Butter Lettuce with Sugar Snap Peas, English Peas and Radishes and Honey Herb Vinaigrette

The sweet crunch of sugar snap peas and tender English peas and peppery radish slices are brought to light with a delicately sweet vinaigrette. Chill and pat the peas dry before adding them to the salad- it gives the best flavor and texture.

1 head butter lettuce, washed and dried, leaves torn into bite-size pieces

8oz fresh English peas, or 1 C frozen peas, thawed

8oz sugar snap peas, strings removed

6 medium radishes, thinly sliced

3 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced

For garnish – 2 T coarsely chopped dill, tarragon, basil, chives and/or parsley

(Optional- 2oz. crumbled feta or ricotta salata, shaved with a vegetable peeler)

Honey Herb Vinaigrette

1/3 C fresh herbs- dill, tarragon, basil, chives or parsley (can substitute with 1 T dried), finely chopped

1 T white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice

½ t lemon zest

1 t honey

1 t Dijon mustard

¼ – ½ C extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt to taste

Prepare the vinaigrette: Put all the dressing ingredients except the olive oil, in a small jar and shake to combine. Add ¼ cup of olive oil and shake well. Taste and adjust for salt and more olive oil, if desired. (If you have a mini food processor, use that and process until emulsified). Set aside.

For the salad: If using fresh peas, sample them. If they are young, sweet, and tender, keep them raw. If they are older and a bit tough, blanch them in small pot of boiling water until they are tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse under very cold water. Shake off excess water and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least one hour.

Bring another pot of water to a boil and add the sugar snap peas and blanch until crisp-tender, one to 2 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse under very cold water. Shake off excess water and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least one hour.

Combine the lettuce, scallions and radishes in a salad bowl, and toss to combine, taking care to separate the radish slices. Pat dry the English peas and sugar snap peas with a clean dish towel if they are very wet, and add them. Dress lightly and toss the salad gently (you may not need all the dressing); garnish with your roughly chopped herbs of choice. Serves 4.


Soupe au Pistou

This is France’s spring/summer equivalent of Italian Minestrone. Since the list of vegetables is long, just use what you have on hand, including a different bean and/or pasta. As summer vegetables become more prolific, you can use a variety of beans and squash.

1 small onion, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

Vegetables – pick and choose based upon your availability:

2 leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise, washed well, and drained

2 small celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 medium carrot, cut into small dice


1 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 small yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 small tomatoes, chopped or ½ can (15oz) diced tomatoes

3 small red bliss potatoes, cut into ½-inch pieces

1 C fresh or frozen green beans, cut into ½ inch piece

1 C fresh or frozen peas

1 can (15oz.) small white beans, such as navy, rinsed and drained

5-6 C vegetable or chicken broth

1 Parmesan rind, about 1 by 3 inches
 (-optional)

¼ cup small pasta, such as elbow, small shells, ditalini or stars (-optional)

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Pistou – if fresh herbs are not available, top the soup with a bit of fresh lemon zest

1 C lightly packed basil leaves (can substitute parsley or cilantro)

1-2 cloves garlic

1/3 C grated parmesan

¼ C olive oil

Soup: Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and golden in spots, about 10 minutes. 


Stir in zucchini, squash, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, broth, and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in beans and simmer, covered, just until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Remove rind. 


Pistou: Pulse together the basil, garlic, Parmesan, and oil in a food processor to a loose paste. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Serve each bowl with a small dollop of pistou. Serves 6-8.


Carrot Pudding Souffles with Buttered Spring Vegetables

carrotYou can make the souffles a day ahead and refrigerate them, covered, in the ramekins. To reheat, unmold the souffles and place them right side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour one-quarter cup heavy cream over top, and heat in a 375-degree oven until heated through and cream is bubbling, about 12 minutes. Or you can microwave them.  Prepare the vegetables while the souffles are in the oven. Adapted from Martha Stewart and demoed in March 2015.

½ C (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for ramekins
1 small shallot, thinly sliced (about 1/4 C)
1# carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces (about 3 C)
1 bay leaf
Coarse salt
1 C heavy cream, plus more if needed for reheating souffles
3 T flour
1½ C whole milk, warmed
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t ground ginger
Freshly ground pepper
6 egg yolks
4 egg whites
sugar snap peas, baby asparagus, petite peas
1 T parsley finely chopped

Melt 2 T butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot, chopped carrots, bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender, 10-15 minutes. (Reduce heat to medium-low and add 1-2 T water if needed to prevent carrots or butter from browning.) Stir in cream. Bring mixture just to a simmer, and immediately remove from heat; discard bay leaf. Puree mixture and transfer to a small bowl; set aside. Melt 4 T butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour with a wooden spoon; cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes. Whisk in warm milk gradually. Use a rubber spatula to scrape bottom and corners of pan. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring often to prevent lumps from forming, 5 minutes. Whisk in carrot puree, and remove from heat. Stir in nutmeg, ginger, and 1 t salt; season with pepper. Transfer to a large bowl; let cool. Preheat oven to 400. Lightly butter eight 6-ounce ramekins; set aside. Add yolks, one at a time, to carrot mixture, whisking well after each addition. Using a clean whisk or an electric mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold into carrot mixture. Ladle mixture into prepared ramekins, filling almost to the rims. Place ramekins in a roasting pan, and transfer to oven. Pour enough boiling water into pan to come about three-quarters of the way up sides of ramekins. Bake until souffles are puffed and set, and tops begin to brown, about 35 minutes. Using tongs, carefully transfer the souffles to a wire rack, and let cool 10 minutes. Before serving, bring a medium pot of water to a boil; add ½ t salt. Add baby vegetables and cook until bright and still firm, about 3 mins. Drain, return to hot pan; add 2 T butter and toss with parlsey. Invert each souffle onto a metal spatula, and then invert again onto a serving plate. Arrange baby vegetables around souffles. Garnish with pea shoots.

 


Chicken Pot Pie Soup

soupAn old favorite, demoed years ago and back by popular demand.

4 puff pastry shells
4 T butter
1 C diced onion
3/4 C diced celery
3/4 C diced carrots
1½ C diced potatoes
1½ t poultry seasoning
1/4 t white pepper
½ salt
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/4 C flour
4 C chicken broth, preferably home-made
2 T dry sherry
2 C cooked chicken
½ C corn kernels
½ C peas
1/4 C heavy cream
1/4 C chopped fresh parsley

Bake puff pastry shells according to directions; set aside. In a large pot, melt butter and add diced vegetables; cover and sweat 10 minutes. Add seasonings; Whisk in flour, cook 2-3 minutes; slowly add broth, stirring mixture to incormporate and prevent flour from clumping. Add sherry; cook soup 15 minutes until thickened. Add chicken, corn, peas and let these simmer about three minutes until hot. Before serving, stir in heavy cream and parsley. Serve in large bowls, each serving topped with a puff pastry shell.


Asparagus-Stuffed Eggs

asp eggs

 

 

 

We updated this retro recipe – from Julia Child in the 60s – with modern touches like a little hit of curry, cayenne and lemon zest.  These deviled eggs have spring written all over them and with addition of pureed vegetables, they pack a lot more nutrients than more traditional deviled eggs. A variation on this is to replace the asparagus with fresh or frozen peas.  For your flavorings, you’d want to go half mayonnaise and half creme fresh, trade in the curry for chopped fresh mint leaves and skip the lemon zest, but add a teaspoon or so of Marsala and another of Worcestershire for that devil kick. We demoed this at Brookside April 16, 2014. Yield: 24 stuffed egg halves Read More


Salad of Spring Vegetables and Lemon Vinaigrette

salad

 

This elegant salad is made even prettier with the addition of spring blooms — violets, pansies, violas, redbud, chive blossom.  It goes wonderfully with seafood or meat, such as lamb, and is an ideal Easter side dish.  This was another recipe we demoed on “Recipes from the Chef’s Kitchen,” a cooking show hosted by Lindsey Gustin early April 2014.  We made it at the US Botanic Garden April 17, 2014. The recipe was adapted from Fine Cooking. Read More


Spring Vegetables Over Rustic Pasta

pasta primevera

 

 

We demoed this delightful pasta dish last week on “Recipes from the Chef’s Kitchen,” a cooking show hosted by Lindsey Gustin on Fairfax Public Access television.  The ragout takes advantage of early spring vegetables and herbs and burst with flavor.  Baby carrots, turnips and even radishes should be available at farmers markets in the next few weeks.  Sugar snaps and fresh garden peas will start appearing in supermarkets by late April and at area markets by mid-May.   You also can use frozen peas or edamame. If you can’t find baby turnips or carrots, trim down mature versions so they are bite-sized.  Organic carrots and turnips tend to have more flavor.   We made this for the folks at USBG April 3, 2014 and again at Brookside April 16, 2014. The recipe was adapted from Fine Cooking. Read More