Tomorrow is the first day of Spring. It is pouring rain outside, but it may be sunny and get up to the low ’50s tomorrow. Oh joy.

I loved the snow, but with winter officially over, I’m officially ready for some warmer weather – and a bit of a diet change. I’m really looking forward to the spring produce.

I realize that just about anything can be bought at any time, nowadays. Berries and watermelon are in stores during blizzards in January. I very rarely buy them. I really want to experience that first in-season strawberry, savor that local produce. Things just aren’t special if you can get them anywhere and anytime.

I think that’s why I enjoy the snow so much. It puts the seasons in perspective. I can really enjoy the budding trees, plants and flowers, after seeing everything blanketed in snow for months. It’s time to clear the cobwebs and get out and start enjoying the lengthening days.

Of course, it helps when it’s not pouring rain. On those days, I sit inside and wax poetically about how nice it’s going to be.

Soups, stews, and casseroles are going away and I’m starting to think salads and grill. Tonight was a bit of a hybrid.

I had seen a recipe in Fine Cooking magazine for a Mozzarella and Spinach Pesto Melt and thought the concept was pretty good – but I really couldn’t see Nonna enjoying one for dinner. I thought that deconstructing it a bit would give me the flavors I was looking for in a meal that would be pleasing to all.

Instead of crusty bread, I went with a chicken breast. I spread a thin layer atop an almost-cooked breast and topped it with mozzarella and melted it in the oven. Diced tomatoes on top.

I then cooked up some penne and mixed it with more of the spinach pesto for a great side dish.

And I got my crunch from a sourdough roll hot out of the oven.

Spinach Pesto

  • 1 6oz bag baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/2 cup pistachios
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp good olive oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Pulse the spinach, cheese, pistachios, lemon juice, salt & pepper in a food processor until finely chopped. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil to make a smooth, creamy pesto paste.

Use as you would any pesto – as a spread, in pasta, or as an ingredient in eggs, potatoes, salad dressings…

Use your imagination. And c’mon Spring!