The Vegan Planet cookbook and I did not get off on the right foot. The recipes just weren't quite jiving with my tastes and I was getting frustrated. So I set the book aside for a little while and just recently have worked it back into rotation.
I'm really glad I did because this very simple recipe for a spring vegetable gratin (found on page 358 of the book) makes for an incredibly delicious April evening meal.
I have been very excitedly watching the produce at my local supplier's store grow in number week by week, as the spring season progresses. It's such a nice reminder that the lazy days of summer are just a stone's throw away, and while I love squash as much as the next guy, we need a little bit of distance right now. He and I will pick up where we left off when the leaves start to change again.
In the meantime, I will enjoy the produce diversity of the coming months and I've promised myself that this year I will make more of an effort to even venture into the unknown when it comes to seasonal produce, even if it looks freaky and I'm not quite sure how to cook it (if that's not what Google is for, I'm not sure what is).
It's still early, though, and the only major change I've noticed to the produce aisle is an abundance of asparagus. It's hard to believe that asparagus was once on the list of foods I hadn't tried (and also wouldn't try). Since then it's become one of my favourite vegetables. As a result of this new found appreciation for this cool guy (get it? aspara-GUY?! Come on...don't you dare roll your eyes at me), I am not taking these first spring crops for granted.
The asparagus, along with some yellow squash, grape tomatoes, scallions, garlic and baby potatoes came together nicely as the base for this gratin. Look how colourful!
I have a thing for bright colours, especially when it comes to food. This recipe gives whole new meaning to the term "eating the rainbow" doesn't it?
I did make one minor change to the recipe to suit our tastes. It calls for fresh dill (another spring staple), but I really don't like dill. I don't know what it is, I just can't learn to like it. So instead of dill I used a bit of Italian spice along with dried chives and a bit of cayenne pepper. Topped it all off with some breadcrumbs and slivered almonds, et voila -
I served it up with some sliced french bread with the tiniest bit of vegan butter, garlic powder and nutritional yeast (warmed in the oven for about 5 minutes, just enough to melt the butter and mingle the flavours). A warm and flavourful meal to enjoy with the windows slightly ajar and the smell of spring rain creeping into the house.