• by Leah Mojer •
It’s been far too long since we have done more than just dream of the garden and of the smell of thyme and rosemary on our hands. Too long have we waited to plunge our trowels into the dirt and see lime green buds stretching from the branch tips of our trees. There is still a time before tomatoes, corn, and peaches, but I revel in what spring has to offer. The sweetest peas, vegetal fiddleheads, earthy morels, garlicky ramps, and fresh herbs. This is the purest, most delicious season of eating. Everything feels new to the tongue and no pea tendril, thyme sprig, or chive stem is taken for granted. These flavors are the aperitif; the precursor for what’s to follow. Let’s celebrate our tender spring offerings and say good bye and (don’t let the door hit ya on the way out) to winter!
STEAKS WITH GRILLED RAMP PESTO
- 1 bunch ramps, roughly chopped
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons roasted pine nuts
- 3 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Place ramps and olive oil in a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Add the pine nuts and Parmesan cheese and blend quickly to break down the pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- TIP: Make the pesto in bulk and keep it in the fridge for several weeks, to keep the nice green color, quickly blanch the ramps in hot water and cool it in ice water before you blend it.
- 2 pounds skirt steak(s)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Grill should already be pre-heated to medium for the asparagus.
- Drizzle the skirt steak with olive oil, so it will not stick to the grill, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place skirt steak on grill and cook on each side for approximately 3-4 minutes.
- Once cooked, slice thinly across the grain and drizzle with ramp pesto.
EASY HERB SALT
This is super easy and oh so satisfying. Whip up a cup or two and keep in the fridge to preserve the bright green hue this herb salt takes on. Use in place of regular salt.
- Mix 2 C Kosher Salt (I am a Diamond Crystal Salt fan myself) with 1 handful assorted herbs: thyme, tarragon, rosemary and parsley makes a nice mix.
FRESH PEA SOUP WITH MINT
- 2 T unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 C low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 pound fresh peas (packaged frozen peas will do in a pinch)
- 3/4 C loosely packed fresh mint leaves
- kosher salt, to taste
- creme fraiche or sour cream (optional)
- lemon zest (optional)
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the onion and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add the broth and bring to a boil.
- Place the peas and mint in a blender and add the hot broth mixture. (Because hot liquids expand when blended, hold the lid firmly in place with a kitchen towel before blending.) Blend until smooth.
- Return to saucepan to heat through, if necessary.
- Serve with a dollop of your favorite creme fraiche or sour creme and a dusting of lemon zest.
SPRINGTIME SPRITZER COCKTAIL
This super refreshing cocktail made with celery juice and fennel-infused gin, and garnished with a bright swath of lemon peel, looks as refreshing as it tastes.
- 2 oz. fennel-infused gin (see below)
- 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 oz. agave nectar
- 1 oz. fresh celery juice (see tip)
- Tools: shaker, fine-mesh strainer
- Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish.
- Infuse 3 sliced fennel bulbs in one 750-ml bottle of gin. Allow to infuse for 2 weeks before straining.
NOTE: You can buy celery juice at a juice bar or make it yourself with a juicer. If you don’t have a juicer, purée celery in a food processor, then strain the juice through a fine-mesh sieve.