By Jane Dummer RD

Welcome spring! The days are getting longer, the temperatures are rising and we are tired of winter comfort foods. Enter spring vegetables.

Asparagus, artichokes, fiddleheads, peas, rhubarb and spinach are some of my favourites. Spring crops provide a wealth of nutrition plus they add wonderful flavours of the season. Pair them with barley to plant a spring in your step after a long winter.

Let’s shed the spotlight on asparagus, spinach and rhubarb to reenergize your taste buds and brighten up your recipes. Here is one of my delicious spring menus to do just that, bon appetite!

Spring Veggies and Barley Menu

Barley and Asparagus Avgolemono Soup

Avgolemono is the name for a traditional Greek soup made eggs and lemon juice. Lemon provides the tang, eggs give a velvety smooth finish, and barley replaces rice or pasta in this soup with the spring vegetable asparagus. It is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. Asparagus is high in vitamin K and potassium which promote both heart and bone health. Also it’s a good source of fibre like barley promoting digestive health. With only 175 calories per serving, this delicious soup is sure to renew your senses!

Jane’s Meal Planning Tip
Be sure to follow the method described in the recipe to temper the eggs so they don’t curdle when added to the hot broth.

Lebanese-Inspired Beef and Barley

After a long day at work, this dish with its aromatic mixture of allspice, cinnamon and pepper along with the lemon juice and rinds gives you a fresh taste to enhance your mood. Whenever I see spinach growing in the fields, I know it’s a wonderful indication of the earth warming up after a long winter! Packed with antioxidants similar to barley, spinach helps combat oxidative stress. So enjoy this easy to make, tasty and nutritious dish for your spring menu.

Jane’s Meal Planning Tip
This recipe only requires a Dutch oven or large skillet, so the cleanup is minimal. Separate and refrigerate the leftovers into individual containers for easy grab and reheat lunches the next day.

Rhubarb Pecan Muffins

Yes, rhubarb is technically a vegetable! However, it is often used like a fruit in jams, baked goods and desserts. In addition to the rhubarb, the muffins are made with one full cup of whole barley flour, ¾ cup of chopped pecans, and grated orange peel for an extra nutrition punch. Rhubarb stalks are a good source of antioxidants, fibre and vitamin K. I serve these tangy muffins with the streusel topping as a delicious individual dessert.

Jane’s Meal Planning Tip
When you’re using fresh rhubarb keep in mind, medium sized rhubarb stalks are tenderer than larger stalks. Also, the deeper the red of the stalks gives more flavour.

Spring has sprung and there’s no better way to enjoy the season’s beautiful vegetables than paired with the homegrown wholegrain barley. Let me know which spring vegetable you like to add to your barley recipes in the comments below!