Katelyn Sander

Spring has Sprung. Time for some Fresh, Spring Recipes.

Spice of Life

Last weekend, we welcomed the official start of spring (and have been enjoying the warmer weather all week long)! The change in season inspired us to look back through some of our favourite recipes, highlighting the best spring ingredients that we can’t wait to get our hands on again. Whether you’re excited to purchase the first fresh, Ontario-grown asparagus of the season, or love picking the rhubarb from your own garden, check out some great new spring recipes in this week’s edition!

And don’t forget, you can always revisit our Spice of Life Recipe Book which features all of the recipes we’ve featured in our blogs over the last year!

What we’re listening to…

If you’re looking for one food podcast that ticks all the boxes, The Splendid Table is it. Hosted by the esteemed and effortlessly relatable food writer/personality Francis Lam, this diverse program almost feels like listening to the audio version of the best newspaper food section.

There are interviews with experts, short stories, history lessons, opinion pieces, recipes, cooking tips, audience Q&As, you name it. Episodes run about an hour long and range in topic from “food in the age of social media” and “the history of sauces” to “the art of the sandwich” and the “power of scent.”

Herbed Chickpea Salad Sandwich

This Herby Chickpea Salad Sandwich is made with a flavourful smashed chickpea salad loaded up with lots of herbs, and layered with crunchy carrots, radishes, cucumber, avocado, and sprouts. The recipe is easily vegan and gluten-free adaptable! Recipe from Feasting at Home.

Click here to download the recipe.

Ingredients:
  • 1 batch Vegan Chickpea Salad (see below)
  • 4 slices whole-grain bread or bagels (or wraps or gluten-free bread or wraps)
  • 1 tbsp Maille Mustard
  • 2 large lettuce leaves (red leaf, green leaf, or romaine)
  • 1 Turkish cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced (use a vegetable peeler)
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Big handful sprouts (alfalfa, sunflower, or daikon)

For the Vegan Chickpea Salad

  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill (or sub 1/8 cup fresh tarragon)
  • 2 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 - 2 tbsp vegan mayo (or regular, store-bought, sub 2 - 3 tsp olive oil)
  • Generous pinch salt and pepper
Instructions:
  • Make the chickpea salad, placing all ingredients in a medium bowl, mix and smash with a fork until well combined. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your liking.
  • Assemble the sandwiches. Spread a little whole grain mustard on the bread.
  • Top with lettuce and a generous amount of the chickpea salad.
  • Layer sliced cucumber, carrots, radishes, and avocado.
  • Top with a mound of sprouts and bread.
  • Cut in half and enjoy!

Spring Pasta with Asparagus, Mushrooms, & Peas

This simple vegetarian pasta with mushrooms, asparagus, spring peas, and dollops of creamy Burrata cheese is surprisingly light and sings of spring. Fresh herbs and lemon zest give it brightness while the “sauce,” similar to carbonara, gives it richness without the addition of cream, butter, or oil. It’s perfect for weeknight meals, coming together in an easy 30 minutes. Recipe from Feasting at Home.

Click here to download the recipe.

Ingredients:
  • 16 oz pasta of your choice
  • 4 quarts water
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen peas
  • 2 cups snow peas or sugar peas
  • 1 cup asparagus tips (optional)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 8 - 12 oz mushrooms, sliced or quartered (cremini, shiitake, buttons, or morels)
  • 2 cups wilting greens, chopped (dandelion, arugula, chard, or spinach)
  • Generous pinch salt
  • Cracked pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup parmesan or pecorino
  • 1 ball burrata cheese (optional)
  • Lemon zest from one small lemon
  • 3 - 4 tbsp fresh chopped herbs (mint, dill, or Italian parsley)
Instructions:
  • Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. When water comes to a boil, add pasta and cook to al dente, about 7 minutes (see directions on package). During the last minute of cooking the pasta, add the fresh peas, sugar peas, and asparagus tips to the boiling pasta, turn the heat up to high and quickly blanch for one minute. Drain the pasta and veggies (reserving 1 cup hot pasta water). Do not rinse. Return to the pot, turn heat off.
  • While the pasta is cooking, sauté the mushrooms and whisk the eggs. In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion until tender and fragrant, 3-4 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté until golden and tender. Add a pinch salt and pepper. Add greens and sauté, stirring often until just wilted. Set pan aside.
  • Whisk two eggs in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Once the pasta is drained and back in the pot, gradually whisk in 3 tablespoons of the reserved hot pasta water, one tablespoon at a time, into the eggs, to temper the eggs (to warm them up). Stir well.
  • Pour tempered eggs over the pasta and with a big wood spoon, gently stir to coat the pasta. Stir in the mushrooms, half of the lemon zest, and half the herbs, cracked pepper, and parmesan, adding more hot pasta water, as needed, to loosen the pasta and make it a little “saucy”. You don’t want it dry.
  • Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your liking.
  • Place on a platter or bowl and sprinkle with remaining herbs, lemon zest. Dot with dollops of burrata cheese.
  • Serve immediately!

Baked Fish with Lemon Cream Sauce

Enjoy this effortless 15-minute, one pan recipe where fish is baked with a creamy lemon sauce. It’s the sort of recipe you can make no matter how hectic your household is, or on a lazy Sunday night because it’s just this easy. Recipe from the RecipeTin Eats.

Click here to download the recipe.

Ingredients:
  • 4 x 150 - 180 g (5 - 6 oz) fish fillets, about ½-inch thick, skinless and boneless
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup cream, heavy/thickened (sub evaporated milk or light cream)
  • 1 - 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
  • Fresh parsley and lemon slices, to serve
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 390F (all oven types).
  • Place fish in a baking dish - ensure the fish isn't crammed in too snugly. Sprinkle both sides of fish with salt and pepper.
  • Place butter, cream, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a microwave proof jug or bowl. Microwave in 2 x 30 seconds bursts, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. Alternatively, you can warm the ingredients up in a pan.
  • Sprinkle fish with shallots, then pour over sauce.
  • Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, or until fish is just cooked. Remove from oven and transfer fish to serving plates. Spoon over sauce, and garnish with parsley and lemon wedges, if using.
Notes:
  • Fish: Any fillets or cutlets/steaks about 1/2-inch or 4/5-inch thick will work great with this because they cook quickly in the oven. If using thicker fish fillets that take longer to cook, you might need to thin the sauce out a bit at the end with a tiny bit of water.
  • Best Fish Options: Ling, Tilapia, Snapper, Barramundi, Silver Dory, John Dory, Basa, Hokki, Perch, Flathead
  • Not a Great Recipe for: Salmon (too fatty, sauce splits); very thin delicate fish like Flounder, Dover Sole; small whole fish like Sardines or Mackerel
  • Frozen Fish: Thaw completely, PAT DRY with paper towels to remove as much excess water as possible. Chances are, your sauce will be a little thin for your liking because frozen fish drops so much more liquid than fresh.
  • Healthier Options: The cream can be substituted with evaporated milk which is still quite nice. If swapping with light cream, increase mustard by 2 tsp.
  • Sauce: Not intended to be thick and gravy-like. It is a light lemon cream sauce, suited to fish. However, it should not be watery. Sauce consistency will differ depending on the fish that you use: different fish leech different amounts of water while baking. If you really want to thicken the sauce, just take the fish out of the baking dish and return the pan to the oven for a few minutes (it will thicken quickly so keep an eye on it!)

Daiquiri

In its purest form, the daiquiri is simple and sublime, a delicate blend of rum’s sweetness with the raw freshness of sugar and lime juice. This recipe walks the knife edge with a mix of light rum and a darker demerara sugar syrup. The two accentuate the best qualities in each other and pair perfectly with the fresh lime juice. Recipe from Liquor.com.

Click here to download the recipe.

Ingredients:
  • 2 oz light rum
  • 1 oz lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 3/4 oz demerara sugar syrup
  • Lime twist (for garnish)
Instructions:
  • Add the rum, lime juice, and demerara sugar syrup to a shaker with ice, and shake until well-chilled.
  • Strain into a chilled coupe.
  • Garnish with a lime twist.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

It’s only a matter of time before rhubarb starts appearing in stores and farmer markets stalls. In this warm and rustic spring-inspired crisp, strawberry and rhubarb become meltingly tender as they bake together with maple syrup. Chia seeds soak up the juices while adding nutrients, fiber, and texture. The almond flour and oat topping turns out perfectly crisp and is gluten-free! This recipe offers up a healthier, vegan version of one of our favourite classic desserts. Recipe from Feasting at Home.

Click here to download the recipe.

Ingredients:
  • 16 oz strawberries
  • 4 cups rhubarb, chopped into 1/2-inch thick slices (about 4 - 5 stalks)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch salt

For the Crumble

  • 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 cup almond flour (or sub other flour)
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil (sub olive oil, butter, or ghee)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp nigela seeds (optional)
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven 375F.
  • Wash and quarter the strawberries. If very large, quarter again, so each piece is roughly 1/2 inch thick. Slice the rhubarb into 1/2-inch slices. Place both in a bowl and add the maple, chia, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla, and pinch salt. Stir well. Place in a greased, 8×8 baking dish or 2-quart baking dish.
  • To make the crumble, place all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix really well.
  • Lightly drop crumble evenly over the top and do not press down.
  • Place in the oven, uncovered for 40 minutes. If the top is golden and the edges are bubbly, it’s time to take it out.
  • Otherwise, continue baking for 5 - 7 more minutes. Let sit 15 minutes before serving.

Neighbourhood Gems

Specialty food stores in Toronto can be found in a neighbourhood near you. Toronto is home to almost every type of international delicacy imaginable and while plenty of stores and restaurants like to showcase diversity, it's always fun to discover singularly focused specialty food stores and importers. Here are a few of our favourites…

The Nutty Chocolatier: Located in the Beaches, the Nutty Chocolatier is best known for its chocolates. However, the store is not limited just to handmade truffles, offering lots of hard candies, jars of specialty licorice, and a decent selection of no-sugar-added sweets. The store also boasts a number of imported treats.

Speducci Mercatto: Tucked away in the industrial area near Keele and Lawrence, Speducci Mercatto is an Italian butcher and fine foods purveyor. Find imported goods from the motherland, along with prepared foods, and cured and raw meats at the counter.

Bare Market: Bare Market is a grocery store totally free of packaging and plastic. Not only will you find everything you would at a conventional supermarket here, from makeup and detergent to baked goods and produce, you'll often get it for a discount since the store gets a price break for buying in bulk.

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