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I thought I would feature some spring vegetables as a dinner side, and also to provide alternatives to the renal diet using lower potassium vegetables. Everyone benefits from vegetables- Good sources of Vitamin A and folic acid.

The casserole featured today is a Tian or gratin, a dish of spring vegetables: mushrooms, asparagus, carrots and spinach with leeks bound with a little cheese, cream, fresh thyme and vegetable broth. Carrots now come in tricolored varieties and I find the reddish purple ones are sweeter tasting.   All these vegetables are an appropriate choice for renal diets and a fancier way to showcase them too. Asparagus (150-190 mg /1/2 cup) and fresh peas which are low in potassium and along with carrots that are boiled and drained ( 192 mg of potassium per 1/2 cup) are welcomed for any diet.  Cream and parmesan cheese are low in phosphorus- a pleasant  surprise for anyone on a renal diet. Here’s the recipe:

4 medium size carrots, 6-8 baby carrots or  1  cup of frozen carrot slices preboiled

1 /2 lb of thin asparagus

1 leek

1 small onion thinly sliced

2  small shallots chopped

2/3 cup of frozen or fresh peas

3 cups of fresh spinach leaves

1 cup of any type of mushrooms chopped

3-4 tablespoons of heavy cream

1/4 cup white wine (optional)

1-2 sprigs of  fresh thymes leaves

1/2 cup of grated parmesan or shredded gruyere cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut off the green leaves of the leek only leaving the white botton part for slicing lengthwise. Chop shallots and saute with sliced leeks and onions in a saucepan with a teaspoon of olive oil until translucent, and add the thyme leaves. Boil and drained or steam baby carrots or slices. Set aside. Break the asparagus at their natural break point and discard the bottoms.  Slice asparagus into 2 inch pieces and mix with the carrots, frozen or fresh peas, fresh spinach and sliced mushroom, shitake or white mushrooms.

Add the wine and heavy cream with broth to the onion mixture and let evaporate while cooking for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and add to the vegetables and mix. Pour into a baking dish and bake until bubbly about 30 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle Gruyere or Parmesan cheese over the dish and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Serves 4.