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Archive for the ‘Spring’ Category

These little fritters are always a hit at our catered event…there’s something about a crispy vegetable that is so appealing! We make many variations on this recipe, substituting the zucchini with shredded raw butternut squash, carrots, sweet potato, yellow squash. But these are my personal favorite — they are light and delicate on the inside and crispy on the outside, topped with a creamy dollop of ricotta. Just be sure to squeeze the shredded raw vegetables very dry before moving on with the recipe…otherwise you’ll have soggy fritters. Also, don’t skip topping the ricotta with plenty of cracked black pepper just before serving (or red chili flakes if you like some heat) — it’s that tasty final touch that puts these over the edge.

Zucchini Fritters with Ricotta & Mint

makes about 25 fritters

4 medium zucchini, coarsely grated (makes about 6-7 cups)

2 tbl finely chopped scallions

2 tbl finely chopped dil

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup crumbled feta

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

vegetable oil, for frying

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup chopped mint

Place the shredded zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of salt. Toss and let stand for 5-10 minutes. Rinse lightly and squeeze as much of the liquid out as possible and transfer to a bowl.
Add the scallions, dill, flour, baking soda, feta, egg, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add about 1/2-inch of vegetable oil to a wide pan. Add heaping tablespoons of the batter to the pan and cook until golden. Flip and cook until golden and cooked through on the second side. Remove and place on a paper-towel-lined pan to remove excess oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt as soon as they come out of the oil.
Whisk the ricotta and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve the fritters hot topped with ricotta and some fresh mint and final sprinkle of cracked black pepper.

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I’m always so excited to see the first asparagus of the season. It usually begins with just a few bundles on the tables of our farmer’s market…the tentative beginnings of the crop. Then, within a couple weeks, there are huge piles of asparagus signaling Spring is really here. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for Spring….ready for some sunshine, ready for all my favorite green veggies (artichokes, peas and spring onions) and ready to eat asparagus like crazy for the next few months until it goes out of season.

I recently learned more about the difference between the large, thick stalks of asparagus and the thin, pencil variety. I always thought the thin was more tender and desirable. Turns out the large, thick asparagus are actually the first shoot of the plant and, therefore, more tender and flavorful. But you have to be careful to trim the bottom of those big stalks (that part is full of fibers and can be tough) and peel the outer green layer. Then you’re left with the most flavorful, tender asparagus to work with. I like the big ones simply steamed and served with a drizzle of good olive oil and a squirt of lemon juice and a crunch of Maldon salt — simple and delicious.

When I have the smaller stalks, my favorite thing to do is toss them in a little olive oil, salt and pepper and throw them on the grill. I love the charred black bits against the bright green and all that smokey flavor. If I have more time, I’ll make my favorite Roasted Red Pepper Sauce to go over the top….full of more smokey flavors and a nice acidic tang from Sherry vinegar. We also use this sauce in our catered events to serve over roasted potatoes or salmon….it’s also delicious sopped up with some good bread! Enjoy!

 

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

makes 2 cups

2 red bell peppers

1 clove garlic

1/2 tsp red chili flakes

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 tbl Sherry vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Place the peppers over a gas flame and cook, turning as needed, until all the skin is blackened. Remove and place in a bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Let cook for 10 minutes. Use paper towels to rub off the black skin and discard. Cut open the pepper and discard the stem and seeds. Pat the pepper dry and place into a blender. Add the garlic, chili, mustard, vinegar and olive oil. Blend until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

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