Creative Uses for Spring Vegetables
Spring vegetables are a welcome sight after a long winter. Arugula, beets, fava beans, spring onions, rhubarb, spinach, and all kinds of peas are in season. The challenge for home cooks is how to prepare this bounty in new and tasty ways. We explore creative ways to make the most of spring harvests.
Recipes (Courtesy Andrew Swallow)
Brussels sprouts with warm brown butter vinaigrette (Serves 4)
2 pounds Brussels sprouts (should yield 12 ounces of leaves)
8 strips bacon, cut into lardons (1/2-inch chunks)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup cider vinegar
11/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Fuji apple, cored and sliced 1/8 inch thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1 white turnip, julienned
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil on the stove and prepare a large bowl of ice water.
Remove the bottom of each sprout and peel apart all the leaves. Blanch the leaves for 2 minutes in the boiling water, then shock them in the ice bath; drain and set aside.
In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, sauté the bacon until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate and set aside. Drain the fat from the pan. Add the butter to the pan and let it slowly melt, browning slightly, then add the sage and sauté for 1 minute to infuse the butter. Add the mustard and vinegar to the pan, then whisk the mixture until emulsified.
Place the sprout leaves in a serving bowl or on a platter and toss with the apple slices. Top with the brown butter vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with the bacon, pomegranate seeds, and turnip.
Heirloom tomatoes with watermelon (Serves 4)
4 pounds seedless watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 large heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
6 ounces Greek feta cheese
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
The Picnic is the most refreshing salad I’ve ever made. Hands down, if it’s hot outside, it’s what you want to eat. I’ll admit that creating it was a total fluke. People don’t think watermelon and tomato go together, but when I tried them I realized that the acid and sweet earthiness in heirloom tomatoes tie into the sweetness and earthiness of the watermelon—and the mint gives it a really great, fresh zing. Use top-of-the-line Italian extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
To assemble each salad, place the cubed watermelon and tomatoes in the center of the plate, and crumble 11/2 ounces feta over the top. Drizzle with about 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the basil and mint.
Reprinted with permission from Mixt Salads: A Chef's Bold Creations by Andrew Swallow with Ann Volkwein, copyright © 2010. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.