Spring

swisschard.jpgThe second coolest thing about Swiss chard is that it cooks so darn fast. (The first coolest thing being its amazing neon color—especially the Bright Lights and Rainbow varieties.) So I hate to spoil the party, but I’m going to. My recipe takes a bit longer than the standard sauté.

That’s because most recipes tell you to discard the chard stems and “use them for vegetable stock” or something else. (I know how many of you are busying yourselves making vegetable stock.) This is so you can then wilt the leaves like spinach and have a side dish in seconds. But if you have a few extra seconds (okay, minutes), you can simply slice up those stems and cook them until crisp-tender before adding the leaves to the pan. The stems add nice texture and make the side dish feel a little more substantial, too.

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pastasalad.jpg Who doesn't love a good tangy pasta salad?  I have tried many, many recipes over the years and I have to say I like the idea of antipasto meets pasta salad.

Every bite is something different, I love that; crunchy cucumbers, salami, artichoke hearts, kalmata olives and especially the smoked mozzarella.  It's quite the yum factor.

This salad is best when made and dressed a day ahead so the flavors can marinate.  If you don't have the time to do that, adding a generous splash of red wine vinegar just before serving gives the salad the same bright, tangy flavor.

Make it now or for an upcoming picnic. You will love it.

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pottedpuddingThese mini mint puddings sprout to life with their mint seedling growing out the top and ground-cookie dirt sprinkled on the surface.

What a great way to celebrate Spring with these cleverly disguised desserts.  Pour pudding into votive candleholders and serve with wooden "plant marker" spoons. 

Perfect for April Fool's Day!

The kids will love these but so will adults.  You can easily use your favorite recipe, adding mint extract at the end or try this one, it's delicious!

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greenbeansWhether making a holiday meal or just a quick weeknight supper, finding a veggie side dish that packs a flavorful punch without a lot of fat or calories (and little effort or clean-up) is sometimes a mystery….so here’s one of my favorites: Oven Roasted Haricot Vert with Pistachio and Parmesan Gremolata.

Always skinny when naked–about 40 fat free calories per cup–Haricot Vert are simply very slender green beans that are loaded with nutrition.

But even in California, truly fresh haricots vert aren’t always easy to find...so, more often than not, I use the frozen ones that are available year ’round and don’t require blanching before roasting. (By the way, if you keep the frozen ones on hand, you’re likely to make them more often!)

And by sprinkling your beans with a rich but healthy Gremolata–a minced seasoning of parsley, garlic, lemon zest and a pinch of Parmesan and nuts–this quick and easy veg will have much more texture and flavor than any simple green bean dish…but with little extra work.

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steakspringsalad.jpgSpring brings many colorful bounties, but the best of the season comes in green. This time of year farmers' markets are brimming with tender, young vegetables. That's why my friend Caroline and I decided to take a trip to the Union Square Greenmarket this past week to see what dish we could create together.

With all the beautiful salad greens available at the market, we naturally decided upon making a salad. After browsing all the produce to see what was the freshest and most appealing, we found some beautiful spinach for our base. We also gathered baby fingerling potatoes, baby red onions, and radishes. Caroline had the perfect idea, to flash pickle the radishes. And for a lean protein, I suggested a steak, which we picked up at the nearby Whole Foods Market. Once we had all our ingredients, we were ready to cook—and eat.

What we achieved was a colorful and healthy salad with a combination of earthy vegetables that encapsulated the flavors of spring.

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