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Spring is time for more fresh veggies on your plate

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Bless Your Spoon

It’s finally here – spring.

We’ve waited patiently to witness the season’s tiny green buds and colorful blooms. And once again, we anticipate foods from gardens and markets that optimize our health.The arrival of green is the perfect time to put more produce on our plates.

With the Easter holiday getting closer, I’m already planning my menu with plenty of fresh foods that grow together. Fresh in-season ingredients look and taste better together – creating a culinary and visual harmony.

For a terrific-looking plate, use the “round the clock” method of plating foods. Put your starch at 10 o’clock, meat at 2 o’clock, and vegetables at 6 o’clock. Elevate the meat by placing it on or leaning it up against the starch. Use big plates which allow separation between foods.

Go green on your tabletop. Pull out Grandma’s best, and dress your table with freshly pressed linens, your best crystal, spring-green patterned china, and at least one silver serving dish. This way, you get to use your favorite family heirlooms.

One quick and easy way to clean silver is to line a sink with aluminum foil, and fill it with 2 quarts of hot water and 2 tsp. of baking soda dissolved. Soak your silver. When tarnish is gone, rinse silver well, and dry with a soft cloth. This method works well to remove tarnish off small silver items. However, don’t use this method too often or on really old pieces. Clean heirloom silver or silver plate the old-fashioned way with elbow grease and polish.

What better time to put a little of your family history out there – on the table.

GREEN BEANS WITH PROSCUITTO

12 oz. trimmed fresh green beans

3 oz. chopped prosciutto

2 tbsp. salted butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook beans in a large pot of salted water for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain. Cool 5 minutes in ice water to retain their color. Drain and dry on paper towels.

In a skillet, add prosciutto. Saute for 5 minutes or until crispy. Transfer with slotted spoon, and drain on paper towel. Retain pork oil and add butter to skillet. Add beans and stir 5 minutes or until butter coats and beans are heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in prosciutto.

PAN SEARED HERBED VEAL CHOPS

4 12 oz. 1-inch thick, veal chops

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp. fresh rosemary

1 tsp. fresh thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 rosemary sprigs

2 minced garlic cloves

4 Tbsp. white wine

4 Tbsp. chicken broth

For herbed chops, arrange meat in a single layer in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with herbs, and season with salt and pepper. Rub oil and seasonings into chops. Wrap and refrigerate. When ready to cook, in a skillet, heat olive oil with rosemary sprig and garlic. Saute garlic for 3 minutes. Add room temperature chops, and cook at high heat for 2 ½ minutes on each side and browned. Transfer to serving platter. Remove rosemary. Add wine to skillet and cook on high heat while deglazing pan for 2minutes or until liquid is reduced. Add chicken broth and cook 2 minutes. Drizzle over chops on serving platter. Top with pat of rosemary butter.

Butter with Rosemary

½ stick softened, salted butter

1½ tsp. chopped, fresh rosemary

½ tsp. fresh, chopped thyme

Pinch of salt

In a small bowl, blend soft butter, rosemary, thyme, and salt.  Form into a 2-inch log. Chill for several hours until firm.  Place a small slice of butter on each lamb chop.

ROASTED BEETS WITH GREENS

8 medium beets with greens

1 cup water

3 Tbsp. drained, chopped capers

7 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

3 Tb sp. Red wine vinegar

1 ½ Tbsp. minced garlic cloves

Salt and pepper to taste

Beet greens, stems discarded

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Cut greens from top of beet and reserve greens. Arrange beets in a glass baking dish in a single layer. Add water. Cover and bake in a 375-degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until tests knife tender. Peel while warm. Slice beets thinly. To a bowl, combine sliced beets and chopped capers. For dressing, in a bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.  Pour ¼ cup of dressing over beets. Prepare beet greens by cutting and discarding stems. To a pot, add greens. Stir for 3 minutes at high heat or just until greens are slightly wilted. Drain well. Cool and chop. Transfer greens to a clean bowl. Toss with just enough dressing to coat. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, arrange sliced beets in center of platter. Surround beets with the wilted greens. Sprinkle feta cheese over all. Drizzle with the dressing that remains.

ROASTED ASPARAGUS IN VINAIGRETTE

Vinaigrette

2 minced large shallots

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp. Sherry wine vinegar

1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp. grated lemon peel

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a processor, combine shallots, juice, vinegar, mustard, and lemon peel. Gradually add oil until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.

Asparagus

1 lb. trimmed fresh asparagus

1/3 cup vinaigrette

Salt and pepper

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place asparagus in a glass baking dish. Drizzle with vinaigrette and turn to coat. Spread in a single layer and salt and pepper. Roast in a 400-degree oven for 13 minutes. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese after removing from the oven. You can serve over your choice of salad greens, add remaining vinaigrette, and toss salad to coat.

Prosciutto, bacon, and pancetta are all types of cured pork. However, how they taste and are used are quite different. Let’s break this down:

Pancetta comes from the pork belly or the underside of a pig.

ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH APPLE

½ cup diced Fuji apple

8 oz. trimmed, quartered Brussel sprouts

3 Tbsp. apple cider

3 tsp. olive oil

1 tsp. minced fresh thyme

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl, combine apples and Brussel sprouts. In a bowl, mix cider, olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper to blend. Pour over sprout mixture and toss well. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 25 minutes or until sprouts are tender.

ORANGE-NUT SLAW

¼ cup orange juice

3 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

1 Tbsp. honey

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsp. orange zest

1 Tbsp. minced shallot

16 oz. pkg. coleslaw mix

1 chopped Bartlett pear

¾ chopped, toasted walnuts

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a bowl, whisk juice, vinegar, honey, mustard, zest, and shallot. Set aside. In another large bowl, add coleslaw mix, pear, and walnuts. Add dressing to slaw and toss. Mix well. Refrigerate.

GREEN BEAN AND POTATO SALAD

6 oz. green beans

Salted water

2 lbs. small, peeled, potatoes

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 tsp. fresh lemon juice

4 tsp. Dijon type mustard

2 tsp. chopped thyme

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

½ cup thinly sliced red onion

In a pot, simmer beans in saltwater for 3 minutes or until almost tender. Transfer beans to bowl of ice water to retain color. Drain and dry. Add peeled potatoes to same pot of saltwater. Simmer 12 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain, cool, and half potatoes. In a bowl, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and thyme. Pour over beans and potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add onion and toss.

ONION CHEESE TART

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 stick cold, salted butter

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

4 Tbsp. milk

3 Tbsp. olive oil

4 Spanish onions, cut ½-inch strips

4 strips bacon, cut ½-inch pieces

2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp. kosher salt

½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

8 oz. Camembert cheese

In a mixer bowl with bread hook, combine flour, butter, salt, and sugar. Mix until resembles coarse meal. Add milk a little at a time until a ball is formed. Remove dough, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 1 hour. In saute pans, heat oil and cook onions slowly over medium heat for 30 minutes until golden. Add bacon and cook 5 minutes until brown. Add rosemary and salt, and pepper. Remove from heat and cool. Roll out dough on floured parchment paper to ¼-inch thickness and 11 inches in diameter. Grate half of cheese and sprinkle over center of dough. Top with onion mixture and leave a 1 ½ – inch border.  Top with remainder of cheese.  Fold up edges of crust. Slide tart onto a baking sheet. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 30 minutes. Don’t over brown. Cool.

GRATIN OF GRUYERE AND SPINACH

1 Tbsp. salted butter

1 chopped onion

3 minced cloves garlic

1 ½ Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

1 ½ cups whole milk

¾ cup shredded Gruyere cheese

10 oz. frozen chopped spinach

1 Tbsp. salted butter

1 cup Panko breadcrumbs

½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

In a skillet, melt butter. Add onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. Add flour and salt. Stir to form paste and cook 1 minute. Stir in milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until thickened. Stir in Gruyere cheese and spinach. Transfer to a butter greased casserole dish. In skillet, melt butter. Add Panko crumbs and cook 3 minutes or until golden. Stir in Parmigiano cheese. Sprinkle Panko mixture over spinach.

ITALIAN PEAS

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

3 oz. pancetta, diced ¼-inch

1 halved, sliced shallot

10 oz. Birds Eye frozen peas

1 tsp. kosher salt

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 ½ Tbsp. chopped fresh mint

In a skillet, heat olive oil. Cook pancetta and shallot for 7 minutes while stirring until meat is browned. Add frozen peas, salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until peas are heated through. Stir in mint. Serve while hot.

BROCCOLI AND PEANUTS

1 lb. broccoli florets

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1/3 cup roasted, chopped, salted peanuts

1 chopped shallot

2 tsp. soy sauce

1 thinly sliced green onion, greens only

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Cook broccoli in boiling salted water for 4 minutes until tender. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to retain color. Cool, drain, and dry completely. In a skillet, add oil and peanuts. Cook 5 minutes or until nuts are golden. Stir in shallot and cook 1 minute. Stir in soy, and then add broccoli. Cook 3 minutes until heated through and broccoli is done.

HAM WITH MUSTARD WINE GLAZE

14-16 oz. whole, smoked ham

7 cups water

1 cup Riesling or sweet wine

2 Tbsp. salted butter

1/3 cup chopped shallots

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 cup Riesling or sweet wine

½ cup Dijon-style mustard

2 Tbsp. honey

1/8th tsp. kosher salt

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

In a roasting pan, place ham. In a saucepan, boil water and wine for 5 minutes. Pour around bottom of the ham. Bake ham in a 300-degree oven for 2 ½ -3 hours until done. In a skillet, melt butter. Add shallots and thyme, and saute 10 minutes. Add sweet wine. Increase heat and simmer for 10 minutes until liquid is reduced. Remove thyme sprigs. To a food processor, add mustard, honey, salt, pepper along with the wine mixture. Blend well. Spread mixture on the ham. Return to oven and bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.