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Our Blog: April 5th, 2021

Celebrating National Garden Month

By Nicole Spain, Registered Dietitian

Celebrate National Garden Month with an edible garden!  Here are some tips to start your spring garden:

  • Find out your last frost date
  • Plan your spring garden
  • Start seeds indoors
  • Sharpen and repair tools
  • Plant cold hardy vegetables to begin (after your frost date has passed)
  • Test your soil and make adjustments

Some of my favorite plants to start indoors are tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and marigolds.  I always plant marigolds around the perimeter of my garden to help control pests.  Get these started now and they’ll be ready to go outdoors once it warms up in your area.  In the southern states, that is probably already happening!  Up north you will likely want to wait until at least May 1st.  

Cooking with fresh herbs can be expensive if you are buying them at the store, but growing them is inexpensive and really makes a bold statement in your cooking. I like to plant basil to make bruschetta and cilantro to make salsa!

Some of my favorite cold hardy vegetables I plant in early spring are lettuce, spinach, and sugar snap peas. Most of the time, the sugar snap peas barely make it into the house to be washed! But when we are able to harvest a lot of them, I love making pasta primavera!  This recipe can be altered to use whatever garden vegetables you have growing at that time! Or try one of my kids favorites -  Crustless Spinach & Feta Quiche, which can be easily altered with your favorite cheese or additional ingredients like fresh chopped herbs.

 

Pasta Primavera
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1 lb whole grain penne pasta
¼ C olive or avocado oil
½ red onion, sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
½ lb asparagus, cut into 1 in pieces
½ C sugar snap peas, strings removed and halved
1 C cherry tomatoes, halved
3 C spinach leaves, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried rosemary
½ tsp dried thyme
1 lemon, zested and juiced
½ C pasta water
¾ C grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp fresh basil, thinly sliced   

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, reserving ½ cup water after it is done cooking.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat.
  3. Add the red onion and carrots. Sauté for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the yellow and red peppers and sauté for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the asparagus and sugar snap peas.  Sauté for additional 2 minutes.
  6. Add the cherry tomatoes, spinach, garlic, and dried herbs. Sauté another 2-3 minutes until all the vegetables are heated through.
  7. Pour all the vegetables into a large bowl, add the pasta and drizzle with the lemon juice and zest. If the mixture is sticking add some of the reserved pasta water as needed. 
  8. Toss the parmesan cheese and fresh basil into the vegetable and pasta.
  9. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

 

Crustless Spinach & Feta Quiche
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
2 bunches fresh spinach, washed and stems trimmed
3 oz feta
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive or avocado oil
½ small onion, diced
5 eggs
2/3 cup milk
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
nonstick spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a pie pan with nonstick spray. Add Parmesan cheese to the bottom of the dish and spread in a very thin layer.
  3. In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium. Add garlic and onion and cook until translucent. Add spinach and sauté until it is bright and wilted. Remove from pan and put in a bowl.
  4. In a large separate bowl, whisk the 5 eggs with milk, salt and pepper.
  5. Add crumbled feta to bowl with spinach. Add spinach mixture to bowl with eggs. Mix well.
  6. Pour egg mixture into pie dish so that it fills dish but doesn’t overflow.
  7. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until egg has set. 
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