As the summer growing season heats up, it's time to consider putting vegetables in the center of your plate, rather than thinking of them as a side dish. We're starting to see locally grown broccoli, spinach, spring greens, asparagus, even tomatoes show up at the market.
These four vegetable-forward recipes can be the star of any dinner. Meatless Monday becomes Meatless Tuesday and perhaps Wednesday. As meat prices rise and shortages continue, there's no better time to stop thinking of meat as the focus of the meal.
Serve with a late spring salad of arugula, mustard greens and any spring greens.
A friend recently served me this hearty lentil dish and I immediately fell for the Indian flavors, rich coconut milk and tender lentils.
The lentils are cooked with fresh ginger, garlic, ground cumin, canned or fresh tomatoes, and then finished with coconut milk and fresh cilantro. The dish will last several days.
*To make fragrant ghee (which has a higher smoke point than regular butter): Melt a stick of butter over low heat. Once melted, raise heat to medium. A foam will appear on top; skim off with a kitchen spoon. Cook until a second foam appears and the butter is golden, about 8 minutes. Pour into a clean jar through cheesecloth and let cool. Ghee will keep refrigerated for up to a month.
Grits are delicious on their own, but here they act as a creamy base for late spring vegetables. You can use any vegetables you have on hand, but I slow oven-roasted cherry tomatoes with herbs, steamed asparagus and sautéed spring spinach. You can top the whole dish off with a fried egg, thinly sliced spring radishes, cooked beans, roasted chickpeas, a scattering of nuts and more.
Grits are made from stone-ground dried corn. Polenta, which is generally made of a different variety of corn and is more finely ground, can also be substituted.
Note: Leftover grits can be refrigerated overnight. They will firm up and become solid. The following day, cut them into squares or triangles, place on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven. After five minutes, sprinkle with grated cheese and serve.
Sometimes you need a new way of looking at something very familiar. Here broccoli is cut into long thick strips including the stem, steamed and then sautéed in a hot skillet with olive oil and garlic. You can serve the broccoli over rice, linguine, or with crusty toast.
Serves 2 to 4.
This is a fairly quick, simplified version of spanakopita that uses fresh (or frozen) spinach, feta and cottage cheese and dill wrapped into premade store-bought phyllo (or filo) pastry. Serve with a salad of spring greens.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
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