Spring your veggies

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Every year around this time, Florida-grown sweet white corn makes its appearance in the market. My first sighting was a little more than two weeks ago when big, fat snowflakes were falling and I was bundled up in a warm wool coat.

We always associate corn with the dog days of summer, as this Native-American food, grown on New Jersey and Lancaster County farms, is in high season from late July to early October.

I prefer our local corn to the Florida variety, but it is tasty and makes for a welcome change from all the root vegetables we ate throughout the winter. The ears and kernels of Florida corn are smaller than our summer corn. They were four for $1 and made a great side dish for barbecued spare ribs on a balmy Sunday evening.

It is important not to overcook corn. Once the ears are husked, I rinse them in cold water, shaking off any excess. I wrap each ear of corn in plastic wrap, place in the microwave and cook on high for two minutes. I then turn each ear over and cook for two minutes more.

Baby artichokes are also in season these days. They can be found in the Italian Market, the Reading Terminal Market and supermarkets. I like to steam them, remove the prickly tops and any tough outer leaves, peel the stems, chill them in the fridge and eat them with slices of fresh mozzarella with a bit of olive oil and lemon juice drizzled on top.

Thank goodness the price of Haas avocados has come down. They are now $1 apiece and are a delicious addition to a salad of artichokes, lettuce and ripe plum tomatoes.

Spring peas and fava beans have arrived, and I thought about making a succotash of Florida corn and fava, since I don’t like the texture of lima beans. One of my favorite pasta dishes is fettuccine with prosciutto and peas. The contrast of tastes and textures is delicious.

Here are recipes for spring vegetables.

 

Composed Salad

Ingredients:

2 wedges crisp iceberg lettuce

1 ripe Haas avocado, peeled and sliced

2 ripe plum tomatoes, sliced

Russian dressing (recipe follows)

Directions:

Chill two salad plates in the freezer. When ready to serve, place the lettuce wedges in the center of each plate. Arrange the avocado slices down the center of each lettuce wedge. Place the tomatoes around the lettuce. Top with Russian dressing.

Serves two.

Note: Recipe can easily be doubled. You can add some grated carrot on top of the lettuce, too.

Russian Dressing/B>

Ingredients:

About 3 heaping tablespoons Hellmann’s mayonnaise

About 1 heaping tablespoon chili sauce

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 small onion, peeled and finely minced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

This is another free-form recipe where amounts of ingredients vary to taste. Place the mayonnaise and chili sauce in a small bowl. Using a wire whisk, whisk well, incorporating the ingredients. Taste and see if you want to add more mayonnaise or chili sauce. Add the lemon juice and onion and blend well. Sprinkle on kosher salt and pepper to taste.

Dresses two salads.

Unusual Succotash/B>

Ingredients:

4 ears Florida white corn

2 pounds fresh fava beans

1 small red pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

Snipped fresh Italian parsley

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Husk and the corn and, using a sharp knife, gently remove the kernels from each ear of corn. Do this over a plate or sheet of wax paper because it will be easier to transfer the kernels to the pot. Remove the fava beans from their pods.

Melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat in a 2-quart saucepan. Add the corn, fava beans and red pepper strips. Saut� the vegetables around for a few minutes. Add the snipped fresh Italian parsley, kosher salt and pepper.

Serves four.

Fettuccine with Prosciutto and Peas

Ingredients:

1 pound fettuccine

1/2 pound fresh spring peas

1/4 pound imported prosciutto, cut into thin strips

1 stick unsalted
butter

1/2 cup light cream

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook the fettuccine according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Bring water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Add the peas and cook for five minutes. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter over low heat in a large skillet. Add the fettuccine, peas and prosciutto and toss well to blend. Raise the heat to medium and add the cream. Toss ingredients well. Add the grated cheese and black pepper and blend well. If sauce appears too thin, add a bit more cream and cheese.

Serves four.

Gulf Popcorn Shrimp and Corn Chowder

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large leeks, just the white part, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, diced

1 medium Yukon gold potato, peeled and diced

4 cups chicken stock

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Kernels from 4 ears Florida corn

1/2 pound Gulf popcorn shrimp

1/2 cup light cream

Directions:

Heat the butter over low heat in a 3-quart saucepan. Add the leeks, raise the heat to medium and saut� until the leeks are translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in the celery and the potato and continue to saut�, stirring occasionally, for another five minutes.

Add the chicken stock, salt, pepper and oregano. Bring the chowder to a simmer, lower the heat and cook about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Add the corn and the shrimp and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes. Stir in the cream and serve immediately.

Serves four to six.

Note: Popcorn shrimp are usually precooked, so there’s no need to cook them ahead of time. If you cannot find popcorn shrimp, use small shrimp and cut each shrimp in half lengthwise.