Citrus Braised Cabbage, Apple, Goat Cheese, Red Wine Vinegar

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Walk into any shop right now and you’ll be inundated with SPRING. Yet, walk down the street in New York and we’re still girding ourselves with wooly layers and hot coffee. The in-between seasons make it easy to see the relation between food and fashion. Just as designers are debuting their seasonal collections, filled with florals and color and texture, so are the chefs. With food, it starts with asparagus. Somewhere in the country, the weather is warm enough to grow this springtime delicacy, and it’s shipped in massive quantities to our food stores, giving us a false sense of season. Here in the Northeast, we don’t get the green stuff until May, even June. What’s a cook to do?

I propose embracing the current season for all it’s worth. Just as it’s silly to wear a sundress in a snowstorm, eating peaches (or eggplant or asparagus) is just as silly in the off-season. This cabbage slaw comes from the LA’s Lemonade restaurant cookbook. It epitomizes the in-between season – a bit of winter, with a nod to the sunnier days ahead. It’s really delicious.

 

Citrus Braised Cabbage, Apple, Goat Cheese, Red Wine Vinegar

Adapted from The Lemonade Cookbook
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 tart apples, halved lengthwise, cored and thinly sliced
1 head red cabbage
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
Zest and juice of 1/2 large orange, divided
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
4 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley and cilantro
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Slice the cabbage into quarters and cut away the core. Thinly slice the cabbage, set aside.

Heat a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven with olive oil. When hot, add onions and apples and a big pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the cabbage. When it begins to wilt, add the vinegar, orange juice, maple syrup and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Stir well. Cover the pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes until the cabbage is soft. Stir occasionally. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir in reserved orange zest.

Place the cabbage in a large bowl and chill thoroughly. Just before serving, sprinkle with goat cheese and herbs.

Lemon Risotto with Green Garlic and Fava Beans

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Confession: the rice used to make this risotto has been sitting in my cabinet for oh, about a year. Allow me to backtrack. In culinary school, we learned to make risotto. Lots of risotto. Pans and pans of it, in fact, until we achieved what Chef deemed worthy of his fork. We chopped. We sweated (both the onions and ourselves). We stirred. And stirred. Until, wait, yes, our rice reached creamy perfection.

I don’t make risotto much these days.

And I really don’t know why. Despite it’s reputation, it’s really quite easy – if you are patient. See, you can’t rush the rice. You must slow down and cast the notion of a ‘fast easy dinner’. Truth be told, it is quite fast, about 30 minutes from start to finish. But you must stir.

This springy, lemony risotto was inspired by the long stalks of green garlic found this time of year. I love its mellow flavor, the perfect accompaniment to earthy fava beans, herbs and fresh peas.

I’d say it’s worthy of my fork.

Lemon Risotto with Green Garlic and Fava Beans
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup shelled fresh fava beans
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 small yellow onion or 1 large shallot, finely minced
  • 1 large green garlic stalk, trimmed, white and light green parts finely chopped
  • 1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup peas, frozen, defrosted or blanched fresh
  • 2 tablespoons grated Pecorino
  • Juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • For garnish: chopped fresh dill and mint

Directions

  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add fava beans and blanch for 1 minute. Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water.  Drain and peel. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Keep warm.
  3. In a medium skillet or pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and green garlic, stirring until softened and translucent You do not want the vegetables to brown.
  4. Add the rice and stir until translucent, about a minute.
  5. Add the wine and cook until evaporated. Ladle about 1 cup of broth into the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed. Add another cup of broth, and continue to stir until absorbed, adding more stock for the next 20 minutes or so. Don’t worry if you don’t use all of the broth.
  6. When the risotto is al dente and creamy, remove from heat and fold in butter, fava beans, peas and pecorino. Stir in lemon juice and zest to taste.
  7. Garnish with chopped fresh dill, mint and bit more lemon zest.

Fresh Pea Soup with Mint

While it’s still pretty chilly here in New York, according to my calendar it is in fact spring. Peas and mint are a classic springtime combination. Why, just the other day I saw good ‘ol Trader Joe’s pawning off a package of minted peas in butter sauce right next to my fave shelled edamame. If TJ’s freezes it, you KNOW it’s a keeper.

This minted pureed pea soup is really delicious and is just a smidge more labor-intensive than boiling water. Creamy (yet creamless), this soup makes an easy spring starter or light lunch. Dust off your blender for this one!

Fresh Pea Soup with Mint

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. butter or canola oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, small dice
  • 1 scallion (green onion), thinly sliced (plus more for garnish)
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 cups freshly shelled peas OR 1 10-ounce package frozen peas
  • 1/3 cup mint, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juice only
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan, add the onion and scallion and cook over medium-low heat until soft and translucent, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add chicken or vegetable stock, increase heat and bring to a boil.
  3. Add peas and cook until tender (3-5 minutes for fresh or 3 minutes for frozen)
  4. Turn off heat, add mint. Puree in batches in a blender or use an immersion blender. Blend for about 4 minutes until soup reaches a smooth consistency. Add a bit of stock or water if necessary to reach desired consistency. Return to stove and bring back to a simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Garnish with sliced scallions and a sprig of mint.

Spring has sprung!

  

This is a great “transition” dish for those early spring days. Asparagus, leeks and parmesan, oh my!

Springtime Asparagus and Leek Fettucine

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 package whole wheat fettucine

1 bunch asparagus

3 stalks leeks, white parts only, finely chopped

1 clove garlic

Olive oil

Freshly grated parmesan

Juice of 1 lemon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and dry asparagus and trim off ends. Lay asparagus on a heavy sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes or until crisp tender. Let cool then cut into 1 inch pieces. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions. While pasta is cooking, heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté leeks and garlic until leeks are tender. Drain pasta and add to skillet, along with asparagus, lemon juice, parmesan and pepper (salt may not be necessary.) Toss to combine and sprinkle with additional parmesan.