Serious Entertaining: A Dinner to Ring in Spring
I don't know about you, but I've had enough of this elusive spring business. I know it's out there! I can smell it in the air. The chilly, fickle air. Well, I say ENOUGH! If I can't have my toasty patches of sunlight and premature sandal wearing, then I'm going to stuff my face full of bright, tender, crunchy, fresh vegetables. That'll show 'em. Whoever they are.
We've got enough spring-friendly recipes to fill a cookbook, but this selection highlights ingredients you'll actually be able to get a hold of this early in the season—peas, asparagus, artichokes, and, erm, gin.
First Course: Spring Salad of Asparagus, Ramps, Snap Peas, and Peas, With Poached Egg and Lemon Zest Vinaigrette
If spring had a color, it would most definitely be green. And this salad is as green as it gets. It's also incredibly easy to make—just blanch and chill your vegetables, throw together a quick, lemony vinaigrette, and plop a poached egg on top.
If you just balked at the mention of poaching eggs, allow me to blow your mind with our make-ahead, totally foolproof poaching method. You're welcome!
Second Course: Grilled Artichokes With Mint and Chilies
The first artichokes of the season are just starting to make an appearance, and there's no better time to snatch some up. We like to boil them in a flavorful mixture of lemon, wine, garlic, and mint, softening them up and infusing the meat with some extra moisture and flavor. We keep them on the grill until the edges are crisped up and the interior is tender and creamy. Finish the artichokes off with a sprinkle of mint and sea salt, and, if you're so inclined, a smattering of diced hot peppers.
Sound good? Because good would be a major understatement.
Third Course: Lamb Sausage With Pea Purée and Pea Sprouts
In my book, there's no such thing as too many peas. Here, they make an appearance in tandem with a garnishy salad of their lightly crunchy shoots. The peas themselves are warmed and blended into a vibrant purée, a sweet counterpoint to the rich and savory lamb sausages. Serve it alongside some fresh pita bread for mopping, dipping, or sandwiching as you see fit.
Dessert: Saffron, Honey, and Orange Ice Cream
What better way to close out a tribute to spring than a scoop of bright ice cream. This recipe is all about balance: heady, aromatic saffron, floral honey, and bittersweet orange zest make for a refreshing and satisfying finishing touch.
Drink: Gin Cocktails
Gin is a go-to in warmer weather—its herbal notes pair seamlessly with fresh ingredients, from crisp, cooling cucumber to tart, zesty limes. Luckily, we've got recipes for five great gin cocktails that are perfect for spring. Right this way, if you please! »
About the author: Niki Achitoff-Gray is the associate editor of Serious Eats and a recent graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She's pretty big into oysters, offal, and most edible things. You can follow her on Twitter at @eatandcry.