Archive for Spring Possibilities – Page 2

Phyllis’ Leek & Pancetta Tagliatelle

My “take” on a Lorenza de’Medici recipe. We think the addition of pancetta and a splash of white wine to the sauce makes it even more delicious.  I often make half the recipe for our primo which goes especially well with lamb marinated in my go to marinade for lamb.  And I hone in on local leeks, which are so sweet and delicious, to make this tasty, light sauce.

DSC_6712 nx2Makes 4 Servings

3 Tbsp. EVOO (or a combination of EVOO & unsalted butter)
2 lbs. leeks, cleaned & thinly sliced**
4 oz. pancetta cut ¼” thick & cut into cubes
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup chicken stock
Pinch of grated nutmeg
¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
4 egg pasta dough** or 12 – 16 oz. dried egg tagliatelle

Heat 1 Tbsp. EVOO in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add the pancetta cubes to the pan & sauté until lightly browned, but not crisp, remove & set aside.

If there is more than 1 Tbsp. oil left in the pan, remove the excess. Add the remaining oil or a combination of oil & butter to the pan, adding the leeks when the oil is hot. Sauté, stirring for a few minutes, until they are translucent; season with salt & pepper to taste. Add ¼ cup water, lower the heat & simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil & warm a large pasta serving bowl.

When the leeks are done, add the cream, white wine, stock & nutmeg to the pan. Heat through; cover and keep warm on very low heat until ready to toss with the pasta.

Cook the pasta until al dente; reserve ½ cup or so of the cooking water. Drain the pasta in a colander. Add 3 Tbsp. Parmigiano to the sauce & stir to combine. Add the pasta to the sauce in the pan, tossing & adding pasta cooking water if it appears too dry. Toss for about 1 minute; season with salt & pepper if required. Place the pasta into the warmed serving bowl and serve immediately, passing the remaining Parmigiano.

If you would like to make tagliatelle/fettuccine, click Food Processor or Stand Mixer Pasta Dough.
To see how to clean leeks, click How To Trim Wild (Ramps) And Regular Leeks.

Phyllis Signature

3 Mediterranean Dips

I just crave these dips in the summer. Transports me straight to the Mediterranean! Good pita and some great wine; just about perfect. I think dips are a wonderful thing to take to a party or get-together in the summer. Great with my Greek lemon-oregano chicken or marinated lamb. You might want to drain the yogurt the night before for a nice thick Tzatziki.

Phyllis’ Tzatziki

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

_DSC2041 resize2 cups Plain Yogurt (I like Liberte Mediterranean, but a good thick Greek yogurt would also be great)
½ English cucumber
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. EVOO
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped

Take a large piece of well rinsed cheesecloth (Julia Child always recommended rinsing to remove the medicinal aroma of cheesecloth). Line a metal sieve with the cheesecloth. Place the yogurt in the sieve; place over a bowl and cover. Allow to drain in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Grate the cucumber and place in a sieve over a bowl; salt the cucumber & allow to drain for about 20 minutes. Remove yogurt and place in a large bowl. Squeeze as much liquid from the cucumber as possible, using your hands, and add to the yogurt. Smash the garlic and sprinkle with a little sea salt. By pressing & spreading with the back of a chef’s knife, puree the garlic & add to the yogurt mixture. Add the lemon juice, EVOO, Dijon mustard and dill. Blend well. Place in the fridge for an hour or so to blend the flavours. Season with salt if required and serve with pita bread or as a dip for kebabs or anything else that takes your fancy! Tzatziki will keep for a few days in the fridge.


This is another wonderful dip from the Mediterranean. It is not only delicious with warm pita bread but I also use it for sandwiches & wraps.

Makes about 3 cups

1 19oz tin chick-peas (garbanzo beans), rinsed & drained
½ cup tahini (sesame seed paste), well-stirred
1/3 cup EVOO
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. ground cumin
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup cold water
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Tahini can be found at most grocery stores, usually in the ethnic section, or at any Greek grocery store.

Place chick-peas, tahini, oil, lemon juice, coriander & cumin in the bowl of a food processor; puree until smooth; transfer to a bowl. Stir in garlic, parsley, water, season with salt & pepper. Hummus is a good keeper and will last a number of days in the fridge.

Baba Ghanouj

Boy do I love this! It just screams summer. Serve either with warm pita or as a spread on a wrap. Try and get some fresh, local eggplant for this if possible.

Makes about 3 cups

2 large eggplants (2 ½ lbs. total)
¼ cup tahini (sesame seed paste), well-stirred
2 – 3 cloves garlic, mashed to a paste with ½ tsp. sea salt
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. ground cumin
1 – 1 ½ tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. EVO
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Garnish: Smoked paprika and a drizzle of EVOO

Tahini can be found at most grocery stores, usually in the ethnic section, or at any Greek grocery store.

Turn oven to broil. Place the eggplant on a baking sheet and broil 6” from heat, until very soft, turning occasionally. Cool 20 – 35 minutes. Cut eggplants in half and remove the flesh, discarding the skin. (I usually strain the cooked eggplant pulp for 30 minutes to remove excess liquid). Place in food processor with tahini, garlic, lemon juice, cumin & salt until combined well. Season with salt if necessary. Transfer to a serving plate or shallow bowl, drizzle with EVO, sprinkle with a few pinches of smoked paprika and then scatter on the parsley.

If you would like to make the chicken to have with the tzatziki, click Greek Lemon Chicken.

Phyllis Signature

Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Meyer lemons were something we never saw in our markets here in Vancouver…but thankfully all that’s changed! Heck, even Costco sells them now!  This dressing is excellent and I make it often.  Whenever I find Meyer lemons, I pick up a bunch, squeeze them and freeze the juice for later use.

Makes Approximately 1 Cup

¼ cup Meyer lemon juice
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, smashed
½ tsp. stoneground Dijon mustard
1/8 – ¼ tsp. each of dried marjoram, oregano & basil (fresh herbs are wonderful if you have them, simply use 1/2 tsp. of each one)
1 Tbsp. honey
1 ½ tsp. sugar
Salt to taste
¾ cup EVOO

Put everything, except the oil, in the blender & blend until well combined; slowly drizzle in the EVOO until dressing is emulsified or all ingredients are well blended. Taste, adjust seasoning to your taste & enjoy.

Phyllis Signature

Anne’s Anchovy-less Caesar Salad Dressing

This one is for all of you who hate anchovies as much as I do!  I’ve sampled really fresh, marinated ones in Italy, sorry, they still taste like anchovies!  It’s OK though, my husband adores the little morsels!  The garlic gives it a really good punch. Anne gave me her recipe a really long time ago and we make the dressing often as you can tell from the stained, well-used recipe in the photo. Get out the romaine, parmesan and homemade croutons.

Makes approximately 1 cup

1 egg
2 garlic, coarsely crushed
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
9 Tbsp. EVOO
Dash of salt to taste
½ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
1 ½ tsp. lemon juice
2-4 drops of Tabasco
2-4 drops of Worcestershire sauce

Combine everything but the oil in a blender. Blend well. Slowly drizzle in the oil until well emulsified. Pour into a jar & keep chilled for up to 3 or 4 days.

Toss with romaine lettuce leaves, a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese & croutons, toss again.  Enjoy!

If you would like to make your own croutons, please go to Homemade Croutons.  Featured image shows salad with toasted Italian bread drizzled with EVOO…also fabulous!

Phyllis Signature

Spaghetti With Ramps

Years ago I read an article about ramps in Gourmet Magazine. I was really curious, what the heck are they? Turns out they are hunted & gathered in the spring and are also known as wild leeks.  A good friend, who is a chef, used her connections & got us some. Still don’t know the secret places they are found though! What do you do with a box of ramps, why you begin by making a batch of this pasta and slurp up spring!

DSC_1976 nx2Makes 4 Servings

½ lb. ramps
1 tsp. lemon zest, finely grated (Meyer lemon works great)
¼ cup EVOO
1 lb. spaghetti
8  Tbsp. Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, I like to use a combination of both + more for passing
1/4  tsp.  of red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. soft butter

Toasted bread crumb topping, made ahead of time (see recipe below)


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a large serving bowl in a 180 F oven to warm.

Trim the roots from the ramps & slip off outer skin on bulbs if loose. Blanch ramps in a large pot of boiling, salted water for 2 – 3 seconds; transfer to a colander with tongs. Coarsely chop the ramps &  put in a food processor with the lemon zest, chili flakes & EVO.
Add 1 – 1 ½ Tbsp. salt to the boiling water. Add the spaghetti and cook for 4 minutes. Remove ½ cup of pasta water & add to the  ramps in the food processor. Puree until smooth; remove to a small bowl; season with the salt.

Continue to cook spaghetti until al dente then remove 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the spaghetti in a colander. Return pasta to the pot, add the ramp puree & toss over moderate heat 1 – 2 minutes, thinning sauce with a bit of pasta cooking water if pasta appears to be too dry. Remove pasta from heat; add 2 Tbsp. butter & the cheese; toss together and place in a large, warm serving bowl. Top with the toasted bread crumbs and serve immediately.

Toasted Bread Crumb Topping For Pasta

Preheat oven to 350 F.
3 ½” thick slices whole-grain bread
2 Tbsp. EVOO
Sea salt to taste

Cut bread into cubes, then grind to crumbs in a food processor. Spread in a shallow baking pan & bake in the middle of the oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10 – 15 minutes. Pour crumbs into a bowl & stir in the EVO & salt.

Bread crumb topping can be used with other pastas as well.

Phyllis Signature

Spot Prawns With Two Dips

Get ‘em still alive. Remove the heads just before cooking. If you are a bit squeamish get your partner (I do), or a friend to do this.  Or you can simply leave them whole.

Spot Prawn season begins in May and we get them right off the boats at the dock at Granville Island. They are wonderfully sweet and succulent and worth waiting for! We just place them on the barbecue, medium-high heat with the shells on and cook until they change colour. You could do them on a rack under the broiler. Watch carefully, you don’t want to overcook them.

These two dips go rather well with the Prawns:

Charmoula Butter

6 Tbsp. butter
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
2 ½ Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 ½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. (scant) ground cumin
¼ tsp. hot smoked Spanish paprika

Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Add the garlic & sauté for a bit, but do not let the garlic turn colour. Stir in the remaining ingredients; season with salt.

Sweet Chili Sauce – This is really excellent, spicy, sweet and oh so good with spot prawns or halibut cheeks, coconut prawns, or crab cakes.

½ cup sugar
¾ cup water
½ sweet red bell peppers, seeded & any membrane removed, chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
2 Tbsp. sambal oelek, you can adjust to taste, perhaps 1 Tbsp. to start and see from there
¼ cup fish sauce
4-5 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

Combine water & sugar in a saucepan. Bring to the boil over high heat stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Boil for 3 minutes or until reduced by a quarter and just beginning to thicken. Let cool.

Place the red pepper, garlic & sambal oelek in a food processor of blender. Add sugar syrup and puree. Add fish sauce & lime juice, blend until combined. Taste for seasoning adding more lime juice, fish sauce or sambal oelek to taste. Makes about 1 ½ cups & freezes really well.

Phyllis Signature

Spring Pea Salad

I think fresh peas just yell out “Spring”; and this salad with the sweetness of the peas, the slight peppery edge of new radishes along with a hint of anise from fresh tarragon.

_DSC1967 resizeMakes 4 Servings

2 cups peas – approximately 2 lbs. in the shell, fresh peas
¼ cup green onions, finely chopped
¼ cup radishes, finely chopped or ½ cup thinly sliced, rounds or lenthwise looks really good too
2 tsp. fresh tarragon, finely chopped


3 Tbsp. EVOO
1 Tbsp. Sherry vinegar
2-3 Tbsp. flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Whole leaves of small spring lettuce

Whisk together the EVOO & sherry vinegar.

Shell peas. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a Tbsp. of salt. Blanch the peas until just tender 1 – 2 minutes. Remove peas to a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain in a colander & blot dry.

In a bowl toss together the peas, green onions, radishes & tarragon. Toss with the dressing. Place on top of a few small lettuce leaves on individual plates & sprinkle with the parsley.

Phyllis Signature

A Springtime Salad

We were entertaining visitors from back east and I thought, considering the arrival of so many local goodies in the market, that our guests should be treated to our very own “locavore” dinner. I created this salad (luckily I had little gem lettuce, Italian parsley and arugula growing in the garden), to accompany a barbecued chicken and for dessert, what else but local strawberries!

DSC_2458 nx2Makes 4 Servings

4 to 5 cups mixed salad greens
1 lb. or so of fresh, young English peas, shelled
1 bunch young radishes, thinly sliced (French Breakfast would be great)
½ cup Italian parsley leaves
3 green onions or an equal amount of chives, sliced into 1/4” slices (feel free to use the chive blossoms if you have some)
2 eggs

Meyer lemon vinaigrette

Make the Meyer lemon vinaigrette & place in the fridge until ready to dress the salad.

Place the eggs into a small pot & cover with cold water. Cover & bring to a boil; remove from the heat & let stand for 8 minutes. Drain the eggs & run cold water into the pot until the water remains cold. Once the eggs are cold, remove the shells & set aside.

Bring a medium sized pot to a boil; add salt then add the peas & blanch for 30 seconds. Remove from the boiling water to a bowl that is filled with ice-water & let cool.

Toss the salad greens, Italian parsley leaves, green onions or chives in a large serving bowl. Scatter the sliced radishes over the greens; drain the peas well & scatter on top of the greens. Drizzle with the Meyer lemon vinaigrette & toss salad together until ingredients are coated, to your liking, with dressing. Using an egg slicer, carefully slice the eggs and lay on top of the salad; drizzle a little dressing on the egg slices & serve the salad immediately.

This salad can be adapted using blanched & peeled fava beans or blanched asparagus that have been cut into 2” pieces. Instead of the egg you could use a nice, fairly young Pecorino or maybe both. It’s up to you!

To make the vinaigrette, click Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette.

Phyllis Signature

Pork Tenderloin With Rhubarb Chutney

This Rhubarb Chutney compliments pork beautifully.  A nice dish to make when the young, sweet rhubarb begins to appear at the markets or in your garden.   I have made this chutney in spring & frozen it.  It tasted great with both  turkey and tourtiere!  Bonus…great on a ham or turkey sandwich too!

_DSC2166.jpg nx2 5Makes 4 Servings

2 Pork tenderloins, trimmed of silverskin
Thinly sliced prosciutto (approximately 4 oz.)
1 clove of garlic, cut into 6 slivers
Fresh sage leaves
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F.

On a large piece of wax paper, lay out the proscuitto in a square shape to the width of the  tenderloin , slightly overlapping the slices.  With a small knife cut 3 slits into the pork tenderloin (near both ends & in the middle); insert 3 slivers of garlic in each slit.  Season with a small amount of salt & pepper; place a few of the sage leaves on top and then roll up the tenderloin, completely enclosing it in proscuitto.  Using kitchen string, tie up every 1″ or so to keep the proscuitto from falling off.  Season & wrap the second tenderloin in the same way.

Heat 1 Tbsp. EVOO in an oven proof frying pan (cast iron works well) over medium-high heat. Season pork with salt & pepper. Tuck thin ends under and secure with toothpicks or short wooden skewers. Brown on all sides, approximately 5 minutes. Place pan in oven and roast for 15 – 20 minutes. Check the inner temperature of the tenderloins with an instant-read thermometer, pork should be 155 F for medium-well. Remove from oven, place on a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes before carving into ½” thick slices.

Alternatively, preheat your barbecue and cook over indirect heat for 20 minutes or so (155 F). Serve with the rhubarb chutney.  My choice!

Rhubarb Chutney – makes 2 cups

Make up to 2 days ahead and keep refrigerated.

½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¾ piece of cinnamon stick
¾ Tbsp. (2 ¼ tsp.) minced fresh ginger
¾ tsp. grated orange peel, a Microplane grater works really well for this
¼ tsp. (scant) ground cardamom
2 1/4  cups coarsely chopped rhubarb, approximately 1 lb. trimmed of leaves, leaves discarded
1/4  cup + 2 Tbsp.  currants
2 green onions, chopped

Make the Chutney:

Stir the first 6 ingredients in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Add the rhubarb, currants and green onions; bring back to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer until rhubarb is tender but not falling apart, about 4 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Discard cinnamon stick. Cover and refrigerate chutney until cold, at least 1 hour.

Phyllis Signature

Asparagus Vinaigrette

Chilled asparagus with a lovely vinaigrette makes a  great starter salad and an excellent addition to a buffet table.

DSC_1983 nx2Makes 4 – 6 Servings

1 ½ – 2 lbs. asparagus, trimmed (see below)
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 to 3 Tbsp. finely chopped flat leaf parsley

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add a Tbsp. of salt.  Blanch the asparagus for approximately 2 minutes or until tender but crisp.**  Remove asparagus to a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain in a colander, & blot dry. Place the asparagus on a serving platter & drizzle with the dressing; scatter with the shallots & parsley & serve.

I don’t recommend doing this too much ahead of serving the asparagus because they can change colour if allowed to sit too long in the dressing. We really want to keep that lovely green colour!


½ cup EVO)
2 Tbsp. Sherry vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2-3 tsp. fresh tarragon, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch of sugar (opt.)

Whisk vinegar & mustard in a small bowl. Slowly, while whisking constantly, drizzle in the EVOO until emulsified. Whisk in the tarragon, salt & pepper & pinch of sugar if using.

To see how to trim asparagus, click How To Trim Asparagus.

To see how to blanch asparagus, click Blanching Vegetables.