Put spring on your plate

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Put away those recipes for hearty winter soups, heavy roasts and try out some lighter, fresher options

 green-asparagus-edible-flowers

Although the weather seems to be a bit confused, thinking that it was Spring a while back, it’s officially here. And what a beautiful start to it with plenty of sunshine.

This means it’s time to stop cooking heavy meals, and swap them for lighter, fresher, healthier options. It’s time to get the salads bowls back out, clean off the barbeque and put away the slow cooker.

Mango and prawn salad

It’s coming up to mango season (finally!) and when combined with prawns, you know that the warm weather is finally here. This is a quick and easy one. Perfect for throwing together after guests have arrived for a dinner party or taking on a picnic.

Serves 4

1kg uncooked large king prawns
1 fresh long red chilli, chopped finely

2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsps sesame oil
2 tsps finely chopped fresh coriander root and stem mixture
2 cloves garlic, crushed

5g fresh ginger, grated
1 large mango, sliced thinly
1 large red capsicum, sliced thinly
1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced thinly
½ cup loosely packed fresh coriander leaves
2 green onions (green shallots), sliced thinly

lime dressing
1/3 cup lime juice
2 tsp fish sauce

1 tbsp grated palm sugar

Devein and shell prawns, leaving tails on. Combine sauce, oil, chilli, coriander, ginger and garlic and prawns in a bowl, and chill in refrigerator.
For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake well.
Cook prawns in a hot frying pan until the colour. Combine prawns with dressing and remaining ingredients in a salad bowl.

Asparagus all wrapped up

Serves 4

16 asparagus spears, trimmed

4 very thin slices prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise

A pinch of salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

Toss asparagus with oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Wrap 1 length of prosciutto around the middle of 4 asparagus spears if you want a bunch, and repeat.

Oil the grill rack. Grill the asparagus bundles, turning once or twice, until the asparagus is tender and charred in spots, about 10 minutes.

Pea and mint salad with a dash of fresh goat’s cheese

Serves 4

2 medium red radishes, sliced thinly
1 medium red apple, sliced thinly

½ cup (80g) shelled fresh peas
1 small radicchio, leaves separated

5 small pale celery stalks, sliced thinly
½ cup loosely packed young celery leaves
1 small frisee lettuce , trimmed
½ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
220g goat’s cheese, sliced

honey mustard dressing
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp olive oil

1 tblsp honey

1 tblsp lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Boil or microwave the peas until just tender. Drain, them and refresh under cold water, and drain again. Combine the peas with the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
Combine all of the honey mustard dressing ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake well. Just before serving, drizzle the honey mustard dressing over ingredients and lightly toss.

For an extra in season touch to any meal, add some edible flowers. For a salad you could use nasturtiums, and for a dessert, try a sprinkle of pansies. Just remember that pansies’ pistils and stamens must be removed prior to being eaten. There are plenty of other options, but these two are easy to add to a meal.