My favorite time of year when ramps, fiddlehead ferns, asparagus, and sweet peas start turning up at the green grocer.  Then followed by an abundance of zucchini and eggplant.  So many wonderful recipes to choose from…below are a few of my favorites.

Wok-Fried Asparagus with Walnuts

  • 1 1/2 Lb. pencil-size asparagus
  • 2 tbs veg. oil
  • 1/2 tea round Sichuan peppercorns (or use black peppercorns)
  • 1/4 tea five-spice powder
  • 1 tea grated garlic
  • 2 tea grated ginger
  • 1 tbs dark brown sugar
  • 1-2 serrano chilies, thinly sliced
  • 2 tea soy sauce
  • 1/2 c toasted walnut halves
  • 1 tea toasted sesame oil
  • 3 green onions, slivered
  • Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Snap off & discard bottoms of asparagus, then cut into 2 in pieces

Set wok over high heat and add vegetable oil.  When hot, add asparagus and season with salt.  Stir fry for a minute, then add Sichuan pepper, five-spice power, garlic, ginger, sugar, chilies, soy sauce and walnuts.  Cook over high heat for 1-2 minutes, tossing to coat well.  Asparagus should be still firm and bright green.

Transfer to a serving plate and drizzle with sesame oil, sprinkle green onions and cilantro on top.

Sauteed Zucchini with Za’atar and Crispy Chickpeas

  • 2/3 c cooked chickpeas
  • 2 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1/4 C plus 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs puls 1 tea za’atar
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 lb small zucchini cut into 1/2 inch think half moons
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced

Rinse chickpeas and pat dry.  Spread cornstarch in a dinner plate, add chickpeas and roll them to coat.  Transfer to mesh strainer and shake to remove excess starch.

In small skillet, heat 1/4 c olive oil until shimmering hot.  Add chickpeas and cook, gently shaking the pan occasionally, until golden brown (5 minutes).  Using slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.  Sprinkle with 1 tsp. za’atar and a generous pinch of salt.  Roll chickpeas around to evenly coat.

Heat remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil in 12-inch skillet, over high heat, until shimmering hot.  Add squash, in a single layer.  Season with salt and cook undisturbed until deep golden brown (2 minutes).  Turn squash over with spatula.  Sprinkle with diced onion and 1 Tbs. za’atar and stir to blend.  Transfer zucchini to serving bowl, sprinkle with the fried chickpeas and serve.

Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes with Red Pepper Dressing

  • 2 lbs zucchini sliced lengthwise 1/2 in thick
  • 1/2 c roughly chopped roasted red pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1 tea Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1 tb lemon juice
  • 1 tea red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved and lightly salted
  • A few fresh oregano leaves and parsley for garnish
  • Olives for garnish

Bring large pot of well-salted water to boil.  Blanch zucchini strips for 1 minute, then remove and spread on kitchen towel-lined baking sheet to cool

Make the dressing:  roasted pepper, garlic, oil, mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, pepper in blender and puree until smooth.  Add salt & pepper.  Taste and adjust acidity with a few drops of lemon juice.

Arrange zucchini and cherry tomatoes on platter and sprinkle with dressing.  Add oregano, parsley and olives

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