When the early and tender produce comes to market this time of year, I just can’t wait to prepare the freshest, lightest and most flavorful menus. I love the locally produced (and so seasonally available) veggies from markets, as well as my own backyard. These recipes incorporate many fresh, green flavors that move us away from the heaviness of winter toward the sprightliness of spring.
Fresh Spinach Frittata
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped leeks (white part only)
3 oz. good ham chopped in ¼-inch julienne
1 pound fresh spinach leaves (pull the ribs off, whirl in a salad spinner to dry and roughly chop)
¼ cup half and half
1 cup grated Parmesan or other hard cheese
Ground white pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a 12-inch cast iron (or other oven-proof) skillet. Sauté leeks in the oil until translucent, add ham and heat through. Add spinach and cover pan over low heat for only about a minute. Beat eggs, half and half, cheese and pepper and pour into pan with leek and spinach mixture. Stir gently to coat the spinach and cover pan. Leave covered on lowest heat for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove lid and place pan into preheated oven for 20 minutes or until eggs are just set. Cut into wedges and serve hot.
Makes one pizza
Prepared pizza dough
3 tablespoons butter
½ pound mushrooms (I like half shiitake and half crimini), sliced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
White truffle oil (optional)
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and chopped into 2-inch pieces
1/3 cup pine nuts
6 oz. part skim mozzarella, sliced
6 oz. provolone cheese, sliced
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
Olive oil for drizzling (I love a basil-flavored oil for this)
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Melt butter in a large skillet and sauté mushrooms and garlic on medium-high heat until just tender. Remove to bowl and set aside, add a few drops of white truffle oil, if desired. In the same skillet, pan-roast the asparagus over medium low heat until tender.
Roll out the pizza dough and sprinkle a baking sheet with corn meal. Place dough on baking sheet and assemble the pizza: layer the mozzarella and provolone, evenly sprinkle the asparagus and mushrooms, crumble the feta, and sprinkle the basil and pine nuts. Drizzle olive oil over all (about 1/4 cup or so). Bake in hot oven until lightly browned and bubbly, about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it, as it will cook quickly!
Thai-Style Noodle Salad
1 pound shrimp, shelled and de-veined
3 thick slices fresh ginger
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, cut small julienne
3 green onions, chopped
2 cups bean sprouts
½ pound fresh sugar snap peas, steamed for 2 minutes in the microwave
½ cup cilantro, chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
¼ cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped
8 oz. angel hair pasta, cooked al dente and cooled under cold water, drained well
Fresh limes, quartered (optional)
½ cup boiling water
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce, or more to taste
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Make the dressing: pour water over tamarind and mash it around to create a loose paste. Strain into small bowl and add remaining ingredients, then pour 1/3 cup over the shrimp and allow to marinate for 10-15 minutes. Heat oil in wok and add ginger and garlic. When fragrant, add shrimp and stir fry until barely cooked through. Remove the ginger slices.
Toss the pasta with the remaining sauce and the shrimp and any juices. Add all remaining ingredients except peanuts and toss to coat. Divide among four flat bowls, and top with peanuts and lime wedges. Serve at room temperature.