Spring Comfort Foods

Pea Salad with Oriental Dressing

Peas are easily grown in Ontario gardens.  Boiling or steaming peas brings out there sweetness by breaking down the tough outer shell (the cell wall). Although fresh peas are a spring delight, canned or frozen peas are available year round and are fairly inexpensive. Enjoy!

Ingredients:peasalad

2 cups fresh shelled peas (or frozen)

3 cups sugar snap peas, washed and trimmed

4 or 5 radishes, thinly sliced

1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

Dressing:

1 clove garlic, grated

1 tbsp. grated fresh or frozen ginger

2 tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar

2 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil

1 tbsp. palm sugar (or brown sugar)

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Blanch peas for about 30 seconds to 1 minute in boiling water. Drain and ‘shock’ in ice water

Wash and slice radishes

Put all dressing ingredients in a small mason jar and shake well.

Assemble the vegetables and dress with enough dressing to coat.

Salad can be served on a bed of mixed greens or spinach, if desired.

New Potato Salad with Pesto and Peas

Potato salad is a spring tradition, and most picnics are incomplete without the dish.  Potatoes are high in potassium, and also contain fibre and other nutrients. They are grown here in Canada (especially on the East coast) and are available year-round. Potatoes are a great addition to any dish – they are inexpensive, easy to store, and versatile.  Try this new spin on an old favourite!

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Ingredients:

2 lb. baby new potatoes

¼ c. extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup shelled peas (frozen can be used)

2 cups blanched sugar snap peas (optional)

Chopped chives

Pesto:

  • cup mint leaves, picked and washed

¼ cup basil leaves

¼ cup flat leaf parsley

1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts (remove 2 tbsp. for garnish)

Remainder of olive oil

1 clove of garlic

  • parmesan cheese

juice and zest of 1 lemon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash potatoes and spread on an oiled baking sheet. (2 tbsp. of the olive oil) Make sure all of the potatoes are coated with oil.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast just until tender, about 25 to 30 minutes

While potatoes are roasting, blanch peas briefly in boiling water, drain and place in and ice-water bath.

Place all of the herbs, garlic, cheese, lemon and all except 2 tbsp. of the hazelnuts into the blender. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. If mixture is too thick, add water, 1 tbsp. at a time.

Assemble potatoes and peas in a large mixing bowl, and toss with enough pesto to generously coat. Sprinkle with hazelnuts and chopped chives. Can be served warm or cold.

Spanakopita Triangles

Have an abundance of spinach in your garden? Tired of eating spinach dip to get rid of it? Try this new recipe! Phyllo dough is inexpensive, and can be stored in the freezer for a pretty long time. Have extra dough? Use it as a crust for a pot pie or to make apple strudel.

Spanikopita

Ingredients:

½ cup melted butter

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 bunch scallions, cleaned and finely sliced

1 large shallot, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, grated finely

2 lbs. baby spinach, washed and dried

¼ cup finely chopped dill

2 large eggs, beaten

1 cup crumbled Feta cheese

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1 pkg. fresh or frozen phyllo dough (thawed)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan and add shallot, scallions, garlic and dill. Saute for a minute or two and add the spinach. Cook just until the spinach wilts and drain in a colander or sieve.

Place mixture in a clean tea towel or square of cheesecloth, and twist to extract as much moisture as you can.

In a bowl, combine feta, ricotta, eggs, lemon zest and nutmeg. Add pepper but not salt, as the feta will season the mixture.

Stir in the well-drained spinach mixture and set aside.

Unwrap the phyllo and cover with a damp towel. Lay one sheet on the board and brush with melted butter. Lay another sheet on top and repeat.

Cut the sheet lengthwise into 2” strips.

Place a generous ½ tsp. of filling in the corner of each strip.

Fold the corner up to make a triangle and continue to fold until you reach the end of the strip.

Place the triangles on a baking sheet covered with parchment and brush lightly with butter.

Repeat until filling is used up or the desired number of triangles are completed.

The triangles may be frozen at this stage or baked.

Place baking sheet in oven and bake until the triangles are golden brown and crispy.

They may be re-heated briefly or served at room temperature.

Tzatziki sauce is optional.

Tzatziki Sauce:

1 cup of whole milk Greek yogurt or yogurt that has been drained in a cheesecloth-lined sieve overnight.

1 clove garlic, finely grated

1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill (More if you like more dill)

½ English cucumber, grated, salted and drained well for at least 1 hour.

1 finely chopped shallot or 2 tbsp. finely chopped onion or scallions (Add to cucumber to drain)

1 tbsp. lemon juice

Mix ingredients, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

The flavour improves if the sauce can sit for a few hours in the refrigerator.

Rhubarb Custard Squares

Rhubarb is always a spring time favourite. It is grown easily in Ontario gardens. Once harvested, boiling it will reduce tartness. Rhubarb is typically paired with strawberries in desserts and fruit-like dishes.  Try this recipe for a light treat!

Ingredients:

Shortbread Crust:

3 cups all-purpose flourCIyOl8kWEAABG9a-300x291

1 cup icing sugar

1 ½ cups cold butter, cut in ¼” cubes

Filling:

4 cups washed and diced rhubarb (1/4” cubes)

1 -1 ½ cups white sugar (depends on sweetness of rhubarb and how tart you wish it to be)

¼ cup all-purpose flour

4 large eggs

1 cup cream (you can use half-and-half or 18 percent)

½ tsp. salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Assemble all crust ingredients in bowl of a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles bread crumbs. This can be done by hand with a pastry blender or your fingers.

Pour mixture into a 9”x13” pan and press evenly. Bake for about 20 minutes or just until the edges have started to brown.

Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.

In a mixing bowl, stir sugar, flour and salt together.

Add eggs and mix well.

Add cream and blend.

Spread prepared rhubarb over shortbread crust and pour the custard mixture evenly over the rhubarb.

Bake for 30- 40 minutes or until custard is just set in the middle.

Remove from oven and cool.

Can be served warm or cold.