Fresh Spring Vegetables and a Salad to Enjoy

Green Salad with Farro and Roasted Beets. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Spring is a wonderful time to enjoy fresh vegetables and salads. Full of vitamins, phytonutrients, fiber, and anti-oxidants, vegetables offer a wide variety of health benefits, including lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes, and lowering the risk of certain cancers. The nutrients of certain vegetables are more easily absorbed when lightly cooked while others can be enjoyed raw. Farro is an ancient grain with a nutty flavor similar to brown rice. Rich in fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A, B, C, and E, true farro is Triticum dicoccum, also known as emmer. Try the following recipes for a healthy addition to any meal.

Green Salad with Farro and Roasted Beets

6 medium-sized golden beets, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

4 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon Greek sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 package (10 oz.) about 4 cups baby mixed greens, baby arugula or baby spinach

2 1/4 cups farro

2 bay leaves

6 cups water

4 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

A pinch of Greek sea salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the beets in a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper. Stir to coat completely. Roast in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until tender. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, in a large deep pot or Dutch oven, bring the water, farro, and bay leaves up to boil over medium heat, reduce to a simmer and cook until the farro is al dente about 25 minutes and season with a generous pinch of salt about halfway through the cooking process. Allow the cooked farro to cool slightly, then drain, and transfer to a large serving bowl. Discard the bay leaves. Add the washed greens, the cooked beets, the olive oil, red wine vinegar, dill, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat completely and enjoy. Grilled asparagus may also be added to the salad. The recipe follows.

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, or cut into bite-sized pieces and add to the salad.

Artichokes

Artichokes. Photo: pexels.com

6 fresh artichokes

Greek sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

Greek extra virgin olive oil

1 fresh lemon

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. 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. The cooked artichoke hearts can also be cut into bite-sized pieces and added to the above-mentioned salad recipe.

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