In my part of the world, produce planted in February is coming into season during the month of April. Friday’s market had plenty of radishes, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, spinach, leeks and asparagus. Fresh herbs and citrus fruits are still plentiful and they make excellent flavor additives to savory dishes.
There was lots to choose from, so the menu this week will reflect the variety of spring crops available. Here are a few ideas for when these crops are in season in your area.
Pair this salad with the scallop recipe below. It is a great combination.
4 large radishes
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 oz baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup toasted pecan halves
Whisk together the lemon juice, orange zest, salt, honey and cayenne; whisk in the extra virgin olive oil. Set aside
Rinse and trim the radishes and slice into thin rounds.
Line a salad bowl with the spinach leaves and mound the radishes in the center and top them with the olives.
Drizzle the salad with the dressing just before serving.
Broccoli and Ricotta Pizza
1 lb pizza dough, at room temperature
2 cups broccoli florets
8 oz mozzarella, sliced thin
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
20 black olives, pitted and halved
2 chopped fresh plum tomatoes
Heat the oven to 500 degrees F. Oil a large pizza pan.
Press the pizza dough out on the pan to the edges.
Cook the broccoli in salted boiling water for 2 minutes until it is just crisp-tender.
Drain, rinse under cold running water and drain well.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan and garlic. Add a pinch of salt.
Place the sliced mozzarella evenly on the dough.
Drop the ricotta mixture in tablespoons on top of the dough and mozzarella.
Sprinkle with the olives and chopped tomatoes. Arrange the broccoli on top of the mixture.
Drizzle the top of the pizza with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Bake the pizza for 18 to 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
Pasta with Asparagus, Prosciutto and Lemon Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces thin sliced prosciutto, diced
1 garlic clove, sliced thin
1 cup half & half or heavy cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 oz short pasta (I use Barilla’s Casarecce pasta for this dish)
1 bunch very thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 in pieces
1 1⁄2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh basil to taste
Bring 4 quarts salted water to boil in large pot.
Add the asparagus to the boiling water with the pasta for the last two minutes of cooking time.
Cook pasta al dente, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water, drain pasta and asparagus and return to pot.
While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until just smoking.
Cook prosciutto until lightly browned and crisp, (5 minutes) Transfer to paper towel lined plate.
Add garlic to the pan and cook 30 seconds.
Stir in cream and lemon juice and simmer until thickened, 3-5 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
Add the pasta and asparagus to the lemon cream sauce with 1/2 cup reserved pasta water, the cheese and the basil, toss to combine, add remaining water, if needed.
Sprinkle with black pepper and crunchy prosciutto. Serve immediately.
Sea Scallops in a Citrus Rosemary Sauce
I also like to serve this dish with a mango salsa. See recipe:
Serves 2. This recipe is easy to increase the number of servings.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small finely chopped shallot
6 large sea scallops, side muscle removed
Flour, for dredging
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Juice and zest from half a large orange
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
Heat oil in a small skillet. Sauté shallots over medium heat until soft. Push them to one corner of the pan.
Pat scallops dry with paper towels. Season flour with salt and pepper.
Dredge the scallops in the flour.
Increase heat under pan to high; sear the scallops for 1 minute. Turn and cook the other side for 2 minutes.
Add lemon juice, orange juice and orange zest to the skillet (the sauce will sizzle and steam).
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and swirl in butter and rosemary. Serve immediately.
2 slices pasture-raised bacon
2 leeks, rinsed well with white and light green parts sliced very thin
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 quart vegetable or chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 cups half & half or whole milk
Fresh dill or chives, chopped fine
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
Sour cream for garnish, optional
In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove to a paper towel. When cool enough to handle crumble into small pieces.
Heat the reserved bacon fat over medium heat and add the leeks, garlic, celery and carrot.
Cook until tender, about five to six minutes or so.
Add the broth, cubed potatoes and a teaspoon of sea salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Cover the pot.
Cook the potatoes, vegetables and broth together over medium-low heat until the vegetables are softened and fall apart when pressed with the tines of a fork, about thirty minutes.
Puree with an immersion blender or use a processor.
Add the half & half, dill or chives to taste, crumbled bacon and adjust the seasoning. Reheat over low.
Serve with a tablespoon of sour cream, if desired.
It may seem like “slim pickens”, when you look at what fruit is available in the winter in your market. With a second look, however, there are plenty of choices and they great choices for cooking or baking. Look for citrus fruit, apples, bananas, pears and dates. These are all good choices for salads, pancakes and muffins or to garnish main dish meats and fish.
Meyer Lemon Bread
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 lightly beaten egg
1 cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons finely shredded Meyer lemon peel
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8 x 4 x 2-inch loaf pan; set aside.
In a medium bowl stir together flour, 3/4 cup sugar, the baking powder and salt. Make a well in center of the flour mixture; set aside.
In another medium bowl or measuring cup combine the egg, milk, oil, lemon peel and the 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Add egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture.
Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Spoon batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.
Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.
To make a glaze: Combine the glaze ingredients until smooth and spread over the cooled cake. Let harden before wrapping the ;oaf.
Turn this salad into a main course by adding cooked shrimp or chicken. I especially like shrimp in this salad.
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 shallots, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
Grated zest of 1 orange,
1 bulb fennel, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
1⁄2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
To make the vinaigrette:
Whisk the shallots, raspberry vinegar, honey and salt and pepper together in a mixing bowl. Slowly drizzle in the oil in while whisking. Add the orange zest. Set aside
Peel the fruit and cut into segments.
In a large bowl, cover the fennel and onion with ice water and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to paper towels to dry thoroughly.
Transfer the fennel and onion to the bowl with the vinaigrette and toss to combine. Lift the fennel and onion from the dressing and transfer to a serving platter.
Arrange the citrus segments evenly over the fennel and onion. (If adding shrimp, arrange it on top of the salad.) Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the top, sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Baked Apple Sauce
Applesauce can be flavored with maple syrup or cinnamon. You can also add cranberries to the cooking apples to make a cran-applesauce. It makes wonderful tasting pancakes and muffins and is a great side to roasted pork.
Makes 12 servings.
4 lbs. (about 10 medium) assorted apples, such as Macoun, McIntosh, Golden Delicious, Jonathan, Jonagold and Honey Crisp, peeled, cored, and quartered
1/3 cup fresh apple cider or apple juice
4 lemon slices, cut paper-thin
2 tablespoons honey, optional
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Place apples, cider or juice and lemon slices in a large heavy, ovenproof casserole with a cover and mix well.. If using honey add it in and toss again.
Bake apples, covered, for 60 to 75 minutes, until very soft and moist. Stir to combine. If it is too wet, bake applesauce, uncovered, for 15 minutes longer.
Cool to room temperature before serving; applesauce thickens as it cools. The applesauce keeps, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 5 days or 6 months in the freezer.
Coconut Banana Pudding
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 dash salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter
1 banana, sliced into ¼ inch slices
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon hot water
In a large sauce pan, melt the butter and stir in the mashed banana.
In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, mix the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the salt, eggs and coconut milk. Stir well and add to the banana in the saucepan.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; cook until thickened.
Remove from the heat; add vanilla and mix well. Pour into a storage bowl or 4 individual dessert dishes.
To make the honey bananas:
Melt the butter in a small skillet.
Arrange the banana slices in the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, until lightly brown.
Whisk together the honey and 1 tablespoon of water.
Remove the skillet from the heat and pour the honey mixture over the bananas. Shake the pan to distribute.
Divide the bananas and syrup over the top of the pudding. Chill for several hours before serving.
Root Vegetables, Citrus Fruit, Leeks and Onions, Greens, such as kale, Potatoes and Beets are all available in January and make great tasting meals.
Purchasing seasonal foods is a healthy and cost-effective way to approach food shopping. Grocery stores tend to stock up on these items in bulk because they are plentiful, making them less expensive for you—especially when they go on sale or offer buy one; get one free.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 head of celery, diced including leaves
1 large onion, diced
1 bunch scallions (green onions) or use a leek, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups vegetable stock
¼ teaspoon white pepper
½ cup half & half (cream and milk)
Garnish with chopped chives and sour cream
Heat the oil in a soup pot or Dutch Oven over medium heat. Add the vegetables, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 30 minutes.
Add the broth, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and puree with an immersion blender.
Return the pot to the heat. Stir in the cream and heat on low. Garnish individual servings with chopped fresh chives and sour cream, if desired.
Lemon Basil Roasted Chicken Breasts
Use any herb you like. When cold nights come in, I bring my herb pots indoors, so I always have fresh herbs on hand.
1/2 teaspoon lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 whole fresh basil stalk, leaves removed and sliced
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for the baking dish
2 bone-in, medium chicken breast halves, skinned
Salt and ground black pepper
6 very small potatoes
2 carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
¼ of a fennel bulb, sliced
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat a shallow baking pan with olive oil.
Place the chicken breasts in the prepared pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle with the lemon zest and juice.
Scatter the potatoes, fennel, carrots and garlic around the chicken.
Bake, uncovered, spooning the pan juices over the chicken once or twice, for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the chicken with the basil and return the pan to the oven.
Bake 10-15 minutes more or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken registers 170°F and the juices are clear.
Beets, Red Onion & Orange Salad
Makes 2 servings
1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced
4 small, cooked beets, sliced
1 navel orange
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 small clove garlic, minced
Pinch of sugar
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cup washed, dried, whole Bibb lettuce leaves
Soak onion slices in cold water for 10 minutes; drain.
With a sharp knife, peel the orange, removing white pith. Slice the orange between the membranes over a mixing bowl to catch the oranges and any juice.
Pour any juice in the bowl into a measuring cup. Add more orange juice to equal ¼ cup.
Whisk together the orange juice, oil, mustard, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper in the measuring cup.
Place lettuce leaves on individual salad plates. Arrange beets, onions and orange slices on top. Drizzle with some of the dressing and serve.
Easy Homemade Jam
This is a basic jam recipe and it works with any fruit (other than citrus). You can make jam with whatever fruit grows well where you live. In each season, use the best fruit you can find.
Work in small batches. Three pounds of fruit will yield close to 2 ½ pints of jam. If you want more jars, make two small batches rather than one double batch. The quality of the jam will be much better.
You don’t need to process the jars in a boiling water bath for this recipe. Just store the jam in the refrigerator, where it will last for weeks.
You can also store the jam in the freezer. The Ball Company now makes great containers to store jam in for the freezer.
Unprocessed homemade jam will not make you ill, because most jams are made from high acid fruits which are not susceptible to botulism.
I made Blackberry Jam using this recipe. It is definitely worth making because the jam has such a fresh and distinct blackberry taste. Not at all like processed jam.
For 2 1/2 pints
- 3 pounds ripe fruit, such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches, plums, etc.
- 2 to 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 lemon
Clean and cut the fruit as you would for making fruit salad or fruit pie. For example: remove the caps from strawberries and cut into quarters; or peel, pit and slice peaches into pieces; or trim rhubarb and chop it into chunks.
Using a potato masher, crush the fruit until soupy. Measure this puree and note the quantity. Put the puree in a wide, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pot.
The puree should be no more than 1 inch deep in the bottom of the pot. I placed half of the blackberry puree in a strainer to remove the seeds before proceeding with the recipe.
For every two cups of fruit puree, add to the pot one scant cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Stir to combine and taste. Very tart fruit (such as sour cherries, some plums or blackberries) might need a little more sugar. Very sweet fruit (such as white peaches) might need a little more lemon juice. Adjust to taste.
Bring the fruit-sugar mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. After it boils, continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for 12 to 14 minutes, or until thickened.
Check the consistency by turning off the heat and putting a spoonful of hot jam on a chilled saucer in the freezer for one minute.
When ready, the cold jam will form a light skin that wrinkles when you push your finger through it and it will cling to the saucer when you tilt the saucer upright.
If the cold jam is too runny, bring the pot back to a boil for another minute or two, stirring constantly, then check the set again.
When the jam is set, ladle it into clean half-pint jars or other air-tight containers. Allow to cool, then store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Fresh Strawberry Syrup
Delicious over pancakes, cheesecake, ice cream or crepes.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 pint strawberries, stems and leaves removed
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Place sugar and water in a small saucepan over high heat; stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sugar is completely dissolved.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool completely. Place half the berries in the jar of a blender; add the syrup. Puree until smooth and pass through a fine sieve or colander.
Chop remaining berries; stir into the strawberry puree. Store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 days or freeze in small containers.
Makes 12 – 15 muffins depending on the size of your muffin pan.
- 2 1/4 cups (9 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream
- 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) fresh blueberries
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons butter
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F and either lightly grease 12 -15 muffin cups or use paper liners and spray the insides of the papers.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with a hand-held or stand mixer, until light and fluffy and almost white in color.
Scrape down the bowl to make sure all the butter is incorporated, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix until incorporated.
Add the dry ingredients and mix on low-speed just until the batter is smooth. Fold in the berries by hand.
Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, using 1/4-cup for each muffin.
To make the topping:
In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over the muffins.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove them from the oven, cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan to finish cooling on a wire rack.
Summer Fruit Salad
Use summer fruits that are in season. I used about 6 cups of cut fruit in this recipe.
Fruit, sliced or cut into cubes
Mint-Lime Simple Syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
For the syrup:
Stir together the sugar and mint and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil 1 minute or until the sugar dissolves.
Remove from the heat. Stir in the lime juice, and cool 30 minutes.Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into an airtight container. Cover and chill syrup 4 hours.
For the salad:
Gently toss together the fruit in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup Mint-Lime Simple Syrup, and gently stir to coat. Taste to see if the fruit needs more syrup.
Serve immediately, or cover and chill until serving time.
Peach Barbecue Sauce
This recipe makes one of the best tasting BBQ sauces I have made. It is especially good for grilled chicken.
Yields 4 cups.
- 2 cups peeled and chopped very ripe peaches, about 4 medium peaches
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoons onion salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups tomato ketchup
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons butter, cubed and well chilled
Process peaches in a blender 1 minute or until smooth and pour into a medium saucepan. Add all the additional ingredients except the butter. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low.
Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick. With a whisk, blend in the butter cubes, a few cubes at a time, until incorporated. Refrigerate covered until needed.
Last week my fish market received its first seasonal shipment of Copper River salmon. It was gorgeous. Copper River salmon is bright orange or red with a firm texture and an excellent taste. It is also excellent cooked on a grill.
I purchased an 8 oz fillet and for dinner that night. I had also shopped for some seasonal vegetables to use for the week and thought a creamy spinach would make a perfect bed for the salmon. I wanted to flavor the salmon but not overwhelm it, and since I would be cooking it on the grill, I wanted to keep it moist. I like citrus flavors with fish, so I added citrus zest, chives (which are thriving in my garden right now), some truffle oil and wrapped the fillets in prosciutto. This turned out really well. I had leftover Pea Salad from last week, so that was a good side dish.
For dinner two, I made pork chops since I wanted to try a tip I had just picked up about soaking pork chops in buttermilk before cooking them to keep them tender. This works very well. The pork chops were delicious. I had leftover warm potato salad from earlier in the week to go with it and cooked fresh broccoli florets, also in season and on sale in my market, for a second side.
Hopefully you will like these recipes for two and, if you have a larger family, the recipes are easily doubled.
- 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
- 8 oz skinless salmon fillet, cut in half
- 4 thin slices prosciutto
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Zest from 1/2 lemon
- Zest from 1/2 lime
- Zest from 1/2 orange
- 1 tablespoon truffle oil or olive oil
Cut a piece of heavy-duty foil large enough to fit the salmon. Coat lightly with cooking spray and pierce a few holes in the foil with a fork. Place the foil on a tray.
(I like to place fish fillets on the grill with foil underneath, so that the fish doesn’t fall apart.)
In a small bowl, combine the garlic, parsley, chives and citrus zest and mix thoroughly.
Lay the salmon fillets flat on the foil and drizzle with the truffle oil. Season with the salt and pepper and sprinkle with the citrus mixture. Wrap each filet in prosciutto. Place the salmon in the refrigerator until ready to grill.
Heat an outdoor grill to medium-high.
Slide the foil with the fish on it, onto the grill; close the lid and grill until the fish is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Serve the salmon over creamy spinach.
Easy Creamed Spinach
- 10 oz package fresh baby spinach
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons 1/3 less fat cream cheese, plain or with chives
- 2 tablespoons reduced fat milk
- Salt and pepper
Heat oil in a deep skillet and add the garlic; cook 1 minute.
Add spinach in batches, pushing it down with a wooden spoon or spatula to help it wilt.
Keep adding more spinach until all the spinach is wilted. Cook the spinach until it is dry, then lower the heat.
Make a well in center of the spinach and add the milk and then the cream cheese.
Heat and stir until the mixture is dissolved. Mix throughout the spinach. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spring Pea Salad
You can find the recipe here.
Oven Fried Pork Chops
- 2 bone-in pork chops
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup panko crumbs
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Place the pork chops between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet to an even 1/2-inch thickness.
Combine the buttermilk and hot sauce; add the pork chops and marinate for at least an hour in the refrigerator.
Mix the flour with the slat and pepper. Dredge the pork chops in the flour, dip in the buttermilk again and then coat in the panko crumbs.
Heat the butter and oil in an ovenproof skillet add the pork chops to skillet and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.
Transfer the skillet with the pork to the oven. Bake until the pork chops are crisp on the outside and a meat thermometer inserted into the pork registers 150°F, about 15 minutes.
Transfer the pork chops to serving plates. Garnish with lemon wedges
Warm Potato Salad
You can find the recipe here.
Broccoli Sauté with Orange Zest and Almonds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon toasted, slivered almonds
Heat a medium skillet and add the almonds. Toast to a light brown. Remove and set aside.
Add the olive oil to the skillet and heat.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the broccoli, salt, pepper, orange zest and sauté with the olive oil and garlic mixture until the broccoli turns bright green and becomes tender.
Remove the skillet from the heat, sprinkle with toasted almonds and mix well.
Longing for a salad even though it is cold outside? By using seasonal produce, you can make salads even with snow on the ground. This time of year switch to dark leafy greens, cold-weather vegetables like broccoli, beets and squash and seasonal fruits like pears and citrus. Add flavorful dressings to balance the heartier tastes and textures. For a full-meal salad, finish the salad with cooked beans, meat or seafood and a bit of your favorite cheese or toasted nuts. Winter vegetables also make delicious salads, especially after they have been roasted.
Winter Salad with Spinach, Pears and Walnuts
Serves 4 to 6
- 3 Anjou, Bosc or Comice pears
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon German Dusseldorf mustard or yellow prepared mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 3/4 pound spinach, torn into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Chop 1 pear and slice the remaining two.
Put the chopped pear, oil, vinegar, mustard and honey into a blender and purée. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons water, more if needed, to make a thin, pourable dressing.
Put spinach, onion, walnuts, feta cheese, sliced pears and dressing into a large bowl and toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.
Chickpea Salad with White Wine Vinaigrette
- ¼ cup finely minced shallot
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp stone-ground mustard
- ½ teaspoon honey or maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large avocado
- 1 lemon
- 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
- ¾ cup cooked black lentils (rinsed and drained)
- ¼ cup sliced Kalamata olives
- 4 oz goat cheese
- 3 handfuls Italian kale
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Place all dressing ingredients in a jar. Seal and shake vigorously until well combined. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preferences.
Cut the avocado in half and discard the pit. Chop the flesh into a small bowl and toss with a squeeze or two of lemon juice to help prevent browning.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all salad ingredients together.
Pour about half the dressing over the top and toss with salad tongs or a large fork and spoon to thoroughly blend the ingredients and coat lightly with the dressing.
Top with a big squeeze of lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Add more dressing, if needed. Serve immediately.
Winter Citrus Salad
- 3 tablespoons pistachio, almond or any nut flavored oil
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon white or golden balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon agave syrup or honey
- Pinch salt
- 2 oranges (segmented)
- 2 pink grapefruits (segmented)
- 2 tangerines or satsumas (peeled)
- 3 oz mixed baby salad greens (about 3-1/2 cups, lightly packed)
- 4 cups frisée or curly endive, oak leaf or red leaf lettuce, lightly packed
- 1/3 cup shelled, roasted pistachios
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Remove the peel and white pith from the fruit with a small, sharp knife. Working over a shallow bowl, slice down either side of each membrane, releasing the citrus segments into the bowl.
Remove any seeds from the fruit. Drain and reserve the accumulated juices for the dressing.
Place the oil, orange juice, vinegar, agave and salt in a small glass jar and seal the lid. Shake vigorously to combine. (The dressing can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 5 days. For best flavor, bring to room temperature before using.)
Place the segmented citrus in a large salad bowl. Drizzle some of the dressing over the fruit and toss to coat. Add the greens and toss to combine, adding more dressing to lightly coat the greens as well.
Transfer the salad to a platter and sprinkle with the pistachios. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.
Italian Barley Salad
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup uncooked, quick-cooking barley
- 14-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts (chilled) or one package of frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
- 12 pitted kalamata olives
- 1 medium yellow bell pepper
- 1/2 cup grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
- 4 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon dried basil, crumbled
- 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil over high heat. Stir in the barley. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until the barley is just tender but firm. Transfer the barley to a colander. Drain well. Place in a medium bowl to cool.
Dry artichokes on paper towels. Coarsely chop the artichokes and olives, dice the bell pepper, quarter the tomatoes and cut the cheese into one-quarter inch cubes.
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, garlic, dried basil, salt and pepper. Whisk in oil.
Combine the cooked and cooled barley with the vegetables and cheese. Drizzle the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss to blend. serve immediately of refrigerate until serving time.
Red Grapefruit and Beet Salad
- 3 medium beets, greens removed
- 2 red grapefruits
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Wrap beets individually in aluminum foil and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until beets are tender when pressed through the foil and a knife slides easily into them when unwrapped, 50 to 60 minutes.
When cool enough to handle, unwrap beets and rub each with a paper towel to remove skins. Halve and slice beets.
Cut thin slices off the top and bottom of a grapefruit and set on a cutting board. Slice down along the curve of the fruit, removing all skin and white pith and cutting all the way to the flesh.
Working over a bowl, cut along each side of the membranes to release the sections, allowing them to fall into the bowl along with any juice. Repeat with remaining grapefruit.
Gently stir in honey and salt. Add beets and toss. Garnish with mint. Serve or chill until serving time.
The province of Catanzaro is one of the four provinces in the region of Calabria in southern Italy. Catanzaro occupies both sides of the Calabrian Apennines and in the central part of the province is the isthmus of Catanzaro, a long narrow valley connecting the north and south parts of the coastline that feature beautiful white sandy beaches. Other parts of the province are mostly mountainous with steep-sided valleys formed along short rivers. There are large numbers of lakes surrounded by dense coniferous forests. The province includes much of the Sila National Park, a wild area with rough grassland and forests of pine, oak, beech and fir. The area is a main route to Naples and is a major terminal for goods traffic.
Typical cuisine is similar to the Mediterranean diet, simple, local and healthy but also characterized by strong flavors. Extra virgin olive oil is the main condiment and is rarely replaced by lard. Hot pepper, introduced by the Saracens, is a basic ingredient in most dishes and in regional salamis.
Pasta is mostly homemade and usually served with a simple fresh basil tomato sauce or with a ragu sauce. A traditional dish prepared for religious holidays is “pasta chijna”, layers of homemade pasta (lasagne) topped with small fried meatballs, slices of hard-boiled eggs, slices of spicy salami, caciocavallo cheese and grated pecorino cheese. You will also find pasta or bread combined in minestrone along with vegetables and herbs. Legumes are also common and replace meat in many recipes. The most used are fava beans served as a puree with tripe or with peas, lentils or chickpeas and pasta.
Among the meats, the pig is undoubtedly the most used meat, especially in winter as a second course dish. However, most pork is used to make salami. The inland villages and towns utilize goat and sheep, of which every part of the animal is used, including the animal’s entrails, which are usually cooked with tomato, hot pepper and served inside pita bread, called “morzeddu” (the small bite).
Along the coast fresh fish is cooked in different ways. Swordfish is usually grilled and served with a sauce called “salmoriglio” made with extra virgin olive oil, vinegar or lemon, garlic and spices. Tuna is topped with “ la cipolla” (onions), the famous red sweet onions of Tropea. Dried codfish is soaked before cooking and baby fish called “neonata ” are used to make small fritters.
Calabria is a region that produces a great variety of cheeses made with cow, sheep and goat milk. Caciocavallo cheese produced in the Sila mountains and awarded the DOP quality brand (protected origin designation); scamorza cheese; provola cheese and the “butirro” which is a caciocavallo with butter inside are among the most well-known cheeses. Cheeses most often made with sheep milk are fresh ricotta cheese and pecorino cheese,
The vegetables that are commonly served are eggplant, parmigiana style or as balls; fried pumpkin and zucchini; pumpkin stem fritters; potatoes and green peppers; boiled wild vegetables (chicory, asparagus), mushrooms and dried tomatoes that can be stored in oil.
Clementines of Calabria IGP, chestnuts, figs covered with chocolate or spices are common fruits.
Typical regional sweets that are usually linked to specific days and holidays, are mostly made with ricotta sweetened with honey and flavored either by a figs or dried fruit or candied fruit. The best known are the multi-shaped “mostaccioli”, covered with honey.
Anchovies al Cetrarese
Cetraro, an important port in the Tirreno sea, where anchovies are caught in abundance.
Ingredients for 6
- 1 ¾ lbs. (720 gr) anchovies, bones removed
- 8 ½ oz (240 g.) stale bread
- 3 eggs
- 2 oz (60 gr) grated Pecorino cheese
- 1/3 cup white wine
- Chopped fresh wild fennel fronds
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Make a stuffing with the stale bread soaked in water and hand squeezed, wild fennel, eggs, salt, black pepper and grated Pecorino cheese.
Put anchovies in an oiled baking dish and stuff each with some of the bread mixture. Bake for 10 minutes.
Add wine and bake for another 5 minutes. Serve drizzled with the cooking juices and garnish with a handful of fennel fronds.
Bucatini Pasta with Anchovy and Bread Sauce
Ingredients for 4
- 12 ½ oz (350 gr) Bucatini pasta
- 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
- 8 salt cured anchovies
- 1 fresh chili pepper
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Oven toasted bread crumbs
- 2 oz (60 gr) grated Pecorino cheese
- Salt to taste
Heat the oil in a skillet and brown the garlic; add finely chopped chili pepper. Add the anchovies and breadcrumbs.
Cook the pasta in a large pan of lightly salted water. Drain when the pasta is al dente. Add the pasta to the pan with the anchovies, season with pecorino cheese and serve.
Arrotolata Pork with Citrus Fruit
Ingredients for 6
- 2 ¼ lbs (1 kg) boneless pork
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fennel seeds, rosemary, pistachio nuts, parsley and 2 garlic cloves
- Olive oil
- 1 lemon
- 1 cedro (citron/ugly looking Italian citrus fruit – use an orange in its place)
- 1 grapefruit
- Salt and pepper to taste, extra virgin olive oil and green onions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Butterfly the meat and season the inside with salt and pepper. Finely chop some parsley and the garlic. Spread on the meat and add fennel seeds and pistachios to cover. Moisten with olive oil.
Roll up the meat and close with cooking string. Season the outside with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish.
Cook for about an hour and a half. Remove from the oven and cool for a couple of hours.
For the salsa:
Squeeze the lemon and grapefruit and finely chop the cedro peel. Season with salt and mix with enough oil to make a sauce. Add finely chopped onions.
Slice the pork when cool and serve on a plate dressed with the salsa.
Sea Bream Stuffed with Ricotta
Sea Bream is a popular European fish that is a mild ocean fish similar to sea bass
Ingredients for 4
- 4 small sea beam
- 5 ½ oz (16og) ricotta cheese
- ¾ tablespoon (16g) honey
- 2 tablespoons chopped almonds
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon chopped mint
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 3 oz arugula
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Ground red chilli pepper to taste
- Mashed potatoes for serving
- Almonds and parsley for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Remove the center bone from the fish. Lightly salt the fish.
Mix the ricotta cheese with the pine nuts, almonds, chopped mint, parsley, garlic, arugula, honey and a pinch of salt. Add enough lemon juice and oil to make a smooth filling.
Stuff each fish with some of the filling, cover the filling with foil and put the fish in an oiled baking dish.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Serve each fish on a bed of mashed potatoes. Garnish with almonds, parsley and ground chili pepper.
Aubergine and Chocolate Mousse
This is a sweet but unusual dessert.
Ingredients for 6
- 10 ½ oz (300g) aubergine (eggplant)
- 10 ½ oz (300g) chocolate, plus extra for serving
- 1/1/2 oz (50g) citron
- 2 tablespoons chopped mint
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) brandy
- 1 tablespoon sultanas (raisins)
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon (10g) candied fruit
- ¼ cup (30g) sugar
- 2 egg whites
Peel and boil the aubergine in water along with the brandy and citron. Drain.
Beat the egg whites until stiff.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler saucepan.
Mix the aubergine and melted chocolate together adding mint, pine nuts, candied fruit, sugar. Fold in the beaten egg whites.
Fill small pots or bowls with the mixture and cool. Serve drizzled with additional melted chocolate.