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I hope you had a wonderful weekend. The sunshine and weather was gorgeous the past few days. It’s a marvelous time out in the garden to see everything bursting with life. There is definitely lots of garden chores ahead and getting things ready. The whole process to me is pure joy.

Today spring is finally here. I took a few photos of what I have found already growing quickly in the garden. I hope you enjoy them.

I couldn’t resist the temptation to dig and work in the garden. As you know the weather can take a turn for the worst this time of year. All of the gathered seed pods from last year’s blooms have been scattered about. This usually is the case so that plants I like can pop up everywhere and of course removing the strays that get too close to the more established giants.

I also couldn’t resist sharing some spring like recipes. Bright pink radishes, vibrant sweet peas and seductive purple carrots all favor a splash of fresh colorful flavor.

Can you smell spring in the air? It is glorious!

Dijon Glazed Salmon Recipe [serves 4]

4-8 ounce salmon fillets

2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 Tablespoon strong Dijon mustard

½ Tablespoon olive oil

½ Tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 350°F.

1. Whisk glaze ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

2. Pan sear salmon in a little bit of olive oil until sides are golden, approximately 2-3 minutes.

3. Place salmon in an oven safe dish and brush with glaze.

4. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper.

5. Bake for 15 minutes or until salmon is cooked through.

Sweet Pea & Chickpea Salad [serves 4]

15-ounce can chickpeas, drained & rinsed

1 ½ cups fresh or frozen peas

1 cup purple carrots, fine julienne or grated

2 watermelon radishes, fine julienne or grated

1/3 cup bleu cheese, crumbled [Fourme d'Ambert used here]

¼ cup roasted & salted sunflower seeds

1 large handful of pea shoots [optional]

3 Tablespoons olive oil or sunflower oil

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon strong Dijon mustard

1 Tablespoon fresh oregano

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

1. Assemble the salad ingredients and toss gently in a bowl.

2. Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, oregano, sea salt and pepper until smooth.

3. Slowly whisk in oil to emulsify.

4. Toss dressing with salad and serve promptly.

This recipe is reminiscent of chana masala, a savory dish of stewed chickpeas with spices and tomatoes. For a fall version, butternut squash has been added, pre-cooked by roasting pieces in the oven with spices. These roasted squash pieces are great on their own, but make a hearty side to a meal or part of a collection of smaller dishes to serve.

 

Roasting winter squash of any variety I feel is the best way to bring out its flavor. The process of roasting increases the sweetness; caramelizing the sugars.

 

If you have a chance to try other unusual varieties of winter squash, or grow them yourself, the flavors not commonly tasted are intriguing. Some squash have flavors of hazelnuts, some perfect for pies and other for soup.  No need to stick to the standards. A few squash type I will be keeping my eyes out for is the “Black Futsu squash,” “Rouge vif d’etampes pumpkin,” and “Galeux D’Eysines squash,” all spectacular and delicious in flavor.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash & Chickpea Recipe

 

3 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cut into ¾” pieces

2 Tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon ground sea salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

½ small red onion, diced

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 Tablespoons olive oil

 

15 ounces diced tomatoes

15 ounces chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon crushed coriander seeds

¼ teaspoon crushed red chilies

 

2 lemons [juice one & wedge the other]

8 ounces plain yogurt

Cilantro [plenty for garnishing]

 

Preheat oven to 350°F

preparing the squash:

1. Toss squash with allspice, pepper, salt and olive oil.

2. Roast in a single layer for 25-30 minutes or until tender.

 

preparing the final dish:

1. Sauté onions in oil over medium heat until translucent.

2. Add garlic and cook for a minute, but do not brown.

3. Add diced tomatoes, turmeric, chilies and coriander and simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Add chickpeas and simmer for a few minutes more.

5. Adjust seasonings to taste and add the juice of one lemon, approximately 3 tablespoons.

6. Gently fold in roasted squash.

7. Serve hot with cilantro and lemon wedges with yogurt.

Serves 6-8.

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