How many breakfasts in bed does it take for a mom to get sick of breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day?
Rather than test the theory, I decided to go in a different direction this year. I wanted to create a light, yet still filling dish that would work well no matter what time of day it was served — brunch, lunch or dinner. And I wanted it to play nicely with whatever else was served.
The solution was deliciously easy — a salad of shaved fresh fennel and red onion tossed with a light dressing spiked with dill, whole-grain mustard and just a pinch of sugar. And heaped on top? Roasted new potatoes and a mound of thinly sliced smoked salmon dressed with lemon juice, olive oil and black pepper.
Mom doesn’t like salmon? No worries. Substitute cooked and chilled shrimp. Or go crazy and serve a bit of each.
Shaved Fennel and Smoked Salmon Salad
Start to finish: 30 minutes
12 ounces new potatoes, quartered
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and ground black pepper
1 large or 2 medium bulbs fennel, trimmed
1/2 small red onion
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces cold-smoked salmon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Chopped fresh dill
Heat the oven to 425 F.
In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Transfer the potatoes to a baking sheet, then roast until tender and lightly browned, 15 to
20 minutes. Transfer the roasted potatoes to a plate and refrigerate just until no longer hot, about 10 minutes.
While the potatoes cook and cool, use a mandoline or food processor to shave the fennel as thinly as possible. Do the same with the onion. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar,
2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil, the mustard, sugar and a hefty pinch each of salt and pepper.
Add the shaved fennel and onion, then toss until well coated. Divide the mixture between 4 serving plates. Top with the cooled potatoes.
Divide the salmon into thin slices. In a medium bowl, drizzle the salmon with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive and the lemon juice. Gently toss to coat, then season with pepper. Mound a quarter of the salmon over each salad, then sprinkle with fresh dill.
Nutrition information per serving: 280 calories; 150 calories from fat (54 percent of total calories); 17 g fat (2.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 15 mg cholesterol; 22 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 13 g protein; 870 mg sodium.
Quiche and lasagna
Lasagna isn’t typically associated with Mother’s Day, but it is the dish that inspired us this year as we searched for a fresh way to offer Mom a delicious brunch.
We took some of our favorite lasagna ingredients — ricotta cheese, spinach, thyme and Asiago cheese — but instead of layering them with noodles, we mixed them together in a rich, but still light tart filling. With a store-bought crust, the tart can be in the oven in 20 minutes and on the table 40 minutes later. And similar to a good quiche, this tart can be served hot or room temperature.
Ricotta Spinach Tart
Start to finish: 1 hour
(20 minutes active)
1 package prepared pie dough
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
5-ounce package baby spinach
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
Heat the oven to 375 F. Coat an 8-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray. Press the pie dough into the tart pan, trimming any excess.
In a skillet over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook until completely soft and most the of the liquid has evaporated, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a fine mesh strainer. Using a spoon or silicone spatula, press the spinach to extract any remaining liquid.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg, then add the ricotta, thyme, lemon zest, salt, pepper and spinach. Stir to combine. Spread the mixture in the prepared tart shell and sprinkle with Asiago cheese. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Allow to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Nutrition information per serving: 350 calories; 200 calories from fat (57 percent of total calories); 22 g fat (10 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 70 mg cholesterol; 25 g carbohydrate;
1 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 14 g protein; 460 mg sodium.
An easy, flaky dessert
The secret to this simple Mother’s Day dessert is frozen puff pastry. It is easy to work with and bakes up into a deliciously flaky pastry.
You’ll find puff pastry in the grocer’s freezer section, usually near the frozen fruit and pie shells. Be sure to thaw it completely before trying to unfold the sheets of pastry. You can place the box in the refrigerator overnight, or leave it (unopened) on the counter for about an hour.
We like the combination of blackberries and orange, but feel free to substitute any berry. Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries all would be delicious. This dessert also can be prepped ahead of time. Just bake the pastry squares, then store them covered at room temperature.
Start to finish: 30 minutes
17.3-ounce package puff pastry (each package contains 2 sheets), thawed
4 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
2 cups fresh blackberries
Zest and juice of 1 orange
16-ounce container mascarpone
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment.
Unfold each sheet of puff pastry and lay flat on a work surface. Use 2 tablespoons of the sugar to sprinkle both sides of both sheets of puff pastry. Using a pizza wheel or a paring knife, cut each sheet into 9 squares.
Arrange the squares on the prepared baking sheet, then place another piece of parchment on top of them. Place a second baking sheet on top of that so that the puff pastry is sandwiched between them. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the top baking sheet and allow the squares to cool completely.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine the blackberries with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and the orange zest and juice. Set aside.
In another bowl, stir together the mascarpone, powdered sugar and vanilla.
To assemble, place 1 pastry square on each serving plate. Top the square with 1 tablespoon of the mascarpone mixture, then
1 tablespoon of the berries. Top with another square of pastry, followed by another layer each of mascarpone and berries. Serve immediately.
Nutrition information per serving: 490 calories; 340 calories from fat (69 percent of total calories); 38 g fat (17 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 65 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 10 g sugar; 8 g protein; 290 mg sodium.
(The AP's Ladman contributed to this report.)