Spring is fast approaching and I don’t know about you, but that certainly gets me in the mood for starting to think about food in different ways. We can now start looking forward to eating fresh and ‘zingy’ foods instead of needing to rely on good old winter warmers. Not that there is anything wrong with a warm and filling winter stew, but those kind of foods unfortunately can be the ones which have a tendency to start making the weight creep on. I personally love salads but certainly don’t feel like eating them when I am cold and my nose is bright red!
So how do you make the transition from eating winter foods to summer ones? By easing yourself in gently, that’s how. It’s still too cold to be thinking about salads all the time, so how about bringing some fresh warm salads into the equation? It’s never too early to start thinking about having a beach body ready for the summer, (if we ever have one!) and a nutritious warm salad can be a great way of bringing back healthy eating.
Spring vegetable salad
This is a lovely warm spring salad which is ideal served as a side dish to a hearty main meal and a great way of reducing your carb intake. Try this on the side of a chicken casserole and you will still feel as if you are having a ‘warm fix,’ while managing to reduce your calorie intake.
25g or 1 oz. butter
1 crushed garlic clove
300g or 10½ oz. chopped leeks
225g or 8 oz. green beans
125g or 4½ oz. peas, (defrosted if using frozen)
150ml or 5 fl oz. vegetable stock
225g or 8 oz. frisée lettuce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mixed herbs, for example chervil, chives and mint
Juice of ½ a lemon
Salt and black pepper
To garnish: fresh chives and mint, (if liked.)
Melt the butter in a saucepan, and sauté the garlic and leeks for around 5 minutes, or until softened. Add green beans and peas, sautéing for a further 2 minutes.
Add stock, cover, and then simmer for 5 minutes. Separate the leaves of the frisée, and throw in the pan, cover again and simmer for a further 5 minutes, or so, until the vegetables are tender. Stir in herbs, lemon juice and season to taste. Serve garnished with fresh herbs.
Asparagus and Jersey Royal salad
This one does rely on some store cupboard ingredients such as olive oil and balsamic, but is extra tasty for the addition of these.
8 asparagus spears
150g Jersey royals
4 chopped, cooked beetroots
1 baby gem lettuce, (separated into leaves)
8 roughly chopped tomatoes,
100g feta cheese, (look out for store’s own brands of crumbly cheese)
½ tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1tsp grain mustard
Cook potatoes until tender, drain and leave to cool. Blanch asparagus for 1 minute, refresh under cold water and drain.
Dressing: place all ingredients into a bowl and whisk together. Coat potatoes and asparagus in the dressing and then cook on a hot griddle pan until charred.
Add lettuce, spinach, tomatoes and beetroot into remaining dressing, mixing well and serve topped with griddled asparagus and potatoes. Cube the cheese and scatter over.