Cooking Like the Stars

Spring recipes from top chefs will have you minding your peas and following cues.

Web-only Feature:  Mark Kiffin's special recipe for seared scallops can be found here.

Spring Pea Tortellini with Fennel Artichoke Compote and Arugula Coulis - Martín Rios

Chef Martín crafts ethereal tortellini with his own pasta dough. If you’re not proficient at making pasta dough, or simply short of time, you can use store-bought wonton wrappers as a fresh pasta substitute. I highly recommend you try Martín’s dough recipe, though.
Yield Serves 4 to 6


Tortellini Filling
10 ounces shelled fresh peas, blanched
5 ounces French Brie cheese
2 ounces ricotta cheese
2 ounces butter, softened
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh nepitella or other mint
1 tablespoon panko bread crumbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pasta Dough
10 ounces (about 2 rounded cups) durum flour
4 ounces (about 1¹/³ rounded cups) semolina flour
1½ cups egg yolk
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch salt
Pinch ground white pepper

Fennel and Artichoke Compote
1 medium-size fennel bulb
2 large artichokes, tough outer leaves stripped, tips or remaining leaves trimmed, and fuzzy choke removed with spoon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 small sprig fresh thyme
or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Arugula Coulis
1 cup arugula, blanched
1 small shallot
½ garlic clove
½ cup ice water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Tortellini Filling

Combine all ingredients in food processor. Pulse until mixture forms thick, coarse purée. Reserve.

For Pasta Dough

Combine all ingredients in stand mixer with dough hook. Mix at medium-low speed until mixture forms a cohesive dough and begins to separate from sides of bowl (about 8 minutes). Fold dough into ball, wrap in plastic, and let rest about 30 minutes. Roll pasta through pasta machine at least 3 times, starting at thickest setting and finishing at thinnest. Cut pasta into circles about 3 inches in diameter (a biscuit cutter or the edge of a downturned glass works for this). Spoon a tablespoon of pea mixture into center of pasta round, brush edges of pasta with egg wash, fold pasta into half-moon shape, brush the two end corners, and press together to make a crown shape. Makes a total of 12 tortellini.

Over high heat, bring pot of salted water to boil. Add tortellini gently to water and boil about 3 minutes, until just tender but toothsome (al dente). Drain, transfer into buttered sauté pan, and mix until well glazed with butter. Keep warm.

For Fennel and Artichoke Compote

Slice fennel and artichokes into long, thin slices. Warm olive oil in medium sauté pan over medium heat. Stir in fennel and artichoke, sautéing until soft (about 5 minutes). Add butter and thyme, and cook until vegetables are brown and caramelized in spots. Stir in lemon juice and cook until liquid evaporates. Season well with salt and pepper and keep warm.

For Arugula Coulis

Combine all ingredients in blender and purée until smooth.


Arrange 3 tortellini on center of each plate. Spoon equal portions of fennel-artichoke compote over each, and drizzle coulis around pasta. Serve immediately.

Note: Blanching Vegetables

Blanching sets the color of green vegetables. Make an ice-water bath in a large bowl by combining cold water with at least a half-dozen ice cubes. Bring a saucepan of water to a rapid boil. (Here you can use the same water for the peas and the arugula, but always blanch different vegetables in different batches; they cook at different rates.) Lower vegetables into boiling water. In this case, cook peas about 45 seconds, strain out with a large strainer, then plunge peas into ice water until chilled. Set aside on clean dishtowel to drain.

Add more ice cubes if all have melted. Return water to boil, if needed. Lower arugula into boiling water, pushing it down to cover it. Cook until just wilted (about 20 seconds). Corral it with the strainer and plunge it into ice water. When chilled, drain on towels.

Spring Halibut with Prosciutto and Peas - Jennifer James

This dish is so simple, I’ve added it to my weeknight repertoire. It appeared on the first Jennifer James 101 spring menu, and it returns each year about this time. One taste and you’ll know why. If you can’t find pea tendrils at a farmers’ market or well-stocked produce section this spring, use some spring salad greens instead.
Yield Serves 4


Pea Purée
1 cup shelled spring peas (preferably fresh, or thawed frozen)
1 to 2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper

Four 5-ounce halibut fillets, about 1 inch thick
Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
4 large, paper-thin slices prosciutto

2 ounces pea tendrils (preferably)
or tender salad greens
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil


For Pea Purée

In blender or food processor, blitz together peas with 1 teaspoon water, or a bit more as needed, to form a smooth purée. Add oil, then season with salt and pepper, and give one more whirl in blender to combine. Reserve at room temperature.

For Halibut

Season each halibut fillet with salt and pepper. Wrap 1 slice prosciutto around each fillet. Prosciutto should be moist enough to stick to itself. Only the two ends of each fillet should be visible.

Coat large, heavy skillet with a film of oil and warm over medium-high heat. Sear fillets, prosciutto-seam side up, on medium-high heat until prosciutto crisps and halibut is golden (about 3 minutes). Flip fillets with spatula and cook 3 more minutes. Remove from heat, cover to keep warm, and let rest about 2 minutes.

For Garnish

While halibut sits, prepare garnish by tossing pea tendrils in shallow bowl with lemon juice and oil.


Spoon portion of pea purée onto center of each plate. Arrange halibut over purée. Scatter equal portions pea tendrils over and around halibut. Serve right away.

Grilled Lamb Chops with Roasted Radishes, Baby Spring Lettuces, and Anchovy Butter - Frederick Muller

For this recipe you want, preferably, an unfrenched lamb rack; in other words, a deep cap of fat should still nestle along the rib bones. You or your butcher can trim off some of this fat, but leave a visible line of it along each chop. It makes for better flavor, and great atavistic gnawing. Even those who think anchovies aren’t for them should find this delicious—the small amount of fishiness adds to this dish just a pleasant, salty tang.
Yield Serves 4


Anchovy Butter
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon mashed anchovies in oil or anchovy paste (available in tubes in the condiment section)
½ teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon minced lemon zest
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon minced garlic
Combine all ingredients in small bowl and mash together well with fork.

Lamb and Marinade
8-bone lamb rack
½ large bunch mint, leaves picked off and chopped
1½ teaspoons crumbled Mexican oregano
¾ teaspoon cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of ½ medium lemon

Roasted Radishes
1 bunch red radishes, trimmed,
halved (quartered if large)
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound mixed baby whole-leaf spring lettuces
1 medium lemon, quartered


For Lamb and Marinade

Cut lamb rack into individual chops. Trim, but leave some fat on tall rib bones.

Combine mint, oregano, black pepper, salt, red pepper, garlic, olive oil, and lemon zest in large shallow dish or bowl and mix thoroughly. Add lamb chops and toss until well coated. Let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour, turning occasionally.

For Roasted Radishes

Preheat oven to 400° F. Toss radishes, oil, salt, and pepper in small baking dish. Roast about 20 minutes, until browned, turning once. Reduce oven heat to 200° F.

Grilling Chops

Fire up grill to medium-high heat. Drain marinade from chops and pat chops dry with paper towels. Grill chops 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium rare. If flare-ups occur, move chops a bit away from flames. Remove from grill and tent with foil to keep warm.


Place 1 tablespoon anchovy butter with half of lettuces in large, nonstick skillet and warm over high heat. Add half of roasted radishes. Toss until radishes are reheated and lettuces are slightly soft (about 1 minute). Divide lettuces and radishes between 2 plates. Place 2 warm chops atop each portion of lettuces and radishes. Top off each with 1 teaspoon anchovy butter. Place plate in warm oven to slightly melt butter. Repeat process with remaining ingredients for other 2 portions. Finish off each with squeeze of lemon juice. Serve immediately.

Baked Spinach with Goat Cheese and Onion-Raisin Compota - James Campbell Caruso

This can be served as a tapa along with a mix of small plates, or as a scrumptious side paired with simple grilled pork or chicken. The compota, or compote, makes more than you’ll need for a single batch of spinach. Oloroso, a dark, nutty sherry, adds complexity to the dish. (Try it with Manchego cheese too.) Any remaining compota can be refrigerated for later use with another batch of spinach, as a relish for a ham or turkey sandwich, or simply spooned over goat cheese and eaten with crackers.
Yield Serves 4 or 6


Onion-Raisin Compota
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ medium onion, chopped
2 cups golden raisins
3 tablespoons honey
¼ cup oloroso sherry
1 teaspoon salt

Baked Spinach
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups (about 4 ounces) baby spinach leaves, stemmed
4 garlic cloves, slivered
6 ounces fresh goat cheese


For Compota

Warm oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent and soft (about 5 minutes). Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer 5 minutes. (Depending on moisture content of raisins, you may need to add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to keep mixture from drying out.) Remove from heat and set aside. Can be made up to several days ahead and refrigerated.

For Spinach

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Warm oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Stir in spinach and garlic, and cook until spinach is wilted and garlic is fragrant (about 3 minutes). Cover pan if moisture makes spinach pop.


Divide spinach into 4 or 6 cazuelas (small terra-cotta dishes) or heatproof ramekins. Spoon equal amount of goat cheese over each and top with about 1 tablespoon compota. Bake until cheese is bubbly (about 5 minutes). Serve hot.

Crema Catalana - James Campbell Caruso

Saffron and cardamom perfume this Spanish crema, a custard dessert otherwise similar to French crème brûlée. This time of year, you might want to garnish with a few bright strawberries.
Yield Serves 4


2 cups whole milk (divided use)
1 pinch saffron threads
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
3 large egg yolks
1 cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
2½ tablespoons cornstarch
4 teaspoons granulated sugar


Combine in saucepan 1½ cups milk with saffron and cardamom. Bring mixture to quick boil, then remove from heat. Beat together with mixer the egg yolks and confectioners’ sugar until mixture is fluffy and light in color. With mixer running, slowly pour hot-milk mixture into egg-yolk mixture. Pour mixture back into saucepan.

In small bowl, stir together cornstarch and remaining ½ cup milk. Whisk into saucepan and turn heat to medium. Cook, stirring constantly, several minutes, until mixture thickens enough to heavily coat back of spoon and cornstarch taste has dissipated. Pour hot mixture into four 8-ounce, preferably shallow ramekins. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before proceeding, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Turn on oven broiler. Sprinkle top of each custard with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar.

Arrange ramekins on cookie sheet. Place under hot broiler long enough for sugar to caramelize. Serve immediately.

James Campbell Caruso’s recipes are adapted from his 2012 book, España, published by Gibbs Smith.