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By Patti Plummer
When the calendar turns to spring, I automatically start thinking about summer—and of the abundance of fruits and vegetables that will line the stalls of my local farmers’ market. Here are a few recipes that are filled with the bright flavors best enjoyed during spring and early summer. Added bonus: these recipes are swimsuit-friendly!
California Asparagus Summer Rolls
with Sweet Red Chili Dipping Sauce
fresh California asparagus
cup fresh mint leaves
cup cilantro leaves
mango or papaya
Fresh ginger, 2-inch piece
red bell pepper
cup dry roasted, salted peanuts, chopped
cups fresh bean sprouts
Vietnamese dried rice paper spring roll wrappers, 6 to 8 sheets
cup store-bought Asian sweet chili sauceJuice of 1 lime
Blanche asparagus in boiling salted water until tender to the bite, 3 to 5 minutes. Peel and julienne mango or papaya and ginger. Julienne bell pepper. Set aside with remaining filling ingredients.
Fill a large bowl with hot water. Working with one wrapper at a time, slip rice paper wrapper into water until pliable, about 1 minute. Place wrapper on cutting board. In the center, put 3 to 4 asparagus spears with the tips coming off the end of the wrapper slightly, 3 to 4 mango or papaya slices, 3 – 4 pepper slices, 3 tablespoons sprouts, 2 tablespoons herbs, sprinkling of ginger and peanuts. Roll the wrapper from the bottom up, tightly. Leaving the ends open. Set aside and cover with a damp towel. Finish with remaining wrappers.
When ready to serve, slice wrappers into 3 segments each and stand upright on a serving platter. Mix chili sauce and lime juice together. Serve along side the rolls as a dipping sauce.
Makes 18 to 24 slices
Recipe and photo courtesy of the California Asparagus Commission; © Richard Belcher
Peanut Sauce Lamb Satay
pounds American Lamb boneless leg, well-trimmed
cup lime juice
can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks in juice
tablespoons creamy peanut butter Wood skewers soaked in water
Cut lamb into strips 1/4 inch thick, 3 inches long and 1 inch wide, and place in 2-quart glass baking dish; add lime juice and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Drain lamb strips. Thread strips on metal or wooden skewers.
Cook over medium-hot coals. Grill 4 inches from coals for 6 to 7 minutes or until desired degree of doneness; turn frequently.
Place on broiler rack 4 inches from heat source. Broil 7 to 10 minutes or until desired degree of doneness; turn once.
Drain pineapple chunks; reserve juice. In small saucepan, combine peanut butter and pineapple juice. Cook and stir over medium heat 5 to 6 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Thread several pineapple chunks on each skewer. Serve with peanut sauce.
Recipe and photo courtesy of American Lamb Board
Thai Green Papaya Salad
with Grilled Strawberries
teaspoon chopped shallot
cup Chinese long beans, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
cup freshly squeezed lime juice 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
tablespoons palm sugar or light brown sugar, to taste
cups shredded green papaya
cup fresh California strawberries, stemmed and cut into wedges
tablespoon crushed roasted cashews
tablespoon chopped dried shrimp (optional)
Red chili flakes
large fresh California strawberries, hulled and cut in half
teaspoon finely slivered Thai basil leaves
teaspoon finely slivered mint leaves
cup carrot shreds
In a large mortar and pestle, or in a bowl with a metal meat mallet, mash garlic and shallot to a paste. Add tomatoes and long beans; pound a few times to release juices. Add lime juice, fish sauce and sugar; stir gently to dissolve sugar. Add papaya; pound lightly.
Mix in strawberry wedges, cashews, shrimp and chili flakes; season with salt. Place strawberry halves on a hot grill, cut side down, 30 – 40 seconds or until grill marks form. Mound salad on a platter or 3 salad plates; garnish with grilled strawberries, basil, mint and carrot shreds.
Recipe and photo courtesy of California Strawberry Commission
Fragrant Long-Life Brown Rice with Sweet Potatoes
tablespoons vegetable oil
cup onions, chopped
tablespoon minced garlic
teaspoons curry powder
cups chicken stock
cup California brown rice
cup sweet potato
cup golden raisins
Salt, to taste
whole red chiles
Heat oil in heavy-bottomed saucepan over moderate heat. Add onions and garlic and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add curry powder and turmeric and stir until fragrant, another 20 seconds.
Add chicken stock and brown rice and bring to a boil. (If using a rice cooker, transfer onion mixture, rice and water to the cooker at this point and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions.) Bring rice to a boil, and then stir in sweet potatoes, golden raisins, cardamom, cinnamon sticks and salt. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until rice is done, a total of about 35 to 40 minutes. Stir in dried chilies and cilantro and serve immediately.
Recipe and photo courtesy of California Rice Commission
California Avocado and Mango
with Yogurt, Honey, and Lime
ripe Fresh California Avocados,* chilled, halved, seeded, and peeled
mangos, chilled, halved, seeded, and peeled
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
cup plain low-fat yogurt (Greek-style preferred)
large limes, juiced
mint sprigs, for garnish
Slice avocado and mango halves lengthwise in 1/2-inch slices. Arrange the fruit on individual salad plates, alternating the avocado and mango slices. Mix equal parts cayenne pepper and salt and lightly sprinkle over fruit slices, to taste.
Whisk together yogurt, lime juice and honey in a small bowl. Just before serving, spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of dressing in a stripe over each salad. Garnish with mint sprigs and serve immediately.
*Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.
Recipe provided by the © California Avocado Commission; Photo courtesy of © California Avocado Commission; (Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, Border Grill in Los Angeles, CA, Copyright © 2009, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger)
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