Spring Eats: A Few Plant-Based Plates

It’s been a great week in the kitchen, and I credit the small crop of backyard asparagus for spearheading my cooking inspiration. Having fresh veg again (there’s also spinach, mint, and cilantro) is always an invigorating part of eating plant-based. 

This year’s asparagus has been the most beautiful crop yet, and watching it creep up and out of the ground every spring is pure joy.

This is the 6th year of the asparagus’ life, the second half of which has been in our garden (they were purchased as 3 year-old, bare-root crowns). Every year the harvests get a bit more fruitful, which is a thrill to watch (and eat).

Here’s a few ways I have cooked it up…

Tofu Scramble with Oven Roasted Asparagus + Chimichurri Sauce and Sheet Pan Hashbrowns.

I have been making a super simple Chimichurri sauce to put on just about everything. Here’s how I do it:

Chimichurri Sauce:

4 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely minced
Juice of half a lemon
2 – 3 T olive oil
Salt + pepper
Pinch of red pepper flake
Handful of fresh parsley, minced
Dash of red wine or apple cider vinegar (optional)

Shake everything together (I use a jelly sized mason jar) until well mixed, then pour over your favorite veg, salad, bread… anything!

I roasted the asparagus at 400° for about 15 minutes (no oil or salt, just bare), then enjoyed it with the Chimichurri on top, as pictured.

That meal was as close to “breakfast for dinner” as a plant-based eater can get. No complaints here!

I have a second Tofu Scramble to share, mainly because it’s been my go-to “easy” option lately, which usually turns into much more…

For this plate I made a quick red cabbage slaw (just shredded cabbage tossed with apple cider vinegar, lime juice, and salt), roasted fingerling potatoes, homemade guacamole, and sautéed veg and mushrooms. After the photo I doused it all in Cholula Hot Sauce and dug in. Yum!

Getting back to asparagus… here’s the second meal I utilized it in: Deconstructed Spring Greens Risotto with Creamy Garlic Sauce.

Can you tell I just made that title up off the top of my head? This one was inspired by the desire to make Lebanese Garlic Sauce (unbelievable), and pour it on as many things as possible. Seriously, I could eat a bowl of that stuff.

For this “deconstructed risotto” I started with plain basmati rice, then sautéed up asparagus, celery, spinach, frozen peas from last summer, and broccoli. I poured the garlic sauce over the rice, then piled on the veg, and covered it all with a generous handful of fresh parsley. Delightful.

Speaking of rice, and asparagus, and veg… my next meal to share: Swiss Chard Veggie Rolls.

The asparagus is hiding in the bottom lefthand corner of the photo, and was steamed for a few minutes. The big leaves of Swiss Chard were also steamed, and served as the wrapper for these rainbow hued rolls.

All the other veg stayed raw, and I mixed some rice wine vinegar into the cooked basmati rice for some extra flavor. I also put a few sprigs of fresh mint from the garden and Dulse Flakes into each roll.

I have to be honest – these were tough to construct. I had a vision in my head of the final product and then just winged it, without doing my due diligence with recipe research.

In the future I will try to roll the chard tighter, and will include more of a binding ingredient so they stick together better. I had hoped to used some avocado slices in these, but I used them all for the guacamole. Whoops.

Despite them not looking as pretty as I had hoped, they were very delicious and eaten with a dipping sauce I made with fresh ginger, peanut butter, Tamari, sriracha, rice wine vinegar, and lime juice. Again – totally winged it. I think I have an aversion to measurements…

But this next meal has more of a grounded resource I can point you to, with the inspiration coming from this New England Vegan Clam Chowder recipe over at Vegan Huggs.

love oyster mushrooms, and they really felt “clammy” in this soup. The texture and flavor was spot on, and was the perfect bright spot on an otherwise gloomy and rainy spring day. (Bonus: I made that bowl it’s in!)

Next up comes another rainbow colored meal that has roots in the garden: Spring Spinach Salad.

The spinach was harvested from our makeshift cold-frame (cinderblocks and an old door for the win), and here it is several weeks ago….

Once there was enough to harvest a big bowl of, I chopped the spinach up and mixed it with as many fresh veggies as I had in the kitchen. I tossed it all with a honey mustard vinaigrette (off the top of my head), and dug in. It’s been far too long since I’ve enjoyed a meal of fresh, backyard greens…

After you eat a bowl of that much beauty, you can’t help but feel enlivened.

And last, but not least, is a classic Mojito

Because what else are you supposed to do with the first batch of perfectly fresh mint from the garden?


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