by Lisa Lozano
The first day of spring is March 20, and to celebrate the end of what has been a rough winter for many parts of the U.S., we're finding inspiration for vibrant, celebratory dishes in fresh ingredients you will likely find at your local farmer's market in the springtime.
Jason Roberts makes an amazing egg roll – which is actually made out of eggs! Those avoiding grains will love his ingenious method of using ultra-thin omelets as the "wrapper" for the egg roll. He fills the wrapper with a flavor-packed mix of cabbage, ginger, cilantro and fried garlic – umm we want these right now!
This parsley pesto is spring in a bowl! Geoffrey Zakarian blends several lovely handfuls of flat-leaf parsley with Parmigiano-Reggiano, garlic, pine nuts and olive oil to make a vivid green pesto that will confirm to you and your fellow diners that spring is really here.
Tip: Never rinse pasta after it's done cooking! Just simply drain and toss with your pesto and a bit of reserved cooking water.
Lemons: Lemon & Olive Oil Potatoes
These potatoes are all about bold lemon flavor! Simply boil your potatoes until they're just tender, drain, then liberally add the juice of two lemons, EVOO and kosher salt. OMG, yum!
This salad combines all the beautiful colors of a farmer's market in springtime with greens, yellows and reds. Robert Irvine roasts our star ingredient – radishes, to get a sweeter, softer, mellower effect.
Artichokes: Baby Artichoke Crostini
This recipe really highlights what Rachael calls "California's gift" of the spring – baby artichokes. Follow Rachael's instructions for cooking your baby artichokes, then pile them on top of crostini spread with herbed cheese. Easy and so delish!
Tip: Freeze your baby artichokes on a baking sheet, then store portions in small plastic baggies in the freezer so you can just defrost when you need!
A beautiful fresh bunch of asparagus doesn't really need much "dressing up." Art Smith's grilled vegetable antipasto puts the spotlight on the veggies, with a simple balsamic vinaigrette to brighten the flavor.
Beets: Beet Risotto
Roasted beets give this rich, luxurious risotto its beautiful deep red color. What better way to celebrate spring than with the vibrant hue of beets and the creamy, velvety goodness of risotto?
This recipe features fresh arugula in a supporting but crucial role. The arugula forms the base for a spring salad that features peas, radishes, shallots and shaved parmesan, served atop juicy grilled chicken over a delicious gravy. And bonus -- you could source almost all the ingredients for this entire plate at your farmer's market!
Tip: Use a truffle shaver (available at specialty kitchen stores) to quickly slice shallots.
Chicken: Spring Chicken and Vegetable Soup
It may be spring but there will likely still be cool days when you want to hang out inside with a bowl of soup. This recipe is for those days. Fresh chicken straight from the farm is the perfect complement to the myriad of spring vegetables Rach uses in this delicate soup.
Tip: When cooking with lemon peel, Rachael likes to purchase organic since you're eating the exterior of the fruit.
What foods remind you of spring? Tell us in the comments.