So many more options become possible in March. Here, on the Gulf Coast, strawberries are in season and they are beautiful. They taste wonderful in a smoothie. I look forward to this time of year, so I can purchase artichokes because we love them stuffed. Asparagus make delicious salads and so does fennel. And, broccoli rabe is at its best in the spring, so look for it at your market.
Italian Seasoned Fresh Bread Crumbs
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (about 8 slices of regular, low carb or gluten-free bread), crusts removed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Tear the bread slices into pieces. Process into crumbs and place in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined.
4 large artichokes, trimmed
2 cups Italian seasoned “bread” crumbs (see recipe above)
8 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat of your blade and minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Cut off the stems so the artichokes will stand upright. Slice off the top third of the artichokes and pull off some of the tough outermost leaves.
Trim off the pointed tips of the remaining leaves with kitchen shears. Wash the artichokes and turn them cut side-down to drain.
Rub the cut parts with a little lemon juice. Use your thumbs to open the leaves the rest to make room for stuffing and set aside.
Heat the oven to 425° F and place a small stock pot or tea kettle with water on the stove to boil.
Combine the bread crumbs, garlic, cheese and red pepper flakes.
Stuff one artichoke at a time by scooping out 1/2 cup of stuffing, placing the artichoke in the bottom of the bowl and sprinkling with the 1/2 cup of stuffing.
Use your fingers to work the stuffing in between the leaves. Be sure to get a bit of the stuffing between each of the outer leaves and in the top.
Transfer the stuffed artichokes to a baking dish just large enough to hold the artichokes upright.. Continue until all artichokes are stuffed and placed in the baking dish.
Drizzle each artichoke with lemon juice and olive oil. Pour boiling water from the kettle or pot to fill the dish about an inch high.
Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake about 45 minutes. Check for tenderness by sliding a knife easily through the base of the artichokes.
Once tender, uncover and bake for 15 minutes, or until the artichokes turn golden brown.
Place each artichoke in an individual bowl and pour some of the broth in the baking dish over the artichokes before serving.
Spring Asparagus Salad
Variations: add cooked beets or crispy bacon to the salad.
1 bunch fresh, thin asparagus
Juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon whole-grain or Dijon-style mustard
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
3 scallions (green onions), sliced thin
Bibb Lettuce cups
Bring a large pot or deep skillet of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt.
Trim and discard the tough woody asparagus ends.
Carefully place the asparagus spears in the boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes, or just until the vegetable is bright green and tender but not soft.
Drain and place the asparagus in a large dish filled with ice water.Let the asparagus cool in the ice bath for about 5 minutes.
Transfer the asparagus to a kitchen towel to dry. Cut the asparagus into two-inch pieces and then place them on a platter or individual salad plates lined with lettuce.
Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, mustard and a pinch of salt in a liquid measuring cup, until well blended, to form a vinaigrette.
Sprinkle the sliced scallions over the asparagus and then sprinkle the chopped egg on top.
Spoon the vinaigrette over the salad and toss gently to coat.
Easy Strawberry Smoothie
2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup regular milk or unsweetened almond or coconut milk
Sweetener of choice to taste
Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses to serve.
Fennel Walnut Chicken Salad
1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast or 2 halves, cooked and diced
1/2 of a fennel bulb, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon roasted garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
In a large bowl, toss the chicken cubes with the lemon juice, garlic powder, fennel, fennel seeds, black pepper and walnuts until combined.
Add the mayonnaise to the chicken mixture and toss to coat thoroughly. Taste the salad and see if you would like to add salt.
Cover the salad and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Broccoli Rabe Parmigiano
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
2 lbs Broccoli Rabe
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz cooked pasta, optional
Cut off about one inch from the bottom of the broccoli rabe stalks. Wash the broccoli very well. Cut into two-inch lengths.
In a large, deep skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and pepper flakes; sauté 30 seconds.
Add broccoli rabe, broth, lemon juice and lemon zest; mix well. Cover skillet and cook over medium heat 8 minutes or until the broccoli rabe is crisp-tender.
Add the salt, black pepper and grated cheese. Mix well and cover the pan. Let the mixture sit for five minutes before serving. This sauce is delicious served over pasta.