(BPT) - With spring in full bloom, do you find yourself looking for ways to creatively add flavor to lighter, fresher fare? The season's fresh produce makes a fine foundation for a variety of classic dishes, but what can you do to add a fresh twist to your recipes?
While recipe nuts like almonds, walnuts and pecans go famously with winter holiday fare, they can be just as great in spring dishes, adding texture and flavor. Nuts can also replace flour or bread crumbs as a coating for meat and fish, or even to thicken sauces.
Food Network celebrity Chef Alex Guarnaschelli is partnering with Fisher nuts, the only national brand of recipe nuts entirely without preservatives, to offer new recipes sure to be the highlight of any springtime gathering.
Start with: Arugula and Curried Pecan Salad
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes.
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup Fisher Chef's Naturals Pecan Halves
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 package (5 ounces) Arugula
1 orange, peeled and broken into sections
2 ounces aged Gouda cheese, thinly shaved
Pan fry the pecans: In a small bowl, combine the curry powder and sugar. Heat vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the pecans. Gently fry them in the oil until they turn golden brown, two to three minutes. Drain the oil and add the nuts to the curry mixture. Toss to blend; and set aside.
Make the dressing: In a large bowl, whisk together the sherry vinegar, honey and Dijon mustard. Whisk in the olive oil, canola oil and salt to taste. Set aside.
Assemble the salad: Toss the arugula in the dressing. Stir in the pecans, orange segments and Gouda cheese. Serve immediately.
Serve with: Almond and Asparagus Crusted Grouper
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes.
Cook time: 15 minutes
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, softened, divided
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed, divided
1/2 cup chopped Fisher Chef's Natural Sliced Almonds, divided
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 1/2 pounds Grouper or Orange Roughy, skin removed, cut into four 6-ounce portions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Combine 2 tablespoons of butter with 1/2 cup thinly sliced asparagus pieces, 1/3 cup almonds, parsley and soy sauce. Stir until mixture forms a paste and set aside.
Preheat the broiler. Place the fish portions onto a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Broil for two to three minutes. Turn fish over, broil for one minute. Remove from oven and spread with asparagus mixture. Broil for one to two minutes or until crust has melted and browned and fish flakes easily with a fork.
Boil enough water to cover remaining asparagus in a large skillet over high heat. Add salt and remaining asparagus. Cook for two to three minutes or until asparagus is tender. Drain and toss with remaining 1 teaspoon of butter.
Arrange the asparagus spears on a platter or individual plates, top with the fish and sprinkle with lemon juice and remaining 5 teaspoons of almonds. Serve immediately.
Finish with: Spring Toasted Almond Fruit Salad
Yield: 8 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes.
Cook time: 12 minutes.
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 cup (4 ounces) Fisher Chef's Naturals Sliced Almonds
1 teaspoon dry ginger
Pinch of salt
2 pints blackberries
2 pints raspberries
2 Granny Smith apples, cored, quartered and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 pint raspberry sorbet
1/4 cup small basil leaves
Make the syrup: In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup of the sugar to a simmer and cook until the sugar dissolves, two to three minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a small bowl. Add the lemon juice and zest. Refrigerate.
Caramelize the nuts: Rinse out the pan used to make the syrup and dry well. Add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and enough water for it to look like wet sand. Cook over medium heat until the sugar caramelizes and browns, approximately five to eight minutes. Add the almonds and carefully stir to coat the nuts with the caramelized sugar. Season with the dry ginger and a pinch of salt. Transfer to a baking sheet to cool and harden. When hard, break into bite-size pieces.
Assemble the salad: Toss the blackberries, raspberries and apple slices with the lemon syrup in a large bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve. The colder the fruit, the better. When ready to serve, top with the almond brittle, a 1/4 cup scoop of raspberry sorbet and the basil leaves. Serve immediately.