Lemon Vegetable Risotto (4)

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Lemons are so versatile whether you put the juice or the zest or both in a recipe.  Where would Greek cuisine be without them?  I use lemon juice to make a vinaigrette dressing. I grate lemon zest into my fishcakes and both zest and juice are used in this risotto and are what makes it a little different. Risotto – Italian comfort food – is endlessly versatile too. This one includes asparagus tips, portobello mushrooms, peas and spinach. With this dish the broth is added a little at a time – when the rice has almost absorbed the stock add a little more and stir frequently.

1 tbsp. olive oil, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 shallots – finely chopped

2 large garlic cloves – grated

1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice

4 cups of vegetable or chicken broth

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

4 oz. portobello mushrooms – diced

4 oz. baby asparagus

4 oz. frozen peas

4 oz. baby spinach

Pour oil into a cast iron Dutch oven and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. When sizzling add the shallots and let cook for a couple of minutes, then turn heat down a little and add the garlic.

After a few minutes tip the rice into the pot and stir before adding a cup of broth. Bring broth to a boil then turn down to a simmer and add the lemon zest and juice and all of the vegetables.

Simmer for some 20 minutes until rice is cooked and the broth is absorbed.

Serve immediately.

 

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Baby Asparagus with Peas and Leeks (4)

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Why eat one vegetable when you can have three together? Lovely blend and the flavors and textures complement each other. Even better if you can find fresh peas. They are simmered in either vegetable or chicken broth.

1 cup broth

8 oz baby asparagus cut into smallish pieces

8 oz peas

8 oz leeks – sliced thinly

Bring the broth to a boil, then turn down to simmer.

Add all the vegetables and cook for around 3 minutes until asparagus is ‘al dente’.

Serve the vegetables with the broth

 

Tomato-Based Salad (4)

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This is a no-lettuce salad and is literally a selection of green vegetables mixed with some cold, cooked chicken heaped on a base of slices of a ripe, beefsteak tomato.  If you buy a pre-cooked chicken this dish takes no time at all and if you omit the chicken you have a vegetarian/vegan meal. Very easy to transport either as a lunch or to assemble for a picnic.

1 large, ripe beefsteak tomato

4 oz. frozen peas

4 oz. edamame beans

4 oz. asparagus (take the tips and an equal amount of the asparagus stem)

1 cooked chicken breast

Cut the tomato into 4 slices and place on a serving dish.

Place peas, edamame beans and asparagus in a pan and pour over boiling water. Bring to boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain veg. and place in a bowl of iced water to prevent further cooking.

Cut cooked chicken breast into small pieces.

Place veg. and chicken in a mixing bowl. Pour apple cider vinaigrette (see below) over and mix well together.

Place a good serving of veg/chicken mixture on each slice of tomato

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

3 tbsp. olive oil

Whisk mustard and apple cider vinegar together until smooth.

Whisk in the olive oil until mixture is emulsified

 

 

 

Greens and New Potatoes (4)

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Why serve one or two vegetables when you can a whole lot of veg. that complement each other nicely –  green vegetables with potatoes added into the mix and raw chopped shallot to add a bit of a bite with lemon butter mixed in. When I say butter I don’t mean the real thing as it contains lactose but there is a good vegan alternative – Earth Balance brand – which I have recently discovered. It is best to cook all the vegetables until just ‘al dente’. This dish goes equally well with meat or fish and would also be a good vegetarian/vegan meal.

8 oz. new potatoes – halved or quartered depending on size of potatoes

8 oz. thin asparagus – cut into 2″ pieces

8 oz. broccoli florets

8 oz. frozen edamame beans

8 oz. peas – fresh if possible, otherwise frozen

1 shallot – finely chopped

Juice of 1 lemon – Meyer variety if possible (less acidic)

1 good tbsp. butter alternative

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook all vegetables individually in the order given, draining each one and placing in a warmed serving dish, then cooking the next vegetable in the retained water, etc, etc. until all the veg. are cooked.

Add the chopped shallot.

Pour over the lemon/butter alternative and mix well until butter alternative is melted.

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.

Asparagus with Hard-Boiled Eggs and Prosciutto (4)

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Perfect for an appetizer, light lunch or quickly assembled for a picnic this is a bit of a riff on ‘Asparagus Mimosa’, where hard boiled eggs are pushed through a sieve and placed atop spears of asparagus.  I took thin, baby asparagus spears in season, cooked them until just ‘al dente’ and sprinkled chopped, hard-boiled eggs and thin, crispy strips of prosciutto over the asparagus. I served it with an apple cider vinaigrette.

8 oz baby asparagus spears

2 eggs – hard boiled

3 slices of prosciutto – cut into fine strips and fried till crispish

Place asparagus spears in a skillet and cover with boiling water. Bring to boil and simmer for only a couple of minutes (prick with a fork to see if they are just nicely tender) then drain and run cold water over them till they are cool to prevent any more cooking or, if you prefer cover with cold water and add some ice cubes.

When spears are cool put them in a clean, dry T-towel, pat dry and place on a serving dish. Sprinkle over the chopped boiled egg and the crispy prosciutto.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

3 tbsp. olive oil

Mix mustard and vinegar together until smooth. Add oil and whisk until emulsified.

 

Green and Red Salad with Tomato Dressing (4)

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A  looking salad combining baby tomatoes, a tomatillo, baby asparagus and avocado and tossed in a so moreish tomato dressing. A tomatillo looks like a tomato but is green (and sticky, so needs a good rinse) and if you can’t find one just omit from recipe. Dressing is divine!

1 cup of little cubes of avocado (about 1 good sized avocado) – stirred with a tsp. of lemon juice to prevent browning

1 tomatillo – rinsed and cut into chunks

16 cherry tomatoes – quartered

1 pound of baby asparagus – cut off tips and another slice the same length from the stems and save the rest for something else (soup maybe?)

Place chunks of avocado and tomatillo, quartered tomatoes and asparagus in a serving dish.

Combine dressing ingredients (see below) and pour some (not all) over salad or let people add their own amount.

DRESSING

1 cup passata (pulped tomatoes)

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 large clove garlic – grated

 

 

 

A Verdant Salad (4)

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This is a lovely, colorful, healthy salad and you can take a big pan of boiling water and use the same pan to cook all the vegetables one after the other. You really have to be in the kitchen for this recipe to keep an eye on the veggies as they want to be ‘al dente’. Serve with vinaigrette of your choice or mayonnaise.

4 oz baby asparagus -cut the bottom ends off

4 oz French green beans (the thin ones) – topped and tailed

4 oz yellow waxed beans – topped and tailed

4 oz snowpeas/mangetout

8 baby potatoes

2 eggs

1/2 can of hearts of palm – chopped into pieces

4 anchovies – chopped into pieces (optional)

Place asparagus into boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, remove from pan and place on paper towel to cool and absorb any water.

Repeat with green beans, waxed beans and snowpeas – cooking them one after the other.

Place potatoes and eggs in the boiling water and cook for 10 minutes.

Arrange veg. on a platter with the hard-boiled eggs (cut into 1/8ths) and hearts of palm.

Scatter pieces of anchovies over the veg.