Thursday, April 26, 2007

Keeping it simple and fresh...

Since getting over this sickness, I've really been seeking fresh, bright and filling foods to try and get us feeling back to normal. The two dishes we had tonight certainly filled those categories and ended up making a good dent in a small pile of lemons I had waiting to get used up on the counter.

Just like last night, tonight's first dish, Sugar Snap and Green Peas with Lemon and Mint, makes use of those excellent spring vegetables that are starting to pop up around the markets. If green peas are not ready in your area yet, frozen would work just as well in this recipe - add an additional minute or so before you toss in the other peas. The vibrant green-colored vegetables are cooked just until crisp-tender and then lightly sautéed in a hefty pat of good ol' butter to lend a hint of richness. For a snappy finish, lemon zest and mint are tossed in for one more fresh and cool layer of flavor.

Tonight's other dish, Pine Nut and Lemon Orzo, was probably intended to be a side, but we just increased the portion size a bit. Fresh lemon dominates the rice-shaped pasta with a simple and clean profile from the use of the juice and zest. Extra-virgin olive oil gives the dressing some body with chopped parsley tossed in right before serving for a pop of color. A scattering of toasted pine nuts brought a delicate flavor with a mild buttery crunch against the tender pasta. When we were about halfway done, I did think that the dressing could have used a small shot of vinegar or something to give it a little more bite... Jeff also agreed when I mentioned this. If you want, you could add a grilled chicken breast for some protein, but this was pretty filling as is. I definitely think this dish would be a great picnic item and will have to mark it down to remember and make it in the summertime.


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