Just thinking about Spring. Tulips popping out of the ground, trees budding with gorgeous blooms and the days are getting longer. I allow myself to have lovely thoughts about the joy of spring, culinary-wise. Pencil-thin fresh asparagus, juicy strawberries, Easter dishes, asparagus…and I feel better already. Easter and spring are impossible to separate. The meaning of the holiday, the renewal of life, is apparent in all the signs that winter is ending.
Spring is more a mind-set than a season or calendar event. Decisions about foods are made from the heart and then lived. Spring also means more fresh fruits and vegetables are available in the market, especially strawberries and asparagus, two foods particularly associated with spring. So my recipe planning automatically turns to using fresh fruit in as many ways as possible. All of a sudden, I am very hungry for fresh asparagus – stir fried, perhaps, or with some homemade Aioli sauce, or simply roasted in a light olive oil, a little squeeze of fresh lemon…or cream of asparagus soup, or perhaps, grilled fresh fish ala Oscar, topped with asparagus, lump crabmeat and that lovely béarnaise sauce.
Some people don’t eat fruits and vegetables because they find them bland and boring. Vegetables and fruits can be tasty — you just have to know which ones to eat, or how to prepare them. Much of what you eat is conditioned — that is, over time; you’ve learned to like it. In the same respect, you can learn to like new foods, such as vegetables and fruits. But you have to be willing to experiment. Keep in mind that you don’t need to like all vegetables and fruits, just some of them.
Strawberries, rhubarb, and melons, along with mangoes, grapes, peaches, citrus fruits, pears, blueberries and raspberries, the choices are very tempting. One of the best things about spring fruits is that the recipes are naturally simpler and lower in fat because the ingredients are so succulent and don’t need extra flavor. Try one new fruit and vegetable each week. You say you don’t like asparagus or artichokes, but have you ever tried them? Experiment with different ways of preparation. For example, grilling pineapple is a delicious accompaniment to chicken or pork.
Blueberries are one of my favorite fruits. These little gems pack a potent punch. They rank the highest of any fruit for antioxidants and one cup delivers 14% of the recommended daily dose of fiber and nearly a quarter of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Blueberries are also low in calories — fewer than 100 calories per cup.
Enjoy this refreshing blueberry mango salad! Experiment! If you can’t find a perfectly ripe mango, try fresh-diced pineapple or papaya.
“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’” ~Robin Williams
Blueberry Walnut Quinoa Salad
2 cups cooked quinoa, room temperature
1 cup ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup red onion, chopped fine
1-cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3-tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 cup Olive or Grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1-tablespoon honey or agave nectar
1/2- teaspoon sea or kosher salt
Black pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh basil or cilantro, chopped
1-cup fresh arugula, coarsely chopped
Quinoa can be cooked in water or broth. I suggest using vegetable or chicken broth for enhanced flavor, but plain water works great too.
Place cooked quinoa in a large bowl. Add all the ingredient up to the walnuts. Gently combine not to break the blueberries. In a small bowl, combine vinegars, oil, lime juice, honey and salt.
Whisk until well combined. Taste the vinaigrette and add more honey if too tart. Pour over the quinoa and toss to combine, adding more salt and pepper if desired. Chill for at least one hour before serving. Great vegetarian dish or served with grilled/sliced chicken breasts.