Spring Taste Sensations From the Big Apple

Many songs have been written about springtime in New York, but none of them mention the real joy of the season – finally seeing something other than apple cider, pumpkins and potatoes at the farmers markets!

I love hot stews and hearty dishes, but there is nothing like the snap of raw spring vegies in a salad after a long, hard winter. The farmers are giddy to share their new crops and for their heirloom seedlings to make their way into restaurant kitchens and onto the tables of busy New Yorkers.

The stars of the vernal garden for me are asparagus, morels, rhubarb and baby root vegetables. Here are some recipes that are on my menus this spring.

Pinzimonio

Pinzimonio is an Italian shaved vegetable salad that transforms each season with what the time of year provides. It is just a fancy name for raw seasonal vegetables served with an olive oil and lemon dressing. Here is my springtime version. Serves 4-6.

  • 6C thinly shaved seasonal vegetables (I used a mandolin to slice baby golden/red beets, radishes and fennel, and a vegetable peeler for the tiny carrots.)
  • 6T lemon vinaigrette (see recipe below)
  • 2C croutons (sauté torn pieces of bread in olive oil until crispy and golden)
  • 1C of fresh mozzarella or burrata cheese roughly broken apart
  • Salt and pepper

Season vegetables with salt and pepper in a large bowl. Pour on the dressing, add croutons and cheese then toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Lemon vinaigrette

Yield: 1 cup

  • ¼C lemon juice
  • Pinch of ground chilli flakes
  • ¾C olive oil
  • 2T honey
  • Salt and pepper

Mix lemon juice and chilli flakes in a bowl. Whisk in olive oil slowly. Whisk in honey and continue stirring until honey is completely dissolved. Season generously with salt and pepper.

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Asparagus and morel risotto

Morels and asparagus are extra special to me. When I was about seven years old growing up in Missouri, my Dad would take me foraging for morel mushrooms in the woods near our house. I remember bringing home lunch sacks full of them, but my Dad tells me we were lucky to have gathered 13 or so. A cast iron skillet with melted butter, a quick sauté and a lot of salt and pepper is all they need.

We picked wild asparagus along the country road near our house as well. Those precious spears inspired me to grow my own personal patch of asparagus in our garden at home. I picked a few spears every day, steamed them and sprinkled them with grated cheese. That was my afterschool snack as well as one of my very first independent culinary adventures.

Living in New York and learning to cook for families, risotto was one of the first things I mastered. It is called the labour of love for the 21 continuous minutes of stirring. I think it is worth it. Serves 6.

  • 1T olive oil
  • 1T butter
  • ½C diced onion
  • 1C Arborio rice
  • 1C white wine
  • 5C vegetable broth
  • 1C cleaned morel mushrooms
  • 1C chopped asparagus
  • ½C parmesan shards
  • 1t fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper

Melt the butter and oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and stir to soften. Add the rice, stirring until the grains are coated. Add the wine, stirring until it is absorbed. Continue stirring and adding broth a cup at a time as it absorbs. This should take about 18 minutes. As you stir in the last cup, add in the mushrooms and asparagus. Season then finally add in the cheese and thyme. The finished rice is creamy, not dry.

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Rhubarb and strawberry puffed pancake

Dutch babies, or German puffed pancakes, are magical creations. They balloon up like a soufflé and create all sorts of nooks and crannies for syrup and fruit. Your guests will be impressed with the dramatic presentation, but show them quickly before it begins to deflate. I traditionally use apples, but rhubarb and strawberries create a tangy foil for the sweet pancake. Serves 6.

  • 6T butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½C light cream
  • ½C all-purpose flour
  • 2t sugar
  • Powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Melt the butter over low heat and swirl to coat a 30cm ovenproof pan. Combine the eggs, cream, flour and sugar using a hand mixer for one minute. Pour the batter directly into the pool of butter in the pan and transfer to the oven. Bake until the pancake is puffed above the pan and golden brown on top, about 20 minutes. Dust with the powdered sugar and top with rhubarb and strawberry syrup.

Rhubarb and strawberry syrup

  • ½ of one vanilla bean pod, split and seeded
  • 3C sliced rhubarb
  • 1C sliced strawberries
  • ¾C honey
  • 2T water

Add the vanilla to a medium saucepan along with the rhubarb, strawberries, honey and water. Cook over low heat until the rhubarb begins to break down and all the honey has dissolved, about 10 minutes.

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Images: Cheryl Stockton – Stockshot Studio

About the author – Lisa Adams

Lisa is originally from Joplin, Missouri, in the Midwestern United States, but New York has been her home for the past 19 years. She works as a personal chef and a voice over actress and is inspired by the balance of creativity and service.

For more culinary inspiration from New York, follow Lisa on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and visit her website AllGoodThings.nyc.

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