Vibrant Spring Socca with Basil-Arugula Pesto
Adapted from www.food52.com.
Socca is similar to a crepe, and is made with chickpea flour, which imparts a mild, nutty flavor. This recipe makes one giant socca, but it’s easy to make small ones instead if you’d prefer.
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 cup water, plus 1/4 cup, divided
- 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, plus 1/2 cup, divided
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
- 2 cups arugula
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes (or Parmesan)
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- black pepper
- 2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed, blanched, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup snow peas, trimmed, blanched, cut into bite-sized pieces
Directions:in a medium bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, 1 cup of water, 1 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, parsley, and salt.
Whisk until the batter is smooth. Set aside, and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
In a blender or food processor, combine the basil, arugula, remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil, remaining 1/4 cup of water, walnuts, nutritional yeast or Parmesan, garlic, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, adding more olive oil or water a bit at a time if needed.
Turn broiler on to high, and place a rack 5 inches below the flame. Lightly grease a cast iron skillet, and place below the broiler for 1-2 minutes, until hot. Carefully remove the skillet and pour in the prepared chickpea batter, swirling the skillet to make an even layer. Place under the broiler and broil for 5-10 minutes, checking every 3 minutes to avoid burning. Remove from broiler when socca is golden brown. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a serving dish. Top with pesto, and sugar snap and snow peas. Serve.
You’ll likely have extra pesto, which can be frozen for up to 3 months. Serves 4 to 6
Star Recommends: Gran Passione Gavi—Lime, wet stones and crisp acidity, make this bone-dry 100% Cortese white from Piedmont a superb partner with seafood and shellfish. The floral notes offer a delicate chalkiness and the finish has a whisper of almond dust.
Scallop and Sugar Snap Pea Stir-fry
Adapted from www.sunset.com.
This flavorful shellfish recipe captures the flavors of spring in every bite. Serve with steamed white rice for a filling meal.
- 1/2 c. chicken broth, fat skimmed from it
- 2 Tbs. mirin or rice wine
- 1 Tbs. cornstarch
- 2 Tbs. sunflower oil
- 2 Tbs. thinly sliced scallions
- 1 Tbs. minced garlic
- 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 12 oz. sea scallops, rinsed and patted dry, cut in half into half-moons
- 12 oz. sugar snap peas, trimmed and blanched, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 c. finely sliced fresh basil leaves, divided
Directions:In a small bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, mirin, and cornstarch. Set aside. Heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan or large wok over high heat. Add the scallions, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30-45 seconds. Add the scallops to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes, until mostly opaque. Fold in the sugar snap peas, then add the broth mixture. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce is thick and glossy and the scallops are opaque, but are still moist in the center (cut one to check). Fold in half of the basil and remove from heat. Transfer to a serving dish, and top with the remaining basil. Serves 4.
Star Recommends: Suau Bordeaux Blanc—This dry and dainty Bordeaux Blanc is a standout example of an often-overlooked category of French white wines. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle, this bottling is crisp, clean, and citrus-driven, featuring puckery lemon curd and white grapefruit flavors.
Simple Strawberry Compote
Adapted from www.minimalistbaker.com.
This two ingredient compote couldn’t be easier! Serve it on waffles, fresh toast, pancakes, oatmeal, or ice cream. When it’s cherry season, try using pitted cherries in place of up to half of the strawberries. And when fresh strawberries are no longer available, frozen would be a great substitute.
- 3 cups fresh strawberries, hulled
- 3 Tbs. orange juice
Directions: Combine the strawberries and orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low, and use a wooden spoon to roughly mash the fruit. Continue to cook 10-12 minutes, mashing occasionally. Remove from heat and transfer to a jar to cool. Delicious served cold or warm.
Will keep covered and refrigerated for 4-5 days. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Star Recommends: Pol Roger Champagne—An appealing mushroom aroma is the opening note for this smooth, harmonious wine that has enough personality to be a vintage Champagne. It has plenty of body, a flavor dominated by walnuts, a creamy texture and a smooth, buttery finish.
Bowties with Sugar Snap Peas, Lemon, and Ricotta
Adapted from www.smittenkitchen.com.
So many green vegetables would go well with lemon and ricotta, so mix it up with asparagus pieces, green beans, or baby spinach, adjusting the cooking time as needed.
- 1 lb. farfalle pasta
- 1 lb. sugar snap peas, strings removed, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 oz. finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- olive oil
- black pepper
- 1 lemon, juiced, plus more to taste
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely sliced
- 1 cup ricotta
Directions: Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for 2 minutes less than the suggested cooking time. Add the sugar snap peas. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta and sugar snap peas to the pot, and stir in 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water, the grated Pecorino, a slug of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat, and cook over high heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly. If the pasta looks too dry, add a splash or two more of the pasta water. Remove from heat and transfer to a wide serving bowl. Dollop ricotta all over in large spoonfuls, and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Squeeze the lemon juice over the whole dish, and sprinkle with mint. Serve immediately. 4-6 Servings
Star Recommends: The Royal Chenin Blanc—100% Chenin Blanc from the Western Cape. A super flowery scented nose includes notions of ripe honeydew melons and pears. This medium-weight, fresh, fruity, crisp, dry, textbook Chenin Blanc will provide immense pleasure
Grilled Pork Skewers with Peanut-Basil Sauce
Adapted from www.nytimes.com.
This is a seriously fast meal. Throw some vegetables on the grill with the pork skewers, and you’ll have dinner on the table in 20 minutes.
- 25 fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 3/4 cup coconut milk, can shaken before measuring
- 2 Tbs. soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 limes, one juiced, and one cut into wedges for serving, divided
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 lb. boneless pork shoulder or pork loin, sliced into 1-inch cubes
Directions: In a blender, combine the basil leaves, peanut butter, coconut milk, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, crushed red pepper flakes, the juice of one lime, and salt. Process until smooth and incorporated. Taste, and add more soy sauce, pepper flakes, lime juice, or salt if needed. Set 1/2 cup of the peanut sauce aside for serving, and pour the rest into a large bowl.
Add the cubed pork to the bowl of peanut sauce and toss until well-coated. Thread the meat onto skewers, being careful not to crowd the pieces of pork.
Heat a grill, grill pan, or broiler until hot. Cook the pork until browned all over, about 5-8 minutes total, turning once. Serve hot with the reserved peanut sauce and lime wedges. 4 servings.
Star Recommends: VS Murua Rioja Tempranillo—VS de Murua is quite aromatic and open, it has ripe red and black fruit in the foreground and the spicy notes of the oak in the background. The palate shows good integration of the fruit with the oak, it is medium-bodied, with good acidity and an attractive spicy finish
Chicken Breasts with Anchovy-Basil Pan Sauce
Adapted from www.foodandwine.com.
The anchovy-basil sauce turns this chicken dish from yummy to amazing.
- 4 boneless, skin-on chicken breast halves
- black pepper
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
- 4 large anchovy fillets, minced
- 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup finely sliced basil
- 1 Tbs. lemon juice, fresh
- 1 Tbs. butter
Directions: Preheat oven to 400˚F. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Place the chicken breasts in the skillet, skin side down, and cook until deeply browned, about 3 minutes. Flip the chicken breasts over, and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast until just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer onto 4 plates.
Set the skillet over medium-high heat and add the shallots. Cook about 3 minutes, until softened. Stir in the anchovies, crushed red pepper, and white wine, and bring to a boil. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in 1/3 cup of water, and boil until liquid has reduced to about 3 tablespoons, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, and stir in the basil, lemon juice, and butter. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the pan sauce and shallots over the roasted chicken breasts, and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Star Recommends: Hugl Gruner Veltliner—Loads of wet rocks, crushed chalk and honeyed grapefruit as well as touches of apricots and apple skin are all present in this aromatic, light to medium-bodied, fresh, dry, zesty wine.
Warm Asparagus Salad with Basil and Mint Pesto
Adapted from www.sproutedkitchen.com.
This salad is just as good served cold or room temperature.
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces or halves
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1/3 cup lemon juice, fresh
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- black pepper to taste
- crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
- 2 cups cooked brown rice, warm
- 1 1/4 cup cooked lentils (brown, green, or black), warm
- 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed, sliced into diagonal, 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
Directions: Combine the garlic, salt, and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse a few times. Add the basil, mint, lemon juice, and a pinch of black pepper and red pepper flakes, and pulse once or twice to combine and roughly chop. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream, and process until combined, but still a bit chunky.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and blanch the asparagus pieces for 1 1/2 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge in an ice water bath to stop the cooking. Drain again.
Place the brown rice and lentils in a serving bowl and toss to combine. Fold in the asparagus and some generous dollops of pesto, until everything is nicely coated. Serve topped with fresh chives. Serves 4.
Star Recommends: Setzer Gruner Veltliner—Medium green-yellow. Varietally accurate aromas of peppered apple, grapefruit and hawthorn. Melon and pear flavors are elegantly supported by juicy acidity in a light to medium body. The moderately long fruity-peppery finish shows good finesse