Lemon Asparagus Risotto
Adapted from www.food52.com.
A creamy and rich risotto that highlights one of the best vegetables of spring, minus the cheese.
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, sliced into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 shallot, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 Tbs. lemon juice
- 1 Tbs. lemon zest
- 5 cups low-sodium vegetable stock or vegetarian chicken broth
- black pepper
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 Tbs. fresh thyme
Directions: Prepare an ice water bath by filling a large bowl with ice cubes and water. Blanch the asparagus in a large pot of boiling water for 2 minutes, until crisp-tender. Submerge the asparagus in the ice water bath, then drain. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and shallot and sauté for 3-4 minutes, until the onions begin to turn tender. Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add the Arborio rice to the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium-low, then stir in the white wine, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is absorbed. While stirring, pour in 1 cup of the vegetable stock. Cook, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed. Add stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring each time until the liquid is absorbed. (Note that you may not need all 5 cups to cook the rice.) When the rice is tender, stir in the nutritional yeast and thyme. Taste, and add more salt and pepper as needed. Fold in the blanched asparagusand cook until heated through. 4 servings.
Star Recommends: San Quirico Vernaccia di San Gimignano—Straw yellow in color, gentle floral and citrus aromas complement undertones of stone fruits and fresh herbs. This wine has flavors of lemon zest, sage, and minerality with hints of anise and almonds on the crisp finish.
Mango with Cilantro, Coconut, and Chile Powder
Adapted from www.saveur.com.
This salad is light and flavorful, and is inspired by street vendors in Mexico who serve mango on a stick with hot sauce. Plus, it’s so easy to make: just mango, and a handful of fresh ingredients.
- 3 mangoes, large, ripe, peeled, pitted, sliced into cubes
- 3 Tbs. lime juice, fresh
- 1 tsp. chile powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/3 cup packed cilantro leaves
Directions: Place the mango on a serving dish. Sprinkle with lime juice, then chile powder and salt. Arrange cilantro on top, and serve. Serves 6.
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Crispy Cheesy Portobello Mushroom Pizzas
Adapted from Dinner Solved by Katie Workman.
These easy, people-pleasing pizzas use portobello caps as individual pizza crusts.
- 6 large portobello mushrooms (about 5 inches across), stemmed, gills scraped out with a spoon
- 4 Tbs. olive oil, divided
- 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp. minced garlic, divided
- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, or 1 tsp. minced fresh oregano
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, or 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 cup pasta sauce, homemade or store-bought
Directions: Preheat oven to 450ºF. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet.
In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the vinegar, 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, and salt and pepper. Brush over both sides of the mushrooms and set them cap-side-down on the baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, combine the remaining garlic, the panko bread crumbs, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and oregano and thyme. Stir in the last 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Divide the cheese mixture among the mushroom caps, scooping some into each and pressing it lightly.
Bake until the mushrooms are tender and the cheese is melted and golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Serve hot, and spoon some pasta sauce on at the table. 6 servings.
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Shaved Asparagus and Arugula Salad
Adapted from Canal House Cooks Every Day.
Be sure to use Pecorino in this salad for a nice, creamy dressing—other cheeses won’t work as well.
- 1 1/2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lb asparagus, preferably large stalks, woody ends trimmed
- 4 oz. arugula
Directions: Place the Pecorino in a large bowl. While whisking, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of boiling water. Then, still whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Slice the tips off the asparagus and slice each one lengthwise in half. Use a vegetable peeler to shave each asparagus stalk into long thin ribbons (you’ll need to press hard—try placing the asparagus flat and peeling that way). Place the asparagus in a large bowl and toss with several tablespoons of the dressing. Add the arugula and toss to coat. Season to taste with more salt and pepper as needed. 4 large servings.
Star Recommends: Domaine de la Rossignole Sancerre—Delicately flavored, chalky, French sauvignon is fresh and lively on the palate with intense flavors of grapefruit, herbs and green apple.
Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango
Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi.
This dish will require a decent amount of prep work, but much of it can be done ahead of time (make the dressing a day or two in advance, cook the tofu and cube the mango and have those ready in the fridge). It is well worth the effort—this is certainly one of the most memorable meals I’ve had in ages. Soba noodles are coated in a sweet, spicy, and lime-kissed sauce, then tossed with little cubes of pan-fried tofu, eggplant, chunks of fresh sweet mango, and handfuls of fresh herbs.
- 1/2 cup brown rice vinegar
- 3 Tbs. brown sugar or cane sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- one lime, zested and juiced
- 1/2 cup sunflower oil
- 3/4 lb eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 8 oz. soba noodles
- 1 mango, large, ripe, cubed, or sliced into 1/4-inch-thick strips
- 1/2 lb. tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and pan-fried
- 1/2 red onion, medium, very thinly sliced
- 1 2/3 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
- 2 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Directions: In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the brown rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Cook for 1 minute, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, then stir in the garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and sesame oil. Set aside to cool, then stir in the lime zest and lime juice.
Heat the sunflower oil in a large skillet and fry the eggplant (in batches) until deeply golden and tender. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt.
Cook the soba noodles according to the package instructions until tender. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle with the dressing, mango, tofu, eggplant, sliced onion, and the herbs. Toss well to combine, and serve immediately. (Or wait to add the herbs until just before serving.) Serves 4.
Star Recommends: Botani Moscatel Secco—When most people hear the word Moscatel, their mind thinks of the dozens of sugary sweet Moscato’s that they see on the shelves of their local supermarkets. This wine defies that. Clean and Crisp with a good bit of minerality and acid. The fruit here is tropical with hints of lime zest.
Pork Top Loin Roast with Asparagus, Spring Onions, and Butter Lettuce
Adapted from www.cooking.nytimes.com.
With loads of fresh herbs, tender butter lettuce, and asparagus, this impressive meal is a celebration of spring.
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, divided
- 2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
- 1 2-lb. boneless pork top loin roast or rib-end loin roast
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 oz. pancetta, thinly sliced, cut into 1/2-inch strips
- 1 large spring onion, both white and green parts, thinly sliced
- 1 lb. asparagus, preferably thin, sliced into 2-inch lengths
- 1 head butter lettuce, sliced into 1/2-inch ribbons
- 1/4 cup mixed fresh chopped herbs, like parsley, dill, and basil
- lemon juice, to taste
Directions: In a small enameled cast-iron Dutch oven or casserole, heat one tablespoon of the butter and one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Place the pork in the butter and oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown well, for about 10 minutes. Transfer the pork to a dish and discard the fat in the pot. Pour the white wine into the pot and raise the heat to high. Bring to a boil and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits. Add the bay leaf, thyme, and yellow onion, and return the pork to the pot. Cover, reduce heat to very low, and cook for about 1 hour, turning the pork once midway, until a thermometer inserted into the center of the pork reads 160ºF. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and let sit for at least 10 minutes.
In a large skillet overmedium heat, heat the last tablespoon of butter and olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the spring onion, asparagus, and butter lettuce. Measure 1/3 cup of pork juices from the Dutch oven, and pour it over the vegetables. Season with salt. Cover, raise heat to medium-high, and cook about 3 minutes, until the asparagus is tender. Uncover, and continue to cook until the liquid thickens. Remove from heat and fold in the chopped herbs. Taste, and add salt and pepper and lemon juice.
Return the Dutch oven to the stove and heat over medium heat. Bring the juices to a simmer and season to taste with salt and pepper. Slice the pork in thick slices, and serve with the pan juices spooned on top, with the vegetables alongside.
Star Recommends: Gratallops Black Slate 2013—Bright purple. Zesty redcurrant and cherry aromas show good clarity, picking up floral and allspice qualities with air. Silky and open-knit, offering pliant red fruit flavors and a touch of rose pastille. Finishes supple and spicy, with lingering raspberry and white pepper notes and soft tannins.
Tuna Asparagus Salade Nicoise
Adapted from www.strawberryplum.com.
- 3 Yukon Gold potatoes, medium, peeled
- 4 eggs
- 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
- 1 1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 3 Tbs. olive oil, divided
- 1 head Bibb lettuce
- 1 shallot, small, thinly sliced
- fresh dill, torn
- fresh chives, sliced
- 1 lb. fresh tuna
- 1 cup Nicoise olives, pitted
Directions: Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and boil the potatoes until just tender. Use a slotted spoon to remove them and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, slice each potato into 6 or 8 wedges.
Place the eggs in a medium saucepan. Cover with water and add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Prepare an ice water bath. Transfer the eggs to the ice bath, and leave to chill for 5 minutes. Peel the eggs and slice into halves.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and prepare another ice water bath. Cook the asparagus in boiling water for about 3 minutes, until it’s bright green and crisp-tender. Transfer to the ice bath and allow to cool completely. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and mustard. While whisking, drizzle in 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Whisk until combined. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Arrange the lettuce leaves on a large serving platter. Top with the potatoes, and asparagus spears. Drizzle with half of the vinaigrette, then place the dill, chives, and shallots on top.
Season each tuna steak with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Sear the tuna, about 1 minute per side for rare. Transfer to a cutting board, and slice thinly against the grain.
Arrange the tuna and hard-boiled eggs on top of the salad. Add the olives. Serve, passing the rest of the vinaigrette at the table. 4 servings.
Star Recommends: Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc—The wine is dry and medium-weight. Less assertive on the nose than some, this wine builds through the palate with great fruit complexity and concentration, culminating in a delicious, lingering finish.
Coconut Mango Icebox Cake
Adapted from www.thekitchn.com.
In this icebox cake, whipped cream is enhanced with cream cheese and cream of coconut, and layered with graham crackers and lots and lots of mango, then topped with toasted coconut flakes.
- 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 15 oz. can unsweetened coconut cream
- 3 Tbs. turbinado sugar, plus two more (optional) tablespoons
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1 Tbs. rum, optional
- 19 oz. graham crackers (4 sleeves—24-28 graham crackers)
- 5 large mango, peeled and chopped (5-6 cups)
Directions: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spread the coconut flakes on a rimmed baking sheet and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until golden and lightly toasted. Remove and set aside to cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, whip the cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add the coconut cream and 3 tablespoons sugar, and stir until well-blended. While the mixer is running, slowly drizzle in the heavy cream, and whip until soft peaks form. Blend in the rum.
Place a small dollop of the whipped cream mixture in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Spread it around to coat the bottom of the dish. Set 6 graham crackers on top, then top with a light layer of whipped cream. Arrange chopped mango on top of the whipped cream. Repeat 3 more times, until you have 4 layers of graham crackers. Dollop the remaining whipped cream on top and spread it to cover, then finish with more mango.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, until the graham crackers are tender. Just before serving, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar if you like. Enjoy! 12 servings.
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Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict
Adapted from www.thedomesticman.com.
This elegant brunch recipe for eggs benedict replaces the English muffin with a portobello mushroom, making it gluten-free and Paleo-friendly.
- 2 red bell peppers, stems removed
- 4 portobello mushrooms, stemmed, gills scraped out with a spoon
- 4 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks, divided
- 2 Tbs. white vinegar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 Tbs. lemon juice, fresh
- 1/2 tsp. yellow mustard powder
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 12 thin slices of smoked salmon
- 1/4 cup fresh dill, coarsely chopped
Directions: Slice each bell pepper into 4 slices and remove the seeds.
Preheat a gas grill to high, and place the mushrooms and peppers over direct heat, grilling for a few minutes on each side. Transfer the mushrooms to 4 oven-safe plates, and top each with 2 of the pepper slices. Place the plates in the oven to keep warm.
Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil. Pour in the vinegar. Carefully crack in the 4 eggs, and let them boil gently for 3 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, lemon juice, mustard, and salt. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter until bubbling. Very slowly pour the hot butter into the bowl of egg yolk mixture. While drizzling in the butter, use an immersion blender or hand-held beater to blend until thick and creamy.
Remove the warm plates from the oven, and top each mushroom with 3 slices of salmon and 1 poached egg. Ladle the hollandaise sauce over each serving, and garnish with dill and freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy! 4 servings.
Star Recommends: Domaine de la Quilla Muscadet—This crisp white has a lemony and herbal aroma. Lemon and lime mix on the palate, along with classic Loire minerality. Flavors persist through a long finish.
Portobello Tacos with Creamy Jalapeno Sauce
Adapted from www.loveandlemons.com.
These grilled mushroom tacos are delicious, with avocado and shredded red cabbage—but the star of the show here is definitely this sauce. It’s cashew-based, with roasted jalapenos, garlic, and cucumber, and you’ll want to have it on everything.
- 1/2 jalapeño (use up to two jalapeños if you prefer more heat)
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 3 hours, drained
- 1 cup water
- 1 Tbs. rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 1 Tbs. minced shallot
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 cup peeled chopped cucumber
- 1 Tbs. lemon
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
- 2 portobello mushrooms, stems removed, gills scraped out with a spoon, sliced
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 Tbs. soy sauce
- 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
- 1 large avocado, pitted, sliced
- 1 cup shredded red cabbage
- 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
- 6 corn tortillas, warmed
Directions: Roast the jalapeño under the broiler until the skin is black and blistered. Remove from heat and place in a bowl. Cover with a plate and let sit for 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel the skin. Slice off the stem and remove the seeds. Place in a blender and add the cashews, water, vinegar, shallot, garlic, cucumber, lemon, and salt and pepper. Blend until creamy, adding a little more water if needed. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the chopped chives. Place in the refrigerator.
Set the sliced mushrooms in a large shallow bowl. Top with olive oil, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar, and toss to coat.
Season with black pepper.
Heat a gas grill to medium, or heat up a grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the mushrooms, flipping once, until char marks form, 3-4 minutes on each side.
Make tacos with the warmed tortillas and grilled mushrooms, and serve with the avocado, cabbage, cilantro, and jalapeño sauce. 6 tacos.
Star Recommends: Selbach Oster Riesling Kabinett—The nose on this Riesling is a little tight, and leans toward the mineral (salts and petrol) versus the fruit side of the spectrum. That’s not to say it’s devoid of fruit, there is a touch of apple, but it’s subtle. The palate is a different story. This wine is off dry, offering a touch of sweetness, and it’s brimming with lemon/lime flavors. It also offers some apple flavors. The acidity is good, giving the wine a bright expression on the palate. The finish is also bright and citrusy.