Vegetables to Enjoy in the Spring, Three Recipes

Asparagus. Photo: pexels.com.

Spring is a wonderful time to enjoy fresh vegetables. Packed with vitamins, nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, vegetables are an important component of a healthy lifestyle. Among the seasonal vegetables to enjoy are asparagus, artichokes, and okra (bamies).

Simply prepared, these vegetables are wonderful as side dishes to almost any main course and are delicious on their own for a vegetarian feast. Greek traditional recipes often let the flavors of the vegetables shine with just a drizzle of olive oil, some salt and pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Vegetables stewed in tomato sauce are also popular in Greek cuisine and highlight the seasonal favorites.

Grilled Asparagus

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus
  • Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • Greek sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lemon

Trim the tough ends of the asparagus, then wash the asparagus and pat dry with a paper towel. Season the asparagus with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Place the asparagus on a preheated grill outdoors or grill pan on the stove over high heat for 2-3 minutes or to desired doneness, turning every now and then to avoid burning. Remove the asparagus from the grill and place on a serving dish, drizzle with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and serve immediately.

Artichokes

  • 6 fresh artichokes
  • Greek sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • Spicy brown mustard

Trim off the thorny ends of the artichokes with a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Remove the tough outer leaves and trim the tough outer portion of the stems a little, leaving as much of the stem intact as possible.

Artichokes. Photo: pexels.com

Place the artichokes in a large, deep pot, fill with enough water to cover and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the artichokes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until a leaf pulled from one of the artichokes comes off easily. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature with additional lemon juice, if desired, and/or spicy brown mustard for dipping.

Stewed Okra (Bamies Yiachni)

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 can (28 oz.) whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes or 5-6 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • Greek sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 packages (15 oz. each) frozen okra (bamies)

In a large deep pot, heat the oil over medium high heat until it shimmers. Add the diced onion and a dash of salt and sauté until translucent. Then, add the chopped tomatoes, two cups of water, 1 teaspoon salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer until the sauce is reduced slightly, for about 20 minutes. Rinse the okra with cool water and add to the sauce. Simmer until the okra are cooked about 20 minutes. Test for doneness and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Serve warm with roasted chicken as a side dish or with cooked rice for a vegetarian main course.

Okra (bamies) stewed with tomatoes. Photo by Eleni Sakellis