The Recipe Box: Signs of Spring

Garlic-Lemon Shrimp Skewers with Zucchini Quinoa

Our recipe category for next month:  “Let’s Get Bathing-Suit Ready!” Please email your favorite healthy main dish, side, salad and dessert recipes to Please include exact measurements and instructions, and a photo of your creation, if you have one.

(Serves 4 – 6)
Janine Vairo, PartyStyle Box Stylishly themed parties for children,, 203-273-3134

This light and fresh meal is perfect for spring!

2 large lemons
1/2 bunch fresh chives, finely chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
pinch of dried oregano
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
16 uncooked jumbo shrimp (about 1 pound), peeled and deveined
4 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt

Soak 16 bamboo skewers in water for 45 minutes. This will help prevent the skewers from burning too quickly on the grill. Finely grate the peel from the lemons into a medium bowl. Cut one lemon in half and set it aside. Reserve the remaining lemon for another use. Stir the chives, shallot, garlic, dried oregano, pepper flakes and garlic into the lemon peel.

Add the shrimp and olive oil to the lemon peel mixture. Sprinkle with salt and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Remove the skewers from the water and pat them dry.

Thread 1 shrimp on the end of each skewer. Prepare the barbecue or flat iron grill pan for high heat. Grill the shrimp until just opaque in the center, about 2 minutes per side. Squeeze the reserved halved lemon over the shrimp on the grill. Transfer the skewers to a platter and serve with zucchini quinoa (recipe below).

1 cup of organic Tricolor Quinoa (I found this at Trader Joe’s)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups of water
1 cup canned garbanzo beans, drained
1 1/2 pounds of medium zucchini (about 5)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons lime juice
4 teaspoons lemon juice
5 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon of oregano
1/2 cup of crumbled black pepper feta (I found this at Whole Foods)
1 stalk of celery chopped
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

Place the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold water until the water no longer foams. Bring the quinoa, salt and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low cover and simmer until the quinoa is tender about 20-25 minutes.

In a medium pan, add olive oil and garlic to heated pan and chopped Zucchini. Saute until light golden brown.

Once done, stir in the garbanzo beans (marinated in olive oil, salt, oregano and red wine vinegar), cooked zucchini, add lemon and lime juice, and olive oil. Then add in crumbled black pepper feta cheese and season with cumin, salt, and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

(Serves 4)
Bryan Malcarney, Blue Lemon Restaurant, 15 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT, 203-226-2647,, Rorys Restaurant, 416 Post Road, Darien, CT, 203-655-9453,

1 lb. cleaned baby squid
¼  lb. baby arugula
4 limes
2 oz. ginger
3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1 ¼ cups olive oil
1 bunch chives
salt & pepper to taste

Peel ginger and cut into small chunks.  Squeeze limes. Put ginger and lime juice in blender or food processor.  Add sugar and rice wine vinegar.  Blend ingredients until the ginger is pureed.  While the blender is running slowly add all of the olive oil.  Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

Season the squid on both sides with salt and pepper on a plate with olive oil.  Place on a hot grill and cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side until tender. Dress the greens lightly with vinaigrette and toss with grilled tentacles. Place the salad on the top portion of the plate and place the remaining squid on the bottom half.  Sauce the squid with vinaigrette and garnish with chopped chives.

Key Lime Cake
Key Lime Cake

Carol M., Waterbury, Conn.

1 (3-oz) package lime gelatin
1 ⅓ cups granulated sugar
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
5 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
¾ cup orange juice
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup key lime juice
½ cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350⁰F.  Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the gelatin, sugar, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Stir to mix well.  Add the eggs, oil, orange juice, lemon juice and vanilla.  Divide the batter evenly among the 3 pans and bake for 35 minutes.

While the layers are still hot, mix the lime juice and confectioner’s sugar and pour it over the layers on the racks.  You can pierce the layers with a fork to allow the glaze to soak in better.  Allow the layers to cool completely.

Frost with Cool Whip between the layers and on the top and side of the cake.


Randi F.,

1 spaghetti squash, cooked and cooled seasoned with salt and pepper to taste
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. olive oil
5 eggs
1 cup reduced-fat milk
1 cup fat-free or reduced fat shredded cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, swiss, whatever)
10-13 ounces veggies (asparagus, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, etc) chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 400.

Mix spaghetti squash with salt and pepper and press into pie plate sprayed with PAM. Make sure it goes up the sides as well, just like a pie crust. Blot down with paper towel to take away excess moisture. There may be leftover squash, just save it for another meal!

Bake for 20 minutes.

While the crust is baking, heat the olive oil in a pan and sauté the onion and garlic until translucent. Add the other veggies and cook until your preferred doneness. Mix together the eggs, milk, cheese, salt and pepper.

Remove crust from oven, lower the heat to 350.  Pour the egg mixture into the crust. Add the veggie mixture and press down into the egg.  Bake for 40 minutes or until firm.

Spring Green Risotto
Spring Green Risotto


(Makes 4 servings)

Springtime brings many vegetable joys. The first leafy greens that break through the soil are often tender and sweet. Handfuls of new baby greens are folded into this creamy risotto, resulting in a creamy and elegant main course or side dish.

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ medium vidalia onion, thinly sliced
1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice
2 cups dry white wine
3 cups vegetable broth, warmed
10 ½ cups mixed spring baby greens (baby spinach, baby kale, etc), roughly chopped
¾ stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring once or twice, until onions begin to brown and caramelize, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the rice, and stir to coat. Add the wine, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly until the liquid is nearly absorbed before adding next addition.

Once all of the wine is absorbed, add the warm broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring between additions until liquid is nearly absorbed before adding next addition. When liquid is absorbed and rice is tender but still firm to the bite, stir in the greens.

When greens have wilted, add the butter and half the cheese. Check the rice. Each grain of rice should have a firm center, and the risotto should be slightly creamy. If needed, add more water or broth and stir to loosen up the risotto. Add thyme, salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately, garnished with remaining grated cheese.

Michelle Rybnick, Norwalk, Conn.

1 c. red wine (good quality)
3/4 c. lite soy sauce
4 lg. cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 c. fresh mint, chopped
3 T. fresh rosemary
1 T. ground pepper
1 leg of lamb

Mix first six ingredients together in bowl and pour over leg of lamb. Cover and marinate in refrigerator overnight.

Grill over medium-high heat, turning several times, being cautious not to burn. Cook to your liking.

Joanna Leone, Trumbull, Conn.

1  (16-oz.) package of angel food cake mix
1 (20-oz.) can crushed pineapple with juice
1 (12-oz.) container of frozen whipped topping ( thawed )

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a 9×13 inch pan with vegetable oil spray.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pineapple (with juice). Mix until well blended.

Pour batter into prepared 9×13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool. Serve with whipped topping.

Lemon Curd,
Lemon Curd, Strawberry, and Basil Sponge Cake Trifle

(Makes 10 servings)

A luscious twist on the traditional Passover sponge cake.

Tart Lemon Curd:
6 large egg yolks
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
⅔ cup fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted, non-hydrogenated, non-dairy margarine, diced and chilled

Strawberry Basil Sauce:
3 pounds strawberries, hulled and cut in half (about 6 cups), reserving 6 for garnish
¾ cup white grape juice
1 cup granulated sugar
15 large basil leaves, cut in thin chiffonade, plus another few leaves for garnish

Sponge Cake:
1¾ cup (75 grams) granulated sugar
9 eggs, separated
¾ cup (14 grams) potato starch
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
Zest of 1 lemon

To prepare the lemon curd:
lace the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk until thick and pale in color. Slowly whisk in the lemon juice. Transfer the egg yolk mixture to a 3-quart nonreactive saucepan and set it over low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, for about  8 to 10 minutes, until it thickens and takes on the consistency of a pudding. Be careful not to let the mixture come to a boil or it will curdle. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Remove from the heat and quickly whisk in the margarine until it is melted and completely incorporated. Transfer the lemon curd to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap that is pressed against the curd and set in the refrigerator to chill for about 1 hour.  This can be made up to three days in advance. Stir in the fresh basil chiffonade before serving.

To prepare the strawberry and basil sauce:
Combine the strawberry halves, grape juice, and sugar in a saucepan and set it over high heat. Cook, uncovered, for about 2 minutes, until the liquid begins to boil rapidly. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, until the strawberries are soft, but not mushy. Remove from the heat and let cool. Refrigerate in a covered container until chilled. This can be made up to 3 days in advance.

To prepare the sponge cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a bundt cake pan with a coating of nonstick vegetable oil spray and set aside.
Pour the sugar in a food processor and pulse for 1½ to 2 minutes, until it has the consistency of very fine sand,  but not powder.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine the egg yolks and sugar and mix it on medium-high speed until fluffy. While that is mixing, pour the egg whites into a large, perfectly clean mixing bowl, and whisk vigorously until they hold stiff peaks.

Add the potato starch, salt, and lemon zest to the egg-yolk mixture and mix on high until fully combined. Add ⅓ of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Remove the bowl and its contents from mixer stand, and with a wide spatula, fold in the remaining egg whites.

Gently pour the mixture into the prepared bundt pan and place it in the oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is a pale golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, but it is not overly dry. Remember that the cake will continue to cook in the pan after it has been removed from  the oven. Allow to cool completely in the pan.

To assemble and serve:
Assemble six 4- to 5-inch tall glasses, or dessert serving dishes. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the lemon curd into each. With a sharp knife, cut the cake into slices, and then trim as necessary, circles the diameter of your serving glass, about 1-inch deep. In each glass, top the lemon curd with a piece of cake, spoon 2 tablespoons of strawberry over it, then another layer of cake, 2 tablespoons of the lemon curd, a strawberry and a garnish of basil leaves.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate, covered, for about 5 hours (the sponge cake will absorb the strawberry and basil sauce and it will have pudding-like quality). You can choose whichever version you like best. This can also be served in a large trifle bowl, family style.