With St. Patrick’s Day and spring just around the corner, I was inspired to make one of my favorite, bright green veggie dishes this weekend: a spring pea, asparagus and mint salad. This salad includes a combination of fresh and frozen produce, is simple, packed full of flavor and filled with a powerhouse of nutrients.
Asparagus is packed with folate and vitamin C, and contains fiber. Added to the asparagus are green peas, which are rich in vitamins A, C and K, and a good source of fiber and folate. I prefer to use as many fresh ingredients as possible, but I used frozen peas for this recipe. Fresh peas can be more difficult to find in the store, and using frozen ones can help reduce the cost of the salad.
Although many people worry about decreased flavor or nutrients in frozen foods, the process for preparing frozen produce today actually retains much of the texture, flavor and nutrition of the fresh version. In fact, some frozen produce may even be more nutritious than the fresh variety. Fruits and vegetables picked for freezing tend to be processed at their peak ripeness, which is often when they have the most nutrients.
Frozen vegetables that you buy in the grocery store have been briefly cooked in boiling water (a process called blanching) and then plunged into an ice water bath to halt the cooking process. This helps the vegetables maintain their quality so they taste and look similar to fresh vegetables when you cook them.
One of the key steps in this recipe you’ll also do is blanching. By plunging the asparagus and peas into an ice bath immediately after briefly boiling, you’ll stop the cooking process and keep the vegetables crisp.
This salad is easy to make, the unique blend of flavors from the mint and lemon zest make for an exciting twist on a simple vegetable side. I like to pair it with a simple lemon salmon and farro or quinoa side.
Here’s the full recipe, Spring Pea, Asparagus and Mint Salad.
Thanks to Sonja Goedkoop for guest blogging.
Sonja Goedkoop, MSPH, RD, is the lead registered dietitian at Zesty, Inc. She is passionate about helping others improve their health through diet and physical activity and believes eating nutritious food should be easy and taste great. You can follow her on Twitter @SonjaGoedkoopRD.