A Simple Light Dinner For A Spring Evening

What could be better than a simple light dinner now that the weather is starting to get warmer? Many of us are using our verandas to relax and enjoy the beautiful weather and to partake in our evening meal. Much of the preparation for this menu can be done in advance: The beets and cherry tomato compote can be made days in advance and the vinaigrette the day before.  The Clafouti is best made on the day of serving but it is so incredibly easy that it won’t interfere with your time on the veranda.  And, of course, by now you are an expert in making Crème Fraiche and most likely there is a jar in your refrigerator.

Springtime Dinner Menu

Blood Orange Salad with Roasted Baby Yellow Beets, Fresh Fennel and Watercress Drizzled with Orange Infused Vinaigrette

Mussels with Chorizo Sausage and Cherry Tomato Compote

Peach and Blueberry Clafouti


Blood Orange Salad with Roasted Baby Yellow Beets, Fresh Fennel and Watercress Drizzled with Orange Infused Vinaigrette

Blood Orange Salad with Yellow Beets and Fennel

If you cannot find Blood Oranges use Navel Oranges instead and to keep the color interesting use Baby Red Beets.

Serves 4 

6           Roasted Baby Yellow Beets Cut into Quarters

1          Medium Fresh Fennel Bulbs, Trimmed of Frons, Core Removed and Thinly Sliced Lengthwise (use a Mandolin if you have one)

2          Blood Oranges, Skin and White Pith Cut Off, Sliced in Half Lengthwise and Each Half Sliced into ¼” Slices Crosswise

3          Cups Baby Watercress, Trimmed of Long Thick Stems

Orange Infused Vinaigrette

Put the vinegar, orange juice, shallot and mustard in a blender and process until pureed. With the motor running add the oil in a slow and steady stream and blend until completely emulsified. Add the salt and pepper and blend until combined. Transfer to a glass jar or a squeeze bottle and refrigerate until ready to use.

In a medium bowl toss the fennel, oranges and beets with some of the vinaigrette; enough to barely coat the salad. Divide the salad evenly between 4 salad plates and top each plate with some of the watercress. Lightly drizzle some of the Orange Infused Vinaigrette over the watercress. Do not overdress the salad as you want to be able to taste each component. 

Mussels with Chorizo Sausage and Cherry Tomato Compote

Mussels Mussels

There’s something so very appealing about the aroma of mussels: The sweet smell of the sea is evident in these little crustacean morsels. The best mussels are mid-size from Prince Edward Island (PEI), Nova Scotia. They are readily available and easy to find. When buying them, ask your fishmonger to remove the beard: That little black thing sticking out of the shell. Most likely it is already done but confirm to be sure.

Serves 4 As A First Course

2          Tablespoons XVOO

½         Cup Red Onion, Thinly Sliced

4          Roasted Garlic Cloves, Smashed

1          Pound Fresh Chorizo Sausage Removed from Casing

½         Cup Madeira Wine

½         Cup Home Made Chicken Stock or Low Sodium Canned Chicken Broth

1          Cup Cherry Tomato Compote

1          Teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt

½         Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Pinch of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

3          Pounds PEI Mussels, Cleaned and Beards Removed

1          Tablespoon Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, Finely Chopped

4          Thick Slices Crispy Garlic Crostini

In a large sauté pan, large enough to hold all of the mussels, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the red onion and roasted garlic and sauté until onions just begin to soften. Add the Chorizo Sausage and sauté until sausage is cooked through. Add the wine and stock and reduce by half. Add the cherry tomato compote, salt, pepper, crushed pepper flakes and bring to a rapid boil. Lower the heat and simmer slowly uncovered for 10 minutes.

Add the mussels to the pan and toss to get the mussels and sauce incorporated. Bring to a boil and cover the pan. Reduce the heat and cook until the mussels are completely open, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Divide the mussels and sauce between 4 bowls and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Put the Crostini on the edge of the bowl with part of it in the mussels. Serve immediately.

Peach and Blueberry Clafouti

Peach and Blueberry Clafouti

A Clafouti is a simple custard and fruit pudding-like dessert. Super easy since there is no crust to deal with and it is delicately delicious. I like to keep the skin on the peaches because it adds a bit more flavor and, besides, most of the skin will melt away. This is a dessert that can be made at the last minute without any fuss.

1          Tablespoon Melted Unsalted Butter

1          Tablespoon Granulated Sugar

3          Medium Size Peaches, Sliced Into Wedges

1          Cup Fresh Blueberries

½         Cup Granulated Sugar

1          Tablespoon Lavender Sugar (Optional)

6         Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour

½         Teaspoon Fine Sea Salt

1/4         Teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg

3          Large Eggs

1½      Cups Heavy Cream

1          Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

            Crème Fraiche for Garnish

Preheat oven to 375°. Brush a 10”  shallow ceramic or glass baking dish (pictured) with the melted butter and sprinkle the 1 tablespoon granulated sugar evenly in the dish.

Arrange the peaches in a concentric circle on the bottom of the dish and distribute the blueberries evenly over the peaches.

In a small bowl combine the ½ cup granulated sugar, Lavender sugar, flour, sea salt and nutmeg.

In the bowl of a standing mixer beat the eggs until light and fluffy. With the mixer speed on low, gradually add sugar/flour mixture and heavy cream in thirds, beginning and ending with the sugar/flour mixture and mix until completely incorporated. Gently blend in the vanilla.

Pour the mixture over the peaches and blueberries and bake for 40 minutes, until the custard is firm and has taken on a light golden color.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of crème fraiche.

Enjoy the change in the weather and enjoy this menu.


This entry was posted in Accompaniments, Ahh Haa Moments, Beets, Blood Oranges, Blueberries, Cherry Tomato Compote, Chicken Stock, Chorizo Sausage, Clafouti, Custard, Dessert, Entree, Fennel, Food For Thought, Fruit, Fruit Desserts, Hints and Tips, Menus, Mussels, Peaches, Recipes To Share, Salad, Sausage, Seafood, Vinaigrette. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Simple Light Dinner For A Spring Evening

  1. Jodie Townsend says:

    Every time I receive your email about a new blog posting I get so excited to see what have you created this time!

    With out a doubt you have done it again. I am so excited to make this meal. I can almost taste the freshness of the salad from the picture! and the mussels . . . OMG do they look amazing!

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