Kitchen Focus

March is month of rollercoaster weather. However, most of us are just itching to get fresh food on our tables, so this month, we're looking at how to transition from winter to spring in the kitchen. Instead of rushing for all salads, all the time, consider making a deliberate transition that blends the comfort foods of the winter season with splashes of freshness that come with spring.

When thinking about bridging that gap that falls between the rustic, hearty food of winter and the bright, light food of spring, consider pairing foods and ingredients to blend the two. Pair that Sunday roasted chicken with a fresh salsa brimming with springtime vegetables. Serve winter squash with slices of sweet onions. Or, like the menu suggested here, take an expected winter coleslaw and dot it with bright, spicy radishes. Even traditional pork chops get a new awakening makeover with a side of fresh herb relish. These foods take the bite out of winter and the pep into spring. Enjoy!

Radish-Cabbage Coleslaw

  • 1 head cabbage
  • 1 bunch radishes
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 c. mayonnaise

Chop the cabbage finely.

Chop the radishes finely.

Combine the cabbage, radishes, caraway seeds, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add just enough mayonnaise to cover it all. Add it slowly to make sure the slaw does not get too soggy.

  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes
  • Yields: 8 servings

Spicy Pork Chops with Fresh Herb Relish

For the chops:

  • 3 T. sweet paprika
  • 1 T. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T. coarse salt
  • 3/4 tsp. sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne
  • Six to eight 10- to 11-ounce bone-in pork rib chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick
  • Cooking spray

For the relish:

  • 12 ripe cherry tomatoes
  • 2 fresh white onions or 1/2 c. sweet onion, minced
  • 1 medium green chile pepper, as hot as you like
  • 1/2 c. chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 c. chopped mint
  • Juice of 1 lime

An hour before you plan to cook the pork chops, prepare the dry rub by combining the first 8 ingredients (paprika through cayenne) in a small bowl. Coat the chops with the spice mixture and place them in a large plastic bag, seal it, and refrigerate.

Remove the chops from the refrigerator and let them sit covered at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the relish by chopping all of the ingredients and blending them with the lime juice. Set aside.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Spray the chops with oil and transfer them to the pan. Cook the chops for 18 to 20 minutes total. Turn the chops once while cooking. The chops are done when just a hint of pink remains at the center. Serve hot with the relish.

  • Preparation Time: About 1 hour
  • Yields: 6-8 servings