The Flavors of Spring: Mint, Asparagus, Arugula

Spring is all about bold, healthy, fresh flavors. For us, the flavors of spring are exemplified in arugula, asparagus, and mint. This week we take a look at a few fun ways to bring these into your menu.

Mint – Even after the Derby, we are Always Dreaming of mint. The star of the Julep, mint is also the darling of fresh breath and healthy digestion. It is also a wonderful room freshener and can play a surprising role in savory snacks. Here are some sweet and savory ways to have more mint in your life and in your house:

Sweet
– Add it to your yogurt and berries in the morning
– Tear a few leaves and drop them into your drink (mint is great in iced tea, but also surprisingly wonderful in Lemon Rose Blossom Water)
– Add chopped mint to chocolate chip cookie dough, or anything chocolate
– Add it to your morning smoothie

Savory
– Basil Mint pesto
– Slip mint into sandwiches (think Bánh mì, or even a plain old tuna sandwich)
– Mint is amazing in spring rolls and imperial rolls

Household uses for mint
– Flea repellent for your pet – natural mint flea collars are available or you can make a satchel of fresh spearmint and thyme and drop it in your dog’s bed
– Room freshener – add a few drops of mint essential oil to your household cleaner
– Dab a strong mint tea on the skin to ease the pain of sunburn

Asparagus – It’s elegant and delicious. It’s also one of the few veggies you can eat with your fingers in polite company. It is a nutrient powerhouse containing vitamin K, folate, copper, selenium, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin C, and vitamin E. It is a very good source of dietary fiber, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin B3, potassium, choline, vitamin A, zinc, iron, protein, vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid (http://www.whfoods.com/). The volatile organic compounds in asparagus are responsible for the asparagus pee smell most of us encounter after dining on asparagus.

Here are some delicious ways to enjoy more asparagus:
– Use leftover grilled asparagus as a bagel topper with your favorite cream cheese
– Shave fresh asparagus into a beautiful salad with parmesan and vinaigrette
– Steam and serve with scrambled eggs (for breakfast or supper)
– Serve grilled asparagus in fish or black bean tacos
– BAT – Bacon, Asparagus, Tomato sandwich
– Serve with grits and a poached egg
– Make a frittata with asparagus and mint
– Use instead of romaine for a spring Caesar salad
– Broil it and top with fresh lemon and sharp crumbled cheese

Arugula – Who doesn’t love a veggie named Rocket? Other names of arugula include rucola, rucoli, rugula, colewort, and roquette. Beyond winning at names, arugula is also a nutrient winner. It is packed with Vitamin A, good for eyesight; it contains calcium and magnesium, which help control and normalize blood pressure; it is a good source of folate, also good for blood pressure regulation. And it tastes like a party: simultaneously sweet, bitter, and peppery.

Here are some great ways you can eat more arugula:
– BAT – Bacon, Arugula, Tomato sandwich
– Pizza – Add chopped arugula to your favorite pizza just before you throw it in the over, or even more fun, add chopped arugula to your pizza after it’s out of the oven, the contrasting bite of fresh raw arugula beautifully compliments the creamy smoothness of melted mozzarella.
– Sneak arugula into tacos instead of lettuce
– Sautee it with shrimp and cherry tomatoes
– Toss is raw with cold pasta and goat cheese
– Serve it with prosciutto and cantaloupe