Friday, April 20, 2012

Buona Primavera

Happy Friday! Hope you got a chance to enjoy the beautiful spring weather this week! If not…bad news…Frank and Katy tell us it’s going to chill down this weekend.

What to do? Create a little sunshine in your kitchen with some mean, green spring recipes! Spring produces a wonderful array of produce….from artichokes to zucchini. Although most spring produce is available year-round, you get the best flavor (and the most bang for your buck) when you buy in-season. Look for deals at your local grocer. I just grabbed a 2-lb bag of haricots verts (that’s green beans in Fancypants) for only $3 at The Fresh Market. Not bad, right?

As good as spring greens may be for you, it can be a challenge to find recipes that are both simple and edible. My first attempt at making a Swiss chard salad came out tasting like lawn clippings. But no worries, I’ve compiled my favorite easy spring recipes below. While they cleverly sneak veggies into delicious dishes…these recipes are also idiot-proof. Good news for the clumsy chefs like me J

Avocado Asparagus Tartine
Recipe Courtesy Heidi Swanson, 101 Cookbooks
You can actually slice each tartine into four or five bite-sized pieces for a nice appetizer option as well.
4 toasted slabs of whole grain bread, rubbed with olive oil and a bit of garlic
1/2 tablespoon olive oil1/2 lb of asparagus stalks, trimmed roughly the length of your bread1 clove garlic, thinly sliced1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 avocado, pitted and smasheda couple handfuls of arugula, tossed in a bit of olive oil
a handful of toasted pepitas, or almonds, or sunflower seeds
A few minutes before you want to eat heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot add the asparagus, and a pinch of salt and cook for about thirty seconds. Add the garlic and caraway, and cook another thirty seconds, or until the spears are a vibrant green. Remove from heat, and assembly the tartines.
Give each piece of bread a generous slather of mashed avocado. Top that with a bit of arugula, a few asparagus spears, and a generous sprinkling of pepitas or seeds.
Serves 2-4
Prep time: 5 min - Cook time: 5 min

Pasta with Ham, Peas, and Cream
Recipe Courtesy Nigella Lawson
· 200g farfalle or other short pasta
· 100g frozen petits pois
· 150ml double cream
· 150g diced ham
· 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Serves: 2-3 children
1. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions in plenty of salted boiling water, and then after 5 minutes add the peas to the pasta water.
2. When the pasta is cooked, drain with the peas.
3. Put the dry pan back on the heat with the cream, ham and Parmesan and warm it through.
4. Add the pasta and peas back to the pan, tossing everything together well.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
Recipe courtesy Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That?, Ina Garten
Prep Time:
25 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
1 hr 0 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 6 servings
· 4 cups fresh rhubarb, 1-inch diced (4 to 5 stalks)
· 4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved, if large
· 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
· 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
· 1 tablespoon cornstarch
· 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
· 1 cup all-purpose flour
· 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
· 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
· 1 cup quick-cooking (not instant) oatmeal, such as McCann's
· 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
· Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the fruit, toss the rhubarb, strawberries, 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar and the orange zest together in a large bowl. In a measuring cup, dissolve the cornstarch in the orange juice and then mix it into the fruit. Pour the mixture into an 8-by-11-inch baking dish and place it on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
For the topping, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar, salt and oatmeal. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter and mix until the dry ingredients are moist and the mixture is in crumbles. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit, covering it completely, and bake for 1 hour, until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream.

- Stephanie

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