12 Fresh Spring Dishes Showcasing the Best of the Season

Chefs love spring. Can you blame them? The days grow longer and warmer, and menus are finally doffing their comforting winter finery for lighter and brighter fare. Root vegetables and hearty braises are giving way to lighter offerings featuring a range of tasty, tender greens. Here are some of the best fresh spring dishes, sprouting up on menus near you.

Peas and Carrots, Finch & Fork, Santa Barbara, California
Finch & Fork typifies the casual, produce-forward cuisine of Santa Barbara and so do chef Siao’s Peas and Carrots. It’s the classic vegetable pairing like you’ve never seen it before, with burrata, golden oranges, Marcona almonds and green goddess dressing. It’s a playful dish, but also drop-dead gorgeous. Make a reservation at Finch & Fork.

Spring Dishes

Kale Caesar Salad, The Kitchen Step, Jersey City, New Jersey
Executive chef Ryan DePersio says, “With its peak season approaching, you’re probably seeing mint pop up at your local farmer’s markets or in your grocery store. Mint’s hardy, cool, and sweet flavor profile makes it one of the most versatile of herbs and one that plays perfectly in both sweet and savory dishes.” Mint is the unexpected green in the Kale Caesar Salad. The combination of the kale’s slight bitterness with the buttery nuttiness of Gouda and the bright, clean coolness of mint transforms the more traditional heavy Caesar salad into something much more refreshing. Make a reservation at The Kitchen Step.

Spring ingredients

Saffron Chitarra Pasta, Navio, Half Moon Bay, California
Dungeness crab season finally opened the end of March in Northern California, and Navio at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay offers a dish by Chef Jason Pringle, Saffron Chitarra Pasta with fresh-caught Dungeness crab, confit fennel, and lemon. According to executive chef Xavier Salomon, “We are thrilled that we are able to serve fresh, local-caught Dungeness crabs again. Our guests love and appreciate them, and they are easily our number one selling item on the menu when they are in season.” Make a reservation at Navio.

Navio

Poulpe Grille, Gaspar Brasserie, San Francisco, California
One of the best dishes on the menu right now at this intimate French spot downtown is the octopus. The Poulpe Grille features charred-yet-tender octopus, and the bright green accents to the dish add clean levity. It’s served with spring peas, fresh dill, and green garlic. Make a reservation at Gaspar Brasserie.

Spring ingredients

Tomato and Burrata, HEXX Kitchen + Bar, Las Vegas, Nevada
Executive chef Matthew Piekarski’s favorite springtime dish is Tomato and Burrata. Piekarski roasts Campari tomatoes to concentrate the flavors. The dish is served with creamy burrata, sourdough toast, olive oil, and a truffle honey reduction. “Every ingredient is light and simple,” says Piekarski. “But together, the flavors sing in perfect harmony — the perfect complement to a warm, spring day.” Make a reservation at HEXX Kitchen + Bar.

Spring dishes

Spring Citrus and Olio Nuovo Salad, Shed, Healdsburg, California
Fine dining Chef Perry Hoffman has landed at the more casual Shed in Healdsburg where he enjoys sourcing ingredients from local gardens and uses lots of fresh herbs and greens. His love for foraged ingredients is so great; he’s even teased by his staff for his propensity for adding blossoms to almost every dish. His Spring Citrus and Olio Nuovo salad features Hass avocado, and the first of spring greens. Make a reservation at Shed.

Spring Dishes

Lamb Belly with Huckleberry and Cipollini, Oriole, Chicago, Illinois
Lamb belly paired with huckleberry and cipollini is the final savory course in the 15-course tasting menu at Oriole and features an ingredient that is a true harbinger of spring — ramps. This tender green is a member of the wild onion family. The lamb is brined for 24 hours and then cooked for three days confit-style, so the result is meltingly tender. Make a reservation at Oriole.

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Dig Your Claws Into 7 of the Best Crab Dishes in Maryland

In scientific circles, Maryland’s famed blue crab is referred to as Callinectes sapidus. Roughly translated, the Latin name means “beautiful swimmer that is savory.” These incomparably tasty crustaceans thrive in the brackish waters of the picturesque Chesapeake Bay, where they are harvested annually from roughly April until November. Because more than 50 percent of all the blue crab fished in this country comes from this stretch of the Atlantic, the Old Line State has rightfully earned a reputation as the go-to place to enjoy crabs. Here are seven of the best crab dishes you must try the next time you visit.

Wit & Wisdom, Baltimore
Whenever we walk into a restaurant and they have multiple iterations of blue crab, we always find ourselves torn. Do we go with the traditional cakes or try something else? Decisions, decisions! They make it easy at this waterfront eatery overlooking Baltimore’s much-Instagrammed harbor by offering a trio of preparations: crab cake with charred corn succotash, crispy soft shell with marinated cherry tomatoes and avocado, and a spicy tomato stew. Make a reservation at Wit & Wisdom.

Best Crab Dishes in Maryland

Iron Rooster, Annapolis
We love pancakes. We adore fried green tomatoes. And we have a lifelong passion for crab cakes. So this Cakes on Cakes dinner entrée is pretty much heaven for us. Jumbo lump crab cakes lightly seasoned with Dijon, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sautéed onions, and garlic sit atop cornmeal-crusted fried green tomatoes, which rest on cornmeal pancakes. The glorious triple stack is drenched with chipotle hollandaise and arrives with stalks of grilled asparagus. Make a reservation at Iron Rooster.

Best Crab Dishes in Maryland

City Café, Baltimore
For fans of blue crabs, soft shells are considered the greatest of delicacies. Having just molted their hard shell, they have a tender exterior, so the crab can be eaten in their entirety. This can be a little disconcerting for first timers, but let us assure you – they’re delicious. When you bite into the soft shell, it crackles and cracks like a potato chip with just the slightest bit of chew. Chef Jennings encrusts one with macadamia nuts and garnishes it with a lemon basil-accented tomato-avocado salad. It rests atop a hillock of buttery mashed potatoes. Make a reservation at City Café.

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On the Menu: Chefs Share Dishes Inspired by Mom

Mothers love us, care for us, and, of course, feed us. Our earliest experiences with food are largely shaped by the caring folks who cooked for and with us as we grew up. Not surprisingly then, many chefs are using their menus to pay homage to the mothers who delighted them with homespun recipes, often using garden-fresh ingredients. In honor of Mother’s Day, chefs share dishes inspired by mom.

Sergio Emilio Monleón, La Marcha, Berkeley, California
Chef Sergio Emilio Monleón was raised California but in a Spanish household and he spent eight years in Madrid. His mother made paella all the time when he was growing up and hers is the inspiration behind the restaurant’s version of Paella Mixta, which features head-on prawns, chicken, chorizo, garlic, sweet peppers, saffron, and rice. Make a reservation at La Marcha.

Dishes Inspired by Mom

Jesse Souza, Six Seven, Seattle, Washington
Executive Chef Jesse Souza says, “Spring in New England was always a time to shake off the long, dark winter and ready for the precious summer months.  My mother was and is partial to vegetables that are vibrant, bright, and bursting with the flavors of spring and early summer. She grew up spending summers in the garden, dousing sun-warmed tomatoes with fresh coarse salt. This flavor profile and garden-to-table ethic continue in Six Seven’s Heirloom Tomato Salad with Buffalo Mozzarella with Arugula Pesto and Sea Salt.” Make a reservation at Six Seven.

Dishes Inspired by Mom

Jennifer Russo, The Market by Jennifer’s, Phoenix, Arizona
Chef Jennifer Russo shares, “Our spring lamb dish with potatoes and peas is an homage to my mother Gwen in so many ways. She has always had a garden and stressed the importance of cooking seasonally to me in my childhood. She’s also a health nut and would approve of my whipped cauliflower as an alternative to potatoes. And, of course, she’s very Irish and lamb is something she’s made for me since I was a kid.” Make a reservation at The Market By Jennifer’s.

Dishes Inspired by Mom

Erik Lowe, Spaghetti Bros., San Francisco, California
With a name like Spaghetti Bros, you might assume spaghetti and meatballs are on the menu, and you’d be right. Sort of. Chef Erik Lowe makes several pasta dishes including Radiatori with Smoky Pork Sugo and Fermented Chili Oil and a scrumptious Spaghetti with Local Uni Butter, but his savory meatballs are of the Swedish variety. They are based on his grandmother’s recipe and served with plenty of lingonberry jam and crunchy bits of fried shallots. Make a reservation at Spaghetti Bros..

Dishes Inspired by Mom

William DeMarco, Crush at MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada
DeMarco, the property’s corporate executive chef, recounts,  “I have a lot of happy memories from spending time in the kitchen and learning how to cook from my Italian mother and grandmother. As any true Italian knows, Sundays are meant for pasta, and gnocchi has always been one of my favorites.” DeMarco’s classic Italian Ricotta Gnocchi at CRUSH does have some American influence; it’s served atop a pea puree and topped with braised short rib. Make a reservation at Crush at MGM Grand.

Dishes Inspired by Mom

Todd Kelly, Orchids at Palm Court, Cincinnati, Ohio
Chef Todd Kelly says that growing up, his mom would make a slow cooked lamb on Mother’s Day. She prepared the dish with home-canned vegetables from the garden. Today, he recreates it for guests at the restaurant on Mother’s Day using many of the flavors his mom did. He rubs the leg of lamb with a paste of garlic, rosemary, and parsley, and then sears it and slow cooks it. The sauce is a simple red wine and lamb stock reduction finished with Dijon mustard. Preserved carrots, spring onions, Brussels sprouts, hedgehog mushrooms, and, if available, foraged morel mushrooms round out this spring offering. Make a reservation at Orchids at Palm Court.

Dishes inspired by mom

Rupesh Shetty, Inde Fusion, Scottsdale, Arizona
Fusion cooking allows restaurateur Shetty to combine flavors from his childhood with American influences. He says, “The shrimp and grits dish reminds me of growing up in Mumbai and experiencing my mother’s homemade shrimp curry and all of her incredible cooking. In keeping with our theme of the restaurant, we took a typically Western dish and infused it with a dash of Eastern flavor — so local comfort food meeting masala spice is like a hug from my mom.” Make a reservation at Inde Fusion.

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Kalo Pascha! Top Restaurants for Greek Orthodox Easter Dining

Did you miss the recent sequel to My Big Fat Greek Wedding in theaters? No worries —you can still celebrate some of the best Greek family traditions on May 1 during Orthodox Easter. Featuring not only healthy Mediterranean cuisine that’s vegetarian-friendly, but earthy, unctuous lamb rubbed with herbs and garlic, roasted, spit-fired or added to soups, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re Greek or not, make a new tradition with a taste of the Old Country at one of these delicious restaurants for Greek Orthodox Easter dining.

Ouzo Bay, Baltimore, Maryland
The weeks leading up to Easter are a great time for Ouzo Bay to showcase their year-round signature dish of fresh whole fish during this period when most Greeks abstain from eating meat. But after the late-night mass the evening before Easter, the tables become boisterous with the spirit of community and celebration not only of the holiest of days but of the feast: whole roasted lamb, platters of lamb chops and shanks, family-style sides of fasolakia (braised green beans), gigantes (giant lima beans), spanakorizo (Spanish rice), horta (sautéed greens), and other roasted vegetables. Ouzo Bay offers its full dinner menu on Greek Easter Sunday with many of the same dishes and several traditional desserts to satisfy anyone whose sweet tooth wasn’t fulfilled by their Easter basket, including baklava, galaktoboureko (vanilla custard), and sokolatopita (chocolate cake). Make a reservation at Ouzo Bay.

Restaurants for Greek Orthodox Easter Dining

Loi Estiatorio, New York, New York
Holidays are always about family in Greece, says Maria Loi, but none makes her smile more than Easter. “It was a special time for me because my father would let me help him roast the lamb and work with the meat, like one of the boys,” she said. “I want everyone to experience the same happiness and joy I do!” She brings smiles to the masses with the spit-roasted whole lamb she grew up making in Roumeli in central Greece. “The lamb from Roumeli is always better, as is the tsoureki (a traditional sweet Greek Easter bread) because of the flora in the region – everything tastes brighter, cleaner, and fresher, so much so that often people will seek to spend their Easter holiday with family in Roumeli. I was very lucky to have grown up there!” Some of her seasonal specialties include kokoretsi (lamb intestines wrapped around seasoned offal) and magheritsa (lamb offal soup), though Loi Estiatorio regulars can also enjoy her crowd-pleaser, the feta mac n’ cheese. “When I was growing up, we ate a very similar dish, and my siblings and I loved it,” Loi said. “When I came to the States, I saw how popular the American version was but also how rich and fattening it was. I thought to myself that I could make it better and healthier, with Greek olive oil and feta cheese … and I was right!” Wrap up your meal with her take on sokolatopitaMake a reservation at Loi Estiatorio.

Restaurants for Greek Orthodox Easter Dining

Kipos Greek Taverna, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Most chefs wouldn’t embrace fasting, but for chef Giorgios Bakatsias it’s an important ritual and a tribute to his childhood growing up in Karpenisi, Greece, with his parents, brother Terry, and sister Olga, who now cook with him at Kipos. “Fasting cleanses the soul and your palate,” he says. “It’s not just a religious act but … [it] makes me able to distinguish and identify different flavors” afterward. Eggs play an important role not just for eating, but for play: each year eggs hand-dyed by Olga are used by diners to try and crack each others’ on Sunday. It is believed that the diner with the last egg will enjoy a year of good fortune. Terry’s rolo kima, a Greek Easter meatloaf, is stuffed with egg, as is the sweet braided tsoureki bread. And, the star of the show is savory roasted lamb with garlic, oregano, thyme, and olive oil. Make a reservation at Kipos Greek Taverna.

Restaurants for Greek Orthodox Easter Dining

Pelekasis at Wink & Nod, Boston, Massachusetts
One of chef Brendan Pelley’s earliest food memories is the smell of slow-roasted lamb with garlic, so this season’s specialty of leg of lamb with horta (lemon-braised greens), lamb-fat-roasted potatoes, rosemary, garlic and herb puree is no surprise. Feeding four to eight people, Pelley’s $150 feast (prepared with 24 hours’ advance notice) is an homage to what his family ate on Greek Easter and his papou (grandfather), who helmed weekly Sunday lamb roasts. Pelekasis — Pelley’s original family name—is an exclusive pop-up inside Wink & Nod that is so popular its run has been extended through June. Make a reservation at Wink & Nod.

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