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Recipes to help celebrate spring

April 21, 2017

Kenny Louie/Wikimedia Commons
Spring means a lot of fresh lemons, so take advantage and make a delicious lemon meringue pie.

I am not fond of spring allergies, and all the rain has encouraged more grasses and plants to bloom, thus causing more pollen. But other than that (oh wait, I also don’t like all the ants), I look forward to many things about spring.


You probably know my favorite thing: food, especially seasonal produce. I hope you all are enjoying our spring so far, and also looking forward to a really nice summer. Stay safe and healthy, and of course, well fed.

French spring soup


1/4 cup butter
1 pound leeks, cleaned and chopped (not tough parts)
1 onion, chopped
2 quarts water
3 large potatoes, chopped (I use gold ones)
2 large carrots, chopped
1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
4 teaspoons salt (I would use less)
1/2 pound fresh spinach
1 cup heavy cream

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the leeks and onion, and cook until tender.

  2. Pour water into the pot. Mix in potatoes, carrots, asparagus and rice. Season with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, until vegetables and rice are tender.

  3. Stir spinach and heavy cream into the soup mixture, and continue cooking about 5 minutes before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


Spinach quiche


1/2 cup butter
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 small onion, chopped
1 package (10-oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 can (4.5-oz.) mushrooms, drained
1 package (6-oz.) herb and garlic feta, crumbled
1 package (8-oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 9-inch unbaked deep-dish pie crust
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk

  1. Preheat oven to 375. In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Saute garlic and onion in butter until lightly browned, about 7 minutes (being careful to avoid burning the garlic). Stir in spinach, mushrooms, feta and 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon mixture into pie crust.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Season with a bit more salt and pepper. Pour into the pastry shell, allowing egg mixture to thoroughly combine with spinach mixture.

  3. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle top with remaining Cheddar cheese, and bake an additional 35 to 40 minutes, until set in center. Allow to stand 10 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings.


Fettuccine and veggies


1 bunch fresh basil
3 cups chicken broth, divided
1/2 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons, divided
2 cloves garlic
1 pound fettuccine pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, cleaned and chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
Salt, to taste
2 small zucchini, diced
1 cup chopped sugar snap peas
1/2 cup shelled English peas
1 bunch asparagus, tough parts removed, stalks diced and tips left whole
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, or as needed

  1. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Hold basil bunch by the stems and dip basil leaves in boiling water until bright green, about 2 seconds. Immediately immerse basil in ice water for several minutes until cold to stop the cooking process. Once the basil is cold, drain well. Remove basil leaves from stems and discard stems.

  2. Blend basil leaves, 1 cup chicken broth, 1/2 cup olive oil, and garlic together in a blender until smooth.

  3. Stir fettuccine into the same pot of boiling water, bring back to a boil, and cook pasta over medium heat until cooked through but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain.

  4. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir leek and green onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Add jalapeno and salt; cook and stir until jalapeno is soft, about 5 minutes.

  5. Increase heat to medium-high. Stir 2 cups chicken broth, zucchini, sugar snap peas and English peas into jalapeno mixture; bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add asparagus and continue cooking until asparagus is soft, about 3 minutes more.

  6. Pour 1/4 cup basil-garlic mixture into zucchini mixture and cook and stir until heated through, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

  7. Place pasta in a large bowl; pour zucchini mixture over pasta and pour remaining basil-garlic mixture over the zucchini mixture. Spread Parmesan cheese over the top. Toss mixture briefly to combine and tightly wrap bowl with aluminum foil. Let stand until pasta and vegetables soak up most of the juices and oil, about 5 minutes. Toss again just before serving. Makes 6 servings.


Grandma’s lemon meringue pie
I like to add a few drops of vanilla to the meringue.

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
2 lemons, juiced and rinds made into zest
2 tablespoons butter
4 egg yolks, beaten
1 9-inch pie crust, baked
4 egg whites
6 tablespoons sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350. To make lemon filling: In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1 cup sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Stir in water, lemon juice and lemon zest. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in butter. Place egg yolks in a small bowl and gradually whisk in 1/2 cup of hot lemon mixture. Whisk egg yolk mixture back into remaining sugar mixture. Bring to a boil and continue to cook while stirring constantly until thick. Remove from heat. Pour filling into baked pastry shell.

  2. To make meringue: In a large glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites until foamy. Add sugar gradually, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over pie, sealing the edges at the crust.

  3. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until meringue is golden brown.

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