Graphics Designer/Freelance Blog Copywriter: Shannon Bever
Hello everyone! Hopefully you had a successful week! As promised in last week’s post about eating seasonally, I have put together a beautiful four course meal to celebrate Spring! There are many beautiful things that you might not think about being at their peak in Spring, and we’ll dive in together. Whether you make these courses together and serve a fancy meal for guests, or if you choose to make the recipes one at a time to refresh your monthly meal planning, I hope you will try these recipes and introduce more seasonal eating into your diet. Your health and pocket book will thank you. (I have included the recipes as a downloadable PDF at the end of this post.)
Enjoy, and Bon Appètit!
The Courses Explained:
First we start with the appetizer course: mussels.
Mussels’ prime season is between October and March so this is the last month for great prices and I want to take advantage. Since I live in the desert, these mussels will likely be coming from California but they are still delicious. This dish is served with a side of grilled bread. I prefer grilled baguette and a lemon wedge. The mussels are steamed in a white wine beurre blanc, which makes a delightfully refreshing dish with a nice bit of heat from some red pepper flake. I prefer to use Sauvignon or Fumè Blanc for its grassy, citrus, herbal notes that add a bit more flavor to the dish but just about any white wine will do.
Second we go to the salad course: spinach citrus salad with goat cheese and a champagne vinaigrette.
I love this dish because you could turn it into a full meal with a nice piece of fish or some beautiful grilled chicken. There are also a lot of things that you can do with this recipe for a great springtime lunch as well. This dish contains several flavors that are fresh in March. The base of this salad is spinach, which is at its best in spring and fall, although it is available most of the year. Cara Cara oranges and blood oranges are in season December through April. If you have never had them, they are fairly sweet and have red or pink flesh which can be striking at first. Cara Cara oranges have a little zip to them and are usually lower in acidity than navel oranges. Ruby red grapefruit are in season October through April and have a deliciously sweet pink flesh. Heirloom Navel oranges are in season from December to March, although the typical navel orange can be purchased almost year-round. Strawberries are just starting to come into season this month and will get a bit better as the season progresses into August with their peak being in April to August.
Here’s a little guide to a few other seasonal foods for Spring!
My recipe calls for a raw thinly sliced red onion, but I don’t personally care for them. Leeks are not often used in salads but I substitute them anyways! Raw and thinly sliced! Leeks are in season October through May, and the best type to buy for this dish are the very small, thin, newer ones. Be sure to wash them thoroughly as they often contain little pebbles of dirt and maybe even a few bugs within the folds of the leaves which aren’t always easy to get to with just a quick rinse. The best way I have found to clean them is to slice them the way you intend to use them then put them in a mesh colander, rinse and then finally in a salad spinner with a bit of cheesecloth to ensure that they are well rinsed and dried. Then for additional depth and flavor, I like to add avocado and some of that fresh goat cheese or chèvre from the local creamery. These are totally optional but it makes this salad well rounded and the added fat from the avocado and goat cheese help to cut the acidity of the citrus. Avocados are typically in season year-round between California’s peak season from February to September and Mexico’s crops being consistent throughout the year. I also like to jazz this dish up a bit and make some sweet and spicy pecans to add to this dish. Pecans typically are not in season this month as their season is around November but if you have them leftover in your pantry this is a good dish to use them in. Are you hungry yet? I certainly am!
Third (Main) course: hazelnut-crusted halibut with roasted root vegetables and asparagus (YUM!)
Again a few of the ingredients in this dish are leftover from the fall, such as hazelnuts, which are at their peak in the fall months. This year, halibut season will run from March to November with commercial fisheries’ typical season from June to September. Asparagus is in season from late February to June with April being the prime month. It is quite delicious roasted with a bit of fresh lemon on top. Roasted root vegetables are a nice change of pace from the typical potato or pasta side dish, and are sometimes overlooked their peak season is from fall through early spring. They are very easy to work with and when they are roasted the sweetness of the flesh comes out. This side dish pairs beautifully with the nuttiness of the hazelnut crusted halibut. Parsnips have somewhat of a cinnamon-y flavor and resemble large white carrots. Another great way to use them is to puree them with some potatoes to add a complexity to them. Turnips and rutabagas are subtle in flavor and are very versatile. Beets are a super-food and are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Carrots are probably one of the most popular root vegetables and I’m sure you already know how much better they taste when they are roasted.
Finally, we come to everyone’s favorite: dessert!
Our star tonight is almond shortbread moons with vanilla bean whip cream, strawberries, basil reduction and balsamic glaze. This light and delicious dessert will cleanse your palate and provide a great end to this seasonal meal. You should dig into your cellar for the almonds as their season is typically from August to October. For the vanilla beans, their season is typically in December through February, depending on where it comes from and how long it is cured. Basil grows just about year-round (especially indoors–hello, homegrown herb garden!) and when it is cooked down and strained to make this beautiful reduction, it adds a nice refreshing taste to this simple dessert. The complexity of the balsamic glaze will truly convert you from skeptic to believer. I know that at first glance this dish seems oddly paired but trust me once you try this dish you will be amazed how something so simple could be so complex and diverse in flavor.
Spring Menu Recipes