(May 25) Don’t limit your use of frisee, also known as curly endive, to salads. The fine-leafed endive works well in many dishes.

European Vegetable Specialties Farms Inc., Salinas, Calif., offers a serving idea for wild thing pasta salad. Combine cooked, drained and slightly cooled penne pasta with chopped frisee, sliced mushrooms, diced red bell pepper, olive oil, red wine vinegar, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, crumbled blue cheese and chopped toasted walnuts. It goes well with broiled chops, herbed chicken or roasted or grilled salmon.

Frisee has dark outer leaves, paler yellow middle leaves and delicate white center leaves — all with a mildly bitter flavor. You can refrigerate frisee in a plastic bag for up to five days.


The short window of opportunity to use fresh cherries on the menu is here. The California cherry season starts in mid-May and peaks during the first week of June.

Tom Tjerandsen, spokesman for the California Cherry Advisory Board, Lodi, outlines three cherry applications for the menu.

1. Feature cherries in fruit-based drinks, a popular use of cherries in Japan. You can charge more for the drinks and use yogurt, ice cream or other dairy items as the base.

2. Distinguish your salads from those of the competition with cherries. The fruit not only adds color, it increases the perceived plate value to guests.

3. Take away the maraschino cherries from desserts and replace them with fresh cherries while they’re in season.


You can never find enough ways to serve artichokes. James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award winner Marion Cunningham offers her recipe for garlic crumb walnut stuffed artichokes, which can be served as an appetizer, first course or light lunch.

While boiling four artichokes you have trimmed, tear apart four slices of bread and blend them in a blender or food processor until you have crumbs. Spread the crumbs on a baking sheet and dry them in a 250 degree oven until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Toss together the crumbs, two large finely chopped garlic cloves, ¾ teaspoon salt, 6 tablespoons olive oil and ½ cup finely chopped walnuts. With your fingers, separate the artichoke leaves so they open up a little and spoon a small amount of the stuffing between the leaves. It makes four servings, which you can serve warm or chilled.


Get out your favorite ingredients to use with asparagus and create a prize-winning recipe. The California Asparagus Commission is sponsoring a recipe contest for professional chefs. Enter something suitable for any meal, including appetizers, small plates, salads, sandwiches, entrees and side dishes. The recipe must be original and feature fresh asparagus in an application suitable for foodservice. Try for the $2,500 grand prize. There also will be two $1,000 first-place prizes and two $500 second-place prizes. Entries must be received by June 30.

Find inspiration and direction for the creative use of asparagus from the commission’s new foodservice brochure. It features menu ideas, recipes, ordering and handling guidelines and nutrition information.

Contact: California Asparagus Commission, 311 E. Main St., Suite 204, Stockton, CA 95202; phone: (209) 474-7581; fax: (209) 474-9015; Web: www.calasparagus.com.