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Carole Kotkin

Supermarket produce counters are overflowing with an abundance of vegetables this spring--bright red peppers, brilliant green artichokes, tender asparagus, small emerald zucchini, young leeks--all the fresh produce needed for a perfect spring supper. Once pushed to the side of the plate, vegetables are a main event right now.

Sweet red peppers have become very trendy these days. They are, of course, nothing more than green peppers that have been allowed to ripen on the plant. They are sweeter to the taste than the green and more perishable.

Artichokes can range in size from a tiny 2-ounces (no choke has formed yet, so they can be eaten whole) to a 20-ounce thorny giant that can be a meal in itself. When shopping for asparagus, look for tightly closed tips and bright green color that extends at least 2/3 of the way down the stalk. Totally white asparagus, which is produced by mounting soil over the growing stalk so that it is hidden from the sunlight, is popular in Europe.

For the many varied textures and ripe flavors of spring vegetables, there is no better complement than versatile chicken. This menu is designed to make your life easier , everything can be prepared ahead of time. Even the souffle can be refrigerated for several hours before baking. This is a great time of the year to "eat your vegetables!"--and enjoy every bite--even cake (carrot, of course).

Featured Recipes:

> Cornmeal Pepper Souffles

> Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

> Carrot Apple Squares

By Carole Kotkin, co-author of MMMMiami--Tempting Tropical Tastes for Home Cooks Everywhere

You can buy the book from our affiliate, Barnes and Noble, online!

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