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spring recipes

Strawberry Soufflé with Fresh Raspberries

By Barbara Beltrami

OK, so it’s officially spring, and I’m thinking of working up a feast to fete Demeter who forced old Zeus to send Persephone back from the underworld. Frankly, I don’t know what we would do if he hadn’t struck that bargain with Pluto. Amid the fanfare of daffodil trumpets it is time to pay homage to Persephone’s return to Demeter and the regeneration of our world, to hail with delight the little sprouts that are harbingers of the greening of Mother Earth.

Long before I clean closets, wash windows or don my gardening gear, I change menus, imperceptibly at first, but soon in my pantry lumpy root veggies give way to green sproutish things like asparagus and artichokes while cabbages and beans relinquish their staple status to tender green onions and peas. Soups still simmer on my stove top, but they’re more likely to be potages of spring leeks and new potatoes than hefty minestrones. Pastas always stay, but sauces become lighter, less robust.

The minute I see the first basket of berries I swear off apples and pears; I put away the stock pot and clean up the grill and exchange the bittersweet in my vases for pussy willows.  So let the elysian games begin! Nothing but the best to honor Mother Earth. If I were to actually cook a dinner honoring the rites of spring here’s what it would be:

Carpaccio of Fresh Salmon

Spaghettini with Fresh Asparagus Puree

Roast Leg of Spring Lamb with Mustard Glaze

New Potatoes, Braised Leeks

Garden Salad with Spring Onion Vinaigrette

Strawberry Soufflé with Fresh Raspberries

Spaghettini with Asparagus Puree

Spaghettini with Asparagus Puree

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 to 1½ pounds fresh asparagus, washed and trimmed

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 pound spaghettini

DIRECTIONS:

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, steam asparagus until tender and just at the point of turning a yellowish green. Cut off asparagus tips; reserve. In a food processor, puree asparagus stems, garlic, oil, salt and pepper. Cook spaghettini according to package directions.

Meanwhile, transfer pureed asparagus to a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until gently bubbling. Drain pasta, transfer to serving bowl and toss with puree. Scatter reserved tips on top. Serve hot or warm with a chilled dry white wine.

Strawberry Soufflé with Fresh Raspberries

Strawberry Soufflé with Fresh Raspberries

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 heaping pint fresh strawberries

8 eggs, separated

½ cup sugar + 1/3 cup sugar

Freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon

2 tablespoons kirschwasser or Chambord liqueur

Butter for greasing soufflé dishes

Confectioners’ sugar

½ pint fresh raspberries

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 450 F. Hull, wash and drain strawberries; place in bowl of food processor and puree till very smooth. Scrape puree into a large bowl, add egg yolks, half cup sugar, lemon juice and liqueur. Beat and blend thoroughly.

Generously grease bottoms and sides of 1½-cup capacity soufflé dishes. Beat egg whites until stiff; beat in remaining 1/3 cup sugar, then fold into strawberry mixture. Spoon equal portions of mixture into prepared dishes, place on baking sheet and bake 7 minutes. Reduce heat to 425 F and bake 7 minutes more.

Serve hot sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar, garnished with fresh raspberries and accompanied by crisp vanilla wafers.

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