Flowers are blossoming, the birds are chirping, and allergies are at an all-time high—that's right, spring is coming!
And with the warmer weather comes fresh inspiration and a motivation to eat food that in-season, which ensures that your food is the most flavorful it could possibly be.
Spring also means a fresh start. So what better time than now to try out new foods and flavors? To welcome spring, here are some fresh and healthy dishes that feature lesser-used herbs.
Start the rejuvenating season with these delicious recipes and herbs!
This unique herb is used all over the world, from curries to salads to pita breads.
Both the seeds and leaves are edible, but they have very different physical properties. The seeds resemble corn kernels and are hard, and the leaves are flat and looks like mint. Flavor-wise, they have a syrupy aroma and a burnt sugar-like flavor.
2 to 3 French-cut racks of lamb, for approximately 16 large or 20 medium-size chops
2 cups white wine
1 cup grainy mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 cups whipping cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried green fenugreek flakes (known as "kasuri methi")
1 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons crushed garlic
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
Cut chops from the racks of lamb and place in a large bowl. Add the wine, mustard, and salt; cover and set aside in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
In a separate bowl, mix the cream, salt, paprika, cayenne, fenugreek flakes, and lemon juice. In a medium size heavy pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until golden in color; add the turmeric, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Add the cream mixture, stir, and cook over low to medium heat for a few minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Meanwhile, preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Remove lamb from marinade and grill the chops just before serving; they are best when served piping hot off the grill. Grill on each side for a couple minutes or until medium-rare. Remove from the heat and either pour the cream curry over the grilled chops or use the cream curry as a dipping curry for the chops.
A close relative of oregano, marjoram can replace oregano in many dishes. But be warned—once you taste the vibrant, zesty marjoram in your dish previously dominated by oregano, it'll be hard to go back! Try marjoram in this onion, marjoram and crème frâiche tart recipe! (Source: BBC Good Food)
For the pastry:
400g/14oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
4 free-range egg yolks, plus 1 free-range egg, beaten for egg wash
For the filling:
4 onions, peeled, thinly sliced
small bunch marjoram, chopped
6 free range eggs
600ml/1 pint crème fraîche
salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g/9oz emmental cheese, chopped
For the spring onion vinaigrette
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 bunch spring onions, finely chopped
bunch green salad leaves
1. For the pastry, rub the butter and flour together until breadcrumb consistency. Add the salt and eggs and mix until smooth and well combined. Roll the pastry into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2 and grease a 21cm/10in tart tin.
3. Roll out the pastry into a large circle. Wrap the pastry around a rolling pin and lift it onto the tart ring. Press gently into the tin, taking care not to stretch the pastry - If it cracks just press it together. (Don’t trim the edges, leave them overhanging.) Cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for a further 20 minutes.
4. Place the tart tin onto a baking tray and cover the centre with greaseproof paper. Fill with baking beans and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
5. Remove the baking beans and greaseproof paper from the tart tin. Brush the pastry with egg wash and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the pastry is lightly golden-brown.
6. Increase the oven temperature to 170C/325F/Gas 3.
7. Meanwhile, for the filling, melt the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat. Add the onions, a pinch of salt and cook until softened. Stir in the marjoram.
8. Remove the onions and marjoram from the pan and chill in the fridge. .
9. Meanwhile whisk the eggs and crème frâiche together in a bowl until well combined. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the onions and pour the mixture into the tart tin. Finally, sprinkle over the cheese and bake for about 45 minutes, or until cooked through.
10. Meanwhile for the vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil and sherry vinegar. Add the spring onions and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
11. Remove the tart from the oven; trim the edges from the pastry. Serve with the green salad and spring onion vinaigrette.
Okay, so mint is a little less rare, and more "Oh god, I have way too much mint, and I have no idea how to use it." But mint is the perfect herb for spring: vibrant and alive, and will wake you right up from your winter slumber. Try it in this refreshing pea, mint and spring onion soup with Parmesan biscuits recipe.
1 tbsp olive oil
knob of butter
½ bunch spring onion, sliced, plus a few extra to serve
1 potato, cut into small dice
1l hot vegetable stock
900g frozen petits pois
½ small bunch mint, leaves picked, plus a few extra to serve
85g parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), very finely grated
1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy based pan. When foaming, add the spring onions and potato. Gently fry without colouring for about 5 mins. Stir in the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 mins or until the potato is tender.
2. Stir in the peas, bring to the boil again, then cook for about 3 mins until they are just done. Remove the pan from the heat, add the mint leaves and whizz in a blender or food processor until smooth.
3. To make the Parmesan biscuits, heat the grill to high. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and divide the grated Parmesan into 6 long strips. Grill for 1 min or until the cheese has melted and is lightly golden. While still warm and a bit flexible, release the biscuits from the baking parchment with a palette or cutlery knife, then cool until firm.
4. To serve, heat the soup and divide between 6 bowls. Scatter with mint and sliced spring onions, if you like, and serve with the Parmesan biscuits on the side.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 medium shallots, very thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ounces sorrel, tough stems removed, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, preferably German Butterball or Yukon gold, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1. Preheat oven to 350. Coat an 8-inch square baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter. Arrange shallots in an even layer over bottom of baking dish. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
2. Arrange half of the sorrel over shallots, then layer with half of the potatoes. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Repeat with remaining sorrel and potatoes. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour cream over top, and dot with remaining tablespoon butter.
3. Cover with foil; bake 1 hour. Uncover; bake until potatoes are tender and cream is thick, about 20 minutes more. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
The annual herb carries a mild flavor, delicate and light with a hint of liquorice or aniseed. Like parsley, the entire plant can be used. It should be used alongside other mild flavors where its own would not be overpowered. Try it in a beautiful and filling pasta dish that features spring herbs!
1/2 pound dried pasta, such as strozzapreti or fusilli
1/2 cup roughly chopped mixed herbs, such as parsley, chervil, tarragon, dill, and basil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions. Drain pasta, then toss with mixed herbs, oil, lemon zest and juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, the pepper, and 1/4 cup Parmesan in a large serving bowl. Serve with remaining 1/4 cup cheese on the side.
To get the best out of spring, grow your own herbs in an Urban Cultivator to ensure that they are as fresh as can be. Allowing you to harvest mere seconds before you actually eat them, they not only retain their full potential in terms of flavor, but their nutrients are also left completely intact.
What are your favorite spring recipes? Let us know in the comments section!