I firmly believe that cauliflower has experienced a renaissance because of the South Beach and Paleo diets. Both of these lifestyles embrace a wide variety of vegetables, and getting creative is crucial to keeping things exciting. In these lifestyles, cauliflower subs for starch in many different ways but especially mashed potatoes and, in this instance, pasta. Nutritionally, however, this white veggie is far from a starch. Loaded with vitamins C and B-12, it’s also high on the fiber list and even sports some protein. This recipe for faux “couscous” could also become a main course if you add some cooked chicken or ham.
Read more: Recipe: Cauliflower couscous with bacon
Like chicken, salmon is thankfully super easy to cook. The only thing you have to be careful of is not to overcook the delicate flesh. I normally pull my salmon off the grill or pan when it’s still a little reddish-pink in the middle… it’s a consistency I enjoy. I’m also an advocate for wild salmon, and most are sourced from the Pacific Ocean. For flavor, texture, nutrients and color, king (or Chinook), sockeye and coho are all superior to any farmed salmon. But if that’s all you can find, don’t hold back
Read more: Recipe: Blackened wild salmon with lemon
Approaching September, tomatoes are coming on strong in the grocery stores and in home gardens across the nation. This crop is the #1 homegrown item since they’re pretty easy to grow and, well, homemade always tastes best. If you’re not a gardener, the rising popularity of farmer’s markets (finally!) also makes it easier to source delicious, vine-ripened tomatoes. Since these are my favorite veg… er.. fruit, I get a little excited about this. To choose the right ones and to keep these savory fruits fresh and scrumptious, here are a few tips plus some recipes to try with tomatoes.
Read more: In Season Now: Tomato recipes, how to choose, store and keep
Acorn squash is often a surprise “volunteer” arrival in my spring compost bin, when the scooped out seeds sprout with the warmth of the season. I’m able to grow a couple squashes before the plant realizes that summer heat is upon it and it goes dormant. Normally, acorn squash grows in winter but it’s available year-round. It’s a transplant from South America, where squash is abundant in the cooking and in the culture. Full of vitamins A, C, and B, they’re also rich with potassium, fiber and magnesium. This recipe takes a few more steps but it is well worth the effort. Eat the skin and all… it turns into a delicious, savory/sweet candy. The tart vinaigrette gives it a brightness that is not to be missed.
Read more: Side Recipe: Baked acorn squash tossed with spicy vinaigrette
This recipe is for those who think they could never, ever actually enjoy a vegetarian “burger”. And, hey, at some point in my life, I would have said the same thing. And so would my meat-loving (obsessed?) husband. But he loves these quick, easy black bean “burgers”. [NB: I use the term burger loosely since these beauties are formed into patties and could be served on buns]. You really don’t miss the meat. At all. I could seriously eat these once per week and not get tired of them, so I share this recipe with full disclosure… addiction could ensue.
Read more: Vegetarian recipe: The best black bean burgers ever (really)
Sweet potatoes are some kind of nutritious! Vitamin A, C and plenty of fiber. But I’ve never loved the boring, plain baked sweet potato… I need to have a dash of savory with this meaty, starchy veggie. So I cut ‘em up, throw on some spice and roast them until they become a beautiful side dish with grilled chicken, BBQ rubbed pork chops or pretty much anything. This recipe comes together in 5 minutes and cooks for about 15 minutes. Easy peasy weeknight or weekend recipe. Serves two.
Read more: Recipe: Roasted spicy sweet potato fries
Due to its healthful aspects — high in protein, vitamin B-12 and iron — fish is something I try to eat at least twice a week. It can enliven a boring week of chicken, pork and beef. But it can be challenging to find super fresh fillets that don’t sport the stomach-turning “fishy” taste; frozen is often what I reach for. But you can still find excellent fresh fish at the grocery store and fish counters, however, you must be vigilant — always ask the guy behind the counter to let you smell the fish before it’s wrapped. Even a whiff of fishiness is a good indication it’s been out of the water a while. Your nose will let you know the deal. This recipe calls for either sea bass or Mahi Mahi, but you can use other white fish as well (halibut or cod come to mind). Tilapia isn’t ideal since it’s too thin, and oilier fish like salmon or swordfish won’t work either. You can also half this recipe. To keep the fillets crispy for the next day, store in a plastic container with wax paper on the bottom.
Read more: Recipe: Crispy Sea Bass or Mahi Mahi with lemon dill sauce
Although vegetables have their own fabulous goodness on their own, when you tire of the same ‘ole thing, a simple sauce goes a long way to renewed or increased deliciousness. My favorite spring vegetable is asparagus, a perennial plant related to garlic and onions and native to Asia, Europe and North Africa. It’s super high in fiber and nutrients like vitamins B1 and 2, C, E, K as well as folate, copper and manganese. Enjoy with abandon.
Read more: Spring vegetable recipes: Four sauces for steamed, grilled or roasted asparagus