Italian Spring Recipes: 3 Ideas For Fresh Greens

Learn how to prepare an asparagus salad with burrata, a fresh pea sformato and risotto with rucola.
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Spring is hope, spring is light, spring is life – and spring is all about a new beginning. As the clocks move forward and the days grow longer, we begin to wake from our long winter sleep and flowers seem to bloom almost overnight. Life always appears lighter and happier and we tend to prepare lighter Italian spring recipes that celebrate the return of bright blue skies and sunny afternoons.

We’re always thrilled to welcome spring at Il Ghiottone Umbro because it brings such an abundance of beautiful produce. After a long winter, the market stalls in Todi light up with greens of every shade – from broad beans and fresh peas to wild asparagus and carciofi. This month, we’re sharing some of our favorite spring recipes from Kitchen Notes, our downloadable seasonal recipe bundles designed to bring joy to your table.

Raw Asparagus Salad with Hazelnuts and Burrata

Sometimes you just want to keep it simple. For us, spring cooking is very much about doing less – the produce is so fresh and fragrant, there’s no need to overcomplicate the cooking. You’ll want to find some good burrata for this dish and leave it on the kitchen counter for a few hours so it is at room temperature. You can also toast the hazelnuts for extra flavor!

Ingredients:

Serves 2

  • 100 g green asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • 40 g toasted hazelnuts, lightly crushed
  • zest of half a lemon + a little lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + extra to serve
  • a few sprigs of marjoram, leaves only
  • fine sea salt and black pepper
  • 2 small burrata
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • edible flowers, optional

Directions:

Pour olive oil into a large bowl and season with lemon zest, juice, salt and pepper. Add hazelnuts and marjoram and mix.

Make sure all the tough ends of the asparagus are removed. Then slice them into long strips. If they are small just cut them in half on the long side, otherwise in quarters. Place in the dressing and gently mix to coat the asparagus.

Gently tear the burrata in half and arrange on plates. Arrange some asparagus on the plate and drizzle over the dressing and the hazelnuts.

Sformato with Fresh Peas and Mint

When you find the first sweet peas at the market, you know spring is here. We have fond childhood memories eating peas straight from the pods in the garden and cook with them all spring long. This sformato recipe is not only delicious, it is also a great antipasto for guests because you can prep everything in advance – then just bake when you are ready to serve.

Ingredients:

Serves 4

  • 250 g podded peas
  • 250 g ricotta
  • 50 g grated parmesan + extra for dusting
  • 1 egg
  • 50 ml cream
  • 2 tbsp bread crumbs
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 garlic gloves, peeled
  • 1 handful of mint, keep the stalks
  • a little soft butter
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fine sea salt and black pepper

Directions:

Place garlic and mint stalks in a small pan of salted water. Once cooking, add the peas and blanch for a minute. Drain and refresh under cold water.

Remove the stalks and place peas and garlic in a small food processor or a pestle and mortar. Process until you have a puree.

Place puree in a bowl together with ricotta, parmesan, egg and cream. Gently mix together and season with lemon zest, salt and pepper.

Grease 4 ramekins with butter and dust with parmesan, shake off excess. Divide the ricotta mixture amongst the ramekins. These can now be stored in the fridge for a few hours.

When you are ready to enjoy, preheat your oven to 200c degrees. Remove sformato from the fridge and sprinkle with the bread crumbs and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until lightly risen and golden. Enjoy right away.

Risotto with lemon and rucola

This is one of our go-to recipes when we’re facing a (nearly) empty fridge. We always have a little butter, parmesan and lemons on hand and the rucola grows fresh in our garden. If you have your own garden, we really encourage you to plant some rucola. It will change your view on this misunderstood green that is extremely versatile and much tastier than anything you’ll find at the supermarket.

Ingredients:

Serves 2-3

  • 250 g risotto rice
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • 2 sticks of celery, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 50 g butter
  • 150 ml white wine
  • 75 g rucola
  • zest of 1 lemon and juice from a half
  • 50 g parmesan
  • sea salt and black pepper

Directions:

Melt half the butter in a medium pan. Sauté onion and celery for 10 minutes on medium heat without taking any color. Heat stock and adjust seasoning.

Add rice to the onion and stir to coat, then pour in the wine. Let it cook until wine has almost evaporated, then start adding a ladle of the stock, while stirring. Once the rice has absorbed the stock add another ladle. Continue in this manner until rice is al dente - about 18-20 minutes. At the end of the cooking add lemon zest and juice.

Chop rucola finely, keep a few leaves for decoration. Once ready, remove pan from the heat and stir in chopped rucola, parmesan and the rest of the butter. If needed, you can add a little extra stock or boiling water.

Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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