Being a vegan is great all year round but it is never more fun and exciting than in the spring. As the world wakes up from winter, markets are bursting with spring produce. Asparagus, peas, radishes, carrots and vegetables in all the colors of the rainbow are coming into season. It’s time to make something fresh and tasty and let your mouth know it is spring. Enjoy these vegan recipes featuring spring veggies that you can make right now. Your mouth, you mind and your belly will thank you!
The dish exemplifies late spring produce with the sweetness of the onions offset by the umami flavor of the mushrooms, which get firmer with pressure cooking, contrasted with the green freshness and brightness of the asparagus.
This simple salad not only looks and tastes terrific, it is easy to prepare.
Spring Onions and Alliums
I tell my students that it’s the time when the vegetables often start with A. such as asparagus, artichokes and alliums which include onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, and chives. You can find spring onions full size but fresh dug with their greens, green onions (sometimes known as scallions), green garlic and garlic scapes and fresh shallots with their stems. All of these vegetables are tender, young and tasty, but here and gone rather quickly.
These Japanese noodles are one of the best ways to introduce people to a more whole grain pasta since they are tasty and lighter than most others. Green soybeans (edamame) add protein and the sea vegetables add minerals. Use English peas instead of edamame if you can find them.
Peas can be easily frozen or canned but there is nothing quite like the taste of fresh, just picked peas straight out of the spring garden. These two pea recipes from The New Fast Food are similar but the Farro recipe is whole grain. You can substitute any spring pea in these recipes.
Spring Saffron Risotto with Peas and Asparagus
Use 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
1½ cups arborio rice
3½ to 4 cups vegetable stock
3–4 stalks green garlic or 3–4 cloves regular garlic minced
1 leek, chopped
1 cup asparagus stalks and tips
1 cup fresh or frozen peas, sugar snap or snow peas, cut in half
2 teaspoons lemon zest
½ teaspoon saffron, dissolved in hot water
Salt and pepper, to taste
Squeeze of lemon juice, vinegar, grated vegan cheese or a sprinkling of nutritional yeast
Chives and their flowers or chopped parsley, for garnish
Heat the oil over medium heat in the pressure cooker, if using. If not, dry saute the leek and garlic. Sauté 2 minutes. Stir in the rice to coat with the oil. Then add 3½ cups stock. Lock on the lid; set your pot to high pressure for 5 minutes. Do a very careful and controlled quick release. Carefully remove the lid, tilting it away from you. Add the asparagus and peas and stir until they are cooked through or just stir and lock the lid back in place for 2 minutes. Stir in more stock, if needed. Adjust seasonings. Garnish with chives and their flowers or parsley, if available.
Farro Risotto with Asparagus and Peas
Recently I bought a rather large bag of organic Farro Semiperlato at Costco. Farro is interchangeable with barley, having a similar chewy texture and likely the same type of soluble fiber. Italians call this dish Farrotto. It’s easy to make your own broth which is key to great risotto.
7 minutes high pressure; natural pressure release
1 tablespoon oil, if using
2 shallots, peeled and diced to equal ½ cup or spring, or regular, onion
1½ cups farro semi perlato
½ cup white wine (or more broth)
2½–3 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon chopped tarragon or ½ teaspoon dried
½ teaspoon salt
½ pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup fresh or frozen, thawed peas
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Vegan Parmesan (optional) for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat the oil in your pressure cooker on saute. Sauté the shallots for about 2 minutes. Stir in farro and coat with oil, if using. If not, dry toast the farro, for about 2 minutes.
Add wine and stir until it evaporates, about 30 seconds. Add 2½ cups of the broth and the tarragon, taking care to scrape up any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the cooker. Turn off saute. Lock the lid in place and be sure to set it to sealing. Set on high pressure for 7 minutes. Let the pressure come down naturally.
Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow steam to escape. See if the farro is cooked to your liking. If not, put back on pressure for another 2 to 3 minutes. Then let the pressure release naturally again. If the grain is cooked how you like, stir in the salt, asparagus and peas. Simmer on low saute, adding the remaining broth if necessary, until the farrotto is cooked as desired and the vegetables are bright green.
Add the freshly ground pepper and additional salt, if desired. Add the remaining broth if the dish needs it. This dish should have the same texture as risotto, which is a bit runny but not too soupy. It will thicken as it stands. Serve hot, immediately, garnished with parsley, and vegan cheese, if desired.
This is easy to make and you’ll get a great dose of greens. Use your favorites types, put in extras to suit your taste. The only limit to what goes into this salad is your imagination. When you massage the greens, be sure to add the love.
You can make this with spinach or your favorite greens such as Swiss chard or kale. No oil needed.
One of my favorite salads is a Spinach Salad with Cilantro Cashew Dressing. I make my own baked tofu for it, but you can buy it already made.
This is a tasty way to get people to eat more vegetables. It is far healthier than the spinach dip that many have gotten used to that is based on mayonnaise (or even vegenaise). You can use this to make wrap sandwiches as well as putting it in a traditional “bread bowl.”
These burgers were recently chosen as the winning recipe for the “No More ‘Mallows Blogger Recipe Contest” held by the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission.
This recipe reminds me of a kind of cooked whole bean hummus with spinach. It tastes like “real” food which is why I love it. You know how I feel about garbanzo beans (chickpeas) so… it’s no wonder that I love this soup.
Other Spring Veggies
Quinoa is one of my favorite gluten-free grains. It looks and tastes beautiful with the saffron added. When eggplant, peppers and tomato are truly in season, use them. In earlier summer, use green beans plus pantry staples of olives and garbanzo beans. Adding fresh herbs at the end always lends a bright flavor note and lots of antioxidants.
Artichokes are so much more than just their hearts! The entire body is rich in vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium and potassium. This prickly but delicious spring vegetable may be intimidating to some at first, but with some careful preparation, it can be a delightful and fun addition to any meal.
Salads and Dressings
Are you looking for the perfect dressing to pair with your spring salad? Read about my love for salad here and check out one of these dressings.