Cathie Campbell

Are you ready for spring?

by cathie campbell

Fresh strawberries and rhubarb combine for a delicious springtime dessert.
Fresh strawberries and rhubarb combine for a delicious springtime dessert. Kaboompics, freerangestock.com

I have mixed feelings about spring, as I have been thoroughly enjoying all the rainstorms we have had, and even the snow days as long as I don’t have to go out on the roads. Luckily, I have not had to deal with any rain damage. Also, spring means allergy season, and I am not too fond of that. But aside from pollen, I must admit I love the blooms and blossoms, seeing all the birds coming out of hiding and the warmth of a sunny day. Spring time also means the arrival of many seasonal local foods and farmers markets. There are so many delicious things one can do with fresh produce. Here are some recipes you might like to try.

Spring frittata

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large shallot, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

 1/2 cup fresh peas, shelled (Yes, you can use frozen peas if you must.)

8 to 10 asparagus spears (woody ends removed), sliced diagonally into  1/2 -inch pieces

 3/4 cup chopped zucchini (about half a medium zucchini)

6 large eggs

1 tablespoon water

 1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add peas and cook for 1 minute. Strain and transfer to a small bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and retain color. Strain again. Prepare your other vegetables and set them aside.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in an 8 to 10-inch non-stick skillet. When hot, add the chopped shallot and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the peas, asparagus and zucchini to the skillet. Cover and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat until just tender.

3. While the vegetables are cooking, lightly beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water, salt and some freshly ground pepper. Do not over beat the eggs.

4. Add the eggs to the skillet and reduce heat to low. The skillet should be very hot when adding the eggs, so that the bottom sets, then cook the frittata slowly. While the frittata is cooking, preheat the broiler.

5. Cook the frittata for about 7 minutes, then add the goat cheese and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. At this point, the sides of the frittata should be set, but the top should still be a little runny.

6. Carefully transfer the frittata to the broiler and cook for 2 minutes until it puffs slightly and the top is golden brown (watch carefully). Remove frittata from the broiler and transfer to a plate. Slice and serve immediately. Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Quinoa salad

1 can (15-oz.) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 pinch cayenne pepper

1 cup uncooked quinoa

 1/2 seedless cucumber, peeled and diced

1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cups packed spinach, finely chopped (use kale or arugula if you prefer)

1 avocado, diced

For the dressing:

1 tablespoon tahini

2 tablespoons warm water

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced

 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 pinch cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

For Garnish: (optional)

Lemon wedges

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1. Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.

2. Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans and place them between two paper towels. Gently pat them dry. Don’t worry if the skins come off the beans; just discard them if that happens. Place the garbanzo beans on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with the smoked paprika, salt and a pinch of cayenne. Toss to coat. Bake in preheated oven and for 30 to 40 minutes until golden and crispy, stirring once after about 15 minutes. The cooking time will vary a little bit depending on the size of the beans, so make sure to check on them after 30 minutes.

3. While the garbanzo beans are roasting, cook the quinoa. Pour the quinoa into a small pot with 1  1/2 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes until all of the water is absorbed. Let the quinoa rest, still covered, for five minutes, then fluff with a fork and turn it out into a larger bowl to cool to room temperature.

4. For the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini and warm water until smooth. Add the lemon juice, garlic, smoked paprika, cayenne and olive oil to the tahini and whisk until well combined. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

5. When the quinoa has cooled, add the cucumber, cherry tomatoes, spinach (or kale or arugula), avocado and half of the cooked garbanzo beans to the bowl. Pour the dressing over everything. and gently fold the ingredients together. Taste and season with a little extra salt if necessary.

6. Serve in bowls topped with the remaining roasted garbanzo beans and green onions with lemon wedges on the side. Makes 4 servings.

Greek pasta salad

4 cups veggie rotini or other spiral pasta (about 12 ounces)

For the dressing:

 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon water

3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 teaspoon salt

 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons minced fresh oregano or 1 tablespoon dried

For the salad

3 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

1 small cucumber, seeded and chopped

1 small zucchini, chopped

1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced

 1/3 cup sliced, pitted Greek olives

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; rinse with cold water and drain well.

2. In a small bowl, whisk oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, water, garlic, salt and pepper until mixture is well blended. Stir in oregano.

3. In a large bowl, combine pasta, vegetables and olives. Add the dressing and cheese; toss to combine. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve. Makes about 16 small servings.

Strawberry rhubarb pie

If you like, you can make this as a one-crust pie and top with whipped cream after it bakes.

For crust:

2 cups flour, plus additional flour as needed, up to  1/4 cup

 1/2 cup cake flour (recommended: Soft As Silk)

3 teaspoons sifted confectioners’ sugar

 1/2 cup butter-flavored shortening

 1/4 cup salted butter

Pinch of salt

1 egg

2 teaspoons vinegar

 1/4 cup ice water

For filling:

2  1/2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb

2  1/2 cups stemmed, washed and cut strawberries (in fairly large pieces)

1  1/2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons minute tapioca

1 tablespoon flour

 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Dash of cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons butter, cubed small

1 egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Large granule sugar

1. To prepare crust: Using a pastry blender, mix the regular flour, cake flour, sugar, shortening, butter and salt. Whisk the egg, vinegar and water in a 2-cup measure and pour over the dry ingredients incorporating all the liquid without overworking the dough. Toss the additional flour over the ball of dough and chill. Divide the dough into 2 pieces. Roll out both pieces to make a bottom crust and a top one. Place the bottom into a pie dish. Put dish in refrigerator to chill a bit. If it will be a while, cover other pastry with plastic wrap so it won’t dry out. Preheat oven to 425.

2. To prepare filling: Mix the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, tapioca, flour, lemon zest, lemon juice, dash of cinnamon and vanilla. Mix well in a large bowl and pour into chilled crust. Dot the top of the filling with the small pieces of butter. Brush edges of pie crust with some of the egg white wash. Place the top crust over filling and crimp to seal edges. Brush with egg white wash and garnish with large granule sugar. Collar the crust edges (or use a pie shield) with foil and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Decrease temperature to 375 and bake for an additional 45 to 50 minutes, or until the filling starts bubbling.

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