Spring has finally sprung! I’ve been enjoying time outside and even started planting a few things in my garden this week! I absolutely love gardening. I developed that love during a tough time in my life, and discovered that nothing helped to heal my heart and mind more than digging in the ground and tending to a bunch of beautiful plants. Everything about it is just so uplifting – being outdoors, feeling connected to nature, seeing new growth that you helped to nurture; I even enjoy the bugs because it makes me appreciate just how much life is all around us, and how we can appreciate it if we just take the time to look.
Among the few early-season items I planted, were a few heads of lettuce. We have a lot of bunnies roaming around our property, so I hope they leave some lettuce for me! While my own lettuce is not yet ready to eat, I am enjoying some of Spring’s harvest from the grocery store, and this week’s recipes feature some seasonal items. Of course there is salad, and I FINALLY found some organic strawberries after months without. Why is it that during Winter the only strawberries available are the tasteless, watery, non-organic ones? Yuck 😛 The first thing I made with my precious berries, was the long-awaited Glowing Strawberry-Mango Guacamole. Keep reading for more!
Glowing Strawberry-Mango Guacamole
I love guacamole, and I thought I had mastered the perfect recipe for it – but this one showed me there is still a whole world of possibilities out there! I would never have thought to put fruit in guacamole, and was so excited that this version called for two of my favorites; mango and strawberries. Not only is the result beautiful to look at, it bursts with fresh, vibrant flavor! You should absolutely add the optional jalapeno, as it creates such an interesting contrast with the sweet fruits. I can’t wait to bring this to a party or pot luck and have everyone experience this unique and wonderful dish!
Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters
I had been waiting to finish off our store-bought granola before trying out this recipe, and the day finally came this week. I don’t know what gave me the idea that making home made granola was difficult, because it really isn’t. I love how healthy all the ingredients going into this are. I made half a batch and it will be plenty for our purposes. My hubby and I both like to sprinkle some on our overnight oats and he puts it in his yogurt, so we use it every day, and one week later we still have a large freezer bag about half full of granola. For the fruit, I chose dried apricots. They dried out a bit too much in the oven, and after making this recipe I watched an episode of America’s Test Kitchen that suggests stirring dried fruit into granola after baking. I’ll try that next time.
Chakra Caesar Salad
I would love to know the story behind the new-age name of this salad! Hehe. I always struggle to think of creative names for my own recipes. Well, if it is meant to imply that this salad has some kind of mystical powers, I would say that’s fair, as it certainly was delicious and soul soothing. Just as Angela reminisced in the book about Caesar salad being a childhood favorite, it is for me as well. My mom has her famous Caesar recipe that she shares with everyone who tastes it, and nowadays I use it when I am aiming to impress. This vegan version is pretty spot-on. The dressing is garlicky and creamy, with the perfect amount of zest from the added lemon juice. A note – unless you REALLY love garlic, I would steer away from the optional raw garlic in the dressing. It already has plenty of good flavor from the entire head of roasted garlic that goes into it. While this is a recipe that is not-to-be-missed, it is labor intensive, so save it for a special occasion.
Nutty Herb Croutons
Part of what makes the Caesar salad recipe (above) a little on the long side to make, is the fact that it calls for these homemade croutons. Of course, you could skip these and just make the salad with regular old store-bought croutons, but I have a cookbook to finish, so I made the fancy croutons. You start by making a really sticky dough that you form into little crouton chunks and then bake in the oven. I had fun with that step and felt like a kid playing with play dough. I think it is a neat concept that you can do a lot with, adding different herbs and spices to make savory little bits to add to salads, soups, pilafs, nut medleys, or even just to snack on. I would like to find a way to make them crunchier though. I wonder if maybe mine were still warm when I put them in a sealed container and possibly steamed up to become a little soggy. I am going to try them again, baking them a little longer, being careful to let them cool completely, and also adding a few things like nutritional yeast and a sprinkling of salt to make up for the fact that I don’t have the Herbamare called for in the recipe.