Last weekend, we felt the culinary heat at the immensely popular SOBEWFF (South Beach Food and Wine Festival) where top chefs gathered to work their magic. With springtime in the air, we mingled and asked these participating epicures, with kitchens fanned out across the country, what they’re looking forward to using in the months ahead. Below, a sampling of ingredients making a cameo (and, peas just might be all the rage).
“The springtime has so much to offer. I am waiting for morels — beautiful mushrooms that can be foraged near my home in Washington DC. And from Spain, the spring onions, calçots. The preparation is so simple—charred over the fire, then wrapped in newspaper where the onions will start steaming themselves! Peel off the blackened leaves, drag through a romesco sauce- and they are perfect.”
Artichokes: “Actually a thistle, the Globe Artichoke starts to arrive at farmers’ markets in the spring. Delicious steamed with a simple butter sauce, artichokes are also a versatile ingredient for topping with pizza, or even baking into a pie.” Asparagus: “A member of the lily family, asparagus is delicious roasted and tossed with olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Let them caramelize in the oven and then eat with your fingers for a delicious treat.” Radishes: "Enjoy the candy of springtime sliced and layered on a buttered slice of whole grain bread. Top with high-quality olive oil and sea salt for a light afternoon snack." Peas : "Like many other spring ingredients, peas are delightful seasoned with just butter and salt. Steam or boil peas, then toss with butter, salt, pepper, and add some freshly chopped spearmint leaves for an extra punch.”
“I'm looking forward to serving hummus with morel mushrooms and fava beans at Shaya. At Domenica, we’re looking forward to roasting asparagus in the wood burning oven with garlic, chilies and a great pecorino cheese. And, at PIZZA domenica, it will be all about wood fired pizzas with beautiful spring vegetables like artichokes and red spring onions.”
"At Volvér, we're offering a petits pois dish this spring with the peas cooked in their own broth. It's the perfect vegetable mid-course during the tasting menu there, and is the flavor of spring in my mind."
“I’m excited about queso fundidos for parties and making green pea guacamole, just to change things up a bit. I’m also looking forward to using ingredients like asparagus, young carrots and spring radishes.”
“Spring is one of my favorite seasons when it comes to ingredients. I love all the classics: spring onions, ramps, fava beans, and English peas, to name a few. I’ve been playing around with some different dishes for Upland. Maybe a ramp pizza, a crostini with fava beans and fresh ricotta, or even a ramp pesto pasta with pecorino and peperoncino."
“I’m looking forward to stinging nettles, thick asparagus, ramps, rhubarb, baby lamb, green garlic & Wellfleet Clams.”
“I’m looking forward to green almonds, rhubarb, thick green asparagus, lamb tongue, and fresh porcini.”
“I’m looking forward to peas of every form – snow, sugar snap, and especially a variety I love to grow called Sweet Marvel #9. It’s a shell pea. They’re going in the ground soon. It’s the first thing you can plant that grows in the spring, so it gets you into the dirt early, which is exciting. Asparagus and fiddleheads are perennials that come up on their own. But peas, you get out there to plant them, and it’s cold out, the ground’s a little hard, and it makes me think of how hard farmers work to bring us food.”
“Strawberries and tomatoes! The growing season starts much earlier in Miami, which means great strawberries and tomatoes are abundant in the spring — at least two months earlier than New York. Strawberry gazpacho with pickled coriander seed, radishes and whipped farmer's cheese is one of the dishes I'm looking forward to putting on the menu.”
"I'm really excited to start using rapini more this spring. I love to cook this awesome veggie in merguez fat with raisins and chilies, or with Bagna Cauda. I'm also excited for asparagus; one of my favorite ways to serve it is roasted with a soppressata conserva. And I love creamed morel mushrooms.”
Spring is a tremendous time for a crop of new ingredients that inspire. I always love the fava greens and pea shoots. There are great melons and mangoes. Grilled fish with a simple mango chutney? Roasted lamb with fava greens? Stuffed baby peppers with pea shoots and fresh chilies? Why not? Spring is a time to let ingredients drive the bus and keep the dishes simple. The pen is mightier than the sword and, in Florida springtime, ingredients can speak louder than technique!”
“Spring time in South Florida is bittersweet. As the temperature rises here everything locally gets to its height of ripeness but it also means the ideal growing season is coming to an end. Time to move to our farming friends in northern Florida and embrace the foraging of mushrooms, ramps and onions of the Florida-Georgia line.”
“The nice thing about cooking in Florida is that spring produce is already arriving. At db Bistro Miami we work with many of the local farms, like Swank Specialty Produce in Loxahatchee, about an hour north of Miami. The owners Jodi and Darren Swank bring us wonderful lettuces, squash, small roots, greens, and my favorite, heirloom beans. The haricot vert are so crisp and fresh, really perfect in a salad or seafood dish. For the spring menu at db we might toss them in a light sherry vinegar and crème fraiche vinaigrette, then sprinkle with sliced spring radishes, toasted hazelnuts and tarragon leaves over crisp fresh lettuce from Swank farm.”