YONKERS, N.Y. -- Spring gets my juices flowing and has me thinking of cooking in a lighter manner.
After the cold winter and its braises, stews and root vegetables, I like to think about the green of asparagus, the sweetness of just picked peas, the crispness of the first soft shell crabs and the pink of a just roasted leg of lamb.
Springtime brings a whole new set of ingredients for us to play with in the kitchens of my restaurants. Shaving asparagus for a salad with burrata, for example, or playing with a crisp tempura of spring onions with dashi, or preparing sashimi of king salmon with pea leaves and lemon yogurt or perhaps an ice cream made with just- picked mint and grated chocolate.
These dishes are colorful, lighter and prettier and more vegetable focused than winter’s dishes and are the bridge to summer's bounty.
I encourage you to hit the farmer's markets near you and immerse yourself in the social network going on between neighbors, farmers and cooks. Pick through the baskets, find an item you haven’t cooked before, talk with the grower or the person next to you about how they would prepare it. Then go home and introduce your family and friends to seasonal cooking.
Here's a recipe for shaved asparagus and carrot salad with orange miso vinaigrette to get you started.
- 8 large asparagus
- 8 baby carrots
- 2 tbsp. miso
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp. water
- juice of ½ an orange
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1 scallion, minced
- salt and freshly ground pepper
In a bowl mix together miso and mustard. Whisk in orange juice and water. In a steady stream slowly whisk in olive oil. Add ginger and scallion. Set aside.
Using a Japanese mandolin set on its thinnest setting, shave asparagus and carrots. Blanch asparagus and carrots in boiling salted water for 30 seconds. Immediately refresh in an ice bath. Drain vegetables and pat dry on paper towels.
Toss vegetables with vinaigrette and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Mound in center of chilled salad plate. Drizzle a small amount of vinaigrette around plate.
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