spring

Spring Vegetable Tots

Spring Vegetable Tots

Somehow I've gone 33 years without making tater tots. Don't ask me how that's possible. It's just the way it is. It's not that I'm opposed to them, but if I'm going the potato route, fries are what often call to me. I'm happy to announce, however, that I'm on "Team Tots" now. Or should I say #teamtots? Are hashtags still in? 

My friend Dan isn't just a blogger, cookbook author, and TV star (he won Guy's Grocery Games last year), but he is king of tots. He's so into them, in fact, that he's written a book featuring fifty creative ways to use them. I decided to give my first go at a spuddy dish with this bowl of my favorite spring-time vegetables. Potatoes and mushrooms and fiddleheads and ramps. What more could one ask for? 

SPRING VEGETABLE TOTS-0504.jpg
Spring Vegetable Tots

 

SPRING VEGETABLE TOTS

Servings:
Serves 4-6 as a side

Ingredients:
1/2 lb fiddleheads, washed thoroughly
2 handfuls of ramps, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 lb oyster mushrooms, any large ones sliced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons butter
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
40 frozen tater tots
Salt
Black pepper
Cooking oil 

Directions
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add fiddleheads and cook for 8 minutes. While they're cooking, prepare a bowl of ice water. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fiddleheads to the bowl to shock them. After a few minutes, drain all the water from the bowl and set fiddleheads aside. 

In a saute pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and ramps and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add fiddleheads and cook for another 5 minutes. Pour in lemon juice. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste, as well as most of the rosemary, leaving a little for garnish. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly coat with cooking oil and spread tots on top in an even layer. Bake in the oven for 24-26 minutes, until golden brown. 

Transfer tots and cooked spring vegetables to serving bowl and mix together. Garnish with remaining chopped rosemary.

 

Shrimp and Israeli Couscous Salad with Mango and Avocado

Shrimp and Israeli Couscous Salad with Mango and Avocado - A Thought For Food

Being the primary cook in our house, I have a lot of control over what's on the table. I prepare what I crave, and lately it's been salads. Often this is a green salad with vegetables and roasted salmon. However, when I'm in the mood for something heartier, I bust out the rice or couscous (I love my carbs). For this bowl, I pulled together a bunch of ingredients that make me sublimely happy: shrimp, mango, herbs, and avocado. It may not be the healthiest "salad," but its fresh and vibrant flavors are what I need to get me through these last weeks of winter.

Shrimp and Israeli Couscous Salad with Mango and Avocado - A Thought For Food

Shrimp and Israeli Couscous Salad with Mango and Avocado

Servings: 4-6, as a side

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous
3 cups vegetable broth
3/4 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 mango, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 avocado, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup torn mint leaves
1/8 cup torn parsley leaves, stems removed
1 red pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons minced ginger
Juice of 1 lime
Olive oil
Vegetable oil
Paprika
Salt
Black pepper

Directions:
In a medium saucepan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add couscous and stir continuously until the couscous gets a little color and smells toasted, 4 to 5 minutes. Add water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. If there is any remaining liquid, drain through a colander. 

In a mixing bowl, toss shrimp with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon paprika. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes on each side.

Transfer the couscous and shrimp to a large serving bowl and toss with the red pepper, mango, lime juice, parsley, mint, garlic, and ginger. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Shrimp and Israeli Couscous Salad with Mango and Avocado - A Thought For Food

Snap Pea and Feta Salad

You know those recipes that you become obsessed with and can't stop making? The ones you learn and then wonder where the heck they've been your whole life? That's how I feel about this snap pea salad from my friend/chef Brendan Pelley of Boston's Doretta Taverna. Doretta is a Greek restaurant and one that I've become quite a fan of over the last few months. Brendan's food is in line with how I like to eat: a vegetarian and seafood heavy menu featuring seasonal ingredients. His take on Greek food isn't necessarily traditional, but his recipes embody the overall sentiment of that cuisine, which comes through in recipes like this snap pea and feta salad. Many of the dishes are laden with olive oil and cheeses (all Greek, of course) and lemon. I had the pleasure of attending a demo he hosted last week and when we were presented with this dish, I turned to Eric and said "I'm going to prepare this all summer long." He didn't protest. It's a recipe that can be thrown together as a light lunch, or paired with a protein to serve for dinner. Whatever it is, I'd suggest a bright Greek white wine to sip on while you're dining. 

SNAP PEA + FETA SALAD

SOURCE
Mildly adapted from the recipe by Brendan Pelley of Doretta Taverna in Boston

SERVINGS
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
1 pound snap peas
5 sprigs mint
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons Greek olive oil
6 radish, thinly sliced using a mandoline or sharp knife
8 oz crumbled Greek feta
1/8 cup chopped hazelnuts

DIRECTIONS
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2. Add snap peas and cook for 45 seconds to blanch them. Prepare a large bowl of ice water.Using a slotted spoon (or strain them in a colander), transfer the snap peas to ice water.

3. Strain and slice the snap peas on bias. Transfer to a large serving bowl.

4. Transfer most of the radish to the bowl with snap peas, reserving some for garnish.

5. Tear the mint leaves by hand over the salad. Add 3/4 of the crumbled feta and toss all the ingredients in the bowl.

6. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over the salad and toss until coated. Check seasoning and add more salt, to taste.

7. Garnish with remaining feta, radish slices, mint, and chopped hazelnuts.