Signature recipes abound during the winter holidays or for summer's barbecuing season. Spring, however, may sometimes seem like the neglected middle child. Fresh flavors are plentiful, but the usual preparations are often lackluster.
If you take your cues from innovators, however, you'll see how easy it is to create a palette (and revered plates) of memorable spring specialties.
Sisters Haley Fox and Lauren Fox know all about signature recipes. At their famous Alice's Tea Cup teahouse and store in New York City, they've concocted signature tea blends, as well as recipes for virtually addictive specialized petite sandwiches, omelets, scones, and a multitude of other baked goods.
Therefore, it made sense to them that even a simple spring soup had the potential to be an ordered and reordered seasonal favorite of their customers.
Enter the aptly named Green Goddess Soup. "People always ask what's in this soup," they write in their photograph-filled book/memoir, Alice's Tea Cup. "It's truly a simple soup to make. Even kids will eat this soup-it has that much good flavor!"
Even the snootiest adults should follow suit, too, as the standout contains a perfect blend of only fresh seasonal vegetables, including asparagus, watercress, spinach, and celery. It is further excellently flavored with onion, chopped garlic, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, as well as a rich buttery accent.
Turning a dish into a signature item is all about strategies, such as using a seasonal ingredient that might be expected elsewhere, like the Fox's employment of fresh watercress in the soup rather than in the more traditional tea sandwiches they serve in their shop. Asparagus, too, often served as a plain side dish, gets a turnaround here by being flavorfully pureed into a warm soup.
Real Simple magazine created recipes worthy of being your perennial spring signatures by applying the same strategy. In the refreshing bruschetta meal-starter (right), they took spring peas and smashed them, turning them into a super base for a spread flavored with extra-virgin olive oil and another spring favorite: fresh mint.
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the author of seven food books, including "Mrs. Cubbison's Best Stuffing Cookbook" and "The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook." She also writes the Creators News Service "Cooks' Books" column.