Savory Spring Fruit Salad
This fruit-based dish is delicious with all kinds of brunch items and uses the best of late spring fruits and lettuces for a kind of hybrid sweet and savory salad.
3 pints farm picked strawberries, cored and cut into halves
3 blood oranges, peel removed and cut into rounds
3 tangelos, peel removed and cut into segments
3 Valencia oranges, peel removed and cut into segments
2 bunches arugula (or 3 handfuls loose baby arugula) washed and dried
1 bunch fresh mint, picked
2 medium shallots finely diced
2 Tbsp. Champagne vinegar
Juice of ½ lemon
Grated zest from the tangelos
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. Prosecco (optional)
- Make the vinaigrette: Cover the finely diced shallots with the vinegar, zest, and lemon juice. Add a good amount of salt and a grind or two of pepper. Let macerate for at least 15 minutes. Drizzle in the olive oil, whisking well.
- Assemble the salad: Sprinkle 2/3 of the arugula and mint on a large platter. Carefully arrange the cut fruit on the bed of lettuces and sprinkle all with salt and some of the vinaigrette. Drizzle with the Prosecco. In a separate bowl toss the remaining arugula with some of the vinaigrette and distribute over the platter. Finish with the remaining mint leaves to taste.
Spring Herb and Green Garlic Bread Pudding
This is my go-to brunch dish because everyone loves it, especially vegetarians because it is hearty and savory. It also goes with absolutely everything and can be adapted to any available herbs, aromatics, vegetables, and even the addition of meat. When asparagus is really perfectly in season, I like to make this with the addition of ½ lb of cut up raw spears and increase the tarragon.
1 lb loaf of day-old sour levain-type bread torn or cut into 1 inch chunks
1 cup grated gruyere cheese
½ cup grated Reggiano parmesan cheese
8 whole eggs
4 cups whole milk
Salt and black pepper
1 cup chopped green garlic
6 TBS butter
4 TBS chopped Italian parsley
¼ cup chopped chives
2 TBS chopped tarragon
2 TBS chopped fresh thyme
- Preheat the oven to 350. With 2 Tbsp. of butter, generously grease a heavy baking dish that can hold 3-4 quarts.
- Prepare the green garlic: Gently sauté the green garlic in the remaining 2 Tbsp. butter until tender.
- Assemble the bread pudding: Whisk together the eggs and milk, and add salt and pepper to taste. In a large bowl, combine the egg mixture with the bread chunks and grated cheeses. Add the cooked green garlic and all the herbs. Mix gently and put into the baking dish. Place on a foil lined baking sheet. Let sit about a half hour. Melt the remaining 2 Tbsp butter, drizzle over the top of the mixture, and bake uncovered for 40-50 minutes until puffed and lightly browned and crispy on top. If the top is getting too browned but the middle seems uncooked when checked, cover with foil and bake 10 minutes more. Final cooking time will depend on the size and depth of your baking dish. Let rest 10-15 minutes in a warm place before serving.
Spring Minestrone with Arugula and Basil Pesto
When the spring weather is unpredictable and warm days turn suddenly into rainy afternoons, I like to make a small pot of light spring vegetable minestrone drizzled with pesto. This particular soup is made with a water base so it is incredibly light but satisfying with the olive oil-rich pesto sauce. It is really pretty served in clear glass mugs so you can see all the bright spring colors and the green pesto. Always have a loaf of good crusty bread to eat with it!
For the soup:
2 medium yellow onions, diced in ¼ inch cubes
1 large leek washed and diced into ¼ inch pieces
2 orange and 2 yellow carrots peeled and diced into ¼ inch pieces
3 stalks green garlic thinly sliced
½ lb fresh English peas, shelled
¼ lb sugar snap peas, strings removed and cut in half on an angle
8 oz canned San Marzano tomatoes, drained of their sauce and chopped fine
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and lightly chopped
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 quarts water
For the pesto:
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
2 cups packed fresh arugula
2 cloves garlic, peeled, cut in half and sprout removed
½ cup grated Reggiano parmesan
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp salt
- Make the soup: Heat a large heavy Dutch-oven style pot over medium heat, add ¼ cup olive oil and let heat slightly. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cover and let cook, stirring occasionally. After the onions begin to get translucent, add the leek and carrot. Cover and let cook, stirring occasionally until they are almost cooked through. Add the green garlic and thyme and continue cooking, checking for salt and pepper and adding more olive oil as necessary. The goal is to have the vegetables cooked through but not browned except lightly. Heat a separate small sauté pan and add the remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil. When hot, add the chopped tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Let simmer for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Add to vegetable mixture. Add water to just cover (about 2 quarts, but add less if needed because the deliciousness of the soup will come from the juices of the vegetables and you don’t want to water them down unnecessarily). Bring to a simmer and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
- Make the pesto: In a blender, place the garlic, cheese, olive oil, salt, basil, and arugula. Blend, pushing the herbs down and adding a touch of oil if needed to help blend until it becomes a smooth paste. Check for salt.
If you are serving this soup right away, add the peas and snap peas and continue heating the soup until they are just cooked. If you are serving it at a later time, reheat the soup base, adding the peas and snap peas just before serving. Serve in clear glass mugs with a generous dollop of pesto and an optional sprinkling of parmesan.