Special Occasion Cooking: Seasonal Delights with Mom, Dad and the Grad in Mind
The warm breezes of spring can turn into a whirlwind of social activity with a fast round of special occasions in May and June. Mother’s Day comes to mind first, followed by a burst of graduation celebrations, with Father’s Day bringing up the rear. Oh, yes, not to mention those bridal showers too!
Fare for large groups is one thing but to offer memorable and savory foods to guests at your next intimate family gathering is a bit more challenging. The recipes provided here by Whole Foods Market fit the bill! Sense appealing foods for small groups that make the mouth water. And they use seasonal foods like asparagus and rhubarb which make cooking and presentation all the more fun.
We’ve also included a delicious salmon recipe as many folks these days are waist watching with high protein/low carbohydrate diets. It’s great hospitality to support them in their journey to healthier living. Not to mention that grilling outdoors makes kitchen clean up so much easier—especially for mom on her special day!
Enjoy and be well!
Confetti Spring Salad Serves 4–6
A lively mélange, this salad combines tender pasta shells, sweet crisp spring vegetables such as carrots, peas, broccoli and asparagus with the pleasing bite of fresh radishes and green onions. For a complete, healthy meal, add cubed, steamed tempeh.
1 lb pasta (your favorite pasta — rigatoni, shells, macaroni, etc.)
2 carrots, chopped (½ cup)
½ cup fresh peas
1 bunch broccoli florets (½ cup)
1 lb fresh asparagus
1 red bell pepper, chopped (½ cup)
3 red radishes, sliced
8 oz baby spinach leaves, washed
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small bunch green onions, sliced (½ cup)
4 TB extra virgin olive oil
1½ TB balsamic vinegar
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta according to directions on package.
- While pasta is cooking, bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a saucepan. Place carrots in water and lightly blanch in water for 1 minute, or untilbright orange.
- Remove with slotted spoon and place in large mixing bowl.
- Repeat blanching process with peas. Add peas to mixing bowl. Blanch broccoli, remove from water and place on cutting board. Chop and add to mixing bowl.
- Blanch asparagus, remove from water, place on cutting board and cut into 1 inch pieces. Add to mixing bowl.
- Add drained pasta to mixing bowl. Mix gently with blanched vegetables. Add bell pepper and radishes. Toss to mix.
- Mix dressing ingredients of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil, salt and pepper. Add to salad and toss gently.
- Place one fourth of the spinach leaves on each serving plate. Top with pasta salad and garnish each salad with tomatoes and green onions.
Grilled Wild Alaska Salmon
with Basil Butter Rub
4 6-ounce wild Alaska salmon fillets
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or 1 tsp garlic powder
4 tsp butter, softened
4 TB basil, chopped
- Preheat grill. Season salmon with salt, pepper, and garlic. Mix butter with basil and rub over salmon skin.
- Make a shallow foil bowl, dull side up, by folding heavy-duty foil in two then up on all four sides to be sure salmon will cook in its juices.
- Place salmon in foil, skin side down. Cook on medium-hot covered grill for about 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Turning is not necessary. Salmon is done when it turns a light pink color throughout.
“When we have a picnic or gathering, this is the perfect recipe to make. Everyone loves the grilled flavor and how the salmon cooks in its own delicious juices.”
— Ted Valle, Tlingit fisherman and chef
Ted suggests serving the salmon Tlingit style with Japanese pearl rice and asparagus. Jasmine or basmati rice may be substituted.
Asparagus with Ginger-Orange Vinaigrette
Serves 4 (Dairy-free, Vegetarian)
1 TB minced fresh ginger
½ tsp minced orange peel
2 TB orange juice
2 tsp white wine vinegar
¼ tsp soy sauce
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp fresh-cracked black pepper
3 TB organic extra virgin olive oil
1 lb asparagus, washed, tough ends removed
- Whisk together ginger, orange peel, orange juice, vinegar, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in olive oil; let rest one hour.
- Steam asparagus, covered, in boiling water (¼ -inch deep) till tender yet still a bit crisp, about 5 minutes. Drizzle vinaigrette over asparagus.
Mary’s Old-Fashioned Rhubarb Pie Makes one 9-inch pie
6 TB sifted flour
1¼ to 2 cups sugar (to your taste)
2 unbaked 9-inch whole wheat pie crusts (for top and bottom)
4 cups unpeeled rhubarb (about 8 large stalks), cut into 1/2 -inch pieces
2 TB butter
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix together 2 tablespoons of the flour with 2 tablespoons of sugar and sprinkle it over unbaked lower crust. Heap chopped rhubarb on top of flour and sugar, then mix together rest of flour and sugar and sprinkle over rhubarb. Dot with butter. Lay second crust over the top of pie, press edges and flute with a fork; pierce top crust with fork and sprinkle with sugar, if desired. Bake 10–15 minutes in preheated oven, then reduce heat to 350°F and bake an additional 45 minutes.
- Check pie often to keep crust from browning too much. You may cover edges with foil if they become too brown. It’s a good idea to slip a piece of foil in the oven below the pie to catch any overflow.