasty. This is because it is shipped from far away and was generally harvested a long time before it hits your plate. Fresh asparagus is divine, old asparagus not so much. Spring is the best time to get really good, in season asparagus.
Make sure you select firm, brightly colored stalks with tightly closed ends for best flavor. While you can get it at any grocery store this time of the year, farmers’ markets may have a wider selection of different varieties for more adventurous asparagus eaters.
Eating asparagus is a great way to get iron, Vitamin K, magnesium, and zinc. Keep it simple by serving Simple Steamed Asparagus drizzled with lemon and melted butter or add it to pasta salad.
Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse with 638% DV of Vitamin A, 159% DV of Vitamin C, 34% DV of calcium, 51% DV of iron, and 10 grams of protein in one bunch, which equals about one cup cooked.
Unfortunately the oxalic acid in spinach can interfere with the absorption of calcium and iron, which means spinach should not be considered a great source of either one. Cooking or pairing spinach with Vitamin C rich foods can lessen the effects of the oxalic acid.
Fresh spinach is available year round and really good spinach is available locally every spring, so there is no excuse for buying those brown/green blocks of stuff that they call frozen spinach. When buying spinach, avoid leaves that are yellow or showing signs of becoming slimy. Leaves should be crisp and brightly colored.
Bunches of full grown spinach are generally cheaper than the bags of prewashed baby spinach but require very thorough washing and stemming and are not ideal for salads. Time constraints and what you are using the spinach for will determine what type of spinach you buy. Bunched spinach works well in dishes calling for cooked spinach.
Spinach is very versatile and can be used in Spinach Salad, dips like Spinach Dip, soups like Double Green Cream Soup which also has asparagus in it and, delicious vegan versions of spinach classics, like Spinach Tofu Calzones and Spinach Tofu Quiche.
So what are you waiting for, veggie lovers? Get cooking some of these delicious vegan and vegetarian pea, spinach, and asparagus dishes, and dig in!
Sarah Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian