Spring produce is on the way. Here are some serving ideas:
Artichokes (late spring): Boil in salted water with sliced lemon. Cut in half and take out the 'choke. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and grill gently, brushing with more oil and vinegar, until warmed through. Serve with a garlic mayonnaise and toast points on a bed of radicchio leaves.
Asparagus (early spring): Snap off the tough white stem. Slice thin diagonal slices and sautn olive oil with basil, garlic and pine nuts. Toss with warm cooked linguine, lemon juice and zest. Season with salt and fresh pepper. Top with grated asiago or Parmesan cheese.
Beets (early spring): Rub with salad oil and roast, covered with foil, for one hour. Test with a toothpick for doneness. Peel (use rubber gloves to avoid staining), make thin circular slices and arrange in a circle on a plate. Make a simple vinaigrette with raspberry vinegar and walnut oil. Toss spring lettuces with the vinaigrette and place in the center of the beet disks. Drizzle beets with vinaigrette and crumble goat cheese and toasted walnuts over the top.
Fava beans (late spring): Shell the beans and blanch in salted water for five minutes. Remove outer skin. Sautinced garlic cloves in olive oil until lightly browned and tender. Add the fava beans and sautor a minute. Season with salt and pepper, puree in a food processor and serve with baked ham or roast pork loin.
Green garlic (early spring): Wash and brush with extra-virgin olive oil. Grill over a low fire and chop into medium-sized chunks. Add to cooked risotto or long-grained rice mixed with chopped arugula leaves or spinach. For a satisfying entree, mix with a few saut prawns or scallops.
New potatoes (early spring): Pick small, tender potatoes and wash thoroughly. Over low heat, roast in a sautan with a small amount of canola or safflower oil. Add a few sprigs of spearmint or peppermint and cover the pan, shaking often to avoid sticking. When potatoes are tender, add a dollop of butter and season.
Rhubarb (early spring): Slice and place in a nonreactive saucepan with chunks of peeled apple and blueberries. Add a cinnamon stick and two cloves, then a little apple juice and apple cider vinegar. Cover and simmer a few minutes. Add some brown sugar or maple syrup to sweeten slightly. Season and serve with roast chicken, duck or grilled pork chops.