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Low-Carb Spring Vegetables Made Easy

With spring sprouts a host of wonderful seasonal ingredients: asparagus, artichokes, radishes, and more. These veggie recipes are delicious, low-carb, and don't require any fancy ingredients.

Here on the East Coast, the winters are long and punishing. There is snow and more snow, intermingled only with the occasional respite of sleet, and by the time the days warm up, you feel tempted to yank those first green shoots from the ground and chew them up right there in your back yard.

Even given the fact of global food system, with year-round berries and greens shipped everywhere from all over, there is something almost elemental about this early seasonal moment: asparagus, artichokes, young greens and roots, everything so fresh and vibrant and perfectly calibrated to be exactly what we need, exactly right now.

Preparing perfect spring vegetables is not rocket science, of course, but still, it’s nice to have a few recipes up your sleeve so you can magic them into the most delicious dishes imaginable. And that’s what these do.

They take wonderful seasonal ingredients – asparagus, artichokes, radishes, spinach and strawberries – and make them even more wonderful. All without adding much in the way of carbs or fancy ingredients or, really, anything at all. So the vegetables can shine, and you can get you’re fill – quick, before the summer is upon us with its peaches and watermelon and corn. Quick, while the world is still green!

1. Roasted Lemon-Parmesan Asparagus

At the beginning of asparagus season, when it’s so fresh and exciting that I can’t believe I get to live on the same planet as it, I like asparagus cooked as simply as possible.

For me, that means barely boiled in a shallow panful of salted water and dotted with a bit of butter before serving. Later, though, I like to expand my repertoire. In this case, roasting brings out all the sweetness of the vegetable, and the cheese and lemon add a bit of richness and tang.

If you’ve never prepared asparagus before, here’s a tiny note about trimming them: the bottoms are woody, so you’ll want to snap them off. Pick up an asparagus, bend it gently, and you’ll feel the natural snapping place. I’m sorry – does that sound like directions for reading a crystal ball? I swear it won’t feel mystical when you actually try it.

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2. Spinach Salad With Strawberry Vinaigrette

Yes, you could just slice the strawberries and add them to your spinach salad like a normal person.

But putting them in the dressing makes the whole thing so pinkly gorgeous, and you get that bright berry flavor in every bite. Add sliced strawberries too, if you like, and call it a Double-Strawberry Salad.

While you’re at it, feel free to add other ingredients as well: grilled chicken will turn this salad into a main dish; diced avocado and chopped toasted almonds will add richness and crunch. Or make it as written and it will be simply wonderful.

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3. Basic Artichokes

Have you ever cooked and eaten an artichoke? If not, you’re in for a treat (assuming you like artichokes).

Because while it’s true that if melted butter were involved, I would probably eat a sandal dipped in it, there is something so delicious about this giant greenish-gray alien vegetable. And yes, you’ve maybe read that they should be properly steamed, roasted, stuffed, or grilled.

But I’m a fan of simple boiling them in salted water, which both amplifies their tender sweetness and seasons them perfectly all the way through. Try it! (Also, I’m not going on and on about how loaded they are with fiber and antioxidants ­– but I could.)

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4. Butter-Braised Radishes

If you’ve only ever eaten radishes raw in all their crunchy, pungent sharpness, then you’ll be surprised by how tender and caramel-sweet they get when you cook them like this.

You’ll be especially pleasantly surprised if you don’t even like them raw. It’s kind of a revelation. The recipe is spectacular with early-season bunched red radishes, but the truth is that it’s pretty forgiving, so if you have a bag of slightly dinged-up radishes, those will be delicious too, as will a peeled daikon cut into thick half-moons.

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A few other vegetable side dishes worth trying:

Photo credits: Catherine Newman