With spring vegetables in season, I am taking advantage where I can to transition our meals from winter veg to the fresh and fleeting offerings from this time of year, including peas, dill, and asparagus. Check out some of the dishes I had fun making over the past month.
Pork chop with cauliflower and Brussels sprouts
Matt bought a few large pork chops a while back and we had one remaining, so he brined it overnight, sautéed it and then finished the chop in the oven. After cutting the meat off the bone, we split the portions and it was great! 😃 To complement the chop, I wanted a veg dish. Matt got me a new cookbook for my birthday called Cúrate by chef Katie Button, a Spanish tapas-inspired book. It turns out that she has a restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina, so we booked a reservation during our stay there.
From this cookbook, I made a cauliflower and Brussels sprouts side dish that incorporates bread crumbs and flame raisins. I couldn’t find flame raisins and had dried currants on hand, so I used those instead. I also could not find a baguette, so I found a small sandwich loaf and let it dry out for a few days before slicing it and frying up the little cubes of bread. In our little trailer oven I had two small jelly roll pans, one with cauliflower and the other with Brussels sprouts that I alternated between the oven rack and the bottom of the oven. On the bottom, the veg is exposed to more of the flame like a broiler, so it helped brown and finish off the veggies before I dressed them with the currants, bread cubes, garlic, and lemon zest. It was a great addition to the meal and we were very happy with how it all turned out.
Brothy meatballs with peas, fennel and fregola
A spring-inspired recipe we found on the Bon Appetit web site had a nice mixture of meatballs, spring cultivars like peas and dill, toothsome fregola pasta (pearl couscous), and a delicious broth to tie it all together.
The binder used for the meatballs is Greek yogurt, which isn’t great for binding, but will work if you are careful with the meatballs when browning them. I couldn’t find pea shoots (where do you get these if you don’t grow them yourself?!?), so I substituted arugula instead since I love its peppery flavor and delicate yet sturdy texture. The salad you dress the dish with at the end incorporates dill and fresh fennel as well. I couldn’t find fresh dill, so I used dill weed, and in addition to vinegar, I finished it off with a little drizzle of olive oil so it had a true vinaigrette.
This recipe has a lot of layers and deep flavors that develop over time, so it’s a great dish to have as leftovers. I kept the couscous (fregola) separate from the salad and from the mixture of broth, meatballs and cooked vegetables. Although it can be a little time consuming with multiple components to the dish, it wasn’t a particularly arduous recipe, so I would recommend it if you have a few hours to spare for a kitchen project. You will be rewarded for your efforts. 😋
I had some rotelle (wagon wheel) pasta to use up, and am always looking for new and interesting ways to incorporate lentils into our diet, because they are packed with nutrients. This lentil bolognese recipe has just a hint of spice, an allium base and small amount of pancetta and wine add a depth of flavor. The dish can easily be made vegetarian if you exclude the pancetta. The overall dish turned out wonderfully, with balanced texture and flavors. If you are new to cooking lentils or looking for some variety, or perhaps looking for a different take on bolognese, try this recipe and let me know what you think.
Roasted Salmon with dilly greens, asparagus, and potatoes
We have made it known that we are big fans of salmon, and with spring having sprung, we couldn’t wait to take advantage of some more spring vegetable favorites. In this case, asparagus and dill are our inspiration for this dish. I did substitute raw bell pepper for the jar of roasted bell peppers, and couldn’t find escarole, so used another crisp and slightly curly green instead. Finally, I didn’t have fresh oregano, so I quartered the required amount and substituted dried oregano.
While roasting the salmon and bell pepper in the oven, I steamed the potatoes, which took a bit longer since I don’t have a proper steamer. I have a metal strainer that I place in the top of a pot and then trap most of the escaping steam with the pot cover. Because my steaming vessel was small, I chopped up the asparagus to fit in the metal strainer and it took hardly any time to cook compared to the potatoes.
While the potatoes and asparagus were steaming, I dressed the salad greens so the flavors had time to blend. Once cooled, I pulled apart big chunks of salmon, and added all of the components for the full spectrum of flavor and texture. It is a superb dish for a warm spring day, to sit outside and enjoy the last rays of sunshine or perhaps take to a picnic in the park. Happy spring everyone! 🌷
Shrimp with slaw, farro and gochujang mayo
I love farro and gochujang, needed to use up some shredded cabbage and was interested in attempting a new way to pan fry shrimp, hence this recipe. I am not always a big fan of shrimp because they are often overcooked, so thought this recipe might lend itself to a crispy-fried finish and keep the shrimp a little more tender. It was indeed successful! 🍤 Couple this with the spicy, tangy mayo, the nutty farro and cabbage dressed in mirin wine, rice vinegar, and sesame oil, and you have myriad sensations while eating. The textures worked well together, and if you like shrimp, this is a great way to prepare them.