When shopping for asparagus, look for firm, clean and straight stalks. Wobbly stalks and discolored ends are telltale signs not to buy. Use a sharp knife to trim only the very bottom from the stalk; breaking it off causes more of the bottom to go to waste. With “pencil” asparagus, I find the stalks too thin to peel. For larger asparagus, I peel them (because the outer skin can be tough once cooked) and leave the top two inches intact. Not planning to use them right away? Fresh asparagus should be kept refrigerated. Placing the stalks upright in a little bit of water (as you would a bouquet of flowers, for example) can extend its shelf life.
I like asparagus al dente, a.k.a slightly crunchy. A six-ounce serving of asparagus will cook al dente in boiling water in about 2-3 minutes; add enough salt after the water begins to boil until it tastes like mild seawater. Once cooked, transfer the stalks to a bowl of cold water with ice to stop them from cooking further, dry them off and serve them whole drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil. When I serve them chilled, I let them sit in the fridge in the dressing for a few minutes before serving. For something even richer, try a dressing with two parts hazelnut oil, a handful of chopped, toasted hazelnuts and one part lemon juice. Drain the asparagus, dry stalks of excess water and toss them, warm, into the bowl with the dressing. When I serve them warm, I have the dressing ready; I toss and eat right away.
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Let’s face it, spring cleaning isn’t the most exciting chore of the season, but it’s so gratifying after it’s all done. The same notion also applies to making over meals, especially when the produce starts to become so abundant. Our friends over at Yahoo! Shine have invited FN Dish readers to join their Supper Club. This month, they’re challenging readers to make weeknight dinners that are as fresh and bright as the season.
Don’t know where to begin? Food Network’s Spring Produce Guide is a good place to start. From asparagus to rhubarb, you can find tips and recipes for cooking up spring produce at its peak.
Spring Peas With Dates and Walnuts from Food Network Magazine (pictured above) is a market-fresh salad that calls for not one but three kinds of spring peas: English, sugar snap and snow peas.
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Spring is officially here, which means that it’s time to embrace the light, colorful, fragrant bounty this season has to offer. Whether you’re growing your own fruits and vegetables or simply prefer to peruse the produce aisle, the next few months are some of the freshest all year, promising bushels of ripe, sweet goods, such as vibrant asparagus, radishes, ramps and more. Below is Food Network’s list of spring-inspired recipes, each rich with in-season produce that will transform any basic dish into an inspired one.
Food Network Magazine’s Roasted Asparagus (pictured above) side dish is a no-fail recipe that delivers simple, satisfying results every time. Crunchy pine nuts, fragrant parsley and refreshing lemon zest are sprinkled atop slender spears before baking the asparagus until it’s warm and tender.
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Something happened a few weeks ago while I was at the farmers’ market. As I scanned the stands, looking over the slim produce pickings here in the Northeast, I decided to get to the root of the problem — root vegetables, that is. It’s February, and we’re knee-deep in parsnips, turnips and potatoes. How I long for the first green cylinders of zucchini and sweet pods of green peas. Soon enough, asparagus.
Since I can’t get in a time machine and fast forward to spring, I decided it was time to get creative and work with what I had before me. Into my bag went a big bundle of carrots. Then they sat in the bin for a week. A whole week — thank heavens root vegetables are resilient and forgiving. I originally picked them up since they’re one of my daughters’ favorite vegetables. The problem is I tend to fall back on standard serving ideas, like simply roasting them or cutting into sticks to pair with dip. Not bad, but certainly a one-way ticket to boredom if done too frequently.
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Turn winter squash into a simple snack with curry powder and butter. Whether you’re partial to acorn, buttercup, butternut, hubbard, spaghetti or turban, this quick recipe from Food Network Magazine showcases the fruit’s plump, soft flesh.
When shopping, the firmer the squash the better. Winter squash’s thick skin allows for longer storage times (as long as you keep it in a cool, dark place and don’t refrigerate). Don’t forget to watch out for blemishes or moldy spots.
A great source of iron, riboflavin and vitamins A (more than summer squash) and C, this Curried Winter Squash is so addictive don’t be surprised if you eat it all in one sitting.
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As November comes to a close, serve one last bright meal that channels summer and casts away the soon-to-be-winter chill. Beets are not only pretty, but this versatile root vegetable can be easily thrown into a quick salad.
When shopping, choose beets that are firm and have smooth skin. Small or medium-sized beets are often more tender, while their color can range from a garnet red to white.
Serve a Beet and Apple Salad (pictured above) from Food Network Magazine as an easy starter. Apples and sugar give this dish a natural sweetness, while endive and walnuts add some crunch.
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Add a pop of color to your Thanksgiving spread with an easy carrot side. Whether you steam, boil or roast these bright root vegetables, they’re a perfect last-minute addition — done in 20 minutes or less.
For Middle Eastern flair, make Food Network Magazine’s Roasted Carrots With Za’atar (pictured above). Start by roasting the carrots in salt and pepper, then toss them with za’atar (a spice blend available at Middle Eastern markets), parsley and a splash of lemon.
Sunny’s Honey Glazed Carrots let the vegetable’s natural flavor shine through. Cook until a light honey glaze coats the carrots. We guarantee you won’t be able to eat just one.
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Give humble root vegetables a chance with this easy roast turnip recipe from Food Network Magazine. The root itself is high in vitamin C, but don’t forget the leafy turnip greens. Similar in flavor to mustard greens, choose smaller leaves for a less bitter taste.
For the root: Peel and cut into wedges. Toss with olive oil or melted butter, and salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Roast at 425 degrees F, 35 to 45 minutes. Try this: Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1 tablespoon each maple syrup and lemon juice, and a pinch each of cumin and red pepper flakes. Toss with the roasted turnips.
For the greens: Wash and dry 10 cups of turnip greens. Put in a saucepan with 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves, 1/4 cup water and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until tender, about 40 minutes. Season with pepper.
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Boost your immune system with vitamin C before cold and flu season sets in by eating more cauliflower. A member of the cabbage family, cauliflower can be boiled, baked or sautéed, but for a well-browned exterior and a flavorful, moist interior, roasting is the way to go.
Start simple with Emeril’s Oven-Roasted Cauliflower With Garlic, Olive Oil and Lemon Juice. We bet even the biggest cauliflower-haters will think twice after sampling this quick yet flavorful dish.
Claire’s Roasted Cauliflower With Dates and Pine Nuts (pictured above) is a wonderful fall side for those willing to experiment with flavor. Roasting the cauliflower makes it slightly sweet and turns into an unexpected complement to the dates.
Try Guy’s Roasted and Pureed Cauliflower as a mashed-potato substitute. With only six ingredients, this side is an easy addition to any weeknight meal.
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There are so many beautiful (and strange-looking) squash at the market right now. Sure, they’re great for a table centerpiece for Thanksgiving, but why not cook with them as well? Turn acorn, butternut, fairytale (yes, fairytale) and more into a delicious fall soup. Add in some pumpkin and you’re cooking the best of what fall produce has to offer.
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