About six weeks ago, I stumbled upon a new-to-me food blog called Love and Lemons. I fell in love with the clean and pretty design, as well as the stunning photography, on the spot. Shortly after, I corresponded with Jeanine by email and asked her if she’d like to guest post here at Healthy Green Kitchen. I was so happy she said “yes”!

Jeanine is a freelance graphic designer turned food writer and photographer (along with her husband Jack… credit goes to him for many of the photos on their blog). In their spare time, Jeanine and Jack are passionate about traveling to all ends of the world in search of great meals. They started Love and Lemons as a way to tell the stories of their life together through the food that they eat…I am pretty sure they’re soon going to have legions of fans hungry for all they have to share.

So without further ado, I’m now turning you over to Jeanine!

I’m so excited to be guest posting on Winnie’s blog. I’ve been a fan for a long time and while I read a good many food sites, I actually cook from this one all the time. I’m always fascinated by the interesting food and flavor combinations she puts together.

Cute little story… a little over a year ago my husband was searching all corners of the web to come up with a recipe to cook for me for valentines day (it’s the one single day a year he cooks). This is a guy who in a million years could never pick out an outfit or a piece of jewelry for me, and but he somehow typed in keywords of all of my favorite foods and landed on a recipe from Healthy Green Kitchen. I guess food really is love… and not clothes.

Today, I’m sharing a vibrant spring recipe.

I love foods when they’re bright in flavor and in color. This starts with a spiced wild rice pilaf and is mixed with fresh asparagus, broccolini and edamame, but feel free to use the vegetables you love most. I’ve been using black wild rice more and more lately (which is actually a grass and not a rice). It makes for a gorgeous presentation, and has the added benefit of being higher in protein than other rices.

The warm nutty rice gets flavored with garlic, cardamom, cinnamon and cumin. In the end the pilaf is topped with a bright pop of mint, lemon, and a cooling yogurt sauce.

Black Rice and Spring Vegetable Pilaf

Ingredients:

*1/2 cup uncooked black wild rice
*3/4 cup edamame
*1/2 bunch thin asparagus, tender parts chopped into 1 inch pieces (approx. 1.5 cups)
*1/2 bunch broccolini, sliced into 1 inch pieces (approx. 1.5 cups)
*2 radishes, sliced thin
*2 shallots, thinly sliced (or a small onion)
*1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
*1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder (or seeds from 3 or 4 pods)
*1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon cumin
*2 tablespoons butter
*2 tablespoons chives, chopped
*2 tablespoons mint, chopped
*squeeze of lemon juice
*olive oil

yogurt sauce:

*1/2 cup plain yogurt
*1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
*1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
*1 teaspoon agave syrup or honey
*drizzle of olive oil
*pinch of salt
*1 or 2 tablespoons of water

Directions:

1. Soak black wild rice for 30 minutes or up to a day. Cook rice in 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of water in a rice cooker (I hit the "brown rice" setting on mine) or in a saucepan for approx. 60 minutes.

2. In a small saucepan, heat butter and add sliced shallots. Cook, stirring occasionally until translucent. Add garlic, cardamom, cinnamon, and cumin and cook for 30 more seconds until fragrant. Remove from heat and stir into cooked rice while the rice is still hot so the flavors marry. Set aside.

3. Mix yogurt sauce by whisking together yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, agave or honey, olive oil and salt. As needed, stir in a tablespoon of water to thin it out.

4. In a medium saucepan, heat a bit of olive oil and add asparagus, broccolini, edamame (you can add it frozen or thawed), and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables are tender, but still vibrant green.

5. Plate rice and vegetables. Top with yogurt sauce, chives, mint, a squeeze of lemon juice, and serve.

Adapted from Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater.