For me, there’s no better transition than the one from winter to spring. I look for peas, asparagus, and strawberries at their flavorful peak, and I showcase them in light, bright-tasting recipes.
Sweet and tender and incredibly versatile, round plump garden peas go with almost anything, and sugar snap peas make a healthy snack when eaten raw with hummus or other dips. Peas are sweetest just after picking and should be eaten right away after harvest.
Freshly picked peas also pair well with seafood, as in my recipe for Seared Scallops and English Peas with Mint. Scallops are the darling of the sea, mildly sweet with a beautifully tender texture. When cooking, get your pan nice and hot before adding scallops to get a nice sear.
I go mad for fresh asparagus. The spring superstar can be roasted, grilled, sautéed, wok-fried, roasted, or steamed, as in my recipe for Steamed Asparagus with Shallots Vinaigrette. In selecting asparagus, be choosy. Look for firm, plump, straight spears with tightly closed tips, and pass on any that are dry, limp, split, or wrinkled.
During spring months, I like to keep meals simple and light by using lots of seasonal produce and seafood. Have some fun by swapping out vegetables for other seasonal varieties to keep recipes new and fresh.
Seared Scallops and English Peas with Mint
(Makes 4 servings)
- 2½ cups shelled fresh English peas (from 2 pounds peas in the pod)
- 1 slice thick-sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped shallots
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint
- 12 large sea scallops, tough side muscle removed, patted dry
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Bring large saucepan of salted water to boil over high heat. Add peas and cook for 2 minutes, or just until they are bright green and tender. Drain and transfer peas to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain well.
Heat large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but a thin layer of fat from skillet. Add shallots to skillet and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes, or until softened. Add peas and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes, or until they are heated through. Stir in bacon and mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Keep warm over very low heat.
Meanwhile, season scallops with salt and pepper. Heat another large heavy skillet over high heat until it is very hot. Add olive oil, then add scallops and cook for 2 minutes, or until underside is golden brown. Turn scallops and cook for 2 minutes more, or until other side is golden brown but scallops are still translucent when pierced in center. Transfer scallops to paper towels to drain briefly.
Divide pea mixture and scallops among four plates and serve.
Make-Ahead: The peas can be blanched up to 6 hours ahead, cooled, covered, and refrigerated.
- Calories: 177
- Total Fat: 8 g
- Saturated Fat: 1 g
- Sodium: 156 mg
- Carbohydrate: 17 g
- Fiber: 6 g
- Protein: 10 g
- Diabetic Exchanges: 1 lean meat, 3 vegetable, 1 fat
Steamed Asparagus with Shallots Vinaigrette
(Makes 4 servings)
- 2 pounds asparagus (about 2 bunches), woody ends trimmed
- 1/2 cup raspberry vinegar
- 2 small shallots, sliced into thin rings
- 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
Bring large frying pan of water to boil. Add asparagus, sprinkle with salt, and cook for 2 minutes, or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Drain. Submerge asparagus in large bowl of ice-cold water to cool completely. Strain and dry asparagus completely.
In small saucepan, combine vinegar and shallots and bring to simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain shallots from vinegar and pour vinegar into large bowl. Reserve shallots.
Gradually add grapeseed oil and olive oil to reserved vinegar, whisking constantly to blend. Whisk in parsley and basil and season vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper.
Arrange asparagus on platter and spoon vinaigrette over the asparagus. Garnish with shallots and serve.
- Calories: 259
- Total Fat: 22 g
- Saturated Fat: 2 grams
- Sodium: 5 mg
- Carbohydrate: 14 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Protein: 5 g
- Diabetic Exchanges: 2 vegetable, 4.5 fat
Recipes courtesy Curtis Stone
This article is featured in the March/April 2020 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
Featured image: Photo by Quentin Bacon
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