Ramp Pesto
Adapted from www.yumsugar.com
Ramps taste like spring. This goes on everything from pasta to seafood.

  • 2 bunches ramps, washed, ends trimmed
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup cashews, toasted
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions: In the bowl of a food processor, purée the ramps, parsley, cashews, Parmesan, and a pinch of salt and pepper. While the motor is running, pour in half of the lemon juice and drizzle just enough olive oil in to make a smooth paste. Taste and add more salt, pepper, lemon juice or olive oil if needed. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to a week. Makes one cup.

Star Recommends: Starmont Sauvignon Blanc
Aromas of Meyer lemon, key lime leaf, grapefruit, guava, passion fruit and a hint of herbaceousness all jump out of the glass. The round and honeyed mid-palate, along with the refreshing acidity provides for a rich yet balanced mouth feel and a surprisingly long finish.

Spinach and Ramp Soup
Adapted from www.orangette.blogspot.com.
If ramps aren’t available, try green garlic, or some chopped leek with a couple of cloves of garlic. This soup is mellow and vegetal and hued a gorgeous bright green.

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 1 small bunch ramps, washed, dried and thinly sliced
  • salt
  • 1 quart vegetable or chicken broth
  • 10 oz. baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
  • 1 Tbs. crème fraîche, plus more if you like

Directions: In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the ramps and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently until tender and translucent. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and allow to simmer gently for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the spinach.

In batches, purée in a blender. Take care not to fill the blender more than a third full, and keep the lid on! (If you have an immersion blender, use it instead.) The soup should be very smooth, and a rich shade of green.

Pour the soup back into the pot and warm over low heat. Stir in the crème fraîche, and taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Serve warm, with an optional extra dollop of crème fraîche on top of each bowl. Makes four servings.

Star Recommends: Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon
Silky smooth on the palate, the initial flavors are cassis and with chocolate covered cherries. There is a transition to blueberry and vanilla on the mid-palate. The tannins are soft and do not intrude and the finish is pretty much the same as the body of the wine. This is not a complex, layered wine, but it does taste good.

Butter-Glazed Radishes
Adapted from www.orangette.blogspot.com and All About Braising, by Molly Stevens

  • 1 lb. small radishes (2 to 2 1/2 dozen), trimmed and scrubbed
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock, or water
  • pinch of sugar
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions: If any radishes are larger than 1” in diameter, cut them in half. Place radishes in a skillet that’s large enough to hold them all in one layer. Add the butter, stock, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 18-25 minutes, until the radishes can be easily pierced with a knife.

Take off the lid and raise the heat to medium. Shake the pan to coat the radishes, and simmer for 5-10 minutes more, to reduce the liquid to a glaze. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper to taste, and serve. Makes four servings.

Star Recommends: Boomtown Pinot Gris
A bracing, mouth-cleansing style. Ultracrisp fruit mixes apple, melon and cucumber, then fills out in the middle with pretty herb and grass. The wine resonates, refreshing and textural, begging for food, or at least another glass.

Macaroni Salad with Arugula
Adapted from www.101cookbooks.com
A totally updated take on macaroni salad with loads of fresh flavors and no mayo in sight.

  • 1 lb. elbow macaroni
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 bunches green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chives, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 8 cups arugula
  • 1 apple, large, diced

Directions: Cook the macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the green onions, the garlic, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onion softens and the garlic turns golden, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

In the bowl of a food processor, place the green onion and garlic mixture, the chives, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, the lemon zest, half of the lemon juice, and the reserved pasta water. Purée until smooth. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if needed.

In a large bowl, combine the macaroni with the green sauce and toss well to coat. Fold in the arugula and apple, and add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice. Serve! Makes eight servings.

Star Recommends: Burgo Viejo Rioja Reserva­
Deep ruby. Seductive, fragrant aromas of cherry-vanilla and dark berry preserves, with slow-building smokiness. Juicy dark fruit flavors are nicely braced by zesty acidity, with a touch of camphor emerging on the back. Finishes with seductive sweetness, very good persistence and a repeating vanilla note.

Roasted Asparagus with Walnut Crema and Pecorino
Adapted from A16: Food + Wine by Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren
This is an incredible way to enjoy asparagus. The walnut crema will keep well covered in the fridge for a few days, and is nice with pasta when asparagus isn’t in season anymore.

  • 1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
  • 2/3 cup olive oil, separated
  • 1 red onion, small, diced (about 1 cup)
  • salt
  • 3 bunches asparagus, tough ends snapped off, rinsed and dried well
  • 3/4 cup shaved Pecorino Romano, or more to taste
  • 1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges

Directions: Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the walnuts and blanch for 10 minutes, until tender and soft. Drain the walnuts and reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Set aside. In a small sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the red onion and a generous pinch of salt. Sweat for 7 minutes, until golden brown and tender. Remove from heat. In a food processor, combine the walnuts, reserved cooking liquid, and onion. Process until creamy. Taste and add a decent pinch of salt if needed. With the motor running, slowly add 1/2 cup of the olive oil, processing until blended. The crema should have the consistency of creamy hummus. If it’s too thin, add some water, a tablespoon at a time. Taste again for seasoning, and transfer to a bowl. Cover and set aside while you prepare the asparagus.

Preheat the oven to 500˚F. Drizzle two baking sheets with olive oil. Spread the asparagus in a single layer on the baking sheets. Roll them in the oil to coat evenly. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for about 8 minutes, shaking the pans a couple of times, until slightly charred, blistered, and tender.

To serve, spoon the crema across the surface of a serving platter. Arrange the asparagus spears on top. Sprinkle with Pecorino, drizzle with some olive oil, and serve immediately, with the lemon wedges. Makes six servings.

Star Recommends: Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc
This pale yellow colored Sauvignon Blanc is quintessentially New Zealand styled at first whiff! It opens with a fragrant gooseberry and pine bouquet with hints of cut grass and vegetal overtones. On the palate, this wine is light bodied and tangy. The flavor profile is a tart lime and green apple with notes of white grapefruit, green pepper and a touch of minerality. The finish is dry and its green pepper notes continue to linger.

Asparagus Vinaigrette
Adapted from www.orangette.blogspot.com
Serve as is, or garnish with a chopped hard-boiled egg or a squeeze of lemon. Simple and delicious.

  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends snapped off
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt, separated
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 5 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp. finely chopped garlic

Directions: Fill a 12-inch skillet with water about an inch deep. Add a teaspoon of the salt and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus in a single layer and cook until bright green and just tender, about 1 ?-2 minutes. Drain and run cool water over them to stop the cooking. Lay them out on a layer of paper towels, then place on a serving platter. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard and remaining salt. Drizzle in the oil and whisk until emulsified.

Whisk in the garlic.

Drizzle the vinaigrette over the asparagus, and serve. Makes two servings.

Star Recommends: Wild Rock Sauvignon Blanc
Pale green-tinged in appearance. Bright aromas of lemongrass, lime, herbs, grapefruit, Viognier spice and spring flowers. The palate is juicy yet elegant in structure, with a beautiful array of citrus and sweet herb flavors and delicate floral notes. The wine finishes vibrant, mouth watering and flavor-filled.

Meyer Lemon Farro Salad with Asparagus, Almonds, and Goat Cheese
Adapted from www.thekitchn.com
Omit the cheese and this is vegan. Meyer lemons infuse this salad with yummy fragrant flavor.

  • 16 oz. farro
  • 1 lb. asparagus, ends snapped off, and sliced into 2” pieces
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. olive oil, separated
  • 1 cup almonds, sliced, toasted
  • 4 oz. goat cheese, chilled and crumbled
  • 2 Meyer lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1 Tbs. walnut oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions: Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Stir in the farro and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Drain well, place in a large bowl, and set aside.

In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the asparagus in a single layer, and cook until crisp tender, about 1-2 minutes. Add the asparagus to the bowl of farro.

Toss in the almonds, goat cheese, and lemon zest.

In a small bowl, whisk together the Meyer lemon juice with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil and walnut oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the salad and toss. Taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Serve at room temperature. This keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days; the flavors will intensify. Makes six servings.

Star Recommends: Domaine Ste Michelle Brut
Sparkling wine is a wonderful yet often overlooked accompaniment to food. Bright acidity and effervescence cleanses the palate, while the delicate flavors complement a wide array of dishes.

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