During winter, appealing menu items tend to be on the heavier side. Decadence is forgiven and even celebrated. But when spring rolls around and swimsuit season is on the horizon, it’s time to start focusing on lighter fare that features the bounty of spring harvests. Our chefs have come together to give their recommendations on how you can create an inspired spring menu guests will love.
Spring Vegetables Are Popping
Try incorporating more baby carrots, sugar peas and asparagus into your menu to give guests that fresh flavour they’re craving. Artichokes, fennel, avocado, fiddlehead ferns, ramps, zucchini blossoms, fava beans, kale, peas and radishes are also in season each spring. If you’re able to source them from a farmers market or regional grower, be sure to call that out on your menus so guests know you support the local economy.
Chef Einav’s Recommendations
Pasta is a guest favourite no matter the season, but in spring, lighter, smaller cuts of pasta help deliver on the desire for less dense, fresher meals.
Avocadoes continue to be remain wildly popular. Use smoked ingredients or a tiny dab of liquid smoke to add a distinctive twist to this classic.
Corn Succotash Stuffed Grilled Avocado
These can work as a shareable appetizer or a side dish for grilled entrées.
Fennel Confit with Cherries and Aged Goat Cheese
Use this as a spread on fresh-baked bread or as a topping for cold sandwiches. The sweet, earthy and tart flavours come together for a delicious combination.
Charred Fiddlehead Ferns with Morel Mushrooms and Spring Herbs
Along tasting amazing, the shape of these look so cool on the plate.
Cashew Milk and Spring Vegetables Risotto
A lighter take on a classic creamy pasta, the cashew milk adds an unexpected and delightful element.
Featured Recipe: Avocado Gazpacho
This light gazpacho is perfect for spring. The flavours of cucumbers, garlic, green peppers, dill and lemon juice create a delightful experience.
Chef Kyla’s Recommendations
Sticky Molasses Chicken with Radish and Rhubarb Salad
Warm weather definitely welcomes grilling opportunities. The molasses makes a delicious, unique alternative to traditional barbecue sauce.
Roasted Fiddleheads, Fingerling Potatoes and Pickled Red Onion Salad with Smoked Salmon
This salad has it all: warm and cool temperatures, crisp and soft textures and the perfect combination of flavours.
Fava Bean and Mint with Creamy Parmesan Polenta
If you haven’t tried growing your own mint, you’ll be surprised how easy it can be. Plus when you get to say “house-grown herbs” it’s a real plus for your menu.
Crispy Zucchini Blossom Tacos with Cotija, Charred Corn Salsa and Lime Crema
These tacos are so packed with flavour no one will even notice they’re meat free.
Chef Jilleba Is All About Asparagus
There are tons of uses for this vegetable, from appetizers and salads to the main course. There are many different varieties, too. They range in colour from white to green and in size from pencil-thin to jumbo.
When selecting asparagus for your restaurant make sure the tips are tight, dry and firm. When cleaning, submerge them in ice water so any sand releases from the tips. Be sure to remove the woody bottom ends and discard. Large asparagus should be gently peeled about an inch from the tip. Then they’re ready for the many ways they can be prepared.
Chef Jilleba used to work for a hotel company that hosted entire festivals based on one product, asparagus being one of those. In April, the special menu would focus solely on asparagus. Here are some of those items.
- Wood Roasted Asparagus Wrapped with Serrano Ham, with a sherry vinaigrette or Garlic Aioli
- Asparagus and Morel Strudel
- Braised leeks, Herbed Cream Sauce
- Asparagus Consommé with Stuffed Morels
- Asparagus Salad with Pickled Onions and Blue Cheese
- Asparagus Soup with Tarragon Cream
- Risotto of Asparagus
As we look forward to the warmer spring months, keep in mind many menu items can carry through to the heat of the summer. Here’s to keeping things fresh.