FRESH! FRESH! FRESH!

Well by now you might get the feeling I am all about good fresh local foods, simple, classic design and uncomplicated parties. That is not to say I don’t like things to be nice. I do! No matter how simple the affair I like it to be nice. (My family and friends will attest to the attention to detail I put into every meal.)

So that being said I want to give you some ideas for nice simply delicious dishes. In our little Ahwatukee world we are lucky to have grocery stores that sell potted herbs and decent soil to grow them. At my house I have rosemary, thyme, oregano, mint and basil growing like wildfire most of the year. I pick some for almost every meal. I also grow edible flowers and pick them to make things pretty to eat. Its amazing what a few pansies will do next to a piece of cheese and boring brown crackers on a wood board. Toss on a few fresh berries and grapes and wha la!

Not to take away from dried herbs, we don’t want to let them go to waste so if you’re not going to use all you pick, dry them. Fresh herbs really impact the flavor of almost everything.

Spring Salad with Herb Garden Dressing a nice mix of greens and lettuces tossed with edible flowers, shaved radishes, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, some berries any kind of hard cheese you like such as feta or parmesan and nuts or seeds such as toasted sunflower seeds are perfect with a drizzle of Herb dressing. I make mine in the food processor but it can be chopped and mixed as easily by hand. I like lemon basil, parsley, chives, and thyme. Toss handfuls in the food processor. Add some garlic if you like it. While it is spinning squeeze in some acid, lemon juice or any kind of vinegar you like. I like white balsamic until its mixed salt and pepper then while its spinning slowly add a good quality virgin olive oil. It will emulsify and hold together giving it a creamy look. So Delicious!

Herb Butter not only looks great but taste amazing. At Thanksgiving we picked what we had, sage, Savory, thyme, rosemary chopped it up mixed it with butter ( never margarine) and smeared it under the breast of the turkey. What was left and did not touch the bird was rolled into little balls and served with the rolls. “How fancy” was one guest comment. I say so delicious on the vegetables, on rolls and showing through the browned skin of the gorgeous bird. The uncut Herbs garnished the Turkey platter.

Rosemary Chicken Breast I eat Chicken four to five times a week.Most of us do. Grilled Chicken simmered in a simple lemon cream sauce with rosemary will not be that same boring chicken dish. Grill or pan sear your breast until halfway cooked. Heat some Olive oil in a fry pan, add some chopped green onions, glove of garlic and fresh rosemary. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice (or white wine), salt and pepper then sprinkle in a tablespoon of flour, stir until you get a paste. Slowly pour in some half and half or (heavy cream) stirring quickly until the cream thickens slightly. Add the chicken breasts and let simmer until they are cooked through 165 degrees. Garnish with Fresh Rosemary Sprigs and lemon wheels.

Brown or Jasmine Rice, Israeli Couscous, or simply boiled redskin potatoes are a good starch option.

Roasted or Grilled Spring Vegetables Asparagus, Bell peppers all colors, bok choy, zucchini, yellow squash, fennel, eggplant, broccoli, green onions, mushrooms, onions, are all great choices. Pick the ones you like. Consider the colors together and textures.If you are going to grill them slice them flat if you roast them bigger cubes are better. Toss with the leftover Herb Garden dressing and place in a grill basket to Grill or on a sheet pan to roast in the oven. You will know when they are done. BE careful of flame ups on the grill from the olive oil. A spray bottle standing by is a good idea.

Enjoy what the garden has to offer (or the local markets) and the freshness of Spring. It is my favorite time for food. Remember to keep it simply, pretty and fresh!