Each year I anticipate Spring with glee as it marks the beginning of nature’s harvest. Asparagus, artichokes, peas, fiddleheads, fava beans and beets are a few of the first produce to usher in the season, followed by leeks, rhubarb, strawberries, new potatoes and many others. Some of these produce can be found year round; however, Spring is the preferred time of the season to harvest vegetables such as artichokes, spring onions, and haricot vert to name a few. With each new harvest emerging in your nearest grocery store and Farmer’s market, I thought I would contribute a collection of recipes to give you ideas and inspiration on ways to prepare them. Do not limit yourself to old favorites. Step out of your comfort zone and try an array of vegetables. You may be surprise at what you have been missing. Enjoy!

Spinach and Asparagus Bake

1/2 c olive oil
3 leek stalks (white and pale green parts only), trimmed, rinsed thoroughly to remove grit and finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 pounds baby spinach, washed, dried and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
3 cups coarsely grated potatoes
*2 cups grated sharp cheddar, divided
1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
*1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon each pepper and sugar


Preheat oven to 350º F.

Heat large saute pan over medium-high heat with olive oil. Add leeks, saute approximately 2-3 minutes until soft. Add garlic and asparagus. Saute for 2 minutes. Next add spinach; saute until liquid begin to evaporate, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in herbs and seasoning and simmer for another 5 minutes. Drain in colander and transfer to mixing bowl.

Spread grated potatoes in a 11 x 11 greased baking dish. Sprinkle 2/3 cups grated sharp cheddar in baking dish. Stir remaining 1 1/3 cup cheddar and heavy cream into vegetables. Spread vegetable mixture on top of potatoes and top with 1 cup feta.

Bake in oven for 40-45 minutes or until top turns golden brown. Remove and let sit 30 minutes before serving.

*For a skinnier version, use low fat cheddar and replace heavy cream with non-fat half-and-half.

Serves 6 as a main dish or 9 side dishes

Spring Vegetable Quinoa Pilaf

Quinoa has become one of my go-to grains for complex carbs and protein. I love the chewy nutty flavor this grain imparts. I borrowed this recipe from Epicurious with one change. I toasted the quinoa prior to boiling as it brings out the nutty flavor in the grain. This makes a great vegetarian entree.

1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cups frozen petite peas, thawed and divided
5 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves, divided
1 garlic clove, smashed
3 tablespoon butter
1 large leek (white and pale green parts only) halved and thinly sliced
3/4 cup sliced shallots
8 ounces shitake mushrooms, stemmed and thickly sliced
14 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces


Toast quinoa in nonstick skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring 2 1/2 cups water to boil in small saucepan. Add quinoa and 1 teaspoon salt; return to boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender and water is absorbed, 15 to 17 minutes. Drain if necessary.

Puree broth, 1 cup peas, 4 tablespoons mint, and garlic in blender until smooth
In same skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; saute until slightly brown on edges then add leek and shallots. Continue to sauté until soft and light brown, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in asparagus; sauté until mushrooms are tender and asparagus is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

Mix in puree and rest of the peas; stir until heated through. Add quinoa; stir to coat. Divide pilaf among bowls; sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon mint and serve.

Serves 4

Roasted Potatoes with Herbed Vinaigrette

4 tablespoon olive oil
3 pounds small red new potatoes, quartered
salt, sugar and pepper to taste
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
3 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh tarragon, chopped
Grated zest of 1 lemon


Preheat oven to 400 º F.

Toss 2 tablespoon olive oil and potatoes in a greased sheet pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Bake in oven for 40 minutes until fork tender, turning after 25 minutes. Add garlic; toss well. Bake for another 5 minutes.

Combine remaining oil with 1/2 teaspoon each salt, sugar, pepper, and remaining ingredients. Drizzle over potatoes and toss gently.

Serves 4

Chipotle Pork Tenderloin with Strawberry-Avocado Salsa


1/4 cup minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
3 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 cups onions, thickly sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoon honey
3 pounds tenderloin, trimmed
Salt and pepper to taste

5 cups strawberries, quartered
1 large avocado, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon each, salt, pepper, sugar


For pork:  Combine first 4 ingredients in a large plastic bag. Add pork; seal and marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight, turning bag occasionally.

Prepare and heat grill on medium-high heat. Remove pork from bag; discard marinade. Sprinkle pork evenly with salt and pepper.  Place pork on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 15-20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 145°F, turning occasionally. Let stand 10 minutes; slice.

For salsa: Combine strawberries and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl; toss gently. Serve immediately with pork.

Serves 6

Rhubarb Cheesecake Smoothies

Here is a delicious smoothie using tart rhubarb that is tempered with honey to sweeten initially. Taken from Taste of Home.

2 cups fresh rhubarb, diced
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoon honey, divided
1 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream
1 cup milk
1 cup sliced frozen sweetened strawberries  6 ounces cream cheese, cubed
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
5 ice cubes


Bring rhubarb, 2 tablespoon honey and water to boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until rhubarb is soft, approximately 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature.
In a blender, combine rest of ingredients to include 2 tablespoon honey. Cover and process until smooth. Pour into chilled glasses. Serve immediately.

Serves 6