One of my six-year-old’s favorite books is titled “Wake Up, It’s Spring”. The premise is the little kid wakes up one morning and goes from room to room, bursting with joy, to rouse each member of the family and greet the official changing of the seasons. I completely relate to that child’s sentiment and pure joy. Kids love the warmer weather because it means more park time and signals school is winding down. For me, it means old friends, like broccoli rabe, basil, squash, and their lovely blossoms, are on their way back into my local farmers’ market.
Last year, I set out to do some container gardening. I learned a lot and was both humbled and encouraged at the same time. Even if you have no more than a windowsill, it’s easy to add some edible greenery to your landscape. Herbs, like basil and parsley grow beautifully as long as they’re in a nice, sunny location. And if you have space outdoors, snow peas grow quite abundantly. Another favorite from last year was lettuce, including red leaf, romaine and even Boston—just make sure to give them some shady shelter on extremely hot days and you’ll be rewarded with hardy leaves you can snip as you need for summer dinner salads. Here’s a few of my favorite recipes to give you incentive to channel your inner green thumb.
Makes 2/3 cup (enough for two adults and two kids)
This classic Italian sauce is delicious served over pasta or drizzled over fresh mozzarella cheese and sliced tomatoes. Serve it slightly heated or at room temperature.
¾ cup packed fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons butter, softened
¼ cup pignoli nuts (also called pine nuts)
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Add the basil and parsley to the workbowl of a food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped. Add the garlic, butter, nuts, cheese and salt and pepper. Process until it forms a paste, then slowly drizzle olive oil in through feed tube, continuing to process the mixture begins to emulsify and becomes a creamy sauce-like consistency.
Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette
Makes ½ cup
This is a refreshing way to dress up the spinach salad I mentioned. Save time by squeezing an extra orange (equals about 1/3 cup) if using the citrus juicer attachment of your Cuisinart Stand Mixer is part of your morning routine.
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Add orange juice, vinegar, honey and olive oil to the blender bowl attachment of your Cuisinart Stand Mixer. Blend until combined, about 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then blend for 30 more seconds. Use immediately or store in refrigerator for up to two days (shake well before using).Caesar Dressing
Makes ½ cup
Anchovies and eggs are a staple in classic Caesar dressings but you won't miss them in this version. You can use regular plain yogurt but Greek-style yogurt lends a thicker, creamier consistency.
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ cup Greek-style yogurt
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Add garlic, yogurt, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, olive oil and parmesan cheese to a blender bowl. Blend until well combined, about one minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then blend for 30 more seconds. Use immediately or store in refrigerator for up to two days (shake well before using).