Spring is in full bloom and as the warm temperatures and bright sun bring seasonal flowers, the first sign of long-awaited fresh flavor is slowly making its way into stores and onto our plates.
Spring vegetables offer the first taste of delicate greens, baby artichokes and crunchy asparagus.
Blending these tender flavors with some of the winter fruits and vegetables that are still available brings together the best of both seasons.
Winter beets, cauliflower, radicchio, tangerines and blood oranges are a beautiful accompaniment to spring greens, crunchy fennel and bright pink radishes.
Grilled Vegetable Medley with Lemon Vinaigrette
2 pounds assorted spring vegetables (can include radishes, artichoke quarters, asparagus, broccolini, fennel, baby carrots, spring onions, radicchio, cauliflower, snow peas)
1/2 pound small new potatoes
1/2 cup vegetable oil, divided
2 lemons, halved
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
Bring a pot of water to a boil and parboil the potatoes until they are fork tender. Rinse with cold water and when cool enough to handle cut in half. Place in a large bowl. Split all of the grilling vegetables in half lengthwise and place in the bowl with the potatoes. Add 1/4 cup of oil, juice from half a lemon, salt and pepper and toss to coat. In a small bowl combine the remaining oil, juice from 2 lemon halves, salt, pepper, mustard and honey. Whisk to combine and set aside. Heat a grill to medium heat. Clean grates well and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Add the vegetables to the grill and cook until soft and grill marks appear. (This works best if you have a grill basket.) Just before removing squeeze the remaining lemon half over the vegetables. Remove to a large serving bowl and immediately add the vinaigrette. Toss to combine and serve. Makes six servings.
Ham & Pea Pesto Pasta
2 cups green peas, fresh or frozen (thawed)
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pinenuts
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 pound fettucini
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup cooked ham, chopped
In a food processor combine the peas, garlic, pinenuts, parmesan, salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in the oil. Spoon into a bowl and set aside. Cook pasta in boiling, salted water according to package directions. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Place the pasta back in the pot. Add 1/4 cup of the pesto, the milk and lemon juice. Toss to combine. Add some of the pasta water to reach desired consistency. Add the ham and peas and additional parmesan cheese to garnish. Taste and season accordingly. Serves four to six.
Bean & Pea Medley with Mint-Pecan Pesto
1/2 pound fresh green beans
1 cups sweet green peas
1 cups shelled soybeans (edamame out of its pod)
1 clove garlic
1 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup toasted pecans and torn mint leaves, for garnish
In a food processor add the garlic, mint leaves and pecans. Pulse until finely chopped and then drizzle in the olive oil while processor is running. Set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook for three minutes. Add the peas and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Add the soybeans and cook for another minute. Check for tenderness and cook a bit longer if you want everything to be more tender. Drain well and add some of the pesto while the beans are still hot. Add as little or as much as you like. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with the extra pecans and mint leaves. Serve immediately. Makes four to six servings.
Roasted Pasta Primavera with Lemon-Wine Sauce
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
4 shallots, quartered
1/2 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained or reconstituted
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons each of dried basil and oregano
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 lemons, sliced
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
8 ounces of pasta
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread all of the vegetables over a large baking sheet. Add the wine, olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs and toss to combine. Layer the lemon slices over the top of the vegetables. Cook for 30 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot with the 1/2 cup of pasta water. Add the roasted vegetables and all of the drippings from the pan. Discard the lemon slices. Toss to combine and while still in the pan add the cheese and stir to combine. Pour into a large serving bowl. Garnish with more parmesan and cracked black pepper. Serves four.
Butter Braised Radishes with Snow Peas
3 tablespoons butter
1 bunch radishes, trimmed and quartered
1 cup snow peas
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium low heat. Add the radishes and cook gently for about 10 minutes until they’re tender. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Boil the peas till they are al dente, about 2 minutes. Strain them and add them to the radishes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with mint and olive oil. Serves four.