April showers bring…Spring Recipes!!
Spring is here! While we nearly got washed away by about 3-4″ of rain this week, we are still so happy that spring has finally sprung. I get so excited about the arrival of spring, even more so now that we try to eat seasonally and locally as much as possible. Even with canning and freezing as many summer fruits and vegetables as we can, we are usually tired of winter soups and stews and the general lack of fresh foods by the time March rolls around, especially after the winter that we just had. So once the weather turns warmer, I start counting the days until we will have fresh asparagus, spinach, leeks, rhubarb….mmmm!
One of my all-time favorite spring recipes (or just anytime recipe, really) is a frittata. I think the idea of a frittata is too often overlooked or underused as a family dinner. I love to make frittatas for three reasons: I can use our fresh eggs, the recipe is fairly simple and quick to make on a weeknight, and the recipe is super flexible and I can always come up with a yummy version with whatever I have on hand that day. The basic steps are as follows:
- Start by cooking the meat in the pan (bacon, sausage, ham…)
- Remove the meat and cook any garlic, onions, leeks, potatoes, or other vegetables in the same pan
- Add fresh greens on top and cook gently to wilt (spinach, chard, kale…)
- Pour your egg mixture on top (eggs, milk or cream, cheese, salt and pepper, fresh herbs…)
- Top with extra cheese, if desired, and cook/bake until set
Below is a full recipe to follow if you want to give it a try. As you can see, this recipe can be made with ALL local ingredients, which I love!!
- *8 large eggs*
- *1/4 cup heavy cream*
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (or substitute *bacon fat* or *lard* from a local butcher or farmer!)
- *3/4 pound mild Italian sausages*
- *1/2 cup green onions (or leeks)*, minced
- *3/4 pound fresh spinach*, chopped
- *1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese*
- (*local ingredients*)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Beat eggs with heavy cream until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
- In a large ovenproof skillet, heat half of the olive oil over moderately high heat. Remove the sausage from its casing and cook, breaking the sausage up into small pieces, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- Add remaining olive oil (if necessary) and return skillet to moderate heat. Cook the onions for about 2 minutes and then add spinach, tossing constantly, until softened, about 2 more minutes. Stir the sausage back in the skillet. Pour egg mixture on top of sausage and spinach and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute. Gently lift the edge of the frittata and tilt the pan, allowing some of the uncooked egg to seep underneath. Cook until the bottom and sides are barely set, about 3-5 minutes.
- Sprinkle with goat cheese and bake until the eggs are set and the top of the frittata is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Slide the frittata onto a large plate, cut into wedges and serve hot or warm.
If you are like me, and love the fresh flavors that the new season brings, here are some other great ways to use seasonal ingredients or fire up the grill this spring.
- Spring Abundance Bowl – again, this is another great basic recipe where you can substitute any seasonal ingredients that you have on hand that day – easy to make, super yummy, and can be different every time you make it! (By the way, the pickled radishes in Sarah’s post are also easy and delicious on their own. My 4-year old son helped me to make a batch for our family Easter dinner and we loved them! Our kids have pretty diverse palettes, but even we never imagined our kids eating radishes, so you can imagine how tasty these are…)
- Burgers on the grill – we love this simple recipe from the book, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, by Jennifer Reese: For every pound of ground chuck, add:
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs (more to come on how to make your own later…)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- 1 large egg
- And of course there is a pizza recipe…we love homemade pizza! Here is a great one for spring…
- 1 batch of your favorite whole wheat dough recipe (I make mine in the bread maker)
- *6 bacon slices*, chopped
- *10 oz fresh spinach*
- *2 cups onion*, sliced
- pinch of salt
- *2 teaspoons honey*
- *1 Tablespoon butter*
- *2 garlic cloves*, minced
- 3 Tablespoons wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- *1 cup whole milk*
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- (*local ingredients*)
- To prepare toppings, cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and set aside. Add spinach leaves to bacon fat in pan and sauté 2 minutes or until wilted. Remove spinach from pan and try to remove any excess liquid by pressing in a strainer or squeezing in a towel, if necessary. Add onions, a pinch of salt, and honey to the pan and cook for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool.
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add flour and pepper and cook, stirring with a whisk, for about 30 seconds. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly with the whisk. Cook for 5 minutes more or until thick and bubbly, still stirring constantly with the whisk.
- Place pizza stone in oven (I highly recommend a pizza stone!) and preheat to 425°F about a half hour before you are ready to bake the pizza.
- Roll dough out on a floured surface to desired shape. Crimp edges of dough with fingers to make a crust, if desired. (Optional: I like to prebake my crust for 3 minutes before adding the toppings.)
- Spread milk mixture evenly over dough and top with cooked spinach and caramelized onion. Sprinkle evenly with bacon and cheese. Bake an additional 7 minutes or until golden brown.
- If you are not using a pizza stone, you will want to heat the oven to 475°F, spread the dough onto an oiled baking sheet, and bake for much longer, probably around 20 minutes. But seriously, the pizza stone is well worth the investment!
Every night at the dinner table, our family sings a short prayer that begins with these words: “Thank you, Lord, for happy hearts and rain and sunny weather.” In spring, I am especially thankful for each of those things. May you enjoy the spring weather and have happy hearts today and every day!