In case you haven't heard me complaining, spring has come late to Chicago.  Very late.  I'm ready to dust off the patio furniture and get outside, but swirling snow and freezing winds have prevented us.

My son, Leo, turned one in late March, and he's walking and stumbling everywhere.  We threw him a first fiesta, complete with cerveza, homemade grapefruit margaritas and Rick Bayless' pork tinga tacos for the adults.  Leo licked buttercream icing off of his fingers from my favorite "first birthday cake."  He was swarmed by his cousins and buddies as he opened gift after gift.

I really can't believe he is one.  He's a bubbly, smiley and loving little man.

Now that spring has sprung, we are out tooling around the neighborhood in our Radio Flyer wagon and running around the nearby parks.  In lieu of sunshine and open windows, I've started cooking with spring greens to get us in the mood.

First up is a homemade pesto adapted from my current foodie crush, Nigel Slater.  Recently, Martin bought a UK TV Everywhere box.  Yep, it allows you to watch British telly LIVE.  That means we're back up to speed on Coronation Street, EastEnders and my favorite, Saturday Kitchen.  Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers comes up straight after a glorious morning of James Martin.

Nigel's new garden kitchen is also a current obsession.  I love the rustic, modern touches, the big picture windows, and the glass doors that lead directly into his beautiful garden.  With rain teeming down on most episodes, Nigel is hopping around his kitchen cooking up amazingly simple suppers with unlikely and new combinations.

I love his easy handmade pesto using only a pestle and mortar.  Toss it with linguine and some fresh arugula and it's a perfect weeknight supper.

This next recipe is seriously scrummy and got rave reviews at my impromptu Masters party.  It's a sort of deconstructed pizza and could not be easier to throw together.  This one is from his Simple Cooking series.  It's called  Mozarella with Basil Crust and is a must try.  There is a delightful basil oil that's drizzled over buffalo mozzarella and that is little slices of Italian Salami peeking out in between the tomatoes.  The crunchy ciabatta topping is unreal.

Last, but most certainly not least is this gem of a spring green pizza.  I happily paid a "brag ticket" at work for this one last week.  My colleagues and I throw a quarter in a box with a ticket if....okay, when...we brag.  My brags are really in two categories:

  1. Leo did something amazingly cute.
  2. I cooked something amazingly tasty.
I was inspired to make this pizza after seeing a picture of a similar Triple Garlic Pizza on Pinterest.  It caught my eye, screamed spring, and I made it a couple of days later.  I absolutely love fresh, wild garlic, and the garlic confit looked amazing.  Try Food52's version or you can do the working Mom, weeknight version that I pulled off spectacularly, if I do say so myself.  

If I make a recipe, I rarely measure, so you'll see a lot of "handfuls" below.  Eyeball it.  You'll be fine.

Spring Green Pizza with Chives, Garlic and Truffle Oil

Ready made pizza dough (Trader Joe's sells a great whole wheat version- this is Wildfire's Frozen dough)
Handful of fresh asparagus
Handful of spring onions kept whole
2 cloves of garlic, skins on
Handful of grated fontina cheese
Handful of bocconcini mozzarella (small mozzarella balls)
salt and pepper
black truffle oil
extra virgin olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400F.  Snap the rough stems off the bottom of the asparagus spears and peel any wilted leaves off of your spring onions.  In a grill pan, roast your asparagus, garlic cloves in their skins and spring onions whole with some salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.  Roast until just tender and there are some nice grill marks on the vegetables and garlic skins.  Slice the asparagus on the angle but keep the spring onions whole.  Put aside and save until you're ready to make the pizza.   Let the garlic sit in their skins if you're doing it a bit beforehand.  This will allow them to continue to steam and become soft and sweet.  When you're ready, peel the cloves and finely slice, don't chop, each clove.

Roll out your pizza dough to a thin layer with some flour on a clean surface.  I like to throw a handful of cornmeal on my baking sheet before laying the pizza dough out.  It makes it a touch crispier, which I appreciate.

This is the fun part.  Start your layering with the grated fontina.  Add the asparagus spears and the garlic slices.  Break open each bocconcini with your fingers so they're almost halved, but like an open book.  Place in between the asparagus spears.   Lay the spring onions on top and drizzle generously with the truffle oil.  I like to do another drizzle on the crust with a little extra virgin oil.  Bake for about 10 minutes, or until it's looking crispy and golden.

Top with some chopped chives and dig in.