Phil’s City Kitchen: Italian Spring Recipes

15 May, 2015

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I love it when the seasons change – allowing a fresh outlook and that season’s time-specific produce to come into our kitchens.

And spring is one of the best – emerging from a dark, cold, grey winter comes an optimistic warming up; bringing us colourful produce like broad beans, English peas, asparagus, artichokes and spring lamb.

And I love the Italian way of cooking with spring ingredients – no frills, but with lots of flavour, and really honouring the ingredients at hand.

These Italian spring recipes are zinging with the energy of spring and are simple and made for sharing – I like to serve family-style on big plates for tucking into.

Lamb Spiedini

A kind of Italian lamb kebab, in Italy, spiedini is often served as party food. Served here with a bold and punchy more-ish sauce, salsa rosso, this is a flavour-packed lamb dish to make meat-lovers very happy.

Serves 4 allowing 2 skewers per person.

Ingredients:
500g minced lamb
1 x large red onion (peeled and finely chopped)
3 x garlic cloves (peeled and finely chopped)
1 x red chilli (deseeded and chopped)
1 x whole egg beaten
1 x sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves removed (finely chopped)
Olive oil
Sea salt & black pepper (to taste)
5 x wooden skewers (soaked in water for 2 hours) or metal skewers

Method:
1.) Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes till soft and golden, and then allow to cool.
2.) Place the minced lamb in a bowl and add the cooked onion and garlic, the chilli, rosemary, egg and some salt and pepper.
3.) Divide the meat mix to wrap around 8 skewers.

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4.) To cook, bake in the oven at 180°c for 8-10 minutes until cooked through. Or grill on a BBQ for 3/4 minutes on each side until cooked through.

Salsa Rosso

Ingredients:
1 x bunch of flat Leaf parsley (picked)
1 x jar of piquillo peppers, I use Brindisa (see our recent piece on the brilliant retailer and restaurant group: Redefining Restaurant Chains, Featuring Brindisa)
1 x peeled clove of garlic (finely chopped and then crushed with coarse sea salt)
1 x lemon (zest & juice)
1 x handful of capers (rinsed)
6 x salted anchovy fillets
8 x tablespoons olive oil
1 x tablespoon of red wine vinegar
Sea salt & black pepper (to taste)

Method:
1.) Chop the parsley, piquillo peppers, capers and anchovies by hand and put in a bowl, then add all of the other ingredients.
2.) Mix thoroughly, taste and adjust seasoning.

Lamb Chops Scottadito

In Italian, the word scottadito means burnt fingers. This Roman dish is named scottadito because the lamb chops are so delicious that you can’t resist eating them sizzling hot, straight from the grill and consequently burning your fingers!

A hero of a dish – this is a crowd-pleasing spring lamb recipe.

Serves 4.

Ingredients:
2 x cloves garlic, finely chopped and crushed with sea salt
1 x tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
Lemon zest from 1 x unwaxed lemon
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt & black pepper
8 x lamb cutlets

Method:
1.) In a small bowl mix together the garlic, rosemary, lemon zest, olive oil, salt and pepper.
2.) Place the lamb chops in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over them, turn the cops to coat both sides. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

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3.) Heat a griddle pan till very hot. Place the chops on the griddle pan turning once, 5 minutes per side for medium rare. The outside will be well seared with the insides still pink.

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Orzo, Artichoke, Asparagus, Pea, Broad Bean and Mint Salad

A generous seasonal salad bursting with spring greens, this dish with strong Italian influences is truly a celebration of the produce of the moment, and is a natural match for our lamb dishes.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
100g of Orzo
1 x bunch asparagus (trimmed & chopped)
8 x baby artichokes
1 x bunch spring onions (chopped)
200g fresh shelled peas
300g fresh shelled broad beans
100ml white wine
2 x cloves garlic (peeled & thinly sliced)
Sea salt & black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1 x lemon (juice of)
1 x bunch of mint (picked & roughly chopped)

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Method:
1.) Cook the orzo according to the packet instructions, cool under running water and dress with a tablespoon of olive oil to prevent sticking.
2.) Prepare the artichokes by taking off any tough outer leaves. With a small paring knife, peel away the stringy outside of the stalks and then peel the base of the artichokes where they meet the stalk.
3.) Cut each in half lengthways and if there is any hairy choke (the middle), scoop it out.
4.) Cut the artichokes into thin slices and put into a bowl of cold water with a squeeze of lemon juice, to prevent them from discolouring.
5.) If the shelled broad beans are big, blanch in boiling water and remove the jackets.
6.) Heat some olive oil in a large pan and add spring onions and garlic and cook gently until soft, but not coloured.
7.) Add the artichokes, asparagus, peas and broad beans and then the white wine.
8.) Cover the pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until just tender, then season to taste.

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9.) Take off the heat and add the lemon juice and chopped mint. Transfer to a large baking tray to cool down quickly so that the peas do not overcook and shrivel.
10.) When the vegetables are cool, mix in with the orzo, then taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

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