Spring is a Time of Renewal

By Isabel Minnuni

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As the warm winter comfort foods enters into hibernation; the fresh new spring and summer banquet begins its blossom. Spring is the rebirth of nature; the light shines brightly bringing everything into a state of new beginning.   

As the days grow longer; are you anticipating your seeds peeking out from their earth?  Is your grill calling to be filled with your first taste of BBQ? Are you looking forward to belly flops, flip flops and blue stained smiles from ice pops?  

Spring and summer is by far my favorite seasons; I look forward to the beginning of our spring culinary offerings from our local farmers markets, orchards and farms, showing off their beautiful seasonal displays!  The Dutchess County is a host to many such venders, be sure to look up your local listings, you will be glad you did.   

There is nothing I enjoy more than strolling through a farmers market choosing from farm fresh ingredients, creating a menu from what inspires me, often I challenge myself to broaden my culinary horizons and search for something different and new.

Our family has a tradition, every year we invite extended family for a long weekend, we visit a local orchard, we tailgate, enjoy in the orchards festivities, pick the in season fresh crops.  There is nothing like picking something right off the branch, nothing tastes better, that is making lasting memories as far as I am concerned.  

Some of my favorite recipes inspired from farmers markets: 

Open Faced Grilled Summer Salmon BLT

 

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4 – 6 ounce Alaskan sockeye salmon
2 Green onions - chopped
4 tangerines - juiced
2 cloves garlic - chopped
4 slices prosciutto
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 cups lettuce - arugula or spring mix
1 ripe avocado - diced
2 cups grapes tomatoes - quartered
16 asparagus spears
4slices ciabatta bread - toasted
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 figs

In a shallow dish add salmon, onions, tangerine juice and garlic and let salmon set in marinade for 20 minutes.

In a frying pan cook prosciutto on medium heat on both sides until browned and crispy, set aside.

Remove salmon from marinade and place marinade into a small sauce pan. Cook marinade on medium low heat for about 5 minutes or until reduced by ¼. Let cool, whisk in olive oil and mustard and season with salt and pepper. 

In a small bowl, add lettuce, avocado and tomatoes and desired amount of dressing and mix to coat. In a small sauce pan add vinegar and figs and simmer until reduced by half until it has a syrupy consistency. Pour through sieve to strain out figs and seeds.

On a very well greased hot grill cook asparagus until just tender. Cook salmon on both sides for a couple of minutes or until just cooked through.

Place a slice of toast onto serving plate/s top each with an even amount of asparagus, a slice of prosciutto, filet of salmon and the desired amount tomato salad.  Drizzle with fig balsamic reduction and serve.  (Serves 4)  

Carrot Ribbon Saute  

Cut zucchini and carrots into ribbons.  Cut kale into bite size pieces. In a large skillet with olive oil, on medium heat, saute zucchini,carrots and kale until just starting to soften. Season with salt, pepper and five spice, continue to cook until vegetables are soft but still have a little bite to them.  Sprinkle with toasted pipitas and serve. 

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Serves 4-6 side dishes

2 zucchini squash
5 large carrots
1 small bunch kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon five spice
1/4 cup toasted pipitas 

 

Grilled Zucchini and Tomato Skewers

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3 to 4 small zucchini squash
1 pint grape tomatoes
3 - 4 yellow squash
1 cup Italian dressing-your favorite

Cut zucchini and yellow squash into ribbons.  Skewer vegetables alternating zucchini squash, tomato, yellow squash as shown.  Place skewers in a shallow dish or container, pour dressing over skewers and marinate for 10-20 minutes.  Place on well greased hot grill. Cook on both sides for a couple of minutes or until the vegetables are tender and slightly charred.  Serve.

Serves 4-6 side dishes