Spring is here and it’s time to enjoy the fresh crop of vegetables popping up in gardens and markets everywhere. Narrowing down which spring veggies to put in my basket is a challenge, but asparagus and English peas are two I definitely grab first. Most of us typically steam or sauté these picks for a side dish, but serving asparagus and peas raw in a salad is equally, if not more, delicious. The welcomed crunch and light sweetness of my Shaved Asparagus, Spinach and Pea Salad is balanced by the bright bite of Organic Ginger Dressing with Honey.
The collection of certified organic, non-GMO salad dressings offered by Litehouse Foods makes it so convenient to serve my family a meal that not only tastes great, but also keeps me confident about my food choices. Not everything on my shopping list is organic, but I do make a concerted effort to source what is available and mindfully purchase as much organic produce as my food budget will allow.
Speaking of organic food choices, many of today’s bigger grocery stores are responding to consumer demand by increasing availability and variety to the best of their means. The Organic Trade Commission has even petitioned the USDA to create a non-taxpayer funded “Organic Check-Off” that aims to increase consumer awareness/education, further industry research, provide technical assistance to transition more famers to organic, and to improve the currently fractured distribution chain – all with the hopes of increasing accessibility and decreasing the cost of all types of organic products for the consumer.
If you can’t find the organic produce you want in a big box food store, a morning outing to the local farmer’s market may yield the fresh offerings you seek – all while supporting local agriculture. Joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or “farm share” is another way to ensure you are getting the freshest seasonal produce in your area. CSA membership typically requires an upfront fee in return for a season “share” of the harvest from a local farmer. This bounty is either picked up in person or is delivered to your home or central location. This fee allows the farmer to run his business, plan for the next season, make equipment repairs and so on that ensure customers are getting quality local produce. Not all CSAs are strictly organic, so you need to do your research. If interested in a program like this, just Google CSA along with your city name to find farm shares near you.
Anyway, back to the Shaved Asparagus, Spinach and Pea Salad. This plate of no-cook, green goodness is simple to make, the biggest task is just “shaving” the raw asparagus with a vegetable peeler. To do that, firmly hold down an asparagus spear with one hand and use a peeler (like the kind you used to take the skin off potatoes) to make long, sweeping strokes that create thin, slightly curled asparagus ribbons. Pretty red radishes add a pop of color amongst the verdant vegetables and a sprinkle of cooked quinoa adds a touch of protein.
Of course, this salad is beautiful served family-style on a platter, but it can also be layered up in a jar to take to work, school or the park for a grab-and-go lunch.