With the arrival of spring, many of us are heralding the start of the seasons of bountiful fresh produce. The earliest tastes of spring’s baby vegetables may be the sweetest of the year. Plus, this is the time when animals celebrate, too, and farm-fresh eggs and dairy products become more nutritious and delicious as animals graze on fresh green pastures. Celebrate the arrival of spring with these three savory, fabulous recipes that offer the fresh taste of the season.
Arugula, Pear, Pecan and Blue Cheese Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette
This incredibly simple to make salad stars fresh baby arugula complemented by fruit, nuts and cheese. If you prefer, you can substitute any baby greens for the arugula, though those with a slightly bitter bite will work best with the sweet fruit and tart vinaigrette.
6 cups arugula
2 ripe pears (or substitute Granny Smith apples)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces
Apple Cider Vinaigrette
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
To prepare salad
1. Wash and dry arugula. Place greens in large salad bowl.
2. Slice pears and add to greens.
To prepare vinaigrette
1. Combine all ingredients and stir.
1. Toss salad with vinaigrette.
2. Top with pecans and blue cheese.
Recipe courtesy Marie Nygren, owner of The Farmhouse restaurant in the Serenbe community near Atlanta. Get Marie’s other recipes for Southern Shepherd’s Pie (made with turkey) and Bluberry Cobbler.
Serves 8 to 12
This spring favorite is an easy way to feed a crowd. Seek out local farm-fresh eggs and dairy. You can substitute your favorite spring herbs and vegetables (or whatever looks freshest in your garden or farmer’s market) for the mushrooms, spinach and thyme. You can make your own crust following the instructions below, or if you prefer, substitute a store-bought crust. This recipe is intended for a large, deep crush; if you use a premade crust, you will likely need two.
For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted, divided, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces, chilled
1/4 cup ice water
Canola oil, for brushing
1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle (or use a hand mixer), mix 1 cup of flour with salt. At low speed, add butter pieces, a few at a time. When all the butter has been added, increase speed to medium, and mix until butter is completely incorporated and texture looks like fine bread crumbs. Reduce speed to low and add remaining flour until just blended. Mix in water until thoroughly incorporated. Flatten the pastry dough into an 8-inch disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, one hour to overnight.
2. Set the ring of a 9-inch spring form pan on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving the hinge open. Brush the inside of the ring with oil.
3. Dust the pastry dough on both sides with flour. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a 16-inch round, about a 1/4-inch thick. Transfer dough to prepared ring, pressing it into the corners. Trim overhanging pastry to 1 inch and press it firmly around the inside and outside of the ring. Use trimmings to fill any cracks. Refrigerate shell for 20 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line pastry shell with parchment paper and fill it with dried beans to keep crust from rising too much. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the dough’s edges are lightly browned. Remove parchment paper and beans, and bake shell for about 15 minutes longer, or until richly browned on the bottom. Transfer baking sheet to a rack and let pastry cool.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/8 cup shallots, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 ounce fresh spinach
3/4 cup Swiss or Asiago cheese, shredded, divided
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg, grated
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Heat oil in a sauté pan to medium-high. Add mushrooms, thyme and shallots.
3. Cook for 5 minutes, add butter and cook 5 more minutes. Add spinach, cook for 2 minutes, and set aside. Drain and discard excess liquid.
4. Layer half the mushroom mixture, then half the cheese in the crust.
5. Combine remaining ingredients (except remaining cheese and mushrooms) and blend for 1 minute, making egg mixture.
6. Pour half the egg mixture over mushrooms and cheese.
7. Layer remaining cheese, then mushroom mixture. Pour the remaining egg mixture over the top.
8. Bake for 30 minutes, then start testing center for firmness. Remove from oven when surface is slightly firm. This may take up to 90 minutes.
Find many more spring recipes on our “Favorite Spring Recipes” page! A few include: Maple Mustard and Tahini Glazed Carrots; Creamy Split Pea Soup; Rainbow Swiss Chard with Toasted Garlic; Berry Breakfast Quinoa; Tomato Brown Rice Paella with Peas and Cheddar and many more.
Pasta with Asparagus and Herbs
In my town, we are lucky to have a you-pick asparagus farm that floods our homes and local restaurants with asparagus delicacies every spring. Whether you grow your own or buy it from a farm or farmer’s market, try this delicious way to serve up this delightful veggie.
This is a versatile dish; you can use whatever mushrooms are available, replace the red wine with white, or just use broth. Try different herbs such as parsley, chives, cress, marjoram or arugula. It’s all good.
1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus
1/2 pound cleaned fresh mushrooms such as oyster, chanterelle, shiitake or common field mushrooms
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 heads roasted garlic with oil from roasting
1/2 cup red wine (or substitute white)
3/4 cup vegetable broth
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound dried pasta, such as farfalle, fusilli or ziti; or 1 1/2 pounds fresh whole-wheat noodles
1 tablespoon fresh minced tarragon
1/3 cup fresh chopped dill sprigs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for topping
1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Wash asparagus and break off the tough ends. Cut them into 1 1/2 inch lengths. When water comes to a boil, add salt and blanch asparagus for 2 to 3 minutes, until crisp tender. Remove with a strainer or slotted spoon and reserve.
2. Slice or tear mushrooms into 1-inch pieces. In a large nonreactive sauté pan, combine butter and olive oil and heat over moderate heat. Sauté mushrooms, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Slip garlic buds from their skins and add to pan, stirring for another minute.
3. Add wine and broth, more salt, and pepper generously; cook for about 3 minutes more. Cover and remove from heat.
4. Cook pasta al dente and drain. Add pasta to pan of sautéed mushrooms over medium heat, along with the asparagus, herbs, and Parmesan. Toss well and season to taste. Serve immediately and pass extra Parmesan.
Get more spring recipes: Steamed Artichokes with Garlic Mayonnaise; New Lettuces and Baby Greens with Fennel and Radishes; and Luscious Lemon Cream