..The Intuitive Times
Kitchen Korner


Spring Vegetables

by Karin LaRonde

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I have a food booth at the Charlottetown Farmer's Market and my heart beats just a bit faster in the spring when the new veggies start showing up. After this long winter it will be exciting to see some shades of green. You can help support local farms while cooking delicious and nutritious foods by learning how to identify, cook and preserve the produce you buy at the Market.

Here are some spring vegetables and a few recipes...


Chard is a mild green like spinach but with a colored stem. Minerals found in both greens are more readily absorbed from chard which doesn't contain the inhibitor oxalic acid. Chard is available from spring through fall and, like most greens, can be refrigerated for 2-4 days if kept moist. Wash leaves separately and store in the hydrator. Chard can be steamed, sautéed, stir fried or added to soups. Stems require longer cooking times. You can use chard in recipes calling for any greens, even spinach, such as quiche and lasagna.

Swiss Chard Pie
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons oil
1 bunch Swiss chard
6 eggs
1 cup shredded cheese
1 teaspoon salt
2 pie crusts

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Brown onion and garlic in oil. Trim and chop chard, add to pan and cook until wilted. Beat eggs in a bowl; add cheese, salt and chard and mix. Pour into pie shells and bake 30-40 minutes.
Makes 2 pies.


Dandelions are said to be a good decongestant, system cleanser, and diuretic as well as being rich in Vitamin A. These greens can be found in the wild or cultivated. The most tender greens are found in the spring before flowering. Choose brightly colored leaves with no wilting. Try to avoid greens with brown spots. Usually, the paler the leaf, the more tender the taste. Use small, pale leaves for salads. Large, darker leaves can be used for cooking. Wrapped tightly in plastic, dandelions with roots will keep longest. Like lettuce and other leafy greens, dandelions need thorough cleaning to remove dirt and soil. Submerge greens in water and rinse. Repeat until water runs clear of residue.

Camembert Croutes with Dandelion
Greens and Red Currents
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
4 1/2-inch-thick slices from a baguette
1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 of an 8-ounce wheel Camembert cheese
5 cups baby dandelion greens or other baby greens such as arugula
1/2 cup fresh red currants if desired

Preheat oven to 450° F. Butter baguette slices on 1 side and on a baking sheet toast in middle of oven 5 minutes, or until pale golden. Toasts may be made 1 day ahead, cooled completely, and kept in a sealable plastic bag at room temperature.

Preheat broiler. In a large bowl whisk together shallot, vinegar, and mustard and add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified. Cut Camembert into 4 wedges. Top each toast with a wedge of Camembert and on baking sheet broil about 4 inches from heat 5 minutes, or until cheese begins to melt. Add greens and currants to vinaigrette, tossing to coat. Serve salad topped with Camembert croûtes.
Makes 4 servings


Spinach, the most popular leafy green, can be eaten raw or cooked, and is interchangeble with other greens such as Swiss chard and beet greens in recipes. It thrives in cool weather, so it's available at the Market during early summer and then before the first frost.

Spinach has a naturally occurring toxin called oxalic acid. Also, cooking spinach depletes its reserves of vitamins A and C, so be careful not to overcook. Rinse spinach under cool water to remove dirt which tends to cling to the undersides of leaves. One pound of spinach needs 5 minutes to steam, and 2-3 pounds of spinach reduces to 2 cups after cooking. Spinach can be sautéed and pureed, but don't add until the final minutes of cooking. Store spinach in a plastic bag with a damp towel in the refrigerator for up to one week. Spinach also can be blanched for 1-2 minutes and frozen.

Pasta with Spinach, Walnuts and Gorgonzola
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound fresh spinach, shredded
1/4 pound walnut pieces
6 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
freshly ground pepper
four servings hot cooked pasta

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat and sauté garlic until brown. Add spinach, toss until wilted. Stir in walnuts and cheese; toss until well mixed. Season with pepper to taste. Serve over pasta.
Makes 4 servings.


Pick peas that are bright green and shiny with no dry spots. The pods should be firm and smooth-looking. The English pea, or common garden pea, should be rinsed and shelled before eaten. It is not necessary to clean the individual peas. Snow peas and sugar snap peas (a hybrid of the English pea and snow pea) do not require shelling and are best eaten raw or slightly cooked.

Snow Pea and Sesame Rice Pilaf
1 tablespoon Oriental sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
3 scallions, sliced thin
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh
1 ½ cup long grain brown rice
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup snow peas, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted lightly

Sauté over medium heat the oil, the butter, the onion, the scallions, and the ginger root for 2 minutes, or until the onion is softened. Stir in the rice, stirring until it is coated with the oil mixture, add the stock and cook covered for 40 to 45 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Stir in the snow peas and let the pilaf stand, covered for 5 minutes and stir in the toasted sesame seeds.

Karen LaRonde at 675-3197 operates "Eat Well" and can be found at the Charlottetown Market on Saturdays.

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