By Food Contributor Hamish McLaren
Vegan dishes can be just as varied and exciting as a regular omnivore diet. The key is to try new things and be open to new flavors. Spring is the perfect time to change up your recipe book because fun, fresh produce will start pouring into the farmer’s markets and stores. Tender, delicate spring fruits and vegetables like lettuces, strawberries, leeks, and ramps are all excellent additions to vegan cooking. These delicate spring flavors won’t be overpowered by meat, and when you use a vegan recipe, these ingredients will shine. Here are seven great vegan recipes to try this spring.
1. Spring Carrot, Radish, and Quinoa Salad with Herbed Avocado (top image)
This colorful Spring Carrot, Radish, and Quinoa Salad with Herbed Avocado by Cookie and Kate is a lovely vehicle for spring radishes. The peppery bite of the radish blends perfectly with the sweet carrot and buttery avocado in the salad. Combining these delicate raw vegetables with cooked quinoa produces a more filling salad, and combining the grains with the vegetables and greens creates the perfect meal for a cool spring day. The grains are a hearty hold over from winter, while the greens and radishes highlight spring’s coming goodies.
2. Strawberry and Lemon Tarts
These Strawberry and Lemon Tarts by Rainbow Nourishments use seeds instead of nuts or traditional flour for the tart crust. This technique gives the crust a great bite, and it’s always nice to have a few nut-free and vegan recipes in your pocket. The tarts feature beautiful strawberries on top, and this recipe would make a wonderful addition to a spring party like a baby shower, a graduation party, or a wedding shower.
3. Easy Vegan Garlic Scape Pesto
This Vegan Garlic Scape Pesto by Oh She Glows is the perfect spring condiment for pasta, sandwiches or cold salads. Garlic scapes are the top part of the garlic plant, much like the top shoot of a young onion. Like green onions, garlic scapes have a more mild flavor than the garlic bulb itself. This recipe combines a vegan parmesan “cheese” along with olive oil and traditional pesto ingredients to create a mild, nutty pesto that is perfect for showcasing the garlic scapes. Scapes aren’t in season very long, so make sure you whip this up while you can!
4. Vietnamese Spring Rolls
What could be more seasonally appropriate than these tasty Vietnamese Spring Rolls? These rolls (by Simple Vegan Blog) are a great appetizer, and they showcase several lovely spring vegetables like carrots, cabbage, and greens nicely. They are also very easy to make, and they also travel well. Try packing a picnic lunch with these spring rolls and some sauces to make a fun spring outing. Peanut sauce, plain soy sauce or tamarind sauce all pair well with these tasty and simple Vietnamese spring rolls.
5. Cocoa Coconut Mint Smoothie
Sometimes being vegan means missing out on certain tastes from your childhood but not with this Cocoa Coconut Mint Smoothie from An Unrefined Vegan. If you’ve ever drooled over the memory of that neon green Shamrock Shake a certain clown panders, then this is the St. Patrick’s Day treat for you. It doesn’t have that green glow, but it has a terrific minty flavor that won’t make you regret going vegan for one second. This smoothie is packed with vitamins and healthy fats from the coconut. It’s a great treat to prepare in big batches. Try it frozen!
6. 5 Ingredient Warm Artichoke Dip
This fresh and easy 5 Ingredient Warm Artichoke Dip from Delightful Vegans really highlights fresh, spring artichokes. This vegan version won’t weigh you down with heavy cream and cheeses like a non-vegan artichoke dip. Instead, the artichokes are blended with cashews and a little bit of nutritional yeast to give it a cheesy flavor. This dip is a great dinner party starter. It’s also much easier to serve to a crowd than individually roasted artichokes, which can be cumbersome to prepare in large quantities. We bet that most guests won’t even realize it’s vegan.
7. Orange Roasted Asparagus
The Tomato Tart’s Orange Roasted Asparagus is the perfect recipe to emphasize the tender stalks of spring asparagus. The orange flavor is a delicate compliment to the crisp asparagus. This recipe is simple and an easy side dish to compliment any meal. While asparagus is available year-round, fresh spring asparagus is a real treat to the taste buds. If you’ve never had very fresh asparagus, then run out to your local farmers’ market and get some this spring.
We hope these seven vegan recipes have inspired you to try all that spring has to offer. Fresh spring produce is a delicious addition to any diet. However, once you go vegan, these items take on a new zest and depth of flavor. Don’t be afraid to try new produce when you see it in season because that is the best way to experience the real flavor of the food!
A longtime vegan and advocate for veganism, Hamish regularly shares his favorite recipes on his website, Hamish McLaren’s Vegan Recipes.
Out of the gray woods steps a trio of does. They move with trepidation as they enter the the old pasture, which is just now starting to green up in the early spring sun. The big old doe leads the way, stopping every few steps to cast her black nose into the wind and twist her radar-dish ears for any sign of predators.
They have come to graze in the twilight, eating the sweet grass or early spring that was once meant for cattle and horses but is now a fine repast these final months of pregnancy. In just a few months, dappled fawns will be dropping, and the does will be stamping and blowing as the coyotes come slipping through the thickets. By then, the coyotes will have their own young with insatiable appetites for milk and regurgitated meat, and the flesh of fawns will play a major role in determining whether their pups survive until weaning or not.
But that drama is now a long way off. The best these three does can do now is eat the nutritious grass and feed the new life that stirs within them. This is the only thing they can do now to ensure some sort of good start for their babes to come.
Although they seem awfully banal to people living in West Virginia, where they menace flowerbeds, vegetable gardens, and long night drives on lonesome country roads, the white-tailed deer is actually one of the oldest hoofed mammals still in existence. Valerius Geist, a Canadian biologist and deer expert, believes the species is over 3 million years old, a sort of living fossil among a family that includes the giant moose and the diminutive muntjacs.
In those three million years, it watched as the last of the bone-crushing dogs fell to the wayside. Borophagus, a sort of bulldog-coyote of this bone-crusher lineage, was probably among its first major predators, but it was unable to compete with the first jackal-like wolves that were just starting to come on their own. That lineage of jackal-like wolves would evolve into bigger and harder running forms, Edward’s wolf was the first to menace the white-tail. The came Armbruster’s wolf, which grew heavier and more powerfully built, eventually become the dire wolf. The Pleistocene coyote, somewhat larger than the modern species, came long to eat the scraps and lift the fawns in the thickets. A plethora of big cats, including the largest species of lion and the odd wandering jaguar took deer when they could, and the saber-tooth and dirk-toothed cats did the same. Massive short-faced bears probably took the odd deer as well. Whitetail noses and radar ears were made in this world of fell beasts.
They were here to watch the first woolly mammoths come trundling down the continent along with the long-horned bison that gave rise to our buffalo. They were run of persimmon groves by mastodons, those little furry forest elephant, now lost in the long march of time. The whitetails grazed among the three-toed horses and the early forms of the modern species, and among there number were twelve species of pronghorn, a tribe that consists of only a single species of these “fake antelope,” which wanders the Western plains and deserts. The whitetail shared its meals of willow twigs with the stag-moose, a cousin to the modern species that ranged deep into North America and, like all the rest, now extinct and mostly forgotten.
When Europeans came, the whitetail lived among the modern bison and round-horned elk. They were hunted by cougars and wolves of the modern species. Indigenous took them for hides and meat and sinew, and the first Europeans used them in much the same way.
But Europeans fed a market economy. Deer hides were worth quite a bit, as were those of buffalo and elk. Venison was also good meat, and the game herds shrunk. The elk and the bison disappeared, as did the wolf and the cougar. European civilization believed it had conquered nature here and now.
But the whitetails held on. Conservation laws were enacted in the early twentieth century. Deer from other parts of the country were brought in, and the recovery began.
The deer in this new world, free of competitors and predators, found themselves in a paradise their kind had never known before. They grew fat on acorns and dropped many fawns, and in few decades, they had grown strong and numerous in their new kingdom.
So numerous that some would argue they are a pestilence. Others become beguiled by the ivory-colored rapier crowns that the bucks wear in autumn and spend long days in the autumn on a quest to hold these rapier crowns in their own hands.
When I cut into a venison backstrap steak, which I’ve pan-fried medium rare so that it is still oaky and earthy and juicy, I savor the bites. The flesh I eat is captured sunlight that beamed onto the oak trees in June, which became the acorns. The acorns fell and the deer devoured them, and this particular deer died to become the backstrap that my steak knife is cutting through.
But just as the venison is captured June light, it is also profoundly native. This is the flesh of the last surviving wild ungulate to roam these hills, a survivor from the age of the great beasts, when it was one of many things wild and free.
Though the elk may bugle again on some mountainside in Southern West Virginia, the whitetail is the one that withstood the onslaught .
The does to continue to graze in the pasture, but the wind shifts so they can catch my scent. And they bound for the timber, native beings who hold stronger title to the land than I ever could. They now escape into a paradise of oak groves and autumn olive thickets, an eden that they inherited only through the caprices of man.
They aren’t just earth dogs. These are Border terriers in Germany.