I love anticipation. There is no better feeling than the excitement leading up to a big holiday or great vacation. Anticipation is especially strong when you are a kid – how many of us barely slept on Christmas Eve – but fortunately it is one of those few experiences that doesn’t totally go away as you get older. Of course, as an adult what we get excited about changes, but the fun of it stays the same.

After the long, hard winter I have been eagerly anticipating spring. That means getting excited about the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, tulips along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, and of course, asparagus and peas at the farmers market. Like a kid before Christmas who tries to find their presents in their parent’s closet I may have cheated a bit this week… I jumped the gun and bought some California asparagus at the grocery store because I just couldn’t bear to wait any longer. I would like to say that I regret it, but honestly I don’t. I needed that taste of spring and I’m happy to share my recipe with you.

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The first asparagus and peas of 2014

Meal #1: Penne with Asparagus, Scallions, Peas and Prosciutto
Meal #2: Mustard Crusted Branzino + Sautéed Spinach
Meal #3: Italian Sausage and Farro Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Feta
Meal #4: Roasted Chicken Thighs with Tomatoes, Olives, and Feta + Sautéed Green Beans with Shallots

Your grocery list, excluding the usual pantry items: 

asparagus – 1 bunch
bell peppers – 2 (red, yellow or orange)
red onion – 1
scallions – 1 bunch (5 or so )
frozen or fresh peas – 1 cup
spinach – 2 bags or bunches
green beans – 1 1/2 lb.
grape or cherry tomatoes – 1 pint
shallots – 7
lemon -1
thyme – 1 bunch
box of penne
farro – 1 cup
breadcrumbs – 1 cup
half and half or heavy cream – small container
feta cheese – 1 cup
Spanish olives – 1/2 cup
Parmesan cheese (if you don’t already have it)
whole grain mustard (if you don’t already have it)
pine nuts (optional) – 2 TB.
prosciutto – 1/4 lb.
Italian Sausage – 1 or 2 links per person
bone-in, skin-0n chicken thighs – 8 or approx. 2 1/2 lb.
branzino or trout – whole (two fish, 2 lb. each) or filet (6-8 oz. per person)