In Britain it always feels a little unsafe to say that Spring has sprung, as we tend to believe all too optimistically that a couple of blue-skied days mean that winter is behind us. No matter: the days are getting longer, and the chill less prevalent, and so - in the kitchen, at least - I am prepared to say it's Spring.
The first way to celebrate it is surely by making my Pasta Salad Primavera, though if you want you can always substitute the orzo pasta (which is served cold) with spaghetti served hot, and the vegetables likewise. Either way, this is a seasonal treat. And while it's true that I make Pasta alla Genovese all the year around, there is just something about the way the glorious scent of basil this dish emanates that makes it a joyous way to celebrate the Spring.
I can't help feeling that anything green feels right at this time of year, and although the Green Bean and Lemon Casserole is originally a Thanksgiving dish, it really is perfect for now. Serve alongside some new season's lamb or a simple roast chicken. But then, I feel anything with the zing of lemon gives a sprightly salute to the season. Chicken with Spring Onions, Chilli and Greek Yogurt - lemony chicken, no cook herby sauce - has been an old and beloved standby of mine, as has Lemon Risotto and Linguine with Chilli, Crab and Watercress. These are the kinds of dishes that, once made, immediately insist on becoming part of your repertoire. Since we're on lemoniness, I need to put in a plea here for my Little Lemon Puddings and Lemon Polenta Cake. The latter is gluten-free, and should you wish to make it dairy-free, too, then simply substitute 150ml light and mild olive oil for the 200g butter.
Not that I mean to imply you would want to serve them as dessert necessarily after the savoury lemon-infused offerings above. But pair them with some sweet, young seasonal lamb and you will find yourself a happy cook with happy diners. To this end, I feel I must suggest to you the Anglo-Asian Lamb Salad, which is one of my favourite Spring suppers, the Crispy Lamb Chops (which is my children's), and the recipe I borrowed, with enormous gratitude, from the great Anna del Conte, Lamb Cutlets with Chilli and Black Olives. And although I have broached the subject of the low-effort and high-rewards of my Warm Shredded Lamb Salad with Mint and Pomegranate in my Easter Recipes (and advise you anyway to look there as well), I can't help mentioning it in this context too. It's hard to think of a better Spring Sunday lunch, frankly.
More everyday - though in terms only of speed and ease not quality - are my Lamb Steaks with Rosemary and Port, and Lamb Patties with Hummus and Pitta. And I just must put in a word on behalf of the Roast Lamb for One. I roast a lamb shank (first marinated overnight with herby lemoniness) much as one would a leg of lamb, although it does funnily enough need longer cooking to make sure it becomes softly tender. I suspect this would easily run to a roast-for-two, but I always err on the side of overcatering. No news there, then.
For those eschewing meat, my Tarragon Salmon truly does say 'eat me now' - but then, alas, for me, pretty much any food always does - and it would only be right to mention the Tuna and Crab and Avocado Wrap. And I end with a recommendation for Corsican Omelette, which is one of the most uplifting ways to celebrate the season for me - golden egg, sweet and gooey with butter, with sharp goat's cheese and invigorating fresh mint. Breakfast, lunch, tea, supper, any time, this will put Spring in your step.
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