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March 9, 2016

Spring Cooking


The birds have started chirping, the cyclist/car struggle has picked up right where it left off last fall and the first few sun-worshippers are back on the rooftop garden. Yup, spring is in the air, and there’s no better way to celebrate than with some delicious food that simply screams spring.

After much experimentation, several food-induced naps and a trip or two to the Bloor Street Market, we’ve picked our winners.

Strawberry Quinoa Salad with Brie
From The Kitchen Magpie

Bowl with Strawberry Quinoa salad

Refreshing, zesty and full of life, this is the perfect dish to welcome the warm weather. The salad is light and delicate, but the brie makes this dish filling enough to enjoy as a main. The spinach, chard and strawberries are all in-season, and the creamy brie conjures up visions of picnics in the grass. Insider’s tip: you can replace the recommended mustard with any grainy mustard.

Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 4-5 cups of mixed kale, spinach and chard
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1/3 cup of diced brie – rind off (this is personal preference)
  • Strawberries – as many as you like, cut in halves and quarters (I used 8)
  • Vinaigrette:
    • 2 tbsp maple syrup
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tbsp brassica mustard
    • 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine the greens mixture, strawberries and the brie.
  2. Combine the vinaigrette ingredients completely, using either a lidded jar to shake the ingredients together or a fork to whisk it rapidly.
  3. Heat the vinaigrette and the quinoa up, the microwave works fast & easy for this.
  4. Combine the hot vinaigrette and the hot quinoa with the salad rapidly, wilting the greens slightly and softening the brie  further.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

 

Snap Pea and Avocado Pasta
From Martha Stewart

Avocado Pasta

The queen of the kitchen retains her crown with this pasta dish bursting with seasonal spring veggies. Filling you up without weighing you down, it can be served either hot or cold. It can be prepared in under 30 minutes – perfect for when you’re rushing out the door to meet friends for a potluck. For the herbs, they give you the choice of mint, parsley or basil — go with basil.

Serves: 6

INGREDIENTS

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 pound sugar snap peas, strings removed
  • 1 pound bow-tie pasta (farfalle)
  •  4 tablespoons butter
  •  2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, plus more for serving, if desired

DIRECTIONS

  • In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook asparagus until bright green, about 2 minutes. Add snap peas; cook 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon or small sieve, scoop out vegetables; transfer to a bowl.
  • Return water to a boil; add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water; set pasta aside in colander.
  • In pasta pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add asparagus, snap peas, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter, cooked pasta, avocado, herbs, cheese, and reserved pasta water. Toss to combine; season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with additional cheese, if desired.

 

Herb Roasted Lamb Chops
From Epicurious

Image of lamb chops

If March comes in like a lion, it should go out with a healthy helping of lamb. The beauty of these chops is that you don’t have to marinate them for long to bring out a rich, herb-infused flavour. It’s delicious with a side of leafy spring greens, and makes for an unforgettable dinner party main course. Whether you’re trying to impress your partner, or just feel like rewarding yourself at the end of a long week, you can’t go wrong with these succulent spring chops.

Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 large garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, lightly crushed
  •  1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, lightly crushed
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 6 1 1/4-inch-thick lamb loin chops

DIRECTIONS

  • Mix first 4 ingredients and 1 tablespoon olive oil in large bowl.
  • Add lamb; turn to coat. Let marinate at room temperature at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over high heat.
  • Add lamb; cook until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer skillet to oven and roast lamb chops to desired doneness, about 10 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer lamb to platter, cover, and let rest 5 minutes.

Bon Appétit!