I grew up in Southern California where the transition from winter to spring meant going from warm to warmer. In fact, I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that the only reason I was really aware that it was spring was due to the arrival of baseball on TV.

Now that we live in New England, I've learned to really celebrate the change in seasons, especially as the snow begins to melt and the longer, sunnier days usher in spring and summer. Best of all, it also means greater availability of a variety of fruits and vegetables that help to brighten up our table.

Some of our favorite dishes include seasonal vegetables, especially asparagus and broccoli, though in most dishes you can mix and match your favorites. The warmer weather also means that we can fire up the grill and roast vegetables over an open fire. If you don't have access to a barbecue, you can still get excellent results under the broiler.

Mesclun Salad With Sesame Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 1 bag mesclun (about ½ lb), washed and drained
  • Dressing (add right before eating)
  • ½ cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil (something flavorless)
  • ⅛ cup sesame oil
  • salt and pepper, dash of each

Method

Mix dressing ingredients, toss into mesclun and serve immediately.

Grilled Asparagus (broiler method)

Ingredients

  • Asparagus, one bundle
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Method

You'll need a shallow dish or bowl (an 8" casserole dish will work) and a broiler pan.

Trim asparagus stalks. I usually take one, bend it until it breaks, and then cut the rest to the same length with a knife. Place the asparagus in a shallow dish or bowl and coat with olive oil. Shake the pan to ensure even coverage. Lay the asparagus in a single layer on a broiler dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Start broiler.

Broil for 5 minutes. Shake the pan so the asparagus rolls around a bit, ensuring even cooking. Cook for 5 more minutes, or until the stalks are tender and start to slightly char. Remove and let cool.

Spring Veggie Frittata

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs
  • ¼ cup of milk
  • ¼ t salt
  • fresh ground pepper, pinch
  • olive oil
  • half a red pepper, chopped
  • half a green pepper, chopped
  • small onion, chopped
  • small head of broccoli (fist sized) or 1 cup of spinach
  • ½ cup of grated cheese, cheddar or jack
  • slice of ham, chopped (optional)

Method

You'll need a 10" skillet, either cast iron or one that is all metal, with a cover.

Combine eggs, milk, salt, and pepper and beat thoroughly. Add grated cheese and ham (if using), then set aside.

Steam the broccoli or spinach until it's tender, about 10 minutes. Finely chop, then add to egg mixture.

In the skillet, sauté the peppers and onion on medium/low heat in olive oil until tender. Transfer to the egg mixture and stir. Add a tsp of olive oil to the hot skillet, coat evenly, then pour the egg mixture into the pan. Set heat to low and cover. Cook for 10 minutes, checking every few minutes. You'll want to see the top of the frittata start to bubble up and look like scrambled eggs. When most of the liquid eggs has become solid, replace cover, turn off heat, and fire up the broiler.

Place the hot skillet as close to the broiler heat as possible. Keep an eye on it and rotate the pan with quarter turns every few minutes. The top of the frittata should be slightly charred, but not excessively burned. After 6-8 minutes, take out and let it cool. It should be evenly cooked on the surface, a bit crispy.

After 15 minutes, use a spatula to remove the frittata, slice, and serve with grilled asparagus, mesclun salad, and crusty bread.