Saturday, June 3, 2017

21 Seasonal Favorites

While I love, love, love trying new recipes, there are so many seasonal favorites that I love to revisit just as much. This time of year, I go for all the new and tender spring produce I can get at the local farmer’s market, or sometimes even in my own garden: lettuce and other tender greens, asparagus, radishes, peas (English or snap or snow), fresh herbs, and rhubarb. With a grocery list like this, I get a lot out of a few characteristic methods and dishes, such as all kinds of salads, often with homemade dressings; pasta with vegetables, herbs, or pesto sauces; and desserts with rhubarb, often including other fruits.

The easiest salads are simple lettuce salads with a few other favorite vegetables tossed upon them. I’m a salad dressing junkie, but I feel best about the ones I’ve made myself, such as Buttermilk Herb Salad Dressing

and Feta and Lemon Vinaigrette all of which are versatile as well as delicious.

I also like to keep some other vegetable salads in the refrigerator for quick sides at simple meals. I look forward to making this Sesame-Soy Asparagus with Garlic and Ginger every year, and this Sugar Snap Pea and Radish Salad with Feta and Dill is full of some of my favorite things. 

 If I’m lucky enough to get a whole bowl of freshly-shelled green peas, rather than eating each one straight from the pod, I like to make this simple salad of Fresh Peas and Mint.

Seasonal vegetables also contribute well to more substantial salads made with grains. I like using asparagus raw in this Spring Vegetable Tabbouleh. Asparagus also goes well with the peas in Brown and Wild Rice Salad with Asparagus and Peas.

Wheat berry salads are also nice to have around, like this Wheat Berry Salad with Sugar Snap Peas and Lemon Vinaigrette.

As the weather gets nice, quick and easy dishes based on pasta tossed with lovely vegetables are always welcome at mealtime. My absolute favorite right now is Asparagus and Pasta with Balsamic-Tarragon Sauce and Bacon. Love it! 

Even more convenient and also delicious is Pasta with Asparagus, Snap Peas and Lemon, which can be varied endlessly as I discussed in this post.

It’s also great to toss hot pasta with lush, green pesto-type sauces. Pea and Almond Pesto with Pasta and Peas is a unique variation on this theme. 

Other pestos that I love to make with currently seasonal ingredients range from particularly zesty, like Arugula Pesto with Kalamata Olives or Radish Leaf and Peanut Pesto 

to somewhat mild, but still deliciously flavorful, like Spinach-Chive Pesto.

Lots of early-season herbs are ready to go this time of year, too, as well as those unusual green stems from garlic plants, known as scapes. I like to treat those scapes like a cross between an herb and a clove of garlic when I cook with them, and they’re great in this Pasta Carbonara with Garlic Scapes and Garlic Chives

Any leftover garlic scapes or garlic chives can go along with whatever other herbs I might have into this White Bean Soup with Fresh Herbs, especially on a cool, rainy day, with some bread on the side.

But let’s not get so excited about herbs and vegetables that we miss dessert! There’s lots of rhubarb right now, and I’m still loving this cake that I posted recently. I have to give some love to my old favorites, however, and make some Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with Graham Cracker Topping

I also love to have a bowl of either Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce or Blueberry Rhubarb Sauce in the refrigerator. They’re both great when served with this cake or ice cream, and they’re great stirred into plain or vanilla yogurt for breakfast.

I’m still hoping to try some new recipes soon, like another rhubarb cake, asparagus pizza, and spring vegetable risotto, and maybe they will be new recruits for my list of seasonal favorites. I doubt I’ll ever abandon these 21 gems, however, which make me happy every year.

Coming soon: Orange and White Chocolate Cookies

Another post like this one: Featured Ingredient: Rhubarb

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