Spring RecipesSpring Palate Cleanse
Say farewell to winter menus of soups, stews and braised meats. Welcome spring vegetables and lighter fare. Our recipes use the best that spring has to offer, cleansing our palate and waking up our tastebuds. Asparagus, quinoa, English green peas and steamed fish reveal flavors that brighten up meals. Greet the start of spring with every bite.
Spring asparagus brings a clean-green flavor to your palate. Yukon gold potatoes add a creamy mouth that’ll make you swear it’s real cream in the soup.
Yield 4–6 servings
Wash and trim 1 inch off the ends of the asparagus spears (more if the ends are woody). Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Peel Yukon gold potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes. Peel the onion and cut into small dice; set all vegetables aside.
In a 6-quart pot over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons of canola oil. Sauté onions 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add 3 peeled, whole cloves of garlic; stir. Add cut asparagus and potatoes; stir. Add 1 1/2 quart chicken stock. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer. Cook uncovered for about 10–15 minutes or until asparagus and potatoes are fork tender.
Remove pot from stove and place on heat-resistant pad. Add 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. Using an immersion blender, blend all soup ingredients until smooth. Taste. Adjust salt and white pepper seasoning, if necessary.
For a special touch, garnish with chopped smoked salmon. Note: If you don’t have an immersion blender, a regular blender works well. Take care when using a blender, as hot liquid can cause the blender lid to pop off. Blend the soup in batches and start at a low speed to avoid any burns from hot liquids.
Quinoa, aka the mother grain, is actually a seed. A seed in need of a friend. Herbs, salt and stocks give it a flavor boost. Quinoa is available in several varieties. Having cooked our way through many a quinoa, we prefer the “rainbow,” a mix of the three most common varieties: white, red and black.
Yield 6 servings
Make the vinaigrette, first allowing the basil flavor to bloom. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chopped basil, salt and black pepper; set aside. Rinse the rainbow quinoa until the water runs clear. In a 6-quart pot add the wet quinoa, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, garlic cloves, salt and 3 cups vegetable stock. Bring ingredients to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for approximately 20 minutes. Spoon cooked quinoa onto a large cookie sheet, allow to slightly cool, then place in refrigerator to cool completely before assembling salad.
While the quinoa is cooking, prep salad ingredients. Preheat oven to 400º. Rinse and cut asparagus on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Rinse cherry tomatoes and pat dry. In a large bowl mix asparagus and cherry tomatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Transfer to a sheet tray. Roast in the oven’s middle rack for 10–12 minutes or until asparagus is crisply tender and cherry tomatoes have softened. (Be careful not to overcook or char tomato skins). When done, remove sheet tray from oven and cool completely.
Peel onion and cut into small dice. Wash yellow pepper, trim top and bottom, and discard pieces. Slice pepper into thin strips, then into medium-sized dice. Rinse scallions, cut on the diagonal into 1/4-inch slices and set aside all vegetables.
Assemble salad: In a large mixing bowl, add the cooled quinoa, red onion, yellow pepper and scallions. Gently toss all ingredients. Add roasted asparagus and tomatoes and add half of the basil balsamic vinaigrette. Again, gently toss all ingredients. Taste. Adjust salt and black pepper seasoning, if necessary. Add remaining vinaigrette, again gently toss. Let salad rest in refrigerator for at least 2 hours so all flavors meld together.
A variation on the classic mushy English peas, just a few firm smashes with a potato masher will do. Crispy shallots are the perfect topping, and mint and lemon zest brighten it up.
Yield 4–6 servings
In a 4-quart saucepan, add 1-quart water, English peas and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 3–5 minutes until peas are crisply tender.
While peas are cooking, peel shallots and cut into thin strips. In a small sauté pan over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of canola oil. When oil is hot but not smoking add the shallots; stir. Cook until shallots are brown and crisp; set aside.
When peas are done, drain water and move to a large mixing bowl. Add salt and black pepper. Using a potato masher simply smash the peas until chunky. Top with crispy shallots. Garnish with chopped mint and or lemon zest.
Sole en Papillote translates to sole (fish) in paper. Parchment paper is used to envelop each filet of sole. All wrapped up, the fish steams with herbs and vegetables for an aromatic light entrée. The healthy, bright green parsley sauce seals the deal.
Yield: 4 servings
Wash zucchini, cut off top and bottom, discard. Cut the zucchini lengthwise in half and using a spoon, remove the soft center. Cut in half and julienne as thin as possible. Wash the red pepper, trim top and bottom, and discard pieces; julienne as thin as possible. Rinse scallions, cut into 3-inch lengths. Cut the lemon into 12-thin slices. Rinse and remove stems from the parsley; discard stems. Finely mince the parsley and set aside.
Pre-heat oven to 400º. Cut parchment paper into 16-by-16-inch squares (most parchment paper rolls are available in 16-inch lengths). Layer together all four sheets and fold in half. Cut sheets into a half heart shape.
Take one parchment sheet and open up on a flat surface. On one side of the heart-shaped parchment sheet, place 3 lemon slices and top with a single sole filet. Season sole filet with salt and white pepper. Divide all of the julienned vegetables into four portions and place one portion on top of the sole. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of white wine over the vegetables and sole.
Fold the other heart shape over the sole and vegetables. Starting at the top of the heart, make small overlapping folds in order to seal the parchment pouch. When you have reached the end of the parchment, tuck the last fold under the pouch, making a firm sealed pouch. (Note – during cooking, steam inside the pouch will cause it to puff up.)
Repeat the above process with the other 3 sole filets and vegetables. Place all four parchment pouches on a sheet tray into the pre-heated 400º oven and bake for 15 minutes.
When done, remove from oven. Carefully use a knife to open a slit in the top of the parchment paper – use caution, as steam will immediately escape. Using a slotted spatula, move sole filet and vegetables to a dinner plate. Capture all the juices from the bottom of the parchment pouch into a small bowl. Repeat this process for the remaining 3 sole filets. To the bowl with the reserved cooking juices add the minced parsley. Stir vigorously.
Spoon a little parsley sauce over each sole filet. The parsley sauce and aromatic juices created during cooking results in a wow color and mouth-popping flavor on top of the sole and vegetables. Enjoy.