Taste of spring: Fresh vegetables simple to prepare, pack lots of flavor

Fresh mint and scallions bring out the natural sweetness of English peas. (Courtesy)

Fresh mint and scallions bring out the natural sweetness of English peas. (Courtesy)

By Ginna Parsons

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo Farmers’ Market opened Saturday, as I’m sure others in Northeast Mississippi have, so there’s no excuse for any of us to not eat locally grown fresh produce.

It will be weeks before the tomatoes and blueberries and okra come in, but for now we can be content with new potatoes, English peas, a variety of lettuces, radishes, spring onions, broccoli and cauliflower, among other things.

Often, the best foods are those that are simply prepared. A little olive oil, some spices and a few herbs are usually all that’s needed to coax the best flavors from nature’s bounty.

Here are four recipes to get you started.

English Peas with Mint

2 scallions, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups shelled English peas

Salt to taste

5 to 6 mint leaves, torn

Sauté scallions in olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shelled peas, a pinch of salt, and enough water to barely cover. Cook over high heat for 2 minutes, then add the torn mint leaves.

Continue cooking until the peas are tender, a few more minutes. Check for seasoning, and add more salt if needed.

Serves 4.

Roasted Garlic Potatoes

Cornstarch helps give these roasted potatoes their crispness. (Courtesy)

Cornstarch helps give these roasted potatoes their crispness. (Courtesy)

2 pounds red potatoes, cut into wedges

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder

3⁄4 teaspoon salt

1⁄4 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley

1⁄8 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Place oven rack in upper-middle position. Place rimmed baking sheet on rack and preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Toss potatoes, cornstarch, garlic powder, salt and pepper together in a large bowl.

Remove preheated baking sheet from oven, add oil, and tilt baking sheet to evenly coat with oil. Place potatoes, cut side down in a single layer, on baking sheet. Roast until browned around edges, about 30 minutes.

Mix butter, garlic, parsley and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Remove baking sheet from oven and, using a metal spatula, turn potatoes skin side down.

Roast until potatoes are crisp and deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer potatoes to a bowl with butter mixture and toss until evenly coated. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

Serves 4.

Green Salad Vinaigrette

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

3 tablespoons champagne vinegar

2 teaspoon kosher salt

1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 cups mixed salad greens

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, garlic, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper. While whisking, slowly add the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified.

Place the salad greens in a medium bowl and add enough dressing to moisten. Sprinkle with a little extra salt and pepper, if desired, and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6.

Roasted Radishes

3 bunches small radishes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Trim and wash radishes.

In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the radishes, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned in spots, about 2 minutes.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the radishes for 15 minutes, until crisp-tender.

Return the skillet to the burner and stir in the butter to coat the radishes. Cook another minute or two.

Add the lemon juice and season with salt. Serve the radishes right away.

Serves 8.