If you need fast-cooking whole grains, stock your pantry with whole wheat couscous. As Maria Speck notes in her wonderful book, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals (Ten Speed Press), couscous is an anomaly. “It is neither a grain nor a pasta,” she notes, but it is eaten like a grain. You can vary the flavor of this recipe by using different types of pesto. We used our Basil-Mint Pesto here, but you also could use our Asian Pesto or Spicy Sage and Parsley Pesto, or even some from a jar. Whether it’s homemade or store-bought, use a bold pesto you really love since it adds most of the flavor to this dish. Serve with fish or chicken. “Garnish with 1/4 cup chopped toasted pistachios,” Speck suggests. “Or make it a light meal with crumbled ricotta salata, goat cheese or feta cheese and a few olives.”
This emerald pesto is ideal when the weather starts to warm up – the mint adds a springy note while the basil offers a hint of summer to come. Stir it into Maria Speck’s Speedy Chickpea Couscous with Pesto, serve a dollop atop fish or poultry, spread it on crostini or add it to hot pasta. This pesto recipe yields a generous amount. Use whatever you need now, and freeze the leftovers in an ice-cube tray. Once it’s frozen, pop the pesto cubes out of the tray and transfer them to a heavy-duty zip-top bag and freeze up to 1 month.
This carrot and ginger soup recipe demonstrates “Top Chef” contestant and cohost of “The Chew” Carla Hall’s deft touch with nourishing ingredients. It’s also the type of healthy everyday food she favors that leaves room for some well-chosen indulgences. She uses herbal tea bags as bouquet garni to infuse flavor and silken tofu instead of heavy cream to give this carrot soup body. Unsweetened carrot juice underscores the flavor of the fresh carrots while coconut water adds a subtle tropical note. “Using vegetable and fruit juices in addition to or in place of stock is another way to add layers of flavor,” says Hall.
This halbut burger recipe, adapted from Jill Silverman Hough‘s book 100 Perfect Pairings: Main Dishes to Enjoy with Wines You Love (Wiley), is simple way to showcase halibut, which is in season in spring and summer. Wild-caught Alaskan halibut is the most sustainable choice. “Napa cabbate has a juiciness, a refreshing crunch that regular cabbage doesn’t–which helps the slaw nicely complement a similarly light and refreshing piece of fish,” says Hough. She recommends opening a bottle of Pinot Grigio to serve with this burger. It will also work well with Chardonnay, especially if you spread some mayonnaise on the buns or boost the amount of blue cheese in the slaw. “Oh both!” says Hough. This dish is great for warm-weather entertaining because you can do much of the prep work in advance and then it comes together in no time.
Dayna Macy includes this matzo ball soup recipe, which she makes for Seder every Passover, in the “Feast” chapter of her book Ravenous: A Food Lover’s Journey from Obsession to Freedom (Hay House). “The one ‘Berkeley’ thing I added was a piece of kombu to the stock to give it some minerals,” says Macy. “If you’re not serving it during Passover, feel free to add 1/2 pound of your favorite cooked pasta,” she adds.
I deliberately left the dressing for this roasted asparagus super light so that nothing, with the exception of the cayenne, would tug your tastebuds too far away from the asparagus itself. The result is bright and zingy; it also pops asparagus out of the Mediterranean profile so you can serve it with Asian-leaning dishes. If you can get your hands on an unfiltered peanut oil, like Spectrum Organic’s, you’ll gain even more flavor.
Raita is an Indian condiment made with yogurt, vegetables, herbs and spices. It’s often made with cucumber, but in spring, we like to use fresh fennel and mint. Try it with our Red Lentil Dal with Caramelized Onions, Carrots and Peas. It’s also delicious with lamb, poultry or fish. Save the pretty fennel fronds to garnish the bowl.
Dal is an Indian cuisine comfort-food standby made with lentils, dried beans or peas. Tarka is a technique in which spices are sauteed in fat to magnify their flavor. And as we learned from spice guru Monica Bhide, you’ll enjoy even more vivid flavor if you grind whole spices. Depending on your choice of cooking fat and stock, you can make this a vegan, dairy-free or gluten-free. Prepare the tarka and raita while the lentils simmer. Serve this dal with brown basmati rice, roasted cauliflower and our Fennel and Mint Raita.
This recipe for wild mushrooms from Seattle Chef Tamara Murphy’s book Tender illustrates her straightforward approach to cooking peak-season ingredients. “I even do this when I’m camping,” she says. Foragers typically do a good job of cleaning up delicate wild mushrooms, so just use a brush or paper towel to gently wipe away any traces of dirt. Above all, keep mushrooms dry, Murphy cautions. “Mushrooms roast best when they’re clean and dry.” Here, I used a combination of baby shiitakes and chanterelles that I found at a local farmers’ market stand run by a chef who comes from Bavaria, Germany, where he used to trade beer for mushrooms. Your kitchen will smell fantastic as this bakes!These wild mushrooms make a terrific side dish, or you can sprinkle them over pizza or pasta, or layer them on crostini smeared with goat cheese.
Sunchokes (a k a Jerusalem artichokes, from the Italian name, girasole articiocco) are one of those items you’re more likely to find at the farmers’ market than at the grocery store. These homely little tubers of the sunflower resemble ginger root and can be eaten raw or cooked. Raw, they have a mild, faintly nutty flavor and crunchy texture; try them julienned or sliced paper thin. Cooking deepens their nutty character. Sunchokes have a thin skin, so don’t bother peeling them–just give them a gentle scrub with a vegetable brush. With a sprinkling of lemon zest and parsley, this side dish pairs well with roast chicken or pan-seared fish.