Spring has sprung – time to re­vamp the menu

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - On Tv - BY GEORGE DICKIE

In case you missed it spring ar­rived last week, bring­ing with it the an­tic­i­pa­tion of warmer weather, in­creased day­light, de­creased heat­ing bills and more time out­doors.

For the home chef, it also means turn­ing over the fam­ily menu to in­clude lighter fare, in­clud­ing more fruits and veg­eta­bles – and prefer­ably not of the root va­ri­ety. So if you’re look­ing for some new ideas and fla­vors, just turn on your lap­top and check out these videos and recipes from the Food Net­work web­site.

Spring means fresher veg­eta­bles and fruits as pro­duce in­creas­ingly comes from lo­cal sources. In “Spring Pro­duce Guide” (www.food­net­work.com/recipes/pack­ages/spring­pro­duce-guide), view­ers will find a bounty of in­for­ma­tion, such as Alex Guar­naschelli’s how-to’s on se­lect­ing it, cook­ing with herbs and uses for spring greens. There are also plenty of recipes, such as Rachael Ray’s green salad with straw­berry bal­samic vinai­grette, Anne Bur­rell’s straw­ber­ryrhubarb crisp, and Ted Allen’s pri­mav­era with pro­sciutto, as­para­gus and car­rots. Yum!

If you’re look­ing ahead to plan­ning a spring din­ner party or cook­out, Food’s “Spring En­ter­tain­ing Guide” (www.food­net­work.com/hol­i­days-and-par­ties/pack­ages/spring-en­ter­tain­ing-guide) has plenty of ideas for dishes that are sure to im­press your guests. The of­fer­ings range from Gi­ada de Lau­ren­tiis’ beet and goat cheese arugula salad and Tyler Florence’s “ul­ti­mate” paella to Ina Garten’s spring green risotto and the mas­car­pone and lemon gnoc­chi, a joint Garten/de Lau­ren­tiis pro­duc­tion. There is even a sec­tion for drinks and cock­tails, which in­clude the cu­cum­ber-gin spritzer, the sparkling side­car (orange liqueur, co­gnac and lemon juice) and the cool rhuby cor­dial, made with frozen straw­ber­ries, rhubarb, co­gnac, ice cream and vodka. Deca­dent and de­li­cious.

Dur­ing the week, you’ll un­doubt­edly want to spruce up the nightly se­lec­tion as well, and the sec­tion ti­tled “Spring Week­night Din­ners” (www.food­net­work.com/in-sea­son­now/pack­ages/week­night-din­ners-spring) has ideas to do just that. Here, you’ll find en­tries such as Melissa d’Ara­bian’s orzo with thyme and lemon zest, de Lau­ren­tiis’ se­lec­tion of six spring sal­ads, Sunny An­der­son’s ground chicken chicken tacos with creamy salsa, d’Ara­bian’s salmon cakes and Bur­rell’s grilled salmon with herb and Meyer lemon com­pound but­ter. All dishes cre­ated with the work­ing per­son in mind.

Of course, if none of the above in­trigue your palate, both the Food Net­work and Cook­ing Chan­nel (www.cook­ingchan­neltv. com) web­sites of­fer up a li­brary’s worth of food knowl­edge, from recipes and cook­ing how-to’s to drink and wine se­lec­tion, all in the in­ter­est of mak­ing what seems difficult sim­ple.

The only thing lim­it­ing you is your will­ing­ness to give it a try.

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