Hearts of Palm and Avocado Salad

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This salad is so easy that it hardly qualifies as a recipe, but the combination of creamy hearts of palm and acidic dressing is a perfect pairing. To be honest, I could eat hearts of palm straight out of the can, but avocados make everything taste even better.

Ingredients:
  • 1 15-ounce can hearts of palm, rinsed, drained, and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 slightly firm avocados, peeled and diced
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar or lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  1. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a serving bowl. Add the hearts of palm, tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro and gently mix until the vegetables are coated. Serve immediately.

Simple Soy-Sesame Asparagus

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It’s asparagus season and this recipe is my go-to when I don’t feel like cooking a complicated side dish. With only five ingredients, this asparagus comes together in less than ten minutes and tastes greater than the sum of its parts.

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut crosswise on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 drops chile oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add asparagus to pot and cook until tender-crisp and bright green, about 2 minutes. Drain, then plunge into a large bowl of ice water; set aside to cool for about 2 minutes. Drain again, then pat dry with paper towels and set aside.
  2. Whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, and chile oil in a medium bowl. Add asparagus and toss. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with sesame seeds.

Avocado, Mango, and Orange Salad

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This is the perfect tropical-esque salad to bridge that time of spring when the weather is intermittently cool and warm. Got some winter citrus leftover in the fridge? Toss them in with creamy avocados and mangoes and you’ve got a bright, tart and slightly sweet salad that comes together in a matter of minutes.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 mangoes, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 orange, peeled and cut into 1-inch segments
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened shredded dried coconut
  1. Whisk together parsley, oil, lime and orange juices, jalapeno, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add mangoes, avocado, and orange and toss gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.
  2. To serve, transfer salad to a serving bowl and sprinkle with coconut.

Salmon and Corn Chowder

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This soup is perfect for the springtime as the weather (finally) warms up. It’s lighter than clam chowder and the addition of corn is like a harbinger of sunnier days. Serve this with some toasted sourdough and a salad and you’ve got a perfect casual seafood meal.

Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 8-ounce salmon fillet
  • 3 slices turkey bacon, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 cup half-and-half, warmed
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3 Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
  • Black pepper
  • Chopped green onions, for serving
  1. Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add 2 teaspoons of the olive oil around the pan, add the salmon, skin side down, and cook until the skin is golden brown and releases easily from the pan, about 4 minutes. Flip the salmon over and continue cooking for another 4 minutes. Transfer the salmon to a plate to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a medium Dutch oven over medium heat, then drizzle in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the turkey bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the carrot, celery, thyme, and garlic. Cook until the vegetables are soft, another 3 to 5 minutes. Add the flour, salt, Old Bay, paprika, and basil. Cook for another minute or two, then slowly add the half-and-half, stirring the vegetables well as you add it so that there’s no clumping. After the mixture thickens and bubble again, add the chicken stock, corn, and potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender throughout, about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the skin from the salmon, break it into bite-size chunks, add it to the pot, and simmer for another 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with green onions. (You can let the soup cool and store it in the refrigerator up to 3 days before reheating to serve.)

Beet Tartare

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Okay, I know the words “beet tartare” don’t exactly make your mouth water. But hear me out. This dip/side dish/whatever-you-want-it-to-be is a cacophony of textures and flavor. Try this if you’re sick of the same old winter roasted vegetables. It’s so good I eat it by the spoonful.

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound baby beets, trimmed, scrubbed
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 2-ounce jar capers, drained
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pickled cherry peppers (or similar)
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
  1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 400F degrees. Wrap beets in a few layers of foil, place on rimmed baking sheet, and roast until tender, about 1 hour. Let cool. Using paper towels, rub skins to remove and cut beets into 1/4-inch pieces.
  2. Heat garlic, capers, and oil in a small skillet over medium, adjusting heat as needed to keep oil at a simmer, until garlic is golden and capers have burst, about 8-12 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over a small heatproof bowl. Turn garlic and capers out onto paper towels; set oil aside.
  3. Mix beets, shallot, cherry peppers, mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, salt, and 2 teaspoons reserved oil in a medium bowl to combine. Cover and let sit 45 minutes to marinate.
  4. Just before serving, stir chopped parsley and half of fried garlic and capers into beet mixture. Scoop beet mixture onto a platter or bowl and top with remaining fried garlic and capers, and additional parsley.