Spring Is Finally Here

While Easter and Passover are early this year, these recipes will enhance any meal on any occasion.

Greek-style Shrimp

Over the past 30 years, Kerry Dunnington has been a food columnist, caterer, recipe developer, and award-winning cookbook author. Her passion for creative preparation of foods in their growing season, ethical food practices, and healthful food consumption can be seen in the 250 recipes presented in “Tasting the Seasons: Inspired, In-Season Cuisine That’s Easy, Healthy, Fresh and Fun” by Kerry Dunnington, www.kerrydunnington.com.

Her Greek-style shrimp is colorful and nutritious,  and you can use a combination of long grain and wild rice. Serves 8.

1 cup Greek yogurt

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste

1/2 cup pitted and chopped Kalamata olives

16 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted, drained and squeezed dry

2 cans (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes

1 can (15 ounce) garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained

1 1/2 cups cooked rice

1 bag (16 ounces) large shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined

zest from one lemon

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup minced parsley

1 cup feta cheese

In a medium bowl, combine yogurt with 2 tablespoons olive oil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and olives.  Stir well until blended.  Refrigerate until serving time.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place spinach in a 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish.  Top spinach with 1 can of tomatoes.  Top tomatoes with the garbanzo beans and evenly distribute the rice over the beans. In a medium bowl, toss shrimp with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon zest, and salt.  Top rice/beans with shrimp, arrange them in a single layer.  Top shrimp with remaining can of tomatoes and sprinkle parsley over the tomatoes.  Evenly distribute the cheese over the tomatoes, cover, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until heated through and bubbly.  Serve immediately and pass the yogurt mixture to your guests.

Salmon Chowder

This creamy, mild-flavored chowder will be a favorite in your house.  It is substantial enough to serve as a main course and will appeal to a broad range of tastes. Tomatoes, corn, leeks, and mushrooms provide additional interest, along with subtle heat from the jalapeno pepper.  Serve with white wine or rosé.

From “The Covenant Kitchen: Food and Wine for the New Jewish Table” by Jeff and Jodie Morgan (Schocken Books, NY). This kosher cookbook has more than one hundred mouthwatering recipes complete with suggested wine pairings, from the veteran cookbook authors and owners of the acclaimed Covenant Winery in California.  It is filled with the flavors of Italy, Provence, North Africa, Asia, California and Israel.  These original, easy-to-prepare recipes bring kosher dining to a new, contemporary level of sophistication.  There are lots of informative sidebars on selecting the right wine for any occasion and beautiful full-color illustrations throughout. Serves 6.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

2 medium white potatoes, diced

2 leeks (white part only) washed well, cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds

1 can (28 ounces) whole Italian plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped

4 cups vegetable stock or broth (low-sodium)

1 1/2 cups dry white wine

2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

1 lb. fresh salmon fillets or steaks, skinned, boned, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 cup fresh corn kernels (2 ears of corn)

6 mushrooms, sliced

1 cup half-and-half

1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro

freshly ground pepper

In a Dutch oven or large soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add potatoes and leeks and continue to sauté until leeks have wilted, about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes, stock, wine, and two teaspoons salt.

Turn heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the salmon and continue to simmer, covered, for another 10 minutes.  Stir in the corn and mushrooms, cover and simmer for 10 more minutes.  Add the half-and-half and cook, uncovered, 3 minutes.  Stir in the cilantro and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Banana Charoset

Passover celebrates freedom, and Paula Shoyer’s innovative Passover collection celebrates culinary freedom while still honoring the holiday’s dietary rules.  Her 65 recipes will set you free, and they combine nostalgic pleasures of family favorites with contemporary creations.  The undated and global menu includes Banana Charoset, Peruvian Roast Chicken with Salsa Verde, Moroccan Spiced Short Ribs and much more.

Charoset is the element on the Seder plate that represents the mortar used by the Israelite slaves to build bricks.  Usually made with apples, cinnamon and wine, this is a variation.  This is nice as a side dish with lamb or other dishes. Shoyer is a well-known author (“The Holiday Kosher Baker”), teacher of Jewish baking classes, and a contributing editor to several kosher magazines and websites.  From “The New Passover Menu” by Paula Shoyer (Sterling, NY).

3 large ripe bananas

2 cups ground walnuts

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon sweet kosher wine

2 apples, shredded on the large holes of a box grater

1 cup walnut halves, chopped into 1/3-inch pieces

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, place the bananas, ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and wine.  Process until the mixture comes together. Transfer to a small bowl, add the apples and chopped walnuts, and stir to combine. Makes 3 cups.

Editor’s note: For more edible delights by Sheilah Kaufman, go to www.cookingwithsheilah.com.