If you’re a New Yorker, then you know how long it takes for spring to REALLY arrive. Too often on the east coast we get tastes or hints of spring days in late March and early April, only to be followed by more snow, and more cold. However, this past weekend, I feel that spring truly arrived and my New York world started smiling again after another long winter, and many false starts to the much awaited spring.
As we all know, pollen is not the only thing in the spring air. And with the cherry blossoms, spring dresses, muscle tee shirts and crocus comes a rejuvenated spring bloom of life among the minds and hearts of all New Yorkers. AND, for the food lover, that spirit is doubled by an excitement for Spring Vegetables!
When I don’t know exactly what I want to cook, I use the market for inspiration. This past Sunday was such an occasion, and although I knew I wanted the meal to have the pink and green colors of spring, I wasn’t sure exactly what it would be. However, as I was perusing the Whole Foods aisles, I came across some very good looking “fat leeks” as they’re called. They made me think about one of the best meals I had in Paris last year; starting with a Leeks Vinaigrette. I also found some fresh beets and put together a very simple dish of roasted beets and leeks vinaigrette. I seriously can’t believe I don’t make this more often. It’s so good and so simple. Beets are one of my favorite vegetables and when you roast them, they get even sweeter. Add the tartness of the vinaigrette to the leeks which get soft and soak up all the juices, and you have yourself a perfect spring side dish or first course that virtually anybody can make! Plus, the colors are sensational!
In addition to this perfect first course, I also found some fava beans at Gourmet Garage. I was excited because fava beans and fresh pecorino is a typical combination found in Italy in the spring and thus, inspired me to make my first fava bean spread of the season, which is one of my best recipes! It’s really an appetizer, very similar to pesto as it’s a puree made with basil, mint, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and garlic. I have been making this fava bean spread for years and I serve it with some toasted or grilled sour dough bread brushed with a little olive oil. This is always one of the first things that friends and family ask me to make when they visit and with a refreshing glass of Italian Pinot Grigio, it makes another perfect spring appetizer. All with a gorgeous spring color!
*The original blog was called Flavors in Love. All material has been transferred and some has been edited for easier reading, and archiving.