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Great Recipes for Spring- CT Bites

Spring couldn’t come soon enough in our books, and while we love the warmth and comfort of soups and stews, we are so ready to hit the farmers markets to cram our reusable bags full of fresh spring produce.  Here are our three favorite spring recipes that you’ll want to make just as soon as you throw open the windows and dust off your flip flops. Check out Marcia Selden’s recipes for: Bruschetta w/ Smashed Fava Beans, Baby Pea and Bacon Risotto with Pea Shoots and Parmesan, and Fusilli w/ Roasted Fennel, Leek and Arugula Pesto


Bruschetta w/ Smashed Fava Beans, Cracked Black Pepper & Ricotta Salada


This decidedly easy hors d’oeuvre uses one of our favorite early spring vegetables, the fava bean.  Don’t be intimidated by these beans, a couple steps yields a bright green gem that will brighten any meal.  You can substitute a good chevre or buratta, add thinly sliced prosciutto, and fresh figs.


1 lb. fresh fava beans, shelled (about 2 cups)


2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil


1 tsp. fresh lemon juice


½ tsp. finely grated lemon zest


Salt and freshly ground pepper


16 grilled baguette slices


1/4 lb. ricotta salada, shaved into thin strips with a vegetable peeler


Aged balsamic vinegar, for drizzling


2 Tbs. julienned mint leaves


In a saucepan of boiling water, cook the fava beans until the skins start to loosen, about 1½ minutes. Drain and peel the favas from their shell. Transfer the favas to a food processor and add the oil, lemon juice and zest and pulse to a coarse puree. Season with salt and pepper.


Spread the fava-bean puree on the toasts and top with a piece of ricotta salada. Drizzle the toasts with balsamic vinegar, and top with a few pieces of julienned mint and cracked pepper before serving.


Baby Pea and Bacon Risotto with Pea Shoots and Parmesan


Fresh peas are one of our favorite early spring farmer’s market purchases, they’re incredibly sweet eaten raw, or quickly blanched with a pinch of smoked fleur de sel.


3 C. chicken stock


1 C. dry white wine


5 slices bacon, chopped


1 large garlic clove, finely chopped


1 C. Arborio rice


1 C. freshly shelled peas


½ C. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


1 Tbs. unsalted butter


¼ tsp. grated lemon zest


Kosher salt and pepper


6 oz. pea shoots


Bring stock and wine to a simmer in a small saucepan.


Cook bacon in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring, until crisp. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain.


Add garlic to bacon fat in pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until pale golden, about 1 minute. Add rice, stirring to coat.


Add 1/4 cup hot broth mixture and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding hot broth mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is just tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, 18 to 22 minutes. (Reserve leftover broth mixture.)


Add peas and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes.


Stir in cheese, butter, and zest. Thin risotto with some of reserved broth mixture if desired and season with salt and pepper. Top with bacon and pea shoots.


Fusilli with Roasted Fennel, Leek and Arugula Pesto


For pesto:


2 C. of packed arugula leaves, stems removed


½ C. of toasted pine nuts


6 garlic cloves, unpeeled


1 tsp. each Kosher salt and pepper


½ C. freshly grated Parmesan cheese


½ C. extra virgin olive oil



1 lb. fusilli


1 fennel bulb


1 leek, rinsed and sliced into 1” pieces


3 Tbs. olive oil


Combine the arugula, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper into a food processor. Pulse while drizzling the olive oil into the processor. Remove the mixture from the processor and put it into a bowl. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season to taste.


Pesto can be prepared 1 day in advance and stored in the refrigerator.


Preheat oven to 450.  Quarter and thinly slice fennel, place leeks and fennel on a cookie sheet.  Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast for 12-15 minutes or until fennel begins to caramelize.


While vegetables roast, boil pasta until al dente, drain and set aside until ready to use.  Toss with roasted vegetables and arugula pesto before serving.