It’s the final stretch, and thank goodness. Grocery stores, farmers’ markets and delivery bags will soon start to sparkle with strawberries and rhubarb, asparagus and morels. On March 20th this year, spring arrives.
“Well-appareled April on the heel of limping winter treads,” wrote Shakespeare in “Romeo and Juliet.” And thank goodness. Yes, there are still news stories that have our empathy-o-meters through the roof. There are still appointments to be made, masks to be worn, social distancing to do for a while longer yet. But you know what’s finally on the horizon, after so, so long? Tulips, green grass, and all the beautiful foods that crop up along with them. Here are seven delicious recipes to help you celebrate.
Put on a favorite album, give the kid or cat to your partner or a neighbor, and spend some meditative time stirring risotto on the stove. It’s wonderful to make risotto at home, and you don’t have to wait an extra 20 minutes at your restaurant table for it! Creamy lemon risotto with asparagus will do the trick nicely. The lemon zest cuts through the creaminess, the asparagus has bite and heft, and you can turn any leftovers into arancini.
Spring cooking isn’t just for vegetarians. It’s not just a pasta primavera- or risotto-fest. As evidence, we submit this Braised Chicken with Artichokes, Peas and Lemon. Brown the chicken and artichokes first to build flavor, then simmer them on the stovetop with shallots, garlic, English peas, lemon and white wine. A hit of rosemary just before serving adds just the right note.
Leeks and fennel bridge winter and early spring like a Simon and Garfunkel song. This dish of salmon with leeks, fennel & lemon showcases how they can be ideal foils for one another. You serve the baked fillets on top of a bed of baked leeks and fennel. Reserve the leftover vegetables for frittatas and scrambles for tomorrow morning. It’s all just so good, and so springy.
We love the notion of a big fat ham, plus a side of these gloriously sweet roasted parsnips with radishes, for Easter. Look at those colors! Honey and a bit of thyme help them roast up as aromatic and toothsome as they are pretty. This will quickly become one of the go-to spring and late-winter dishes in your repertoire.
Really good asparagus doesn’t need much to be incredible, and even mediocre asparagus can shine in Chef Joshua McFadden’s raw asparagus salad. Plenty of bread crumbs and fresh mint join heavy hitters like walnuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Add lemon juice, lemon zest and chile flakes, and it’s like the best pasta you’ve ever had… minus the noodles.
Some day, we’ll all be going to baby showers, wedding showers, picnics and barbecues again. When that day comes, bring this yogurt tart with strawberries, and feel like a hero. It sets up in the refrigerator so is ideal for making ahead. The yogurt filling is the perfect blank canvas for any variety of colorful spring toppings. Strawberries are a natural, but you may want to experiment with other seasonal finds. Try sliced kumquats or kiwi fruits, edible blossoms or tiny woodland strawberries.
Strawberry + Rhubarb 4-Eva. Like vanilla and chocolate, day and night, strawberry and rhubarb just go together. They appear at market stands right next to one another more often than not, because the farmer has your number. Strawberry-rhubarb crumble pie is a cinch, particularly if you already have a round of our basic pie dough in your freezer. (And here’s a tip: Whenever you see the word “crumble,” think “shortcut!”) Or, skip the crumble topping and tuck your strawberry-rhubarb mix into a simple galette.
As is true of everything else we wish for you in 2021, “shortcuts” are right up there.