FOLLOW A FOODIE: a new approach to seasonal cuisine

I can’t get the promise of spring out of my mind. Visions of asparagus, spring peas and ramps of garlic dance through my head. With the promise of a warmer April upon us, I’m revisiting my recipe repertoire. Soon I will be placing potted herbs on my windowsills and winter dreams of planting a garden will soon become a reality. As we move through the dark days of winter, our food tends to shift from braised meats to lighter dishes inspired by vegetables and herbs. It’s even time to review our pasta routine.

Spring Ahead with pasta

Even pasta can get a makeover in the spring. Those rich ragu and Bolognese-style sauces that make hearty mid-winter meals can now be set aside for pastas with lighter sauces made with olive oil or pesto. In terms of pairings, pair this pasta with fresh, crisp and light white wines. Savor these spring-inspired pasta recipes and drink in the warmth of the warm weather ahead.

Spaghetti tossed with olive oil, lemon, pancetta, greens and onions are topped with ricotta and basil.  According to Saltwire resident foodie Mark DeWolf, this is the perfect pasta for spring.  -Marc DeWolf
Spaghetti tossed with olive oil, lemon, pancetta, greens and onions are topped with ricotta and basil. According to Saltwire resident foodie Mark DeWolf, this is the perfect pasta for spring. -Marc DeWolf

Spaghetti Aglio and Olio with pancetta and ricotta

4 to 6 servings

  • 1/2 cup pancetta, cubed
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch of hot pepper flakes
  • 12 ounces of spaghetti
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (preferably Parmigiano Reggiano), grated
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons of ricotta
  • Fresh basil, torn

Directions: Fill a large saucepan with heavily salted water. Bring to a boil. Add the spaghetti to the pot and cook according to package directions (or for 2-3 minutes if cooking fresh pasta). Drain and toss with a little olive oil. Meanwhile, place a sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté the pancetta until crispy. Remove the pancetta from the pan, lower the heat to medium-low, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the garlic and the hot pepper flakes. Sauté until garlic is fragrant (about 30-45 seconds). Add the cooked spaghetti to the skillet with the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, green onion and Parmesan. Mix to combine. Taste and season accordingly. Serve immediately. Garnish each bowl of pasta with a tablespoon of ricotta and freshly chopped basil.

Pasta with salmon, peas and asparagus

4 to 6 servings

  • 16 oz salmon fillets (skinless), baked, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 12 oz linguine (fresh)*
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, washed, cut into thirds
  • 1 cup of peas
  • Pea shoots, for garnish, optional

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 F. Place salmon on a lightly greased baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 12 minutes. When the salmon has finished roasting, coarsely chop it. While the salmon roasts, fill a large saucepan with heavily salted water and bring to a boil. Place a large sauté pan over medium-low heat; add olive oil and onion. Sauté until the onions are soft and translucent, then add the garlic. Continue to sauté until the garlic is fragrant (about 30-45 seconds). Add heavy cream, lemon juice and lemon zest. Reduce for 8 to 10 minutes. While the cream sauce is reducing, add the fresh fettuccine, asparagus and peas to the pot of boiling water. Cook pasta until al dente (about 3-4 minutes). Drain pasta and asparagus in a colander. Add the pasta, asparagus, fresh dill and salmon to the skillet and mix.

*If using dried pasta, cook linguine according to package directions. Add the asparagus and peas to the pan 3 minutes before the pasta is done cooking.

Refresh yourself with seafood

April is almost here, which means it’s time to rejoice, reconnect and revive our favorite spring creations. With our abundance of local seafood, it’s easy to create light, fresh, sustainable and local spring cuisine. Why not invite your friends and family over for cocktails, local wines and a meal of seafood entrees? The endless, multi-course dinners of decades past are over, and informal gatherings with small bites are all the rage. . Personally, I will enjoy my own recipe for scallops topped with bacon jam.

Mark DeWolf adds a sweet and smoky bacon jam to the scallops for a creative spin on the classic bacon-wrapped version.  -Marc DeWolf
Mark DeWolf adds a sweet and smoky bacon jam to the scallops for a creative spin on the classic bacon-wrapped version. -Marc DeWolf

Scallops with bacon jam

6 to 8 servings

  • 24 Digby scallops, adductor muscle removed, pat dry with paper towel
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fresh vegetables, optional, for garnish
  • Bacon jam*
  • Local microgreens, for garnish

Directions: Season the scallops with fleur de sel and cracked pepper. Place a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the butter is melted, add half the scallops. Brown 2 to 3 minutes on one side. They should be golden on top. Flip and sear for another minute. Remove the scallops from the skillet. Repeat the process. Arrange the scallops on a plate or serving dish, pour a little bacon jam on each scallop. Garnish with fresh local microgreens.

*To make bacon jam, place 2 cups diced bacon in skillet and cook over medium heat until browned and fat is melted. Reduce heat to medium-low, 1 small onion (diced) and continue to cook until onions are tender and translucent Pour in some fat. Add 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes. Let cool. Note: you will have leftovers.

Nova Scotia Lobster Crostini

4 to 6 servings

  • 2 cups lobster meat (cooked), chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 green apple, cored, diced
  • 1/2 lemon, zest, juice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 baguette, sliced, toasted

Directions: Place the lobster, green onion, celery, apple, lemon juice, lemon zest and tarragon in a bowl. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the lobster on the toasted baguette slices.

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