With the lush greenery of warm weather comes an abundance of produce that can easily be worked into recipes. Here are some cooking tricks and tips to take advantage of the season’s fresh promise.
Pesto doesn’t need to consist of just basil. Rather, rely on a bounty of other fresh herbs or greens like parsley, arugula and cilantro for a new take on the classic. Try a combination of spinach and basil, like in these Chicken Meatball Sliders with pesto recipe, which also incorporates almonds instead of the traditional pine nuts.
Or, go all veggie, like in this Broccoli Pesto Fettuccine recipe, subbing sliced zucchini or chopped cauliflower for the broccoli. Pesto can be used for more than pasta — mix with mayonnaise for sandwiches, slather on bread with goat cheese for a snack, or whisk into oil and vinegar for a salad dressing.
Slow Cooking in Spring
If you have only used your slow cooker in the winter, you’re not utilizing the device to its potential. A slow cooker also works great in the spring and summer months, mainly because it doesn’t pump heat into the kitchen like the oven. Make a Corn Chowder, Chipotle Tacos or Pulled Chicken Sandwiches with Apple Slaw.
Use Fruit for More Than Smoothies
With strawberries, peaches and a variety of seasonal fruits at your disposal, think beyond the smoothie and other blender concoctions. There’s a much wider variety of uses, from a Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips stirred into breakfast yogurt to a Mango Salsa garnishing fish tacos. Mix fruit into a salad, such as berries with arugula, red onion slices, and a poppy seed salad dressing, or peach chunks, bacon and lettuce tossed in a light vinaigrette.
Behold the Power of Grating
Have an extra potato hanging on in the cabinet? Or, do you have no clue what to do with those broccoli stems? Turn to the box grater. Any vegetables can be grated and tucked into a variety of dishes, from marinara sauce to meatloaf. Grate a potato or sweet potato to use as a “crust” for a quiche, such as Cajun Crab Quiche.
Experiment with Spring Veggies Via Risotto
Risotto is one of the best vehicles to experiment with spring vegetables that you may not know how to use. We’re looking at you — fava beans, fiddlehead ferns and ramps. Using either the Chicken and Basil Risotto recipe or the Lemon Herb Risotto, stir in these vegetables in the last 5 to 10 minutes.
Andrea Lynn is a recipe developer and cookbook author, most recently of the culinary guidebook/ cookbook, Queens: A Culinary Passport.