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Spring

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I was interested in learning a good Pasta Primavera recipe and posting it this Spring, as it seemed quite timely. But as I started to browse the recipes that existed for this not-so-classic dish, I found that many of them did not use seasonal Spring ingredients. In fact, most of the recipes included Summer veggies like tomatoes and zucchinis.

There are so many great green vegetables that I thought should be in this dish, so I ended up making my own version. My recipe includes a ramp sofrito, which I think is key to getting a light garlic flavor, without being overpowering. I also added in egg yolks at the end, carbonara style, to make it thick and rich, but without any added cream. I taught it to my cooking class the other day, and they all loved it. I hope you check it out and try it this week!

May 12, 2009   |   2 comments
Tags: Pasta & Risotto, Spring
Recipe

This “primavera” recipe is different than most in that its base is a ramp sofrito. Ramps are wild leeks that come out in the spring. Feel free to add other vegetables as you see fit, but keep it seasonal. It also differs in that it is thickened with egg yolks, mimicking the “Carbonara” syle, as opposed to cream and butter.

1 lb. linguine
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
4 ramps, rinsed and outer membrane removed, roughly chopped
3 carrots, julienned
1 handful green beans, topped and tailed, and trimmed and halved if big
1 handful asparagus, trimmed, sliced and halved if big
3 portabello mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
2 egg yolks, beaten
Pecorino Romano or freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil. While it comes to a boil, clean and chop your carrots, green beans, and asparagus.

Make a sofrito paste by blending the cleaned ramps and garlic in a mini blender with some olive oil and salt.

Blanch the green beans, asparagus, and carrots in the pot of water. Start with the green beans, giving them a few minutes before you add the asparagus. Add the carrots after another 2 minutes. Use tongs to remove the vegetables from the pot and rinse in cold water.

Heat up 1 tablespoon or so of olive oil in a large sauté pan and add the ramp sofrito. Let it sweat and cook slowly, so as not to burn. After a few minutes, add the mushrooms. If the pan gets too dry, add a few drops of water or dry white wine.

When the mushrooms have cooked through, add the beans, asparagus, and carrots. Stir together in the pan and turn down the heat to very low.
Cook the pasta in the same pot that you cooked the vegetables according to the instructions on the package. Reserve up to 1 cup of cooking liquid before you drain the pasta.

Drain the pasta and immediately return to the pot with some of the liquid. Quickly add the egg yolks and stir to coat well. Toss in the vegetables and cheese and toss again, so that everything is fully mixed.

Serves 4.

Possible additions: morel mushrooms, fresh peas, herbs such as dill, parsley, and mint.

May 12, 2009   |   7 comments
Tags: Entrees, Pasta & Risotto, Spring
Recipe

This herbal, verdant spread with sprouted split peas brings in the flavors of Spring. Sprouting dried legumes is very easy to do, and once you get the hang of it, you will be enjoying them all season. This spread works well in sandwiches or atop pita chips or endives as an elegant hors d’oeuvre.

½ cup split peas, sprouted
¼ cup sunflower seeds, raw and hulled
2 scallions, white and pale green parts finely chopped
1 teaspoon chives, minced
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 sprig mint leaves (about 5-7)
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Water

Sprout the split peas by putting the dry peas to soak overnight covered with ample water. The next morning, drain the peas and place in a sprouter or a container large enough to hold them roughly in one layer. Rinse and drain the peas every 8 hours or so until they are nice and crunchy. It usually takes 12 hours.

In a food processor, grind the sunflower seeds until they almost start to form a paste. Add the peas and continue grinding. Add the chopped scallions, chives, parsley and mint and continue to grind. Loosen with the lemon juice, olive oil, and as much water as you need to keep the mixture moving. Makes about 1 cup.

Serve as an appetizer on pieces of endive, pita chips, or as a spread in sandwiches or on tostadas.

Recipe

This glorious recipe is a combination of sunflower butter, sunflower sprouts, and Jerusalem artichokes (a relative of the sunflower). It is a delicious light lunch or dinner that will put a smile on everyone’s face.

1 cup shelled, raw sunflower seeds
5 Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes)
1 bunch sprouted sunflower seeds
1 lime
pinch of paprika
pinch of salt
2 whole wheat pitas

Lightly toast the sunflower seeds in a dry skillet and then turn out onto a plate to cool.
Grind them in a food processor until they break down, release their oils, and become a butter. This takes a little bit of patience, but sunflower butter is natural and exquisite, and you are better off making it at home than buying a product with additives.

Peel the sunchokes and slice them thinly into rounds. You can also peel them, and then boil them in water whole like you would a potato. Once they are cooked through, simply slice them into rounds, or dice them up.
I have made them both ways, and like the combination of the crispy and smoother textures on the same pita. Marinate the sliced sunchokes in the juice of the lime, with the salt and paprika.

Slice the pitas in half, so that you have two thin rounds. Toast them until nice and crispy.

Spread a nice thin layer of the sunbutter on the pitas, add the marinated sunchokes, and then top everything off with the sunflower sprouts.

Delicious!

This glorious recipe is a combination of sunflower butter, sunflower sprouts, and Jerusalem artichokes (a relative of the sunflower). It is a delicious light lunch or dinner that will put a smile on everyone’s face.
May 26, 2008   |   0 comments
Tags: Entrees, Living Food, North America, Raw, Spring, Sprouts
Recipe

Koshari is the national dish of Egypt. Brown rice, thin noodles, and elbow macaroni are combined in a dish, to which a lightly spiced tomato broth is added. We top it with sprouted beans, lentils, and fried onions.

¾ cup brown rice
1 ½ cups water
1 cup elbow macaroni
2 T olive oil
3 T onion, small dice
1 garlic clove
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp Aleppo pepper (optional)
1 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes (Muir Glen is our fave)
½ cup sprouted lentils (or mix of lentils with other small beans)
½ cup sprouted chickpeas
Garnish: ¼ cup onion, thinly sliced + 3 T olive oil

To cook the brown rice: heat up the 1 ½ cups of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Add the rice, bring the water back to a boil, then turn down the heat, cover, and simmer until all of the water has been absorbed and the rice is cooked through.

In another large pot cook the elbow macaroni according to the instructions. Drain and reserve.

In a third pot, heat up the olive oil. Gently sauté the onion in the olive oil until translucent, then add the garlic. Add the cumin and Aleppo Pepper (or a mild Paprika if you can’t find Aleppo), and stir.
Add the whole peeled tomatoes to the pot, leaving their liquid in the can, and gently break them up with your wooden spoon.
Cook the tomatoes down for about 10 minutes. Blend the sauce with the reserved liquid and then return it to the pot and simmer until it is the right consistency and has a nice flavor. It should not be as thick as tomato sauce.

For the garnish, gently fry the onion in the olive oil until dark and caramelized.
Drain on a plate lined with towel.

To serve, combine the rice and pasta in a bowl. Ladle over some of the tomato sauce, and then top with the sprouted lentils and chickpeas. Top with the fried garlic.

Alternatively, you can place each component on the table and allow the diners to put together their own dish.

Koshari is the national dish of Egypt. Brown rice, thin noodles, and elbow macaroni are combined in a dish, to which a lightly spiced tomato broth is added. We top it with sprouted beans, lentils, and fried onions.
Recipe

For the Dumplings:
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 egg, beaten
¾ cup milk
1 T olive oil
¼ cup grated Pecorino cheese
2 T parsley, finely chopped

For the Grass:
6 cups packed chopped spinach, well rinsed
Parsley stems from the parsley used above
½ cup fresh or frozen peas
½ cup heavy cream

Garnish:
½ cup edible flowers
2 T chopped fresh dill
shaved pecorino romano cheese
1 T toasted pine nuts

Sift the flours, salt, baking powder, and cheese into a bowl.
Stir the egg, milk, olive oil, and parsley into the flours and mix with a fork. If the dough is too wet, add more flour.
Make the dumplings by forming them with two spoons (watch the demo), and then placing them on a floured surface.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, and then blanch the spinach in the water for about 30 seconds. Scoop out of the water into an ice bath, and reserve the cooking water.
Blend the spinach, parsley stems, and 1 cup of the cooking water in a blender on high speed until thoroughly blended, then strain into a pot.
Bring the spinach liquid to a boil, and simmer until reduced slightly. Pour in the cream and keep simmering to reduce even further.
Add the peas towards the end, and just cook them until they are cooked through.
You do not want such a thick sauce at the end, so stop reducing the liquid once it has thickened slightly, but is still soupy.

Poach the dumplings in either simmering chicken broth or reserved spinach cooking water.

Ladle the green soup into wide bowls, then add the dumplings, about 4 per person, and then arrange the fresh dill and edible flowers around them. Serve with the Pecorino.

Makes 20 dumplings.

Recipe

Asparagus are the harbingers of spring, just like the west wind Zephyr, who attacks Chloris and transforms her into Flora in Botticelli’s masterpiece La Primavera. Instead of butter-rich hollandaise, we broil these asparagus with a heavy goat cheese- thickened vinaigrette. The sauce here is thick and lemony, and is lightly aromatic with the spring herb tarragon.

1 bunch asparagus (it is fun to mix green and white varieties together)
1 egg yolk
1 T Dijon mustard
¼ cup fresh goat cheese
¼ cup olive oil
Juice from ½ a lemon + to taste
1 tsp freshly chopped tarragon
2 T grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
Garnish: finely chopped fresh parsley and tarragon.

Turn your broiler on high.
Blanch the asparagus in salted boiling water until just cooked through, and drain.
In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, mustard, and goat cheese until smooth.
Gradually whisk in the olive oil, forming an emulsified sauce. Once you have a smooth texture, whisk in the lemon juice.
Finally, stir in the tarragon.
In a baking dish, spread out the asparagus evenly, and then pour the vinaigrette over the middle of the asparagus. Top with the grated cheese
Place the dish close to the broiler in the oven, and broil for about 10-15 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling slightly.
Serve with more chopped herbs.
Serves 4 as an appetizer or side dish.

Asparagus are the harbingers of spring, just like the west wind Zephyr, who attacks Chloris and transforms her into Flora in Botticelli’s masterpiece La Primavera. Instead of butter-rich hollandaise, we broil these asparagus with a heavy goat cheese- thickened vinaigrette. The sauce here is thick and lemony, and is lightly aromatic with the spring herb tarragon.
Recipe

This type of kubba is typical of Mosul, where wheat is the common ingredient. This is an easy dish to make, plus it can last for a few days. Make it for a party, and serve a slice for an appetizer, or eat it a few nights in a row.

2 T grated onion
1 ½ cups bulgur
3 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
1 handful asparagus, trimmed
½ lemon
½ lb ground chicken thigh meat
3 T Parmesan cheese
¼ cup pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Set a pot of water to a rolling boil, and season it well.
Slice the asparagus into small little circles, so that they are not overwhelming in comparison to the meat or the bulgur.
Pour them into the boiling water for about 30 seconds, then drain.
Heat up about 2 T of olive oil in a pot, and gently fry the grated onion until it is translucent. Tip in the bulgur, stir, and pour over the water. Season with salt and bring the water to a boil.
Once the water comes to a boil, reduce it to a simmer, and cook covered until the water is absorbed.
Cool the bulgur once it is cooked. Mix in the Parmesan cheese, and check the seasoning.
Toss the meat with the blanched asparagus, pine nuts, juice from the lemon, and season it well.
Line the bottom of a cake pan with olive oil.
Plant a layer of bulgur on the bottom, allowing some of them to stick together.
Pat it down nicely.
Next, add the layer of meat, and distribute everything evenly.
Layer the rest of the bulgur on top of the meat. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle some water on top.
Bake the kubba covered with aluminum foil for 10 minutes.
Remove the foil and reduce the oven temperature to 375˚F. Finish baking the kubba uncovered for about 30 minutes, until the top is browned nicely.
Enjoy!

This type of kubba is typical of Mosul, where wheat is the common ingredient. This is an easy dish to make, plus it can last for a few days. Make it for a party, and serve a slice for an appetizer, or eat it a few nights in a row.
Recipe

These mung bean balls have plenty of green herbs for the coming of spring, and eggs that symbolize fertility for the New Year. Mung beans are originally from China and India, but were spread to Central Asia because of the Silk Road.

Ingredients:
1 cup dry mung beans
1 cup walnuts
½ cup mixed golden raisins, dried peaches, and dried apricots, finely chopped
½ cup white wine
1 tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp. mint, finely chopped
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp.olive oil
1 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
¼ tsp. curry powder
½ tsp. salt
10 hard boiled eggs, shelled
Garnish: 1 cup plain yogurt, seasoned with some olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.

Rinse the mung beans and leave to soak for 4 hours.
Drain and cover with at least double the amount of water and bring to a boil.
Simmer until cooked through, about 30 minutes. Drain and cool.
Meanwhile, bring the dried fruits to a low simmer in the wine, until almost all of the wine is absorbed, about 5 minutes.
Separate the yolks from the whites of the hard boiled eggs. Finely chop up 4 egg whites. Set the yolks to the side. You can save the remaining egg whites for a salad or breakfast tomorrow morning.
Grind the walnuts so that they resemble fine crumbs.
In a food processor, start grinding the mung beans with some of the olive oil.
Add the walnuts, and keep grinding.
Pour in the vinegar, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, curry, and pulse until fully combined.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the herbs and simmered fruits.
You want the mixture to hold its shape. If it does not, add more ground walnuts.
Gather a dollop of the mixture in the palm of your hand then place the yolk in the center. Gently envelop the yolk with the mixture, and seal them completely.
Prepare all ten balls, and then let them sit in the refrigerator to set for about an hour.
Serve with the seasoned yogurt.
Makes 10 balls.

These mung bean balls have plenty of green herbs for the coming of spring, and eggs that symbolize fertility for the New Year. Mung beans are originally from China and India, but were spread to Central Asia because of the Silk Road.