No Recipe Required

Spring’s first edible gems are so delicious that recipes are not required. Learn more at TwiceasTasty.com.
May began with a week of firsts for Twice as Tasty. I had my first experience baking in a real woodfired pizza oven during a Grilled Sourdough Pizza workshop, and I taught my first Fine Dining: Front Country workshop for Outsiety. In both classes, I was able to share first cuttings freshly snipped from the garden. This week, I also baked the first stalks of rhubarb into a dessert to share with friends.

My first cuttings are almost always from perennials pushing up through the ground year after year. You probably think little of these plants when you see them in a produce section: they’re not showy, or colorful, or supersized. But when they’re the first edibles to pop through your garden soil, on their own time and with no effort on your part, they’re gems. And my favorite ways to eat them are so simple that you don’t even need a recipe.
Read more about simple spring meals

Fresh Fillings

If you grow a giant garden, each day’s harvest fills multiple boxes and baskets and then every spare corner of your refrigerator. But if you grow a more reasonably sized garden, your harvest likely comes in dibs and dabs: a couple of cucumbers and tomatoes, perhaps a pepper, a small mound of greens, a handful of herbs. Combining these garden-fresh favorites into a meal that showcases your effort often means coming up short for a standard recipe.

This is why I love fillings and stuffings; the ingredients are endlessly variable, a little goes a long way, and the result is a sparkling-fresh meal that highlights produce just off the vine. Whether you’re filling summer rolls, stuffing squash blossoms, or even building Grilled Fish Tacos, the key is to use less filling than you think you’ll need. A gentle hand while wrapping delicate rice paper or petals around that filling is also essential for success.
Learn to make Summer Rolls and Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Basil

I love basil. Its flavor really only pops when it’s just off the plant—and boy, does it pop. Sweet, Italian, lemon, lime, Thai, purple—there are so many options, all with a slightly different taste. Unfortunately, once the garden winds down, that fresh taste is difficult to find, particularly if your house, like mine, lacks a sunny windowsill. Dried basil is a kitchen staple off-season, but it lacks the full summer flavor.

That’s where pesto comes in. Its texture and flavor don’t match the basil leaf you pinch off the stem and slip into your mouth while you harvest, but it will remind you of that leaf when you drop a cube into a dish midwinter. I prefer to save my basil as a pesto base—minus the pine nuts and Parmesan—so that it’s versatile. The same technique lets you make pesto with other ingredients, such as pea shoots and garlic scapes. Learn to make Basil Pesto Base and Spring Pesto with Pea Shoots