Fresh, vibrant and flavorful spring dishes

April ushers in new life and fresh, tender springtime greens and veggies. We welcome the longer days, and enjoy the warmth of the sun. The air smells sweet and the tender young vegetables that appear in the market are full of vitality.

The beautiful leafy spring greens, crisp baby radishes, asparagus, peas, arugula and radicchio all make their way into our meal planning and onto our plates. Loaded with vitamins, these veggies are ready to perform a sort of spring cleaning for our bodies. So come on, let’s celebrate with some dishes using some of these delectable spring vegetables.

Organic Mixed Spring Greens Tossed with Oil and Vinegar

I love buying the fresh organic salad greens that have been triple washed. No need to wash them again, water will just break down the tender leaves and make them mushy. Often times when I’m putting together a meal quickly, I won’t even put the greens in a bowl, I’ll just put a handful of greens on my plate, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on the leaves, a pinch of coarse salt and a splash of balsamic vinegar. If you like to mix up a quick and tasty dressing here are a couple recipes. Often times I’ll add some chopped fresh veggies for added color, nutrients and taste. Tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, carrots, red or yellow peppers are some of my favorites.

Note: For drizzling extra virgin olive oil I always put my oil in a decanter or cruet with a spout. Saves time and you have more control over the amount of oil you are drizzling.

Ingredients for easy dressing:

  • 4 Tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons acid (balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar or lemon juice)
  • Pinch coarse salt Fresh cracked pepper
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes if you like a little heat
  • Optional: Finely minced fresh herb (flat leaf parsley, thyme, oregano or tarragon.) Use one or a variety of fresh herbs

Note: You can double this recipe if you need more dressing for a larger salad or more people.


  1. Combine oil and acid, salt, pepper, and other optional ingredients in a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Stir with a whisk until well blended. Drizzle over salad of your choice.

Spring Asparagus Risotto

Creamy asparagus risotto, cooked with fresh herbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano and a touch of lemon. Perfect spring meatless main dish or wonderful topped with grilled shrimp or scallops.

  • 4 ½ cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup shallots (chopped)
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 oz. dry white wine
  • ¾ lb. thin asparagus spears (tough ends trimmed, cut 2-inches long)
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano- Reggiano (plus more for serving)
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest for garnish


  1. In a large saucepan, heat broth over medium-high heat.
  2. When it boils, reduce heat to a simmer and maintain over low heat, taste for salt and adjust as needed.
  3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil and add the shallots; sauté 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add the rice; mix well so the rice is coated throughout and sauté until the rice is slightly translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed.
  6. Add a ladleful of the simmering stock; stir and wait until it is absorbed before adding another ladleful, stirring gently and almost constantly.
  7. Continue this process until the rice is creamy, tender to the bite, but slightly firm in the center.
  8. Add the asparagus, along with the last ladle of broth and continue cooking 5 minutes, total time should be about 25-30 minutes from the time you started.
  9. When all the liquid is absorbed, remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice, parsley and Parmigiano- Reggiano.
  10. Serve immediately and top with fresh cracked pepper, lemon zest and extra grated cheese if desired.

Farfalle Pasta with Cream, Salmon and Peas

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 12 ounces (1½ pound) Farfalle or Penne Pasta
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot chopped
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Juice of one fresh lemon
  • ½ pound fresh salmon
  • 2 Tablespoons sliced thin scallions (green part only)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh dill snipped with kitchen shears
  • Coarse sea salt or kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper


  • Boil pasta in a large pot, less than al-dente. Drain pasta, reserving ½ cup water.
  • In a large wok or skillet, sauté shallots until soft and wilted. Add the wine and cook down until almost evaporated. Add cream and bring to a boil. Add the peas and just let it cook for a minute or two in the cream.
  • In the meantime bake or cook in a skillet the salmon piece, adding the 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook for about 8 minutes (will be cooking for an additional 2 minutes combined in the pasta.)
  • Add pasta to cream mixture, along with the lemon juice, lemon zest. With a fork, flake the salmon in small pieces and add to the pasta mixture. Add the scallions, 1 tablespoon of the fresh dill and reserved pasta water, if needed. Adjust the seasoning with sea salt and pepper. You can also drizzle a little bit of the extra virgin olive oil on top.

Latest news update: Viva Italy Tours does have Italy tours lined up for fall 2021 and more in 2022. We have an easy refund and cancellation policy in place. If Italy is on your bucket list the time to book is now. We have three fabulous tours lined up in three different regions of Italy. Visit our website for all the details and call me anytime with questions.

Check out my tours at: Viva Italy Tours LLC Chef Dawn Bause Cell/text: 313-618-6559 Email:

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