Spring is time to eat fresh

Fresh produce at a farmers market stand. (Provided photo — Yvona Fast)

It is May. Yellow daffodils, colorful tulips, purple violets, blue forget-me-nots, golden dandelions are everywhere. Chives and rhubarb are ready for harvest. Dandelions and violets are tasty mixed into salads.

Our local farmers are returning and farmstands are opening, selling flowers, rhubarb and asparagus. So is the farmers market.

Spring is time to eat fresh. Clean out last year’s produce from the freezer and pantry and begin anew.

Fresh, local products have many advantages over the supermarket’s produce aisle. Sure, everything at the supermarket is neatly packaged. But fresh, local produce has much better flavor and more nutrients than vegetables shipped cross-country in refrigerated trucks.

Buying local also connects us to our community. By talking to growers, you can taste before you buy and ask questions about products you’re not familiar with. Buying local also supports our region’s economy and saves resources such as gasoline used for trucking.

Now that the days are longer, chickens have been laying like crazy, so eggs are plentiful. Green chives are tall enough to cut. Dandelions are blooming, so the greens are past their prime. Stalks of bright red rhubarb are popping up. So are violets — both leaves and flowers can decorate salads. Other perennial herbs, like mint, and last year’s parsley, are also showing. Asparagus, radishes, scallions, fresh greens like lettuce, spinach, arugula and chard will be plentiful soon.

Most people know rhubarb from pie, muffins and other sweet treats, but it is also good stewed with meat. Asparagus and fresh greens are good in frittatas, quiche, omelets and other egg dishes. Scallions and radishes are great in salads and stir-fries. Chives are great with eggs, potatoes, pasta and, of course, salads.

Enjoy the fresh flavors spring brings!

Springtime Quinoa Salad


1 cup quinoa (makes 3-4 cups cooked quinoa)

1 cup black lentils (or brown lentils, or black beans or garbanzo beans)

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups water or broth

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 lemon (zest and juice)

1 or 2 avocados

2 cloves garlic, minced (2 teaspoons)

1 or 2 cups dandelion greens, chopped coarsely

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill

1/2 to 1 cup minced chives (or scallions if you don’t have chives)

1/2 cup fresh minced parsley

1/2 pound or more asparagus, cooked or steamed to desired tenderness, sliced

1 carrot, shredded or chopped fine

1/2 cup each red and yellow pepper, minced


Place quinoa, salt and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool; all liquid should be absorbed. Chill overnight.

Cook lentils — place 1/2 cup lentils, 1 1/4 cup water, a pinch of salt in pan; bring to a boil; lower heat to simmer and cook until soft, about 15 minutes. If using canned beans, just add them at the end.

The next day, place quinoa in a large salad bowl. Add cooked lentils. Stir in olive oil to coat, garlic, salt, and the zest and juice of one lemon (be careful to eliminate the seeds). Add one or two chopped avocados. Toss well to coat.

Stir in dandelion greens, dill, parsley, chives of scallions, chopped carrot and bell pepper. Cut asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces and stir in.

Mix everything together. Taste to adjust seasonings — you may want more salt and some pepper or lemon pepper seasoning.


Garnish with crumbled feta cheese, if desired.

Asparagus-Chive Frittata


1/2 lb. asparagus

4 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup mild cheese, grated (Like Swiss, Monterey Jack or mild cheddar)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup fresh chives, snipped

Chive blossoms (optional)


Blanch the asparagus in lightly salted boiling water for about 3 minutes or until crisp-tender; do not overcook. Rinse under very cold water and drain.

Beat the eggs with milk and salt until frothy. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the asparagus and cook for about a minute. Add the chive blossoms and chives, then stir in the eggs and cheese. Cover and cook until the eggs have set. You may need to flip it or put it in the oven under the broiler for a minute to set the top. Serves 2 or 3 (depending on portion size).

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Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: Writing and cooking. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached at yvonawrite@yahoo.com or on X: @yvonawrites.


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