It’s the season for brighter, fresher flavors. The tangy sweetness of strawberries, the tender grassiness of just picked asparagus, the refreshing sharpness of sorrel and the spice of young garlic and onions are just what we’re longing for after the darker, heartier foods of winter.
It’s time to celebrate the arrival of our prettiest season and treat yourself to a bite of spring.
Greens and strawberry salad
Hands on: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
This recipe may remind you of those spinach-strawberry salads with poppy seed dressing that were popular a decade ago. As a matter of fact you can make this salad with lettuce, spinach, arugula, tender young Swiss chard leaves or whatever leafy green you prefer, alone or in combination.
The addition of other spring greens and walnuts and the lighter dressing update this gorgeous salad. Roasted fresh beets would be another springtime addition.
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 4½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 stalk green garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 cups sliced strawberries
- 1 bunch small green onions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup (2 ounces) shaved and crumbled Parmesan
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar
- 4 cups butter lettuce, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
- In a small dry skillet, toast walnuts over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer walnuts to a salad bowl and allow to cool.
- In the same skillet, heat one teaspoon olive oil over medium heat and add green garlic. Saute just long enough to bring out the aroma, about 1 minute, and add to the walnuts in the salad bowl.
- In a medium bowl, combine strawberries, green onions, Parmesan, pepper, salt, vinegar and remaining 3½ teaspoons olive oil. Toss gently to combine.
- Arrange greens on serving platter. Top with strawberry mixture and sprinkle with walnut/green garlic mixture. Serve at once.
Nutrition per serving: 220 calories (percent of calories from fat, 67), 9 grams protein, 10 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 17 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 8 milligrams cholesterol, 257 milligrams sodium.
Adapted from a recipe provided by Margie Thorpe, www.vegetablehusband.com.
Asparagus and Parmesan pastries
Hands on: 25 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
One- or two-bite appetizers are always a little fiddly, but worth it for the pretty presentation. The asparagus cooks perfectly here, slightly crisp but completely tender. No precooking required.
Serve alongside a salad. Dill patches are just sending up tendrils at this time so they taste of spring, too, but substitute basil or another herb if you prefer.
- ½ cup grated Parmesan, divided
- ¼ cup part skim ricotta or Neufchatel (about 2 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- Zest of ½ lemon
- 48 stalks asparagus, tough ends snapped off
- 1 (14.1-ounce) package prepared pie crusts
- 1 egg, beaten
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, stir together ¼ cup Parmesan, ricotta or Neufchatel, dill and lemon zest. Cut asparagus spears on the diagonal into 3 pieces. Reserve bottom third of asparagus for another use.
- Roll out one pie crust to a 10-by-15-inch rectangle. Spread half the cheese mixture over crust. Cut crust into squares, about 2½ inches per side. Working with one square at a time, arrange 2 pieces of asparagus including one tip diagonally on each square. Fold one corner of pie crust over asparagus, then fold opposite corner over and press lightly to seal. Asparagus ends should be peeking out. Arrange on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining squares.
- Repeat process with remaining crust, ricotta mixture and asparagus and arrange on second baking sheet. Brush all pastries with egg and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Nutrition per pastry: 55 calories (percent of calories from fat, 51), 2 grams protein, 5 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 3 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 5 milligrams cholesterol, 81 milligrams sodium.
Adapted from a recipe by Margie Thorpe, www.vegetablehusband.com.
Classic sorrel soup
Hands on: 30 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
This delicious soup is adapted from one provided by chef Ian Forrest of FLIP Burger Boutique. There’s a reason this recipe is a classic. “I especially love sorrel because (it’s) super easy to grow at home. This soup is one of the easiest, and most delicious, ways I have found to incorporate this local and seasonal ingredient,” said Forrest. Homemade chicken stock will make for the thicker, most luxurious soup.
To prepare the sorrel, rinse the leaves and remove any tough stems. Thorpe likes this soup with the addition of roasted potatoes. She cuts young fingerling potatoes into small chunks, rubs them with olive oil and then roasts in a 400 degree oven until golden brown and tender, about 20 minutes.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup chopped leeks, green onions or ramps
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 5 cups chopped sorrel (about 3 small bunches, 6 ounces)
- Salt to taste
- ½ cup cream
- 2 egg yolks
- Sorrel Pesto, for garnish (see recipe, below)
- Roasted potatoes, if desired (see note, above)
- In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add the leeks, green onions or ramps and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and cook gently 5 minutes. Remove lid and stir in flour, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Remove from heat.
- While the onions are cooking, in a large sauce pot, bring stock to a low boil. Add sorrel and reduce heat so liquid is simmering. Cook until sorrel is mostly wilted, about 2 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover soup and stir in cooked onion mixture. Stir together and taste for seasoning.
- In a small bowl, whisk cream and egg yolks together. Add a ¼ cup hot soup to cream mixture and whisk together. Add another ¼ cup of soup, whisk and repeat once more. Pour the hot cream mixture back into the pot of soup, continuing to whisk. Make sure soup is just below simmering and cook 5 minutes. Serve immediately garnished with sorrel pesto and roasted potatoes if desired.
Makes: 6 cups
Per 1-cup serving: 165 calories (percent of calories from fat, 65), 10 grams protein, 7 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 14 grams fat (7 grams
Adapted from a recipe by Chef Ian Forrest of FLIP burger boutique.
Hands on: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Makes: ¾ cup
Pesto is very forgiving. Substitute any nut or seed you’d like. For a vegan version, use an equal amount of nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan. This pesto is so good, you’ll use it as a sandwich spread, mix it with yogurt for a veggie dip, stir it into scrambled eggs or mix it into a salad dressing. To prepare the sorrel, rinse the leaves and remove the stems.
- 1½ cups roughly chopped sorrel (1 small bunch, about 2 ounces)
- ½ cup whole almonds
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan
- Salt and pepper
- In the jar of a blender, combine sorrel, almonds, olive oil, and garlic. Process until the ingredients make a paste as chunky or smooth as you prefer. Move mixture to a medium bowl and stir in Parmesan. Season to taste. Pesto may be made up to 3 days ahead of time and refrigerated. The color will darken.
- Per 1-teaspoon serving: 35 calories (percent of calories from fat, 81), 1 gram protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, trace fiber, 3 grams fat (trace saturated fat), trace cholesterol, 11 milligrams sodium.
Adapted from a recipe provided by Becky Striepe, www.glueandglitter.com.