By Massimo De Francesca
Now that spring officially arrives this month, it is a wonderful time to scan the produce aisles of your local market to find a bounty of colourful spring ingredients like fresh mint, chives, beans, peas, asparagus, carrots and beets.
You can use these delicious ingredients to accompany your choice of protein, or they can happily take the spotlight on your table as the main course.
Celebrate these bright, refreshing and enticing spring flavours with the following two recipes.
Grilled Fava Beans with Minted Ricotta
• 1 pound ricotta cheese
• 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• Juice and zest of one lemon
• ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
• 12 fresh mint leaves
• 2 ounces of fresh chives
• 1 pound whole fresh fava beans, washed
• Fresh-ground pepper to taste
• Sea salt to taste
Light the BBQ grill on high and heat for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add the ricotta, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, granulated garlic, salt and pepper to taste.
Using a whisk, mix everything until smooth.
Chop the mint, and then gently fold into the ricotta mixture.
Chop the chives and set aside.
Toss the whole fava beans with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with some salt.
Char the beans on the grill for 4 to 6 minutes on each side. Cool. Open shell and sprinkle with salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
On a serving platter, place the whipped ricotta mixture in the center of the plate and arrange the whole fava beans around it. Sprinkle with more olive oil and chives. Serves 3-5 people.
Spring Vegetable Soup
• 8 ounces of fresh (or canned) artichokes, peeled, stemmed, choke removed and submerged in lemon water.
• 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
• 6 ounces olive oil
• 2 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
• 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
• 6 celery sticks, cleaned and chopped
• 8 ounces fresh (or canned) red-eyed beans
• 4 fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
• 3 cups fresh (or frozen) shelled peas
• 1 bunch Swiss chard, washed and chopped
• 1 gallon vegetable broth or water
• 2 ounces fresh parsley, washed and chopped
• 2 ounces fresh thyme, finely chopped
• 2 ounces fresh basil, chopped
• 2 ounces scallions, cleaned, chopped
• fine sea salt to taste
• black pepper to taste
Strain the artichokes then chop them and set aside.
In a medium pot, add garlic, olive oil, onion, carrots, celery, artichokes and the beans. Add salt and pepper to taste and sauté on medium heat
for 10 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté for 5 additional minutes.
Add the vegetable broth or water.
Bring soup to boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer.
After 1 hour, add the chopped Swiss chard, peas and all the chopped herbs. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Shut off heat and let soup stand for 10 more minutes.
Using a ladle, remove one third of the soup’s volume and add to a blender in stages.
Slowly blend soup until smooth and pour back into the original pot.
This naturally thickens the soup while maintaining texture.
Taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
Serve with salty crackers or toasted crispy sourdough croutons.
Serves 5-8 people.
Massimo De Francesca is the executive chef at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa.
This article originally appeared in the March 2020 print edition of Camana Bay Times with the headline "Fresh Recipes for Sping."