After a long winter without fresh, newly sprouted produce, I crave baby spring vegetables, like tiny tender greens, spring peas, pencil-thin asparagus, baby artichokes, and nutrient-packed sprouts. I shared this with Chef Q, and she was just as inspired to create a fresh spring menu that I’m excited to share with you!
Baby spring vegetables and greens are not only more tender and subtly flavored than their older, more mature, sometimes more bitter counterparts, but they are also rich with nutrition, especially vitamin C, folate, vitamin K (important for bones and teeth), and the calming, nervous-system-regulating minerals magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
On top of all that goodness, they contain many valuable phytochemicals with powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects, including flavonoids, lutein, beta-carotene, and sulfur, the latter of which is great for helping your body’s detoxification system work better—just what we all need after a long winter! Microgreens and sprouts in particular, such as pea shoots, arugula, and sprouts of broccoli, kale, sunflower, and alfalfa, are potent sources of antioxidants such as carotenoids (great for your eyes and your immune system) and polyphenols (great for your microbiome), as well as skin-brightening vitamin E.
This month’s Vibrant menu is full of fresh delicate delicious baby-green power. We’ll start with a healthy version of the iconic shamrock shake—this one’s full of nutrition, naturally sweetened, and includes fresh mint, baby greens, and healthy fats from avocado. The almond milk version is lighter, and the coconut milk version is creamier, so choose your preference. This recipe makes enough to share! We’re also featuring a delicate spring pea soup, and delectable niçoise salad with asparagus, micro greens, and delicious smoked salmon.
I hope you enjoy this fresh, beautiful menu from Chef Q! Your body will thank you.
Healthy Shamrock Shake for Two
3 cups ice
2 cups almond or coconut milk
1 handful baby kale or spinach (or a combination)
10 pitted Medjool dates or 4 tablespoon honey
4 fresh mint leaves, stems removed
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
- Add all ingredients to a blender jar (reserve a few mint leaves for garnish), and blend until smooth.
- Pour into two tall glasses and garnish with additional mint leaves, if desired. Serve immediately.
Spring Pea Soup
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups English spring peas
½ white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 cup fresh baby spinach
3 sprigs mint, destemmed
1 quart chicken stock or bone broth (or any broth you have)
Salt and pepper to taste
Pea shoot micro greens, for garnish
¼ cup plain unsweetened coconut or almond milk yogurt, for garnish
Drizzle of olive oil
- Add the 4 tablespoons of oil to a medium stock or soup pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the peas and onions and sauté over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Stir in the garlic and stir until it’s fragrant. Add the spinach, mint, and broth. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat.
- Ladle half the soup into a blender. Vent the lid and carefully blend until smooth. Pour the soup into a bowl and set aside. Blend the remaining soup. Put all the pureed soup back into the soup pot. Taste and add salt and pepper to your preference. Warm it up again, if it has cooled.
- Ladle the soup into four bowls and garnish with fresh pea shoots, a dollop of yogurt, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately.
Spring Salmon Niçoise with Micro Greens
2 cups pencil-thin asparagus or green beans
16 ounces mixed baby greens or baby spring mix
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces smoked wild salmon rolled in pieces
1 cup radicchio, chopped
1 cup mixed micro greens and sprouts (I prefer pea shoots and sunflower sprouts, but choose whatever looks good and fresh)
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
8 radishes (mixed colors make this salad more vibrant), sliced thin
1/2 cucumber, sliced
3 rainbow carrots (purple, yellow, orange), peeled in ribbons
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
½ fresh lemon cut into 4 wedges
- In a large saucepan over high heat, boil about four cups of water with 1 tablespoon salt. When the water is rapidly boiling, add the asparagus or green beans and blanch for about 3 minutes, until they are bright green. Drain and immediately plunge the veggies into a bowl of ice water, to stop the cooking. Set them aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss spring greens with oil, vinegar, and lemon juice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Spread the greens on a large platter. Arrange the remaining ingredients over the greens by following the photo or creating your own masterpiece. Serve with lemon wedges.