Late-spring days are warm — but the evenings can still be chilly. Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst brings hosts Jeremy Hobson and Robin Young three dishes that make the most of spring vegetables, but still provide a bit of cool-weather comfort.
Miso-Ginger Broth With Udon Noodles And Asparagus
This spring-like miso and ginger broth is like a simplified ramen with udon noodles and spring vegetables like asparagus, scallions and sauteed bok choy. If you get all the ingredients ready ahead of time, you can cook the soup in under 30 minutes. This is ideal food for cooler spring or summer nights. Serves 4.
- 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 1 leek, thinly sliced, white and pale green sections only
- 4 scallions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces white and green
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, 1 tablespoon finely chopped and 1 tablespoon cut into thin slivers
- 3 tablespoons miso paste, preferably white miso
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Chinese chile paste or hot pepper sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
- 1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped with stems
- 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 cup peas (optional)
- 6 asparagus, ends trimmed (and discarded), cut into 1-inch pieces
- 10 ounces udon noodles
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 to 3 baby bok choy, cut in half lengthwise, just a bit of the core sliced off
- Garnishes: 1 scallion, very thinly sliced, and 4 radishes, very thinly sliced
- In a large pot heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over low heat. Add the leeks and the scallions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes. Add the ginger and cook 1 minute.
- Stir in the miso paste and hot sauce and, using a spoon, stir it into the leeks to create a smooth paste. Raise the heat to moderately high and add the soy sauce, half the cilantro and the stock. Bring to a boil, stirring to make sure the miso paste is dissolved and not clumping up. Reduce to a gentle simmer.
- Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook, stirring, until tender, about 12 minutes; follow the direction on the package. Drain.
- Add the asparagus to the miso broth, cover and cook about 4 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus, or until they are almost tender; the asparagus should still have a “bite.” Add the peas, if using, and reduce heat to lowest setting to just keep warm.
- While the noodles are cooking, heat the remaining 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over moderately high heat. Add the sesame oil. Add the bok choy, cut side down and cook for 4 minutes. Gently flip the bok choy over and cook another 4 to 5 minutes, or until the bok choy seems tender but not limp. When you place a small, sharp knife in the center, it should still feel crisp.
- To serve: Place 1/4 of the noodles into one of four bowls. Top with some of the miso broth and asparagus/peas. Add 1/4 of the bok choy on top and scatter some of the remaining cilantro, scallions and radishes on top. Serve hot with chopsticks and spoons.
Salmon, Asparagus And Potato Salad
OK, you want to eat lighter, fresher, more simply. Enough of the comfort foods of winter.
This main-course spring salad — a riff on a salade nicoise — is the answer: roasted salmon and asparagus, over fresh raw spinach leaves, leftover (cooked) potatoes, with a quick lemony vinaigrette. You can cook the potatoes ahead of time. Serves 2 large portions.
- 1-pound salmon filet
- 3/4 to 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or fennel fronds
- 1 tablespoon minced chives
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup cooked potato, peeled and cut into small cubes*
- 2 packed cups fresh spinach leaves or baby spinach
- 1/2 cup pitted black and/or green olives, cut in half (optional)
*You can bake or boil the potatoes, or use leftover potatoes.
The Lemony Vinaigrette
- 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
- 1 tablespoon scallions
- 1 tablespoon minced chives
- 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Place the salmon and asparagus on a baking sheet or on a shallow roasting pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, dill, chives, salt and pepper. Roast 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish and asparagus, or until just tender and the fish is cooked through.
- Place the spinach on a large serving plate.
- Make the dressing: In a small bowl or jar, mix the mustard, scallions and chives. Add the oil and lemon juice and season to taste. The dressing will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for about a week.
- To serve: Place the hot fish, asparagus and the potatoes on top of the spinach and sprinkle on the olives, if using. Spoon the dressing on top of the greens and fish.
Mushroom, Prosciutto, Mozzarella And Arugula Pizza
Pizza is great food all year long, but this time of year it can be quick and simple, and especially satisfying. Serve with a spring salad of arugula and butter lettuce.
You can make this a vegetarian pizza by omitting the prosciutto. Serves 2 to 4.
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces portobello or your favorite mushroom, cut into slices, about 1/2 inch
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried and crumbled
- 1 pound pizza dough, store bought or homemade, cut in half
- 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into thin slices and then cut in half
- 1/2 packed cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 ounces prosciutto, cut into small pieces (optional)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 cup arugula
- Heat the oven to 500 degrees, or as high as your oven setting will allow.
- Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms, salt, pepper, garlic and half the thyme and cook, stirring, for about 7 minutes, or until slightly golden brown and tender but not limp. Remove from the heat.
- Meanwhile, working on a well-floured, clean work surface, use your hands or a rolling pin to stretch out half the dough to about 8 inches long and about 3 to 4 inches wide. The shape can be rectangular or circular. Place on a cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough.
- Drizzle 1 teaspoon oil on each pizza, spreading it out with your fingers or a pastry brush. Arrange half the mushrooms on the bottom of each pizza. Top with the remaining thyme, salt and pepper. Add the prosciutto to the pizzas, if using. Sprinkle half the Parmesan on top of the mushroom and prosciutto. Arrange the mozzarella slices on top and drizzle with the remaining oil.
- Bake on the middle shelf for 6 minutes. Remove and sprinkle on the cherry tomatoes and the remaining Parmesan and bake another 6 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and looks cooked through; the cheese should be bubbling and melted. Serve immediately topped with the arugula.