Spring

Radish Recipes for Spring

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by The Huffington Post

radishrecipesMany vegetables take the spring spotlight: asparagus, fresh peas, and fava beans, among others. And then there a few humbler ones that fall to the wayside, like small bright-red radishes.

Many people don't give a second thought to radishes, more or less ignoring them in the market. But it's just not right, and we're going to right this wrong.

Besides just eating radishes raw with salt or on a piece of buttered bread (a HuffPost Taste favorite), radishes can add a lot of interest to recipes, like a great crunchy texture and peppery, spice-y flavor.

You'll find the best radishes are available now, during spring when they're the most delicate. 

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Asparagi Selvatici

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by Michael Tucker

asparagiWe bought our house in Umbria ten years ago this past summer.

A couple of months after the sale was completed the former owners, Bruno and Mayes, came over for lunch. And as the lunch lingered, as lunches in Umbria do, Bruno interrupted himself in mid-lecture on the glories of Roman pasta.

“Asparagi,” he said calmly. He got up from his chair, crossed over to the wall of our ancient wood-burning oven and snapped off a pencil-thin spear of wild asparagus that was hiding in and among the other grasses.

“It’s all over the place,” he said. “April is the time. You’ll see hundreds of contadini in the fields and by the side of the road, harvesting them. Here, taste.”

I bit off the end of the slender stalk and chewed on it a bit. It was raw, of course, and a little stringy but the taste fairly attacked me with its vibrancy. Wild asparagus is way wilder than tame asparagus.

“Just imagine,” I thought, “how it’ll make my pee smell.”

With that noble scientific quest in mind, I immediately began to search for more. I looked all around the forno, where Bruno found his and then up the hill toward the olive trees, but there were no more spears to be found.

Things Green

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by Michael Tucker

asparagusguysWhen Italians bid you goodbye between the hours of 11:00 in the morning and 1:00 in the afternoon, rather than saying, “See you around” or “Have a nice day,” they say “Buon pranzo,” which is a wish for you to have a good lunch. There’s the difference right there.

Lunch is the uppermost thought — not just that you’ll have lunch but that it will be a good one, seated at a table, with the proper water and wine. You’ll take time; you’ll have a few courses. And because you’re in Italy you won’t overeat or drink because that would not present a bella figura, which is so important to these splendid people.

Perhaps the explanation for the superior quality of Italian food is that for centuries there’s been an eager, appreciative audience expecting it — demanding it — at every meal. 

Allora. After hunting for the elusive asparagus — sometimes on our knees — and coming up with barely enough to put into a dish of pasta, we ran into this guy on the street in Spello, which is a beautiful town just up the road from us.

Asparagi for everybody!

Roasted Asparagus and Grape Tomatoes with Crumbled Feta

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by Joseph Erdos

For me nothing says "spring" more so than asparagus. As soon as the warm weather of early spring approaches, I start scouring the farmers' market for the first signs of asparagus. I'm always looking for the most slender green spears, ivory white ones, and even the dark purple-almost-black ones. I appreciate all types of asparagus.

I love asparagus cooked any which way except boiled—that's the reason I hated them so much as a kid because they I only ever had them boiled and overcooked. Even though they're not yet available at my most markets just yet, I've already begun cooking with asparagus. I'm just too eager to wait, so until they're available I won't mind the supermarket ones.

For this recipe I roast the asparagus to bring out their sweet taste. Alongside I also roast cherry tomatoes, which will become one of the many toppings for the dish. The dressing is a vinaigrette made from olives and lots of Dijon mustard. And finally the dish gets flourished with salty, tangy feta. This recipe is great as either an appetizer or a side dish.

Green Garlic, Asparagus, and Mushroom Stir-Fry

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by Joseph Erdos

greengarlicstirfryIf you've been hoping to brush up on your stir-fry skills, there's no better time to do just that than now. Spring gives you the best opportunity with so many different vegetables to cook with—and they're all amazing in a stir-fry. There are green beans, broccoli, asparagus, and soon there will be peas, but in the meantime green garlic is what you should be looking for in the farmers' market.

With a much more subtle garlic flavor than mature bulbs, green garlic looks more like scallions or baby leeks. But if you can't tell the difference at the market you'll just have to smell them. The stalks are entirely edible, from the pale white bulb to the dark green leaves. Green garlic is great for soup or used as an alternative to regular garlic. But it's more interesting in a dish that keeps its integrity and makes it the center of attention and this stir-fry does just that.

The recipe also includes another oddity of spring-purple asparagus. Raw it has a glorious purple color but once cooked it turns dark green, losing that deep hue. If you can't find purple asparagus, double up on green. One tip for making this stir-fry: Make sure to have all the ingredients prepped in advance because you don't want to be slicing the asparagus while the garlic is burning.


Spring Salad with Asparagus and Snow Peas

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by Joseph Erdos

asparaguspeasaladWith each and every passing day we're just a little bit closer to spring. I know I can't wait to find delicate green vegetables at the market any time now. I just came back from a trip to San Francisco and as always, whenever I visit a city, I make sure to stop by the local farmers' market. I was so impressed to see that on the West coast they already have bright green asparagus, among many other spring vegetables. Asparagus is really the harbinger of spring. Just like those early crocuses, asparagus bursts out of the ground with an eagerness to embrace spring.

Here on the east coast, our spring vegetables haven't yet sprung, but we do have asparagus from California. I couldn't help myself when I found a bunch of beautiful pencil-thin asparagus at the supermarket just the other day. I was inspired by the many wonderful salads I had on my trip to create a recipe of my own that encapsulates the season of renewal.

Start the recipe by blanching the asparagus and snow peas. This step brings out their brighter green color and makes them more tender. I like to chop half the asparagus and slice half the snow peas for the salad. The remaining whole stalks and pea pods are perfect for garnishing. The lemon vinaigrette adds a sharp wintry note and features minced shallot, which has been mellowed from a soak in vinegar. This salad would make a great appetizer before a spring-themed dinner party.

A Prettier Way to Cut Asparagus

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by Susie Middleton

asparagusslices2Sometimes it’s all about the cut. Take asparagus. Everyone loves the long, lanky, sexy look of a whole asparagus spear. (Sorry—sounds like I’m describing a brand of Gap jeans). Why would you want to wreck that by cutting it up?

Oh, yeah, there’s that awkward moment when you’re trying to cut those long spears with a fork on your dinner plate.

And the even more awkward moment when you push the woody bottom half of the spears over to the side of your plate because they’re undercooked.

Now consider this—with a few extra seconds of work upfront, you can have a beautiful, evenly cooked, easy-to-eat asparagus side dish that can take on a variety of flavors, too.

So I’m going to ignore my mother (who claims I tend to get a bit fussy about my vegetable cuts), and suggest that you try slicing your asparagus on the diagonal (sharply…at a sharp angle…on the bias…however you want to say it) for a change.

Coconut Milk Tapioca Pudding with Strawberries and Basil

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by Cathy Pollak

coconut-tapioca-pudding-with-strawberries-and-basil-summer-in-a-jarIt's Spring, but you really wouldn't know it where I live. The rain has been relentless. But strawberries are in season and the stores are filled with rows and rows of these beauties.

Have you ever paired strawberry and basil together? It's a magical combination. Couple that with a vanilla infused coconut pudding and you'll swear you've been transported to an island somewhere.

This is a lovely way to end dinner or a brunch, it's pretty too!

Ahhhsparagus - Recipe of the Week

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by Paul Mones

Before they disappear, run out and get those early season asparagus and fresh garlic bulbs and make this dish or the kitchen gods will be angry. This is a very versatile soup – it can be eaten, hot, lukewarm and cold. Unlike 99.99% of asparagus soups served in restaurants especially those in Paris, this soup has no cream. But it does have a secret fatty ingredient.

asparagassoup1.5 pounds asparagus – chopped
Reserve tips of 3 asparagus and mince very finely
4 cloves fresh spring garlic – garlic greens are also good (for a nice switcheroo substitute baby or spring ginger which is just coming into season – about a 1/2 inch piece chopped)
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup sake or dry white wine like a sauvignon blanc
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Couple of pinches of coriander powder

1. Heat stock for 2 minutes; add all the ingredients except the minced asparagus tips and coriander. Heat under medium heat (covered) for 10 minutes.

2. Pour contents in a blender (if you have a Vitamix there is no need to strain it, but you may want to strain it to remove any woody asparagus pulp if you have a regular blender) for 3 minutes until completely smooth.

3. Pour contents back in pot under low heat for 10 minutes, add coriander powder and adjust salt.

4. Serve in bowls and garnish with minced asparagus.

Our Favorite Spring Asparagus Recipes

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by The Editors

asparagustomsThings we didn’t know about asparagus:

  • That is has male and female flowers on separate plants, although occasionally hermaphrodite flowers bloom.
  • That South Korean scientists claim it’s an excellent hangover cure.
  • That it’s long been thought of as a safeguard against gout.
  • That warm water from asparagus cooking may help heal blemishes on the face.
  • That it’s a source of energy.
  • That it may be beneficial as a laxative.

That according to The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight by Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Nafzawi published in the 15th Century in Arabic and first translated to English from the French edition by Sir Richard Francis Burton, it has aphrodisiac effects.

And giving credit where credit is due, all of these facts were learned from Wikipedia and (official disclaimer) in some instances, there’s a peg that says “citation needed”. Having said that, we love asparagus. Back in the day when it was always served with Hollandaise Sauce to it’s more modern versions – asparagus soup; served cold with a balsamic vinaigrette; served warm with butter and lemon. It’s elegant and festive and since it’s spring, it’s also in season.

Spring Asparagus Soup | Asparagus Cheese Puffs | Spring Salad with Asparagus and Snow Peas

Grilled Asparagus Salad with POM Vinaigrette | Shaved Asparagus Salad | Cold Poached Asparagus with Basil Mayonnaise | Roasted Asparagus & Grape Tomatoes with Crumbled Feta | Roasted Asparagus with Sage Infused Brown Butter | Sauteed Asparagus with Hazelnut Crumble

Italian Asparagus, Mushroom, and Parmesan Frittata | Asparagus, Bacon, and Cheese Quiche

 

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