Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Apr 13, 2008 at 9:19am

Is it…Spring? Dare I say the word? Oh, it’s still colder than a witches you-know-what out there, brrr. But the snow-rain mix has ceased, the sun has peeked out, and the forecast is for sunshine! Sweet, warm, sunshine, well into the week. I think we may have had our last snowstorm. I think I may have pushed my last soup post (not that I won’t be making soup, but you know, not all weekend). May you feel the warmth of sunshine on your shoulders, and may it make you happy. (I’ll stop with the corniness there, don’t worry. Lalalaaa!)

So, let’s see, what to make on a Promises-to-be-Spring Sunday? Hmmm… Spring = lamb in my mind, but that won’t work for tonight (and anyhow, I’m saving my lamb card to play at an upcoming dinner party). But I have to admit, some chops, rubbed with minced garlic, olive oil, and salt, grilled to crusty perfection… Yeah, that sounds pretty incredible.

Oh! I just had a lovely idea. There’s a gorgeous Spring menu in Alice Waters’Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook, simple and elegant. (I’ve never had the pleasure of eating at the restaurant – someday! – however, enjoy this blogger’s terrific post about dining a la Alice; photo of the restaurant is from the post.) I’m including the three savory dishes from the Spring menu; any one of them would be lovely for dinner (and of course, altogether, they would be stunning). Her intro:

Wild Mushrooms on Croutons
Thin Pasta with Spring Vegetables

Charcoal-Grilled Salmon with Grilled Red Onions

When I think of spring, I immediately think of salmon – those first young delicate-fleshed fish that seduce everyone in the dining room. This menu is meant to directly complement the salmon; little croutons with the last of the fresh morels; the first peas and asparagus with very delicate thin pasta

Suggested wines: This menu calls for new, young wines – perhaps a fresh Bourgogne Aligote and a Beaujolais with the grilled salmon.

Sheesh, just reading the recipes feels like a warm, fragrant breeze. So nice. (Recipes posted in comments, below.)

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  1. By Stephanie on April 13, 2008 at 11:28AM

    Charcoal-Grilled Salmon with Grilled Red Onions
    From The Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook by Alice Waters
    Serves 6

    2 lbs. salmon fillets
    2 medium red onions
    6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
    salt and pepper

    Prepare a medium-hot grill. Cut 2 lbs. salmon fillets into 6 pieces of equal thickness. Slice 2 red onions about 3/8-inch thick crosswise. Brush both sides of onions and salmon with oil. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

    Put the onions on the grill in a place where the heat is low. Grill the onions for 5 minutes, turn, and grill for 5 minutes.

    Grill the salmon over medium-hot fire for 3 minutes, turn, and grill for 3 minutes, until they are firm and springy when pressed with a finger. Serve the salmon and onions on warm plates.

  2. By Stephanie on April 13, 2008 at 11:21AM

    Thin Pasta with Spring Vegetables
    Adapted from The Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook by Alice Waters
    Serves 6

    1 1/2 lbs. fresh unshelled fava beans
    12 oz. tender unshelled peas
    1/2 lb. asparagus
    8 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
    12-15 chervil sprigs or 8-10 basil leaves, minced
    6-8 Italian parsley sprigs, minced
    salt and pepper
    1-2 cloves garlic, minced
    3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
    1 1/4 lbs. fresh pasta cut very fine or spaghettini

    Shell fava beans and remove the outer skin from each bean. Shell peas and mix with the fava beans. Snap the tough ends from asparagus, peel just to the tips, and julienne. Blanch the vegetables together in an abundant amount of boiling salted water for 10 seconds. Drain.

    Make an herb butter with softened butter, minced chervil or basil, and minced parsley. Season.

    Bring plenty of salted water to boil for the pasta. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add garlic and blanched vegetables and heat until warmed through. Season.

    Cook the pasta al dente, about 40 seconds (perhaps a bit longer if using dried spaghettini). Drain, return to pot, and toss off heat with the vegetables and herb butter. Season. Serve on warm plates.

  3. By Stephanie on April 13, 2008 at 11:12AM

    Wild Mushrooms on Croutons
    From The Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook by Alice Waters
    Serves 6

    About 1/3 lb. fresh wild mushrooms (boletus, chanterelles, or morels; do not substitute dried mushrooms)
    9 thin slices of bread from a large, crusty loaf (i.e. Italian peasant loaf)
    1/2 c. melted butter
    2 Tbsp. light olive oil
    2 Tbsp. butter
    1/2 tsp. minced garlic
    4-5 sprigs Italian parsley

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Carefully clean and trim the wild mushrooms. Cut them into 1/4-inch slices and set aside. Cut the bread slices in half diagonally and brush both sides lightly with the melted butter. Bake the bread slices for 10 minutes, until the croutons are golden brown (watch carefully).

    While the croutons are baking, sauté the mushrooms over medium-low heat in olive oil and butter with garlic for 5-7 minutes, until they are tender but not limp.

    Arrange the mushrooms on the croutons and garnish with 4 or 5 springs Italian parsley leaves. Put three croutons on each of six warm plates and serve.