Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook 

Herbs in cocktails? Fruit on sandwiches? It must be spring-finally! The big trends are here to branch out to use fresh herbs and produce in more unique applications. Strawberries have found their way into a favored salad I see everyone taking to potlucks. Strawberries can even make a mellow sweet and sour sauce for fish and chicken. As for herbs, the "Garden to Glass" program is colossal starting with the Mojito and traveling on to infused teas and juices.  Speaking of herbs, come in to get your Chef Jeff's herbs  in clever new packaging complete with drink recipes included. Don't forget the asparagus, the harbinger of spring!


Balsamic Chicken & Strawberry Panini

 Serves 2 

This combination is absolutely genius. Each of the ingredients play off one another as the sweetness of the berries and balsamic marry harmoniously with the tang of the chevre. Hopefully you can find peppery spring arugula to round out the taste sensations. I used a seedy multigrain whole wheat bread which added a crunch.

  • 2 slices whole grain sourdough bread
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/2 cup fresh small arugula leaves
  • 1/2 fresh avocado, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces cooked chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese (chevre), at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, sliced

 Spread one side of each bread slice with butter. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the bread, butter side down. Cook until golden. Remove and place on a flat work surface.

Layer arugula then avocado on the two slices of non-buttered side of bread.
Top with sliced chicken and then drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
Spread with goat cheese. Top with strawberries and voila.





Roasted Asparagus and Spinach with Poached Egg Sandwich

Serves 4

Poached eggs are topping everything these days! If you have some of those many backyard chickens you sent in on your photos, you'll have plenty of the freshest eggs for this spring dish. Fresh herbs like lemon thyme would be stellar with this sandwich.

  • 1 pound green asparagus, trimmed 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 tablespoons shallots, minced
  • 4 slices whole grain sourdough bread, toasted
  • 4 teaspoons spicy Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
  • About 1 1/2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 4 large eggs 

 Preheat oven to 450°.

 Place asparagus on a sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat; spread out in a single layer. Bake for 4 minutes and then toss in shallots.  Bake another 3 minutes until crisp-tender.

 Lay the toasted bread on 4 individual plates and spread with mustard.

 Place the roasted asparagus and shallots in a large bowl; Toss with lemon juice and more olive oil.

 Place equal portions of spinach on each of 4 bread slices on plates. Top each serving with one-fourth of the asparagus-shallot mixture.

 Fill a large skillet 3/4 full of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Add vinegar. Break each egg into a shallow bowl and pour into the water; swirl water around each egg with a spoon. Cook 3 minutes or until just set.

Remove from water and place on top of each bed of asparagus.  Sprinkle with pepper. 

 Serve immediately.


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