Category Archives: Spring

Hey Summer, Where Are You?

It’s the first week of June, and it’s raw and rainy.  I’m bundled in fleece because it’s only in the mid-50’s outside. I’m so ready for summer.  I’d even settle for spring.  At boot camp this morning, we were taking a survey of who turned their heat back on…

Local farmers’ markets are just starting to open for the season.  I pick up my first week’s CSA share tomorrow. My vegetable garden is planted but sunshine and heat are needed for it to grow.

When summer tomatoes are at their peak later in the summer, Caprese salad with fresh mozzarella or burrata makes a regular appearance on my table, but it’s much too early for that.  I saw a recipe in the New York Times a few weeks ago for a spring version with fava beans and fennel.  Those aren’t in season yet either, but I felt inspired.

What was fresh at today’s farmers’ market?  Radishes and sugar snap peas cried out to me.  I also have plentiful arugula growing at home, self-sowed from last fall’s plants, and fresh mint in my herb garden.

Here’s my version.  The variety of color and textures is a treat for the senses.  I love how I’ll be able to vary the ingredients as the season progresses towards tomatoes and beyond.

Spring Burrata Salad

1 small shallot, diced finely
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3-4 radishes, sliced thin
1 stalk celery, sliced thin
1 heaping cup of sugar snap peas, tops trimmed, cut in half
1 4-oz ball burrata
Arugula leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces if large
1 sprig fresh mint

In a small bowl, cover diced shallot with lemon juice.  Add a pinch of salt, and let it sit while you prepare the vegetables (5-10 minutes).  Then, whisk in olive oil.

In another bowl, toss the radish slices, sliced celery, and peas together.

Arrange the arugula on a plate.  Place the burrata in the center.  Scatter the mixed vegetables over the arugula and burrata.

Spoon about half of the dressing over the salad.  Finally, tear the leaves from the mint sprig into small pieces and sprinkle over the salad.

Serve immediately.  Use a serving spoon to cut the burrata in half or quarters as the salad is served.

Serves 2-4

leeks vinaigrette with mimosa {ffwd}

Leeks Vinaigrette with Mimosa

Spring is in full force, both outside my window and, courtesy of this week’s French Fridays recipe, in my kitchen. Leeks vinaigrette with mimosa is an easy salad with a perky mustard dressing that says, out with the heavy fare of winter, and in with lighter foods.

The recipe calls for baby leeks, but they were nowhere to be found around here. I used a bunch of the smallest leeks I could find, though they were still pretty large. The leeks are partially split in order to wash out the dirt between the layers, then tied back together (out of kitchen string like I was? Use some white thread instead) before simmering in water until tender. For my medium-sized leeks, this took about half an hour.

Tied Leeks

While the leeks cook, there’s plenty of time to make a hard-boiled egg and the aforementioned perky dressing which includes the fancy touches of sherry vinegar and walnut oil.

We have an ongoing discussion in my house on the best way to make a hard-boiled egg. Does one boil the water before adding the egg or does one start the egg in cold water? There’s also the question of whether to cook the egg in boiling water or to to just let it sit in the boiled water. Opinions in cookbooks and the internet are all over the map. The method I’ve settled on is to start the egg in cold water, bring it to a boil, then remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for a certain amount of time depending on the size of the egg (15 minutes for a large egg) before cooling the egg in an ice bath. What’s your favorite way? I’m curious.

After the leeks are tender and dried off with a kitchen towel, they are sliced into thick (1-inch) slices, doused in the vinaigrette and topped with grated hard-boiled egg, which mimics the fringy fluffy mimosa flower.

Mimosa flower (photo from Wikipedia)

This was a delicious side dish, which I served somewhere between warm and room temperature. I was indifferent to the egg garnish. It was pretty, given that the cooked leeks weren’t the most attractive color, but the taste of the egg didn’t come through to me.

Though enjoying this in the warmer weather, I could imagine serving this when winter is dragging me down to remind me that spring will come some day.

If you’d like to know what my Dorista friends thought of their leeks, you can check their links here. The recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

Since I lost my mother in 2007, Mother’s Day is an odd day for me. Though I have fabulous special “mother figures” to honor in my life (a stepmother, a mother-in-law, and an aunt extraordinaire), I now feel something missing. Being childless, I’m not anyone’s mother either. I’ve taken to thinking of Mother’s Day as a day to celebrate all the women in my life, family or friends, independent of motherhood, because these are relationships that enrich my days. So, from me to you, Happy Mother’s Day to all!

My Mom and Me (at her wedding in 1984)

My Mom and Me (at her wedding in 1984)