Spring-Inspired Light Bites

Tonight we spring forward to longer, light-filled days, and the hopes of retiring our coats for lighter jackets (at least here, in the city). As the seasons change, so does what is found in nature. Being a city dweller, that means what's popping up at the farmer's market. For the #SHeis editorial shoot, I took the bright colors and the fresh flavors of Spring to create a light bites menu inspired by the season. Each dish not only catches the eye, but is very easy to make.

On the menu:
Oyster + Maitake Mushroom Crostini
Ahi Tuna Poke
Citrus, Apple + Fennel Salad with Homemade Tangerine Vinaigrette

Oyster + Maitake Mushroom Crostini

It's clear from my previous posts (here and here) that I'm, a huge fan of Maitake mushrooms. They tout a distinct flavor and are a great protein substitute. To "beef" up last weekend's light brunch, I combined Oyster and Maitake to make a simple crostini.

  • 1 baguette, sliced diagonally
  • EVOO
  • 1/2 pound Oyster mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 1/2 pound of Maitake mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 2 black garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  1. Preheat an oven to 350°F. To make the crostini, lightly brush olive oil on both sides of each bread slice. Arrange the bread in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  2. Bake until the crostini are golden on the edges, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  3. For mushrooms, heat olive oil in a pan. Add minced garlic and fresh thyme, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add mushrooms and cook on medium-high heat.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the mushrooms are lightly browned.
  6. Top each piece of bread with mushrooms and garnish with fresh thyme leaves.

 

Ahi Tuna Poke

The poke food trend is here and I am very much on board. This traditional dish--a staple in many Hawaiian homes--showcases simplicity at its best: soy sauce, sesame oil and a few flavor enhancers, like scallion and peanuts, allow for the delicate flavor of fresh tuna to remain at the forefront. Other great additions include crushed red pepper, pickled onion + ginger, or toasted sesame seeds.

  • 1.5 lbs of sushi-grade Yellowfin tuna, cubed
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 2 tablespoons crushed peanuts
  1. Combine tuna, soy sauce, green onions and sesame oil in a medium-sized non reactive bowl. Make sure tuna is evenly coated with ingredients.
  2. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving, however, the longer the tuna can marinate, the better.
  3. Just before serving, top with crushed peanuts for an added crunch.

 

Citrus, Apple + Fennel Salad with Homemade Tangerine Vinaigrette

I'm a huge fan of the flavors fresh citrus brings to a dish: I'm constantly adding fresh lemon to add acidity to soups, or in warm water to curb caffeine cravings, and juicing citrus for use in a cocktail or dressing. This light and bright salad uses both blood and Navel oranges, and is topped with a vinaigrette made with fresh tangerine juice.

Salad

  • 1 pack organic field green salad mix
  • 1 large navel orange, peeled and cut into round slices
  • 2 blood oranges, 1 peeled and segmented, 1 peeled and cut into round slices
  • 1 small fennel bulb, cored and sliced thin (save the fronds for garnish)
  • 1 pink lady apple, thinly sliced

Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice from 2 tangerines
  • 2 teaspoons raw, organic honey
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  1. For dressing, whisk ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Pour into a screw-top jar, cover and refrigerate. Shake well before using
  2. In an extra-large bowl combine segmented blood orange, fennel and apple slices. Drizzle with dressing*; toss gently to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving platter (or leave in the bowl). Top with round orange slices and garnish with fennel fronds.   
  3. *As with any salad, hold the dressing until right before serving to avoid sogginess.

Continuing the Spring theme, my production partner Neakai Lewis, of Events By Neakai, spruced up the already-charming AirBNB with eye-catching pastels, feminine textures and fresh blooms.

Accompanying our meal was a range of white wines, in addition to a refreshing rosé, courtesy of Mouton Noir. The balanced acidity present in each of the selections made for easy sipping and food pairing.

Photography: Denisse Benitez