I have noticed a little “spring” in my step. Yes, it’s that time of the year and I feel myself yearning to make the transition to warmer weather, lighter clothes and fresher fare. I am enjoying the dark mornings, knowing that my evenings will be bright. It feels great to wear my trusty jean jacket, instead of my heavier peacoat or army jacket with lining and hoodie. I get to bring out linen sweaters and start incorporating white jeans and sandals into my daily wardrobe. It’s a beautiful time, brimming with so much hope — flowers, green hills, vacations, sun-kissed skin and more time with loved ones. In thinking about this beautiful transition in terms of food, I have decided that rosemary is the perfect herb to help me transition to my favorite spring flavors. It’s got the heartiness, warmth and comfort that I am not quite ready to give up and just enough of the herb-y fresh goodness that I am craving more and more of. I have become obsessed with this herb in the last month and thought I would share some recipes that highlight it’s deliciousness to help you make the transition to spring too.
In winter, it’s all about stews, roasting meats and vegetables and heavier sauces. But now, it’s time to start some spring cleaning and to lighten up everything, including our dinners. Here is a lighter, simpler pasta to help you do just that!
Spaghettini Rosemarino e Aglio
A lighter, simpler pasta to help you transition to spring!
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- kosher salt to taste
- crushed red pepper to taste
- 3-5 cloves fresh garlic sliced thinly
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 lb spaghettini
Heat cast-iron pan.
Add olive oil, kosher salt and crushed red pepper.
Once spices have had a minute to warm up, add sliced garlic and rosemary sprigs. Stay close by! Once garlic and rosemary aroma starts to fill the room, turn off heat and let this sit.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Once you throw in the pasta, slowly heat up the pan with the garlic and rosemary.
Add a few ladles of pasta water to the rosemary and garlic, to help slow down the cooking and bring the flavors/sauce together.
Once the spaghettini is 2/3 of the way done (so it should be very al dente), use thongs to add the spaghettini to the rosemary and garlic sauce. You can raise the heat a bit, being sure to toss the pasta in the sauce as you finish cooking it.
I usually drizzle a little olive oil over the top and sprinkle a little more salt (if needed) before serving in the cast iron pan.
While I was attending UCLA in the late 80s/early 90s, a restaurant opened up in Marina del Rey called Killer Shrimp. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. It was very simple, yet so progressive at the same time. It only had a handful of options on the menu — three or four shrimp dishes and a dessert. You had your choice of the original shrimp bowl with peel and eat shrimp, a couple of other variations and that was it. Take it or leave it. And my friends and I took it. For a few years, it was our go-to spot when we had a special occasion or a craving for warm, broth-y, spicy shrimp goodness. Often, we would share a bowl as college students on a budget, but every once in a while, we indulged and each got our own bowl to enjoy.
Soon thereafter, Killer Shrimp started popping up in other nearby beach cities, and we would go as often as we could. However, after a few years, one by one, the Killer Shrimp restaurants closed down. We were stunned. Perhaps it was too specialized, a little too ahead of its time? How could we survive without Killer Shrimp? The harsh reality settled in. I couldn’t believe that I didn’t pay closer attention to what was in the sauce while I was able to. It was definitely a missed opportunity. I hoped that one day it would come back. Bertie and I would regularly do internet searches, hoping to hear of their return. And eventually that day came. To my surprise, the headline I longed to read did appear, “The Return of Killer Shrimp — opening soon in Marina del Rey.” It was back, and with an expanded menu. We could barely wait to enjoy a bowl of the original recipe. This time, I took nothing for granted. I paid close attention to every detail, being sure to take note of each spice, flavor and texture that made Killer Shrimp so special. My sister even got the waiter to divulge the “secret ingredient” – a can of Budweiser. So, here is my at-home version of Killer Shrimp, made with my own special ingredient, Stella Artois. I think it’s the perfect way to transition from the heavier stews of winter…
"Killer Shrimp" at home
A delicious bowl of peel and eat shrimp served in a spicy, creole-based sauce that will make shrimp lovers swoon!
- 6 cloves fresh garlic sliced
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 bottle Stella Artois
- few shakes worcestershire sauce
- juice of 2 fresh lemons
- 3 tsp creole seasoning see below
- 2 lbs jumbo shrimp peel on and deveined
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 stick butter unsalted
- 1 crusty baguette
- 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp white pepper
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 2 tbsp paprika
Combine all the ingredients for the Creole Seasoning. You'll only need 3 teaspoons, so you can store the rest in a small mason jar. I use this in my beef stew as well, for a little kick.
Heat up the olive oil in a large cast iron skillet.
Add garlic and rosemary, and heat up slowly until they become fragrant.
Add beer, worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and creole seasoning.
Add chicken broth and let simmer on low for 15 minutes or longer.
Add shrimp. Once they become peach in color and opaque, turn off the heat and remove the shrimp to a bowl before finishing the sauce. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp!
Cut cold butter into slices and add to the sauce; make sure the pan isn't too hot when you do this. The butter should slowly melt. Gently stir and return shrimp to the sauce.
Heat the baguette as you are finishing the sauce. Slice and serve alongside a big bowl of Killer Shrimp. Be sure to dunk the bread in the delicious broth as you enjoy the shrimp!
I think the infamous Italian cookbook author, Pellegrino Artusi, put it best… “The best sauce you can offer your guests is a happy expression on your face and heartfelt hospitality. Brillat-Savarin used to say, ‘Inviting someone is the same as taking responsibility for their happiness and well-being for as long as they stay under your roof.'”
That truth aside, salsa verde is my favorite sauce of spring and this version with rosemary is perfect drizzled atop grilled vegetables or meat.
Salsa Verde with Rosemary
Salsa verde is my favorite sauce of spring and this version with rosemary is perfect drizzled atop grilled vegetables or meat.
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary (leaves only) chopped fine
- 1/2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, thyme, or oregano or a combination of all three chopped fine
- lemon zest to taste
- 1/2 tbsp castelvetrano olives chopped fine
- 1 clove fresh garlic chopped fine
- kosher salt to taste
- crushed red pepper to taste
- 1-2 squeezes fresh lemon juice
- 6-7 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
Mix all of the ingredients together and store in a mason jar in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Serve on top of grilled vegetables or meats.
As the weather warms up, I start craving more refreshing drinks. I love infusing water with spring flavors, such as berries and herbs. My favorite combination at the moment is blackberry with rosemary. As strawberries come into season, I love making a strawberry and basil version.
Blackberry and Rosemary Infused Water
- 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- a handful fresh blackberries
- 1 carafe water
In a carafe, add the rosemary and blackberries.
Cover with water. Chill in the refrigerator. I store this in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, replenishing the water and keeping it covered.
This next drink doesn’t feature rosemary, but it’s also a great way to help make the transition to spring. The key is using red vermouth and a little citrus.
Aperitivo with Red Vermouth
This aperitivo is a great way to help make the transition to spring. The key is using red vermouth and a little orange.
- Martini & Rossi Rosso a sweet red vermouth
- 1 handful ice cubes
- 3-5 ripe blackberries
- 1 slice orange or a twist of orange rind instead
Add ice cubes and blackberries to a stemless wine glass
Fill glass 2/3 of the way with Martini & Rossi Rosso
Top with a squeeze of the orange slice, tossing the slice into the drink or a twist of orange rind if you prefer
What better way to transition to the warmer temperatures of spring, than with the classic affogato? An affogato is a coffee-based dessert in which ice cream is “drowned” with a shot of hot espresso. Just pour a little espresso over a scoop of your favorite ice cream or gelato and enjoy! (We made the version below with Trader Joe’s Organic Vanilla Fudge Chip and it was so yummy!)
Little did I know that my word for the year, “andiamo” (meaning “Let’s go!”) would be so telling. It turns out that my family and I will indeed be going to Italy this summer for the wedding of a dear cousin. We will be in Campania, the same region I spent most of my summers in as a young girl and in the very region my love for the Italian culture first began. I look forward to sharing details of my trip with you and can’t wait to bring back more ideas and recipes as I continue to work towards bringing an Italian market experience to you, right here in California. I can’t help but to be thankful for God’s sweetness in this whole process and I am reminded time and time again of His faithfulness, as so simply and perfectly put in this verse — He who calls you is faithful. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:24
And, last but not least, here are two images from a couple of my favorite Italian instagrammers to leave you with. May your spring season be filled with much beauty and hope!
Lo riconoscete? Ancora una volta il maggiolone, tutto per voi 💙 . Buon giovedì sera @instagram ✨ •• •• #fubiz #kings_shots #click_vision #ir_lifetime #tv_moods #still_life_gallery #tv_flowers #stilllifegallery #rural_love #loves_flowers #pocket_flowers #infinity__magazine #shzzz_hub #transfer_visions #lf10k #folksouls #whatitalyis #lavitainunoscatto #byfolk
Start the weekend, next stop Valtellina; dal Lazio @in_lombardia con una Fiat 500 stando stretti stretti, un pó come i nostri genitori che negli anni 80 ci giravano l’Italia. 🚗 Seguimi con #inLombardia365 tanto vado piano piano al Max 80km/h. #fiat500 . . . . . . #viterbo #igersviterbo #igerslazio #nottebiancaterme #fiat500cinquecento #findyourfiat #streets_vision #best_italiansites #prettylittleitaly #asundaycarpic #findyourfiat #travel_captures #tasteintravel #rsa_streetview #stayandwander #carspotted #carspotting #timeoutsociety #straightfacade #carcorners #discover_vacations #jj_mobilephotography #travellingthroughtheworld #classiccaroftheday #guardiantravelsnaps #soloparking #framesofitaly #kings_villages