Menus and Recipes

Early Spring Menu

Spring Onion Soup with Green Nettles
Festive Couscous and Peas
Mussels in Light Garlic Sauce
Creamy White Beans with Cilantro and Lemon
Blanched Deep Green Watercress
Shitake Mushrooms and Snap Peas Sauté
Apple carrot balls

anne-marie in garden


As soon as the days lengthen and the warm winds return the nettles will peek out of the ground. Pick the sprouting tops through the month of May. Forage wild onions and use instead of scallions. On colder spring days sauté the nettles first, then simmer them for 30 minutes before adding the scallions. Try  seasoning with turmeric and ginger.

      2 cups of nettles tops, lightly packed
      3 large spring onions (scallions)
      1 quart light soup stock
      2 teaspoons dark sesame or extra virgin olive oil
      2 tablespoons brown rice miso

Rinse the nettles well by placing them in a bowl with cold water. Move them around before gently lifting them out of the water. The dirt will settle at the bottom.
Place the drained nettles on a cutting board and cut them fine.
Rinse the spring onions and cut them on a long diagonal. Leave some of the green tops for garnish.
Bring the stock to a boil.
Heat a pot for soup. Add the oil then spring onions and nettles. Sauté for 1-2 minutes.
Add the boiling stock and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
In a small bowl dilute the miso in a little of the broth. Add miso to the soup and let it simmer 1-2 minutes. Serve garnished.


Couscous is made from coarsely ground and steamed wheat, originating in Morocco. This dish is created with a whole wheat couscous and fresh shelled peas but frozen peas can be used instead. The dish is light, fluffy and festive.

      2 cups water
      1 cup couscous

      1 teaspoon vinegar
      1 pinch sea salt
      1 cup shelled peas

In a small pot bring water to a boil. Add vinegar, sea salt and couscous. Stir gently until the water returns to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer for 4 minutes.
Add peas on top of the couscous and simmer for another minute.
Remove the pot from the heat and let the couscous and peas sit covered for 10 more minutes.
Fluff the couscous with a fork and serve hot.


If you are able to get fresh mussels in shell instead of frozen boil the wine and garlic first. Then add the mussels and cook for 3 minutes or until all mussels open.

        4 cups or one bag frozen mussels in shells
        1 cup white wine
        1 tablespoon dried garlic granulates

Place the frozen mussels in a pot. Add the wine and garlic. Bring the liquid to a boil and simmer until the mussels open about 5-8 minutes.
Drain the mussels and serve the cooking liquid on the side. Discard any mussels that did not open.


The northern white beans in this dish can be substitutes with baby lima or navy beans. The dish is creamy with a zest of spring. Tahini is a paste made of freshly ground roasted or raw sesame seeds. Double the recipe and serve the next day for lunch in a rolled up tortilla, as a spread or in a soup.

      1 cup northern white beans
      3 cups of water
      2-3 inch kombu sea vegetable
      1 bay leaf
      2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
      1 medium onion diced
      1/2 teaspoon sea salt
      2 tablespoons fresh ground tahini (optional)
      2 tablespoons finely cut cilantro
      1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind.

Sort through the beans, rinse and soak them for 8 hours.
Drain the beans and place them in a pressure cooker or heavy bottomed pot with three cups of water.
Bring the beans to a boil and skim off the foam that rises. Add the kombu and the bay leaf. Place the lid on the pot.  If using a pressure cooker bring it to full pressure and let the beans simmer over very low
heat for 1 hour. Bring the pressure down slowly. Otherwise let the beans boil for 3-4 hours or until completely soft. Add water from time to time.
Discard the bay leaf and any remains of the kombu.
In a saucepan heat the oil and sauté the onions for 2 minutes or until they become shinny.
Add salt and onions to the beans and boil covered until onions are soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. The beans dish can be thickened by mashing some of the beans lightly or made thinner by adding a little water.
Season the beans with tahini, cilantro and grated lemon rind.


Watercress can be found through out winter and spring watercress by  running streams. Pick watercress where the stream begins or buy them freshly cut at your local market. Blanching the watercress brings out a deep and glowing green color and removes some of the bitterness and pungent flavors. Try also gardenpurslane prepared the same way. If none of these are available serve the meal with other cooked greens.

      1 big bunch watercress
      Dashes of hot sauce  
      Clean the watercress very well several times.

Bring 1 quart of water to a boil.
Emerge the watercress in the boiling water and blanch for 20 seconds. They will shrink quite a bit.
Remove the watercress from the boiling water and submerge them in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.
Cut the watercress in 1/2 inch pieces. Serve as they are, beautiful and delicious, with a dash of hot sauce.


Shitake mushrooms are appreciated for their medicinal qualities. Fresh or dried shitake can be used in this appetizing dish. The peas complement the soft, brownish mushrooms well with their shinny green color, sweet taste and crunchy texture.

      1 pound snap peas
      1/2 pound fresh shitake mushrooms or 2 oz (1cup) dried shitake
      2 tablespoon dark roasted sesame oil or extra virgin olive oil
      1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
      2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce

If using dried shitake soak them in water for 20 minutes. Save the soaking water for soup.
Trim the ends and remove strings from the snap peas.
Trim and discard the stalk ends of the shitake mushrooms. Cut the shitake mushrooms in thick slices.
Heat a frying pan. Add oil and shitake. Sauté the mushrooms for 4 minutes over medium heat. Stir from time to time.
Add snap peas, cover the pan with a lid and let them steam for 2 minutes or until tender, bright green and crunchy.
Season the peas with maple syrup and tamari soy sauce and sauté for 1 minute.
Place the shitake and snap peas in a serving dish right away.


This dish is so refreshing and delicious that the meal doe not need a dessert. The apple carrot balls add a beautiful warm and radiant orange to the banquet.

      2 sweet apples
      2 large carrots
      1 pinch of sea salt
      4 mint leaves for decoration

Quarter the apples and core each quarter.
Grate apples and carrots finely. Add salt and mix well.
Right before serving form 6-8 balls and place them on mint leaves.

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