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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: what is in season in April

 

Select beets that are heavy for their size and show no surface nicks or cuts. If they’re sold with their tops on, the greens are always a good indicator of freshness as they show wilting very quickly. So, buy beets that have very crisp leaves attached. Save the leaves and cook them for a side dish, as I did in the Stuffed Chicken Rolls for later in the week. I will post that recipe on Friday.

Marinated Roasted Beet Salad

4 servings

Ingredients

Two bunches (6) medium-sized beets
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 garlic clove, sliced
¼ cup sliced red onions
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Heat the oven to 400°F.

Wash and trim the beets so the stems and roots are about ½-inch long.
Place the beets onto a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place the foil on a baking sheet, sprinkle the beets with salt and pepper, add the garlic slices and drizzle with a little olive oil. Close the package tightly and place in the oven for about an hour or until the beets are easily pierced with a knife.

Cool the beets before peeling.
Cut the beets into thick slices and place in a serving bowl.
Season to taste with salt, pepper, and the balsamic vinegar. Mix well.
Marinate the beets for at least 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, before adding a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.

Pan Seared Fish Fillets with Tomato Bacon Sauce

Ingredients:

4 (12 ounces) thin fish fillets
1 large Florida tomato, diced
2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine, plus extra for garnish
1 garlic clove, grated
1 small shallot, finely minced
6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions

Lightly season the fillets with salt, pepper, and fresh parsley.
Preheat a skillet just large enough to fit the fillets over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and carefully place the seasoned fillets skin side up in the sauté pan. Cook each fillet for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and completely cooked throughout the thickest part of the fillet. Remove the cooked fillets from the pan and place on a plate.

Add the tomatoes, shallot, and garlic to the skillet. Cook the tomato mixture until the tomatoes start to wilt and release their juices. Add the heavy cream, lemon juice, and vegetable stock. Quickly bring the ingredients to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. Return the fish to the skillet just to warm the fillets. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Sautéed Baby Zucchini

Scallions (green onions) are also in season in the spring. Look for crisp, bright-green stalks and a firm white base. Avoid stalks with any slimy, wet tops.
Young zucchini are in season where I live. If they are not available in your area, substitute another vegetable, such as green beans.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 young zucchini
2 scallions, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

Directions

Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise and then cut each in half crosswise to make 8 pieces.
Heat the oil in a small skillet and place the zucchini cut side down in the pan. Sprinkle the garlic and scallions over the zucchini. Let cook for 7- 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Take the pan off the heat and sprinkle with oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat and serve.

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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.

Radish Salad

Pair this salad with the scallop recipe below. It is a great combination.

2 servings

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

Ingredients

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
Salt
Olive oil

Directions

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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.

Ingredients

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

Directions

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.

Potato Soup

Ingredients

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

Directions

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.



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