Recipe report: Spring produce on the plate

shaved asparagus pizza

There still may be the chance of a snowstorm in some parts of the country, but Spring has officially arrived. The earliest local salad greens, asparagus, berries and other seasonal vegetables and fruits also are arriving to freshen up menus. So the timing is right to incorporate some spring produce into the lineup, starting with these recipes.

Smoked Salmon Cakes with Grilled Asparagus and Lemon Caper Sauce

salmon cakes

Add the taste of spring to your menu with smoked salmon cakes sided by grilled asparagus and topped with a fresh lemon caper sauce. Serve the dish as a starter or small plate to welcome the season.

Click here for the recipe.

Avocado-Shrimp Spring Rolls

avocado shrimp spring rolls

Health-conscious eaters are seeking lighter snacks that will fill them up without filling them out. The bold flavors and contrasting textures of these Asian-style spring rolls fit the bill, providing lots of snacking satisfaction for minimal calories. As a bonus, they offer a generous serving of veggies.

Click here for the recipe.

Egg, Spinach, Mushroom and Brie Telera

egg telera

At the Passport Café in the Carole Weinstein International Center at the University of Richmond, in Virginia, Chef/Manager Karen Kourkoulis offers a variety of ethnic breakfast sandwiches, such as a French spinach, mushroom, egg and Brie sandwich. For the egg portion, Kourkoulis starts by making omelets, which get halved and added to each sandwich. They can even be used for the next day’s sandwich building. 

Click here for the recipe.

Mozzarella and Fresh Fruit Salad

strawberry mozzarella salad

Chef Gerald Prete of University of Colorado says this play on a caprese salad is the university’s most popular salad. “It is easy to make, and is very refreshing,” Prete says. “This salad is very bright to the eye and draws customers in immediately.” The salad features a raspberry balsamic vinegar dressing and fresh mint. Field greens and baby spinach play host to grapefruit, oranges and strawberries. Prete says any local, ripe fruit can be substituted in place of the strawberries—he suggests watermelon when it’s in season.

Click here for the recipe.

Fresh Fruit & Toasted Walnut Bruschetta

berry pound cake

Bruschetta for dessert—why not? Fresh fruit and crunchy walnuts partner up to make a healthy but craveable topping for toasted pound cake. Chef Curry developed this recipe for a chef competition, and it’s a winner as a sweet ending to a meal or an anytime snack. The whipped cream is optional.

Click here for the recipe.

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On every other Thursday of our four-week cycle menu, we allow K-8 students to pick the entree choices. The media center specialist for each of the participating schools sets up the list of entree items on a computer for voting, and the winning entrees are given to cafeteria managers two weeks before the upcoming month to put into production. Students really like this, as it promotes ownership of the menu.

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We highlight our North Carolina products on a large chalkboard in our dining halls, and also list any produce we bring in from our own agroecology farm. It helps tell our story—positive and local.

Ideas and Innovation
raised garden beds

We have raised garden beds that residents can reserve and use to grow their own plants. Whenever a resident brings me fresh produce from their own garden, I try and incorporate it into a dish. If I do end up using it, I will display the resident’s name and what the produce was next to the dish on the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chartwells teaching kids

Curriculum for the mobile teaching kitchen centers around a single kid-friendly recipe, using ingredients that can provide talking points for nutrition, sustainability and food origins. “The recipe is the lesson,” Saidel says. “Every ingredient is an opportunity to talk.”

Earlier this year, Saidel, Perkins and Harvey did a student demo featuring roasted chicken and white bean tacos with greens and citrus salsa. “We can say, ‘Why are we using chicken instead of beef? Why are there some beans in here?’ You can talk about plant proteins and the sustainability and health message around...

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