Fresh & Now
What’s better this time of year than simple, light dishes and seasonal favourites?
Dishes come alive with vibrancy and freshness – to celebrate the new season!
Entrée salads and sides are as welcome as the sun. Chez Piggy (Kingston, Ont.) presents a baby spinach version topped with halloumi cheese, roasted pecans, toasted sunflower seeds and red onion, enhanced with honey pomegranate dressing. Another great idea: mixed greens plus carrot ribbons, pumpkin seeds and almond slivers; add Canadian maple syrup to a basic bottled vinaigrette. Anxious to fire up the grill? Toss on yellow peppers, tomatoes and red onion (quartered), steam some asparagus and new potatoes, combine with mozzarella chunks and coat with mixture of Dijon mustard, olive oil and lemon juice. Chill. Fabulous salad!
Salads with meat or fish are also spring favourites—especially when they’re as light and lovely as these two. First, team leftover cooked salmon with mild greens, sliced radishes, green beans or snow peas, and cucumber. Dress with a mix of white wine vinegar, soy sauce and olive oil whisked with a bit of powdered ginger. Second: do you have an overstock of cooked chicken? Chop up green apples and celery, dice some Fontina cheese, and pour on a blend of olive oil, lemon juice, honey and dried oregano.
Fried cheese sticks. Standard fare, right? The Harvey’s chain is now offering Nacho Cheese Sticks, “coated in tri-colour tortillas” to make theirs stand out. Soup switches easily from comfort food to cool delight: menu a tomato-based gazpacho or a cucumber-yogurt version. It’s trendy to amp up the sauce served with fish items. So just mix mayo with roasted jalapeños and call it aioli.
There are plenty of delicious dishes to make ahead and serve cold—perfect for takeaway and catering as well as in-house dining. Cheese tortellini is a super-easy foundation for creamy pasta salad. Simply cook and combine with your choice of veg, even chunks of pepperoni. The Italian pasta orzo can be another great go-to. We suggest adding other Mediterranean ingredients such as olives, feta, cucumber, red pepper and red onion. Grains like farro and quinoa continue to increase in popularity, and they’re perfect for a healthy entrée or side. Try farro with zucchini, radishes, cherry tomatoes and—get this— kale cut into ribbons massaged with a mix of peanut butter, lemon juice and salt, to make it savoury and tender.
Less-heavy breakfast options taste good in the morning or any time.
Eggsquis (Que. & Ont.): crepes with fresh fruit, can swap strawberry coulis for English cream
Blue Fox Café (Victoria, B.C.): “Breakfast Salad,” i.e., fresh fruit, 2% yogurt, house-baked granola
Beach Grove Cafe (Tsawwassen, B.C.): quiche with greens
Higher temperatures outdoors make both cool dishes and fired-up menu items extra appealing.
Pizza sounds good all year long, but you might choose to offer a few summertime specials. Seafood is one great choice. Be inspired by Posto Pizzeria & Bar in Calgary and try a combination of smoked salmon, leeks, capers, crème fraiche and thin-cut lemon. Food Network Canada and Canadian Living magazine both suggest using shrimp with a Thai influence. Think yogurt-coconut or yogurt-curry paste for the sauce; mushrooms, onion, tomatoes, red pepper and fresh cilantro for toppings; ricotta or other mild option for the cheese; and tasty accents like toasted sesame oil and trendy Sambal Oelek hot sauce.
Caprese toppings are perfect for summertime pizza: fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, fresh basil and a healthy dose of olive oil. Two ways to add flavour and colour to your crust: egg whites or molasses. To achieve char spots on crusts—without the Neapolitan pizza oven—carefully blast edges randomly with a chef’s torch.
Sandwiches on the Run
This ever-popular menu item can be refreshed—and more refreshing—this time of year. For example, lighten savoury pastrami with cucumber slices, fresh dill and briny mustard. Another idea: ham slices plus red onion, mayo, cheddar, crushed pineapple and a few leaves of fresh spinach. Try wrapping chicken stir-fry into lettuce leaves for an enticing breadless sandwich. And even meat lovers will appreciate the combination of juicy beefsteak tomato, cucumber, grated carrot, avocado and goat cheese, slathered with a duo of mayo and Dijon, on pumpernickel bread.
French fries? Yes, please. But make them a little different. Char|Cut Roast House (Calgary, Alta.) serves parmesan fries with their “Daily Rotisserie” feature. Or simply mix regular salt with dried herbs such as basil or rosemary. Amped-up ketchup is another simple upgrade—mix in a bit of sriracha, Cajun spice blend or barbecue sauce.
For Spicy Salt, mix: ¼ cup salt, 2 tbsp paprika, 1 tbsp each garlic powder & garlic salt, plus ½ tbsp each cumin, pepper, basil, parsley, 1 tsp chili powder and ½ tsp celery salt. Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary.
Nothing beats ice cream when the weather is warm. Like the Summer Berry Sundae with Fudge, plus Almond Gelato, served by Burdock & Co. (Vancouver, B.C.). Choose goodquality ingredients, and you’ve got a simple solution for “afters.” A medley of fresh fruit is also welcome; just ladle a nice sauce or flavoured whipped cream on top—or tuck a couple of crispy biscuits alongside. Summery sauce options could include sprightly herbs like mint and rosemary, brightness from lemon or balsamic vinegar, even a sauce made from jam thinned with fruit juice. Also trendy? Premium ice cream sandwiches. Make your own with premade or fresh, bake-from-puck cookies.
What's Hot: Trendy, spicy salt-enhanced fries, chicken, fish and veggies – even bar snacks like popcorn.
Hot & Cold: Make your own premium ice cream sandwiches with premade or fresh, make-from-puck cookies.
Cold beverages come together with delicious flavours.
Coconut: in iced coffees, smoothies & milkshakes
Avocado: blended with fruit juices and/or other veg
Lemon: plus other fruit or veg juices, even herbs
Nuts: like almond butter + apples + yogurt + cinnamon