Spring Brings a Parade of Produce
As February comes to a close and March begins, we are teased here and there with the weather that spring inevitably brings. On these springy winter days, I begin to get a taste not only for the weather, but the flavors of spring as well. Spring produce begins to fill the markets and I start to feel a shift in my culinary mood as well. Lighter, brighter dishes replace my cravings for the comfort food of winter cooking. Salads allow spring produce to shine and simplify our time in the kitchen. Taking traditional spring vegetables and putting a slight twist on their preparation revives the flavors and the palate.
Roasted carrot with avocado salad is a dish so versatile that it has become a staple in our home. Eaten as a main course, side dish, on its own or over greens, this salad can go the distance. Carrots are chopped into coins, tossed with the warm and bright flavors of cumin and coriander and roasted until tender inside and crispy and caramelized on the outside. The fresh and tangy flavors of lemon juice, avocados and cilantro balance the warm and sweet taste of the roasted carrots. The dish is perfect as is to eat alongside a main course; I love it as a side to any barbecued meat. Placing the carrots over a pile of greens transforms the dish into a main meal. I frequently make a double batch of the carrots and save them to eat later in the week, as they are just as delicious cold. Hold the avocado, lemon and cilantro to add just before serving for a quick and satisfying meal.
Spring slaw with peanut dressing is loaded with colorful produce and topped with a nutty dressing that can hold up to the variety of flavors in the salad. My interpretation of spring slaw utilizes kale, red cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, green onions, edamame and snow peas. While I love this combination, it can simply be used as a jumping off point for your specific tastes or for whatever you have on hand. The dressing combines rice wine vinegar, lime juice, peanut butter and garlic and is bold enough to stand up to limitless combinations of vegetables. The leftover dressing makes a perfect dip for whatever crudité is on hand. Once the salad is tossed and drizzled with dressing, it is topped with sliced avocado and a sprinkling of peanuts. It makes a refreshing and fulfilling spring meal.