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The restaurant I used to work for created a Tunisian-inspired savory oatmeal. I completely fell in love, and have been making my own version ever since (first blogged here). This one is a perfect springtime recipe that takes advantage of asparagus and sweet green peas, and pairs them with a spicy harissa oil.

1 1/2 c steel-cut oats (use certified gluten-free oats if gluten is an issue)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 c fresh or frozen green peas
2 Tbsp harissa paste
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6 stalks medium asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced on a bias
5 scallions, thinly sliced on a bias
4 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
Lemon juice, for garnish
Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional–omit for a vegan and dairy-free recipe)

1. Prepare oats according to package directions; season with salt and pepper.
2. If using fresh peas, blanch for 2 minutes and place under cold running water to cool. If using frozen, thaw.
3. Combine harissa and oil and set aside.
4. Spoon oatmeal into bowls and top each with asparagus, peas, scallions, pine nuts, lemon juice, harissa oil, and cheese (optional).

Serves 4.

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With these 40- and 50-degree days, I am getting ready for spring. This salad takes advantage of crisp, raw asparagus, both shaved with a vegetable peeler and thinly sliced for both texture and presentation. Served alongside stewed chicken to lighten the fare.

1 bunch asparagus (the thicker the stalks, the better)
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup pecorino, shaved (using a vegetable peeler)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel and discard the rough, bottom inch or two of the asparagus stalks.
2. Peel half the asparagus stalks over a bowl. Do not peel the tips: leave them whole.
3. Thinly slice the other half of the asparagus on a bias, again, leaving the tips intact.
4. Add pine nuts (I left them raw out of sheer laziness, but feel free to toast), shaved pecorino, olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Gently toss to combine.

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I love when my kitchen sings to me. Sometimes it’s a tender falsetto, other times it’s methodical rapping to a hot beat. Whatever the harmony, when ingredients come out from the shadows of my cabinets and refrigerator to reveal themselves, the song is so sweet.

This time I cooked up some quinoa with vegetable stock, according to the package’s directions (and no matter what that package says, add a bit of butter while its cooking). Meanwhile, I sauteed greens in olive oil (you can use whatever you have on hand; I had arugula leftover from a pesto recipe, and a bunch of fresh spinach that was on its way out). Soaked golden raisins (I hate the regular kind) in hot water until plump and tender, then drained. Combined all of the above, along with a healthy amount of pine nuts. Seasoned with S & P and I was good to go.

Not sure if my S.S. was expecting this for breakfast, but that’s what he got. And he wasn’t sad about it.

This would make for a lovely side dish, but has enough going on to shine as a main entree. Plus, quinoa is a complete protein, providing all the itty bitty amino acids our bodies need to, you know, do its thing. And that’s something to celebrate. In your underwear, of course.

It’s Spring, and I must accept it. I, the minority, am annoyed with the lack of the white stuff this winter, and the reality that I’ll have to let another year pass before I’ll be able to cruise down a mountain tumble down a hill on my snowboard on my butt.

To comfort my sorrows, I whipped up a big batch of arugula pesto. And it worked. I mean, who could complain while eating something that looks like this?:

In a food processor, combine arugula, Parmesan cheese, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, and S & P, using water to thin it out to the desired consistency. Since only a small amount of arugula will fit in the food processor at a time, continue to add more arugula in batches, adjusting the other ingredients and seasoning to your taste.

I tossed the pesto with bow tie pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, and a bit more grated Parmesan cheese on top.

And though I’m still not completely ready to start a new season, I look forward to the pesto.