There is no better way to enjoy fresh seasonal veggies than by eating them in a salad, and the best way to enjoy a salad is by adding pasta to it. Pasta salad is one of my favourite summer side dishes. It is incredibly versatile and you can put any vegetable you want in it.
Bring a large pot with salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Rotini will take about 8-10 minutes for an al dente finish.
Shred carrots and chop green onions. Prep all your vegetables for the salad: wash, core and seed, and chop. If using broccoli, the salad will turn out better if the broccoli is steamed for 2-3 minutes.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain and cool until room temperature. You can just leave the pasta until it's cooled, or to finish quicker, you can run some cold water over the pasta until it's a good temperature.
Combine all ingredients in large bowl.
Whisk all ingredients together in small bowl or measuring cup. When salad has been combined, dress the salad and mix thoroughly. If desired, crumble some feta cheese over the top.
With spring now upon us, we get to enjoy a whole new crop of vegetables. Leeks are a great spring vegetable which can be used in many different ways. Here, we have developed a very tasty quiche that you can use them in, as well as your leftover Easter ham.
Ham and Leek Quiche
Sift together flour and salt in a large bowl. Add shortening and cut into dry mixture with pastry cutter or two knives. The mixture should resemble coarse crumbs.
In a small bowl, beat together egg, vinegar, and cold water. Add to the flour mixture and stir together roughly with a fork so it comes together. You don't want to work the pastry too much; it's okay if it looks a bit shaggy when you're finished bringing it together.
Flour your work surface and turn out the pastry. Cut in half and work with one half at a time. Roll until pastry is about 1/4 inch thick. Once the pastry is rolled out, carefully use the rolling pin to transfer it into the pie plate. Gently press the pastry into the edges of the plate and leave any extra around the edges until it has been filled. The pastry is quite resilient, so if it cracks it can easily be repaired simply by bringing the two edges together and pressing. The key is to move as quickly as possible - you don't want to leave the pastry on the counter for too long once it has been rolled.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Once the pastry is ready, prepare your leeks. Wash and trim the dark green leaves. Slice thinly, about 1/8" thick, and saute over medium low heat until softened. This may take about 10-15 minutes and you can add some salt to draw out excess moisture. This will reduce the chances of your quiche turning out soggy.
Prepare ham by trimming excess fat and chopping into 1/2" pieces. The bottom of the pastry should be well covered with ham.
Break eggs into a bowl and add milk. Whisk together very well. You don't want any little pieces of yolk visible in the mixture. Season with freshly ground pepper. You can trim the edge of the pastry now, if needed.
Once leeks are finished, add to the pie plate and pour egg mixture over top. Place pie plate onto a cookie sheet, just in case the quiche bubbles over. Slide into oven and bake for 50-55 minutes. The filling will be set, but not solid. It should be a light golden brown on top and the pastry will be golden around the edges.
The pastry recipe is good for 2-9-inch pie crusts. Any extra pie crust can be stored in the fridge (up to 1 week) or freezer (up to 1 month), until you are ready to use it.
Spring has sprung and so has the asparagus!
Asparagus is one of the first vegetables grown in Manitoba to actually be ready for harvest. It’s picked in the spring (typically May-June) and if you head over to your local grocery store in the spring months you may even find some from your local farms! It’s also during these spring months when asparagus is at its most reasonable price.
When buying asparagus I like to look for thinner stalks because they are often more tender and less woody. I also like to look for bunches of all the same or almost the same diameter so that they all cook in about the same time.
A note on frozen asparagus: as with most veggies we would recommend buying frozen when asparagus is out of season. Frozen varieties are just as healthy as fresh and also usually a better price, especially when asparagus is not in season. Always take a quick minute at the grocery store to compare prices!
Store asparagus upright in some water in the fridge. You may notice that this is how they’re actually kept in some grocery stores. The container in the photograph below is great, it’s tall and can hold more than one bunch if necessary. This particular one is from Ikea but any tall container, including wide mouth mason jars will work.
How to Prepare
Easy Steam or Boil Asparagus
- Remove about half an inch of the ends.
- Cut into small pieces, halves, or leave whole.
- Add to steamer or steamer basket with a few inches of water underneath, or directly into a pot of water.
- Steam or boil for 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to over cook or your asparagus will be mushy!
- Toss with about 1 tsp canola oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Easy Roasted Asparagus
- Remove about half an inch of the ends.
- Toss asparagus with canola oil and a pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Spread out onto a baking sheet and top with 2-3 slices of lemon.
- Roast at 375F for 10-15 minutes.
Everyone loves a good chocolate chip muffin! Here is a super simple recipe and they are made with whole wheat flour.
This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Golden Chocolate Chip Muffins recipe. It was tested with buttermilk, as well as regular milk, and the results were consistent.
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins
Preheat your oven to 350F and lightly grease or line a 12-cup standard muffin tin.
In a large mixing bowl, combine butter or margarine, sugar, vanilla, salt, and baking powder. Mix until well combined and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in milk. Add the flour and stir until combined. Add the chocolate chips and stir well.
Fill muffin cups with batter - approximately 2/3 full. Bake in preheated oven for 30-32 minutes, until toothpick inserted in centre comes away clean.
These tasty and quick cinnamon buns are an easy alternative to regular cinnamon buns. This recipe still gives you a hearty bun, without having to spend all day baking.
This recipe has been tested with both regular milk and buttermilk, and results were consistent.
Easy Cinnamon Buns
Preheat oven to 400F; prepare your 12-cup muffin pan by greasing it with cooking spray.
In an electric mixer bowl, add both flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Turn mixer on until the dry ingredients are well combined.
With the mixer on low, add the cubed butter and continue mixing until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the milk and mix until a dough forms into a ball that comes away from the side of the ball. Turn dough onto floured counter and let rest for 5 minutes.
While the dough rests, melt the butter for the filling. Combine the brown sugar and the spices.
Cut the dough in 2 equal parts and let rest for 10 minutes. The filling recipe above is enough for both halves.
Once the dough has rested, roll the first half into a rectangle that is approximately 8"x 12". Brush dough with melted butter, getting as close as possible to the edges. Sprinkle with half of the brown sugar/spice mixture.
Beginning with the long edge closest to you, snugly roll the dough together. Once you've finished, pinch the raw edges together to seal the roll. Cut the long roll into 6 equal pieces, each one approximately 2" in length. Place in greased muffin tin.
Repeat the previous two steps with the remaining dough.
Peel the outermost layer of each roll out and curl the edges under, so they begin to look like roses. You don't have to do this step, but it does add to the overall appearance once they've been baked.
Bake in 400F oven for 25 minutes. The buns will be a lovely golden brown!
This colourful Greek Barley Salad is packed full of fibre and veggies. Using barley as the base to this salad has the benefit of giving it a huge nutritional punch while also being easy to prepare.
The recipe is very versatile. You can use pot or pearl barley to make this salad and feel free to make extra barley to freeze for future use. Any veggies you have on hand can be added or substituted to make this salad your own. We strongly recommend making the salad dressing in a mason jar so that you can shake to mix the ingredients well – this is a fun task for kids too!
Greek Barley Salad
This colourful Greek Barley Salad is full of veggies and packs a nutritional punch. Serve it as a dinner side or as part of a healthy lunch.
Combine barley with 2 cups of water and cook until tender (about 40 minutes).
Meanwhile, combine salad dressing ingredients in a mason jar. Shake and set aside.
When barley is cool, combine with cucumber, onion, pepper, and baby tomatoes in a large bowl.
When ready to serve, pour dressing over salad and mix to combine.