Spring brings such a profusion of flowers, so it is easy to pick & choose to create a special table setting. But for those times that you are coming up dry finding a bloom that speaks to you, also look to the produce aisle. Vegetables can offer clever alternatives to flowers. In both these cases, asparagus just seemed to go the trick for each table being set. The above needed another little something along with the white tulips for the table in town. The below being the only centerpiece on the long zinc table at the beach. Extra added bonus, you get to cook up the display at a later date. The asparagus became a lovely addition with a piece of fish last night, roasted in the oven, for dinner.
Leeks intimidated me. There, I said it. I feel so much better that I got that off my chest. I am not quite sure why they did. Actually, I think it stems from every time I would see them used on a cooking show, they would preface the use of them with how sandy and full of dirt they can be. Sand and dirt are not 2 of my favorite things to eat, so I shied away from using them in dishes I was making. Silly, silly me. I don’t know where those folks were sourcing their leeks from, because on my now second try at using them, very little dirt or sand was present. Oh, what I have missed out on. Leeks rock!
I was craving a big bowl of risotto last evening, and wanted to make a nice, comforting, filling meal as we head into a busy week. Risotto always fits the bill. I have posted 2 other risotto recipes, so use those as the base. Instead of using onions at the beginning, substitute leeks. Slice the stem in half, pull the layers apart, rinse in the sink liberally to get any particles, shake, dry with a towel, and you are good to go. The leeks elevated the dish last night. I cut them fairly think, so they were really part of the mix–playing equally with the peas and asparagus. Since asparagus is in season and so plentiful, it just seemed like a perfect fit for a sunny Spring night. Cut stems in half, scatter on a baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil and salt. Roast at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes till the asparagus is cooked, but still a tad crunchy. That bite will be nice in this dish. Set aside. As for the peas, I most always use frozen, unless they are at the height of season. The bagged, frozen peas are perfect for this dish. Just add them before you add your last ladle of hot stock to the risotto, and they will defrost right in the dish. Add the asparagus into the pot. Mix and cover for a few minutes. Once ready, spoon into a bowl and add a sprinkling of Parmesan. Enjoy the leeks!