I look forward to cooking with and eating fruits and vegetables that haven’t been available for months. Spring produce varies wildly from the heavier root vegetables of winter. Lighter and more delicate vegetables, like peas, asparagus, and fava beans, are the star players of the season.
Asparagus might be my favorite spring vegetable. Its peak season — April — is brief, just like my favorite ingredient, truffles. I dedicated an entire menu — including dessert — to the spear at my restaurant Maude.
Spring is about bright, fresh, light meals, like Grilled Scallops with Fava Beans and Roasted Tomatoes. All three delicate, distinctive flavors work beautifully together in this simple and delicious dish. A good hot pan is important for this recipe. Look for the scallops to turn a lovely golden color and caramelize with an opaque center.
Asparagus and Parmesan Risotto is a quintessential spring dish. The asparagus pairs nicely with the creaminess of the Parmesan risotto. The secret to cooking risotto is time and patience. Stir the pot every 30 seconds or so, adding stock gradually to ensure the risotto will be creamy, not porridge-y. Keep the heat just right and the stock hot, so you’re constantly simmering the risotto. Cook the rice until it’s al dente, with the center of each grain slightly firm.
Grilled Scallops with Fava Beans and Roasted Tomatoes
(Makes 6 servings)
- 12 ounces cherry tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/4 pounds fresh fava bean pods, shelled
- 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
- 12 jumbo sea scallops
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place tomatoes in small baking dish. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil and gently shake dish to coat; season with salt and pepper. Transfer tomatoes to oven and roast until heated through and just beginning to split, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Bring medium saucepan of salted water to boil over high heat. Prepare an ice-water bath. Add fava beans to boiling water and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to ice-water bath to cool. Drain, peel beans, and set aside.
In medium bowl, whisk together vinegar and ¼ cup oil until well combined. Add tomatoes, fava beans, and mint; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Rub scallops with remaining tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Place scallops seasoned-side down in skillet; cook 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and turn; cook until they are just opaque in the center and golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes more. Scallops should not be cooked all the way through.
Divide tomato and fava bean salad evenly among 6 plates. Top each salad with 2 scallops; drizzle with any remaining vinaigrette from salad and serve immediately.
- Calories: 269
- Total Fat: 15 g
- Saturated Fat: 2 g
- Sodium: 130 mg
- Carbohydrate: 21 g
- Fiber: 8 g
- Protein: 17 g
- Diabetic Exchanges: 1.3 lean meat, 3.75 vegetable, 3 fat
Asparagus and Parmesan Risotto
(Makes 6 servings)
- About 8 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 shallots, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 pounds thin asparagus, woody ends removed, stalks cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
- 3 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces
- 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves Juice of 1/2 lemon
Bring vegetable stock to a simmer in large saucepan. Reduce heat to very low and keep stock on heat.
Heat oil in large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, and thyme and sauté for 2 minutes, or until shallots are tender but not browned. Add rice and sauté for 30 seconds to coat with the oil. Stir in wine and cook for 3 minutes or until it is absorbed.
Add ¾ cup hot vegetable stock and cook, stirring constantly, until it is absorbed. Continue adding hot stock, ¾ cup at a time, and stirring until each addition has been absorbed, for about 22 minutes, or until rice is al dente (the center of each grain of rice should still be slightly firm).
Add asparagus and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Discard thyme stems (thyme leaves should have fallen off stems and into risotto). Remove risotto from heat, and add butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and mascarpone cheese. Stir until butter has melted. Stir in parsley, mint, and lemon juice and season the risotto with salt and pepper.
Divide risotto among 4 warmed serving bowls and serve.
- Calories: 490
- Total Fat: 19 g
- Saturated Fat: 9 g
- Sodium: 231 mg
- Carbohydrate: 61 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Protein: 12 g
- Diabetic Exchanges: 3.5 starch, 0.5 lean meat, 1.5 vegetable, 3.5 fat
Curtis shares another great spring recipe, Bruschetta with Spring Pea Pesto and Burrata, at saturdayeveningpost.com/bruschetta.
Curtis Stone is the chef/owner of Maude and Gwen restaurants in Los Angeles.
This article is featured in the March/April 2019 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
Recipes adapted from Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone by Curtis Stone. Copyright © 2009 by Curtis Stone. Excerpted with permission of Clarkson Potter. All rights reserved.
Featured image credit: Photography by Quentin Bacon.
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