8 delicious dishes you can make with seasonal foods

April 15, 2016

Strawberries, avocados and corn are three locally grown favorites for April. The following recipes were provided by Spencer’s Fresh Markets in Morro Bay and Santa Maria, both stores are carrying locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Roasted Corn & Radish Salad with Avocado-Herb Dressing


Roasted Corn and Avo Salad

1/2 ripe peeled avocado, sliced

1 tsp. fresh lime juice

2 ears yellow corn with husks

2 heads boston or bibb lettuce

1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes

1/2 cup avocado-herb Dressing


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Combine sliced avocado and juice in a small bowl; cover and refrigerate. Trim both ends of corn cobs, leaving husks from corn intact. Place the corn on a baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes or until tender. Cool. Remove husks from corn; scrub silks from corn. Cut kernels from ears of corn; discard cobs.

3. Reserve 4 whole lettuce leaves. Chop remaining lettuce to measure 4 cups. Combine chopped lettuce, avocado mixture, corn, and radishes. Spoon lettuce mixture into lettuce leaves. Serve with Avocado-Herb Dressing.

Avocado-Herb Dressing

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

1/4 cup finely chopped green onions

1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tbsp. chopped fresh chives

1 tsp. fresh tarragon

1 tsp. anchovy paste

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 ripe peeled avocado

1 garlic clove, minced

2 t tbsp. water

1 tbsp. white wine vinegar

3 drops hot sauce


Combine first 10 ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth. With the processor running, pour water, vinegar, and hot sauce through food chute, processing until blended. Store the dressing in an airtight container in refrigerator.


Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Sandwiches

Chicken Pineapple Sandwich


4 (6-oz. skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Cooking spray

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)

4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices fresh pineapple

4 (1.5-oz.) whole wheat hamburger buns, toasted

Light mayonnaise (optional)

4 large basil leaves


1. Prepare grill.

2. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt and pepper. Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until done, brushing occasionally with lime juice. Grill pineapple 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until browned.

3. Spread mayonnaise on bottom halves of buns, if desired. Top each with 1 chicken breast half, 1 pineapple slice, 1 basil leaf, and 1 bun top. Serve immediately.



Carrot Salad with a Hit of Heat

Carrot Salad Hot

Some like cooked carrots, while others prefer them grated to make a crunchy salad. You can do either with this recipe–just toss steamed carrot coins with the dressing. The sweetness of the carrots is balanced by the fresh bite of the sambal oelek and chopped herbs. I suggest a mix of cilantro and mint, but you could use 3 tablespoons of just one or the other, if you wish; minced chives are an optional extra. One teaspoon sambal gives subtle heat; two give a noticeable punch. You can also make this salad with boiled sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks–a delicious version.


3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste)

4 cups coarsely grated carrot (about 1 pound)

3/8 tsp. kosher salt

2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

1 tbsp. minced fresh mint

1 tbsp. minced fresh chives (optional)


Combine first three ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add carrot and salt; toss to coat. Let stand 30 minutes. Just before serving, add cilantro, mint, and chives, if desired; toss to combine.



Spring Vegetable Carbonara

Add or substitute what you’ve got in the frig; zucchini, yellow squash, spinach, or tomatoes.

Spring Vegetable Carbonara


1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed

12 oz. asparagus, trimmed & cut into

1-inch pieces

8 oz. uncooked cavatappi pasta (can substitute with fusilli)

1/2 cup (2 oz.) grated pecorino Romano cheese

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

4 slices center-cut bacon, chopped

1 cup chopped seeded red bell pepper


1. Cook peas and asparagus in boiling water for 3 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender; drain. Plunge into ice water; drain. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Combine pasta and vegetables.

2. Combine cheese and the next 3 ingredients (through eggs) in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Gradually add hot cooking liquid to egg mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan. Add bacon to pasta mixture. Cook bell pepper in drippings for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pasta mixture; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Remove pan from heat, and stir in egg mixture. Return pan to low heat; cook for 2 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly, stirring constantly.



Strawberries in Meyer Lemon Syrup

Meyer lemon strawberries

Meyer lemons, available through May, have sweeter, more aromatic juice than regular lemons. To ensure the dessert doesn’t get too tart if substituting regular lemon juice, begin with 2 tbsp. juice, and taste; add more juice if desired.


4 cups quartered small strawberries

1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup whipping cream

1. Place berries, juice, and sugar in a large bowl; toss gently to coat. Cover and chill 20 minutes.

2. Place cream in a medium bowl; stir constantly with a whisk until soft peaks form. Serve whipped cream with berry mixture. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs.



Butter-Roasted Carrots

Buter Roasted Carrots


2 cups (2-inch) diagonally cut carrot

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cooking spray


1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Combine first 5 ingredients on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes.



Rhubarb Custard Bars

Rhubarb Custard BarsIngredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup cold butter


2 cups sugar

7 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup heavy whipping cream

3 large eggs, beaten

5 cups finely chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb, thawed and drained


6 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped


1. In a bowl, combine the flour and sugar; cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into a greased 13×9-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, for filling, combine sugar and flour in a bowl. Whisk in cream and eggs. Stir in the rhubarb. Pour over crust. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until custard is set. Cool.

3. For topping, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth; fold in whipped cream. Spread over top. Cover and chill. Cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 3 dozen.



Rhubarb-Apple Pie

Rhubarb Apple Pie

1/2 (14.1-oz.) pk. refrigerated pie dough)

Cooking spray

3 1/2 cups sliced fresh rhubarb (1 1/4 lb.)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, & sliced

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/8 teaspoon salt, divided

4.22 oz. all-purpose flour (about 1 cup), divided

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

1/3 cup chopped walnut halves

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Place pie dough on a lightly floured work surface; roll into a 12-inch circle. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Turn edges under; flute. Combine rhubarb, granulated sugar, juice, and apples; toss. Sprinkle the rhubarb mixture with cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 3 tbsp. flour; toss. Spoon rhubarb mixture into prepared crust.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon remaining 3.38 oz. flour (about 3/4 cup) into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, remaining 1/8 tsp. salt, and brown sugar in a medium bowl; cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in walnuts. Sprinkle butter mixture evenly over rhubarb mixture. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes.

4. Reduce oven temperature to 375° (do not remove pie). Bake at 375° for 30 min. or until golden and bubbly (shield edges of crust with foil if it gets too brown). Let pie stand on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before slicing.

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Carrots are awesome

They are next on my list to try… think I’ll give them a whirl tonight. Heck, I will drive up to Morro Bay to shop at Spencer’s (my way of thanking them for support of CCN).

Ahhhh…what’s up Doc?

Very nice selection! I’d never use fat-free or reduced fat anything, but that avocado herb dressing looks wonderful!

I can’t eat the sugar stuff (well, I shouldn’t) – so “if I don’t make it, I don’t eat it” is my philosophy.

One thing I really miss is the Spencer’s branded bean dip that came in the jar (like their jams and jellies). It was so good… which means bad FOR me, but my tastebuds were in love.

Lets not forget who picks all these lovely local fruits and vegetables.

Like every employee, business owner and representative, I give them their “thanks” by buying their goods and services. My business (patronage) is thanks enough for their business.

Other than a general, courteous “thank you” in face-to-face interactions, I generally only “thank” people that do something for me that is not required, nor that they are being reimbursed for doing.

Is that what you mean?

No, I was referring the the individuals who day in and day out perform the back breaking work of picking the local fruits and vegetables while being subjected to discrimination, hatred, and intolerance as we have recently witnessed with the house burning.

That is simply you projecting. I do not know a single soul who hates or discriminates or has intolerance to people working on farms and fields. Where do you get this from?

Are you assuming that people would be against a single family of farm workers living in a single-family home? I have not seen this.

Would you also assume that the people near the burning would be tolerant of a student dorm, as well? Or would you also assume there to be some discrimination, hatred and intolerance for students?

Pelican1, that is one twisted view from someone who would have no problem with 16 or 28 (as the farmers wanted) foreign workers next door. Give us your address and we’ll forward it to the Frances for their next foreign worker housing project.