Posted by by Molly Ledin, food experience manager
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
When the snow finally melts and the trees begin to bud, I find myself planning my first al fresco dining event. I have to admit, my first thought is, “Will the Minnesota weather cooperate with my grandiose plans to dine under the branches of my big oak tree or will she turn to rain and wind therefore forcing me to my always planned ‘plan b’?” Either way, I assure myself that this will be the second focus of this event. The first will be the food. I start to plan…what are those signature edible spring treats? Certainly there the standards - asparagus, pea pods, but for those more adventurous, fiddlehead ferns. I sauté these gems with a little butter and finish with a grind of sea salt – it is springtime perfection!
Years ago, a chef friend of mine hosted a dinner at my home. Somewhere along the line, I had shared with him one of my favorite memories…walking out to the garden and picking fresh green beans with my dad. We’d run to the house and steam a potful of beans and he and I would share a lunch of springtime in a bowl. From then on, that is how I had always prepared my green beans – fresh from the garden, steamed to perfection and finished with butter and a touch of salt. Well, at this dinner, I found myself sitting down to our first course – blanched and chilled green beans mounded ever so gently on the plate and simply topped with a few large shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano (a vegetable peeler created the perfect peels) drizzled with a tiny amount of white truffle oil and finished with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. The taste of this starter salad was fresh and crisp, with subtle hints of richness from the truffle oil and the powerful bit of the cheese, finished with a slight crunch of the sea salt and pepper. It has since become a staple of many a lunch or dinner gathering…whether inside or out.