Local and Nerdy Spring Break Yumsters
Spring is (almost) upon us, if only officially and not actually in practice. For all you lovely readers out there who want to usher in the new season (or just pretend like it’s really getting warmer), here are a couple of dishes featuring some spring flavors and produce found in your local grocery or farmers market. The recipes this time are pretty simple since I am in the middle of midterms and comprehensive exams. It’s always good to have some simple standbys that don’t involve Ramen noodles.
Asparagus might be my favorite vegetable. Not only does it taste fucking fantastic and interesting, but it also does hilarious things to your urine. This recipe is officially from Whole Foods, but you can easily adapt it to suit your needs. I’ve copied the original recipe below and noted my personal “improvements” in parentheses. If asparagus is not locally available yet in your area, it should be soon.
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound)
Juice of 1/2 orange or 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (I used balsamic)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme and mint (I used dried parsley and rosemary because it’s cold and I already went to the grocery store once today)
(I also added a tablespoon of olive oil because it’s delicious)
Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Trim off the tough end from each stalk of asparagus (about the last 1 1/2 inches or so) and arrange spears on baking sheet (Did you know that if you snap off the ends with your hands, it will magically take off the woodish part?). Squeeze orange or drizzle vinegar (and olive oil if you’re using) over asparagus, toss to coat and season with pepper. Roast, shaking the baking sheet occasionally, until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes, watching carefully after 5 minutes to avoid overcooking. Transfer to a platter, scatter herbs over the top and serve.
I added one roughly chopped onion, three quartered garlic bulbs and Field Roast smoked apple sage sausage to my mixture before baking. This recipe definitely lends itself to you adding whatever you have on hand and feel like eating. It’s a great way to use up those lingering vegetables in your fridge.
If you have leftovers from this, they work great in a frittata. Just mix milk (just enough to make the egg batter a little more liquidy – about ¼ cup for every five eggs), eggs (I use one egg for every cup of leftovers plus one), salt and pepper to taste with ingredients and bake in a pie dish (with or without crust) until top is golden (about 20-25 minutes at 350). You can put anything into this – I’ve done it with leftover pasta, roasted vegetables, leftover beans, you name it. The original idea came from Jeanne Lemlin’s James Beard Award-winning Quick Vegetarian Pleasures, which is a pretty awesome cookbook.
The seasonal fruit here is the strawberry. Since I’m making these recipes on 3/14, I couldn’t resist making a pie. Normally I am not prone to baking pies, and especially fruit pies, but I was feeling a little crazy today. I made a lot of substitutions in this recipe, so watch out for the parentheses.
9″ unbaked pie crust, plus extra crust for top crust or pie crust art (I used this recipe, with less salt and more sugar, which was pretty easy. It didn’t turn out as tasty as the store-bought kind though, so unless you are a pie crust wunderkind, buy it at the store. I also didn’t want to make more than one, so I combined 1.5 cups granola with 2 tbsp melted butter and 1 tbsp honey to make a crumble crust)
4 cups mango chunks, frozen is fine (I bought fresh cause I’m a badass. Evidently it’s difficult to chop up a mango, but don’t worry because the Internet has lots of tutorials.)
2 cups strawberries, frozen is fine
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 TB lemon or lime juice (I used lemon)
1 TB rum (I did not have rum, so I used Wild Turkey Honey, which I had on hand. Have you had this stuff? It’s so great)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place mango chunks in a large bowl and strawberries in a smaller bowl. If frozen, defrost a few minutes in the microwave. The fruit doesn’t have to be totally thawed, but just not hard.
Add rum (bourbon) and lemon juice to mangoes. Mix flour and sugar and add about 1/3 cup to the strawberries. Add the remainder to the mangoes. Mix and let sit a few minutes to bring out the juices.
Pour fruit into pie shell—I like to hide the strawberries in the middle and put the mango around them. (I’m not that fancy)
Cover with top crust or pie crust art. (I cut out a pi stencil from wax paper and put my crumble around it because being a nerd is totally awesome). Bake at 425 for about 25 minutes, then lower heat to 325 and bake another 25-30 minutes. Fruit should be bubbly and juicy.