We have waited through a long winter this year for some beautiful bright spring ingredients. I love that Farmers' markets on the East Coast are opening. They are an acceptable outdoor activity and the weather is finally cooperating (I hope writing this does not jinx it and the cold weather is really coming to an end!). These recipes include seasonal spring ingredients like green vegetables, spinach, asparagus, lemons, zucchini, and fresh herbs. Yes, they are often available year round but this is when they are at their best.

Spring Lamb Stew

 

Photo by Food Network

Serves 6

I served this on Passover and it was such a hit, that I have adapted it with spring vegetables for a fantastic spring main course. The vegetables and greens lighten a typically heavy dish. Lamb stew meat is also more reasonably priced than lamb chops or even ground lamb so my meat eaters are very happy with this dish.

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 pounds cubed lamb
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper plus 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
  • 2 cups canned beef stock
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup diced canned tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut 2 inches thick diagonally
  • 12 ounces small Yukon Gold potatoes, 1 1/2-inch-diced
  • 4 parsnips, peeled and cut 2 inches thick diagonally
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen green peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat oil in a medium oven proof pot or Dutch oven, over medium heat. Sprinkle the lamb with salt and pepper and then dredge in 1/4 cup of flour. Raise the heat to medium high and cook half the lamb in the hot pot for 5 minutes, turning occasionally, until browned. Remove from the pot and brown the second batch, also transferring it to the plate. To the same pot, add the onion and cook until browned for about 5 minutes and then the garlic and cook for one minute.

Pour the lamb, along with any juices that collect, back into the pot. Add the beef stock, wine, tomatoes (including the juice), thyme, rosemary, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil, scraping up the brown bits in the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes, cover and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes, and parsnips, cover and return to the oven for 1 hour, until all the vegetables are tender. Add peas and parsley to warm through. Serve lamb and vegetables hot.

Spinach Salad

 

Photo by Pioneer Woman

Serves 5

Traditional spinach salad has not often been featured on Jewish sites or in kosher cookbooks as it typically includes bacon, which is of course not kosher and forbidden to eat. In recent years though, Kosher “Facon” or imitation bacon is readily available in kosher markets so I’ve been making a kosher alternative to this wonderful crispy and salty salad. It’s best when the imitation bacon and mushrooms are warm but I serve the greens cold and the other items room temperature when I make it for Shabbos lunch.

  • 3 whole eggs
  • Ice
  • 9 pieces imitation bacon or “Facon”
  • 1 small red onion, thinly slices
  • 16 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, optional
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 cups baby spinach, washed, dried and stems removed

Place the eggs in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cover, remove from heat and allow to sit in the water for 20 minutes. Drain off the water and add ice on top of the eggs. When cooled, peel and slice the eggs in half or quarters.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the imitation bacon until browned and crispy/chewy. Remove to a paper towel. Drain the fat into a bowl and reserve. When cooled, chop into bite size pieces.

Rewarm the same skillet then add sliced onion to the skillet. Cook slowly until the onions are caramelized and lightly browned. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Add about 1 tablespoon of the reserved fat from cooking the imitation bacon. Add mushrooms to the skillet. Cook slowly until caramelized and brown. Remove to a plate and set aside.

For the dressing:

Add 3 tablespoons of the reserved imitation bacon fat (if you do not have enough, use extra virgin olive oil) , vinegar, sugar, Dijon and salt to a small saucepan or skillet over medium-low heat. Whisk together and heat thoroughly until bubbly.

To serve: Add the spinach to a large bowl. Arrange the onions, mushrooms and imitation bacon on top. Pour the hot dressing over the top; toss to combine. Arrange the eggs over the top and serve. Note* Dressing can be served at room temperature too.

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon

 

Photo by Ina Garten

Serves 5

I like roasted vegetables, Yes, all of them and generally use the same technique, high heat roasting with convection, if possible, drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper. Simple and fantastic! This one gets a bit of brightness with lemon zest and a “cheesy” non-dairy finish with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast. It’s a great ingredient, try it on all roasted vegetables, baked potatoes, and in salad.

  • 2 pounds fresh asparagus
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast, optional
  • 1 scant teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Break off the tough ends of the asparagus and, if they're thick, peel them. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, then toss to coat the asparagus completely. Spread the asparagus in a single layer. Roast the asparagus for 10-20 minutes, until tender but still crisp, this will vary depending on the thickness of the asparagus, start off with 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with lemon zest, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper.

Zucchini and Squash Zoodles with White Wine Pesto Sauce

 

Photo by Chay Berger

Serves 6

This gluten-free, vegetarian main course is hearty enough to please every meat eater and bright and healthy enough for those more discerning palates. I like this best in the summertime when the tomatoes and basil are fresh from the garden, but make it in the fall when the squash is still ripe and in season too. It’s incredible that today we can get fantastic produce all year long, especially fresh herbs and every tomato varietal you could think of.

Note: These are part of the summer squash family, although available year round.

Pesto Sauce

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 cup packed fresh basil leaves (or a mixture of kale and basil)
  • 1 cup toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds
  • ⅔ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ⅛-¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup dry white wine

Zucchini & Squash Noodles

  • 6 large squash (zucchini and yellow squash)
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Fresh basil, for garnish

For the pesto: Using a food processor or an immersion blender, combine garlic, basil, nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. Blend until smooth and season with salt.

To prepare the noodles: Spiralize the zucchini with a spiralizer or create noodles with a julienne peeler. Alternatively, grate the zucchini the long way on a large box grater.

Warm the pesto in a large skillet over medium heat. Add white wine and bring to a gentle boil. Add squash noodles and tomatoes and mix into sauce. Stir frequently, until squash is cooked and sauce has thickened slightly, about 4 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil, and serve immediately.

Note: Spaghetti squash can be used in place of zucchini noodles. Cook large spaghetti squash on an oven-safe dish in a 350°F preheated oven for 45 minutes. Let cool. When cool enough to handle, slice and remove liquid and seeds. With a fork, scrape out squash, which will appear in spaghetti looking strips. Continue with cooking in skillet as instructed above.

Lemon Fluff

 

Photo by somewhat simple

Serves 6

This is not a bit unhealthy but tastes very sweet and fresh for spring. I not only eat it plain, but use it in a lemon trifle or blueberry parfait, atop a great pound cake, or with balsamic or sweetened berries.You can pour it into a graham crust too and finish it with graham cracker crumbs on top or any fresh berry.

  • 1 cup non-dairy whipping cream
  • 1 cup marshmallow fluff
  • 29 ounce can lemon pie filling
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Graham cracker crumbs, optional
  • 4 tablespoons melted margarine, optional

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat whipping cream until stiff peaks. Gently beat in marshmallow fluff, lemon pie filling and lemon zest until fully blended. Refrigerate or freeze.

Serve scoops with berries or extra whipping cream or as directed in the head note.

If serving as a parfait, as pictured, mix 1 ½ cup graham cracker crumbs with 4 tablespoons melted margarine. Spoon into cups, top with lemon mixture, then whipped cream and lemon for garnish.