The word light had a different meaning before Americans turned fat-gram counting into a national obsession. After a winter of stews, potatoes and heavy noodle dishes, cooks look forward to foods that feel physically or psychologically light. Cooks turn from the brown colors of winter cooking to the greens, reds and yellows of spring.
Thanks to modern transportation, we don't have the rigid separation of seasons that our grandparents faced. During January, we can have potatoes followed by raspberries in cream. But it's still pleasurable to celebrate May with a lighter cooking style.
Halibut, which is in good supply, makes a delicious seasonal entree. Forgo a sauce and simply serve the fish with a saute of shallots, oregano, olives and capers. You'll have a flavor that hints of a Greek mountainside in May.
With strawberries at their most appealing vivid red color and juicy, sweet flavor, you'll be inspired to take advantage of this fruit. A compote of mango, strawberries, star anise and Grand Marnier brings out the best in the berries.
1 medium mango, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
3 star anise
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
Combine mango and strawberries in bowl.
In cup, stir together anise, sugar and Grand Marnier. Pour over fruit. Set aside 15 minutes for flavors to blend.
Halibut With Capers and Olives
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (8-ounce) halibut steak, cut 1 inch thick
1 large shallot, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup coarsely chopped, pitted kalamata olives
1 tablespoon capers
2 tablespoons dry white wine
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in small skillet. Add halibut steak and saute over high heat until fish is firm and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Add shallot, oregano, olives, capers and white wine and cook over high heat 2 minutes. Pour over fish. Divide in half.