Spring Dinner: Seasonal Pizza and Salad

Endive, Radiccio, Arugula, Pecorino Salad
Asparagus, Leek, Goat Cheese, Prosciutto Pizza
Lemon Sorbet With Lemon-Thyme Syrup & Raspberries 

Spring weather has been gracing New York since February, and finally spring vegetables are here! Monday night I chose a few of the Springtime’s key offerings and put together a delicious and deceivingly simple dinner.

We started with a salad of endives, radiccio, arugula and pecorino. This salad involves nothing but slicing — the endives lengthwise, the radiccio in half and then lengthwise, and the pecorino thin — and tossing — the sliced endives, radiccio and pecorino with the arugula, the juice of a lemon, and a drizzle of olive oil. Salt and pepper and you’re done!

Next we had an asparagus, leek, goat cheese and prosciutto pizza. To make the pizza, I sliced one, whole leek – making use of both white and green – and sauteed half of it in olive oil for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, I broke off the ends of the asparagus spears and cut the edible parts in fourths.  I then stuck the quartered asparagus in the microwave for one minute to cook through a bit. While the leeks continued to cook, I worked on the salad. When the first half of the leeks were done, I removed them fromt he heat and set aside, and sauteed the next half in the same pan, but this time I added a shower of balsamic vinegar.  While this batch was cooking, I rolled my pizza dough out on a floured surface and finished the salad. By the time the second batch of leeks was done, I brushed the pizza dough with olive oil, spread all of the leeks onto the pizza, layered the asparagus on top, and sprinkled chunks of goat cheese all over the pizza. When the pizza had cooked for about 11 minutes in the oven, I removed it and added the prosciutto, and then cooked it for one more minute. So easy, so good!

A few hours prior, I had made a simple syrup with lemon and thyme that I would use to jazz up dessert.  I boiled 1/2 cup of water with 1/2 cup of sugar, and after all the sugar had disolved (about three minutes), I removed the syrup from the heat and added 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme from my thyme plants. I squeeze 1 tablespoon of lemon in and let the syrup sit for about 2 hours before straining, and pouring over lemon sorbet, topped with raspberries. Spring tastes good!

For the recipes and suggestions for what to cook next…

Salad
(Serves 4)
1 Endive
1 Small Head of Radiccio
Juice of a Lemon
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Ounces Pecorino, sliced paper thin
4 Fistfuls of Arugula
Salt & Pepper

– Slice endives lengthwise
– Halve radiccio head  lengthwise, core, slice thinly
– Toss endives, radiccio, arugula together in lemon juice and olive oil
– Salt and pepper
– Add shaved cheese and toss again

Pizza
(Serves 4)

1 Leek
6 Ounces Asparagus
8 Goat Cheese
4 Ounces Prosciutto
Pizza Dough

– Preheat oven to 450 degrees
– Slice the leek into thin slivers
– Sautee 1/2 of the leek slices in about 2 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat for 12 minutes – Meanwhile break the ends of the asparagus and cut asparagus spears in quarters
– Microwave asparagus or steam for one minute to soften slightly
– When first batch of leeks are done, remove and set aside
– Add next batch of leeks in the same pan (there should be some residual oil – if not, add a little more) and pour two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar over them; sautee for 12 minutes
– Role pizza dough out on a floured surface and brush liberally with extra virgin olive oil
– When second batch of leeks is done, spread all leeks over dough and then top with the asparagus – Sprinkle goat cheese over the pizza – don’t be shy!
– Cook pizza on a pizza stone or straight on the oven rack for 10 – 12 minutes
– Remove from oven 1 minute before it’s ready, and lay prosciutto over  the pizza

Lemon-Thyme Sorbet with Raspberries
(Serves 4)

1/2 cup Water
1/2 cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Fresh Thyme
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
1 pint Lemon Sorbet
Fresh raspberries

– Boil 1/2 cup sugar in 1/2 cup of water for about three minutes, until all sugar is disolved
– Remove from heat and add thyme and lemon juice
– Let stand for at least two hours before straining
– Pour syrup of lemon sorbet scoops and top with raspberries

What to do with left-over asparagus, leeks and goat cheese?
Ina Garten’s spring risotto is a favorite of mine.
– I had leftover tortillas lying around, so I made these rich, healthful vegetarian quesadillas: leeks, asparagus, sweet potato and cheddar quesadilla with black beans and cilantro.
– A goat cheese, asparagus and leek frittata, quiche or tartlet (if you have puff pastry lying around- it’s incredibly easy).