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Now You’re Cooking: Welcome Spring With Fresh Produce

With a smorgasbord of seasonal produce and high-quality foods available at your local farmers’ markets, it’s easy to find inspiration in the kitchen. I recently picked up the most beautiful organic golden beets, blood and cara cara oranges, leeks, asparagus and farm-fresh eggs, so I headed straight to the kitchen to put my healthy haul to good use.

This Roasted Golden Beet & Blood Orange Salad is just as pretty as it is delicious! It’s loaded with fresh, seasonal flavors and pairs perfectly with just about any spring meal. I topped it with microgreens, but fresh dill or tarragon would be equally good.

Blood oranges can vary a bit in their sweetness. Add a touch of honey to the citrus vinaigrette if your oranges aren’t quite sweet enough. I like to use a combination of oranges so the colors are vibrant and the salad is bursting with flavor.

Beets are at their best right after they are picked since their sugar starts to turn to starch rather quickly. So if you can, try to purchase them from your local farmers’ market.

Roasted Golden Beet & Blood Orange Salad

(Makes 5 to 6 servings)

4 medium golden beets

¼ small red onion, very thinly sliced

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar

Flake sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 large or 5 medium blood oranges (or a combination of blood, cara cara and navel)

Microgreens or chopped fresh herbs, optional

Place the oven rack in the middle position of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. If the beet greens are attached, remove all but ½ inch of the stem. Scrub the beets thoroughly and then wrap them individually in aluminum foil. Place beets on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a knife easily pierces the beet. When cool enough to handle, peel the beets. Allow the beets to cool completely and then slice into thin rounds.

Soak onions in ice water for about 10 minutes (this keeps the onions crisp and mellows their flavor intensity).

To make the citrus vinaigrette, finely grate some zest from one orange. You will need ½ teaspoon. Place zest in a small mixing bowl. Squeeze the juice from half of an orange in the same bowl. Whisk in the oil and vinegar; season with salt and pepper.

Cut a slice off the top and bottom of the remaining oranges. Working with one orange at a time, place the orange cut-side-down and slice away the peel from top to bottom, following the curvature of the orange. Slice the orange thinly crosswise.

Alternate slices of beets and oranges on a serving platter. Top with onion and microgreens and/or fresh herbs. Drizzle with citrus vinaigrette. Season with additional salt and ground black pepper, if desired.

Asparagus and leeks take center stage in this crustless quiche! This light but filling quiche features spring vegetables baked with richly flavored Gruyère cheese (a family favorite!).

Thin asparagus works best for this quiche, but thicker works as well. Just cut the thicker spears in half lengthwise. When selecting asparagus, look for spears that are green from tip to bottom, with little to no white. The best way to trim the ends of the asparagus is to hold each spear horizontally between both hands and then bend it. It will snap naturally at the point at which the spear becomes tough.

Quiches may look fancy, but they are easy to make and always a crowd-pleaser. They are perfect for a light dinner with a salad on the side or as part of a simple spring brunch. Quiche is very forgiving, and this crustless version is no exception. You can make it ahead, refrigerate it for up to three days or freeze it for up to one month.

Crustless Quiche with Asparagus & Leeks

(Makes 6 servings)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 bunch (1 pound) thin asparagus, tough ends trimmed and discarded

1 large leek, white and light green parts only, halved, thinly sliced and then well washed (about 1 cup)

1 cup grated Gruyère cheese

5 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup half-and-half cream, or equal parts whole milk and heavy cream

¾ teaspoon Kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Fresh herbs such as thyme, dill, chives or parsley, optional

Place the oven rack in the middle position of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate with nonstick cooking spray.

Cut the asparagus on the bias into ¼-inch pieces (you should have about 1 ¾ cups), reserving tips for the top of the quiche.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering; add cut asparagus and leeks and cook, occasionally stirring, for 5 minutes or until the asparagus is crisp-tender. Spoon into the prepared pie plate. Top with Gruyère cheese.

Whisk together eggs, half-and-half, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour egg mixture into the pie plate. Arrange reserved asparagus tips over top of the unbaked quiche.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the center is set. It should look puffed and golden around the edges, and when a thin, sharp knife is inserted into the center, the center should be cooked through with no visible liquid. Cool for a few minutes before cutting into wedges. Serve warm, topped with fresh herbs.

Store any remaining quiche in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, or warm gently in the microwave.

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