Ahhhhh…spring in the Northwest! My favorite thing about spring is the weather. Yup, I’m talking all of it – the rain, the beautiful afternoon sun breaks, the random wind storms…all because it is the lead up to what will hopefully be another bountiful year for locally grown produce!
You know spring is really here when luscious green vegetables start showing up at the Co-op. We’ve had local bulk spinach and salad mix for a little while now, and this week brought our first deliveries of asparagus from Devine Gardens in Custer and English and Mediterranean cucumbers (my favorite local produce item!) from local grower Dominion Organics greenhouses (they supply us with fresh, local wheatgrass all year). Devine Gardens is harvesting a couple acres worth of organic asparagus this year (they will have up to 9 acres in the next couple years) and is also distributing organic asparagus grown in Eastern Washington. This is great for everyone because no distributor is involved, so it the produce is essentially still farmer direct and super fresh! Devine is also at the Ferndale Farmer’s Market and they have a produce stand in Custer (check out the Farmer’s Market blog here).
Inspired by these first bounties of spring, I put together a trio of dips/dressings to serve with fresh local produce all summer. It’s amazing how many dip recipes out there call for mayonnaise, and I don’t have anything against that, but it is fun to mix it up with something a little unexpected, so I used garlic aioli and So Good! brand Miso Mayo as alternatives. They are both vegan (no eggs or dairy) and naturally gluten-free, so all can enjoy them. I did add sour cream to the Tomasil (say “toe-may-zel”) dip, but you can add a non-dairy sour cream alternative to make the dip vegan. I used 3 t of homemade wasabi paste to the Wasabi Miso dip, and most thought that it had the right amount of punch to it without leaving too much wasabi flavor behind.
TOMASIL DIP (Tomato/Basil Dip)
1 c garlic aioli
1/2 c sour cream (you can use non-dairy sour cream as well)
1/2 c chopped, fresh basil
1 T tomato paste
1 t grated lemon rind
Whisk together all ingredients. Cover and chill for up to 2 days (if desired).
Note: This was very popular with the asparagus!!!
WASABI MISO DIP
1 container So Good! Miso Mayo
1/2 t sugar
2 t fresh lemon juice
2-3 t wasabi paste (see note below)
Whisk together all ingredients. Can be made one day in advance. Cover and refrigerate.
Note: To make wasabi paste, combine equal parts water and wasabi powder in small bowl (in this recipe, use 2-3 t dry powder). Mix together and let sit for 15 minutes.
1 c olive oil (high quality)
~1/2 c balsamic vinegar (depending on quality of vinegar)
3 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and fresh pepper, to taste
Whisk together vinegar and garlic. Add oil in a steady stream while whisking constantly, until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
All of these dips/dressings are great with seasonal vegetables—blanched asparagus, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, cauliflower, etc.
To blanch asparagus: Bring salted water to a boil. Cook asparagus in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, until it turns bright green, but is still crisp. Transfer to a colander and rinse under cold water immediately to stop cooking, or plunge in an ice water bath. Drain well, pat dry, and refrigerate for up to two days.