2015-05-08 / Columns

Cooking on Purpose

Finally, fresh spring vegetables hit markets
By Connie Wendell Special to the Post

It’s been spring for a while, but it finally feels and looks like spring. There are buds on the trees, crocus and daffodils in the garden and all sorts of green shoots popping up everywhere.

There are fresh spring vegetables in the market – a very welcome sight. With all these new beginnings, it’s time to try some new recipes. I’m sharing a few that I have tried lately, I hope you find them as delicious as I do.

Roasted asparagus and tomato penne salad with goat cheese

2 cups uncooked penne; 12 asparagus spears; 12 cherry tomatoes; 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided; salt and pepper to taste; 1 tablespoon minced shallots; 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice; 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard; 1 teaspoon dried herbs de Provence; 1 ½ teaspoons honey; ½ cup pitted kalamata olives, halved; 2 cups baby arugula; and ½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain and set aside.

Place asparagus and tomatoes on a jellyroll pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat; arrange asparagus and tomato mixture in a single layer. Bake at 400 degrees for six minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Remove asparagus from pan. Place pan back in the oven and bake tomatoes an additional 4 minutes. Remove tomatoes from pan; let asparagus and tomatoes stand 10 minutes. Cut asparagus into 1-inch lengths; halve tomatoes.

Combine shallots, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, herbs de Provence and honey in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons oil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in salt and pepper.

Place pasta, asparagus, tomato, olives and arugula in a large bowl; toss. Drizzle juice mixture over pasta mixture; toss. Sprinkle with cheese.

Tip: to crumble goat cheese, freeze for 10 minutes and then flake with a fork.

Serves four.

Spinach and feta quiche with quinoa crust

Crust: 2 cups cooked quinoa, chilled; ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; 1 large egg, beaten; cooking spray

Filling: 1 teaspoon canola oil; ½ onion, thinly sliced; 1 (5 ounce) bag baby spinach; ½ cup low-fat milk; ½ teaspoon kosher salt; ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper; ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper; 4 large eggs; 2 large egg whites; and 1 ½ ounces feta cheese.

For the crust, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine quinoa, pepper and egg in a bowl, stirring well. Press mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees. for 20 minutes. Cool.

For the filling, heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil and onion, sauté 3 minutes. Add spinach, sauté three minutes. Remove from heat. Cool.

Combine milk, salt, pepper, red pepper, eggs and egg whites in a bowl, stir with a whisk.

Arrange spinach mixture in crust, pour egg mixture over spinach. Sprinkle with feta. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Cut into four wedges.

Serves four.

Lemony snap peas

8 cups water; 12 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed; ½ teaspoon grated lemon rind; 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice; 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil; 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard; ½ teaspoon sugar; ¼ teaspoon salt; ¼ teaspoon black pepper; and 1 shallot, minced.

Bring eight cups water to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Add peas; cook 30 seconds or until crisp tender. Drain and plunge into ice water, drain. Slice half of peas diagonally.

Combine lemon rind, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, sugar, salt, pepper and shallots in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk. Add peas and toss to coat.

Serves four.

Happy spring. Until next time, keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com.

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