Spring Fever: Spa Food

Seared Duck Salad with Pecan-Brie Cheese

OK, it’s been a rough winter. Your house is on the market and it hasn’t budged, so you soothed your nerves with gooey butter cake. Your 401k tanked, so you consoled yourself with Doritos. To add insult to injury, the Rams had a bad season, so you compensated with a little extra pizza. The whole time, you figured your bulky winter coat would hide a few extra pounds.

    Well, winter’s almost over. You’ll have to take that coat off eventually. But help, like spring, is on the way. Some of the most talented chefs in town have agreed to share favorite ‘spa’ recipes with us. That the resulting dishes happen to be light and healthy is entirely beside the point. What matters most is that they are enticingly delicious, easy to make and bursting with the fresh flavors of spring.

Sweet Potato Salad

From The Market at Busch’s Grove

    “I came up with this as a low-carb, lighter alternative to the usual potato salad,” says executive chef Clint Whittemore. “It’s held together with honey vinaigrette, no mayo! It’s sweet, spicy and light, perfect for spring and summer.” This recipe makes 1 to 2 quarts of potato salad, depending on the size of the potatoes.

½ t. parsley

1/8 t. garlic

¼ t. sage

1/8 t. thyme

1/8 c. shaved red onion

2 T. sherry vinegar

4 T. honey

½ T. diced chipotle chile

6 T. olive oil

¼ t. salt

½ T. basil

1 lb. sweet potatoes

2 ears grilled corn, cut off cob

½ c. diced poblano chile

1. Cook peeled sweet potatoes in salted water.

2. Blend honey, sherry vinegar, sage, thyme, parsley and basil.

3. Add potatoes, onion, corn, poblano, chipotle and salt.

4. Mix together and enjoy.

Broiled Salmon with Sour Cream and Dill

From Schnucks Markets

    “Our customers are always looking for new recipes, that’s why our Schnucks Cooks magazine is so popular,” says Kathy Gottsacker, director of food education at Schnucks.

    “This dish is light, delicious and takes less than a half hour to prepare and cook. And salmon is loaded with omega-3, an essential fatty acid, a fat that’s actually good for you.” Serves four.

1 English cucumber, halved 

½ small white onion, thinly sliced into rings

1 T. red wine vinegar

5 t. extra-virgin olive oil

½ t. kosher salt

¼ t. freshly ground black pepper

1¼ lbs. fresh salmon fillet, cut into 4 equal pieces

2 small lemons

1 t. lemon pepper seasoning

½ t. onion salt

½ t. garlic powder

¼ c. light sour cream

½ t. chopped fresh dill, plus sprigs for garnish

lemon slices for garnish

1. Into small bowl, cut thin slices from each cucumber half with vegetable peeler, discarding seed portion. Stir in onion, vinegar, 1 t. oil, salt and black pepper. Refrigerate.

2. Place oven rack 4 to 5 inches from broiler. Preheat broiler to high. Coat both sides of salmon with remaining oil. In shallow metal baking dish, place salmon, skin side up, and broil 3 to 5 minutes or until skin is lightly browned.

3. Into small bowl, squeeze ¼ c. juice from lemons. With wide spatula, turn salmon. Pour lemon juice over salmon and sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning, onion salt and garlic powder. Broil salmon 5 minutes.

4. In small bowl, mix sour cream and dill; spread evenly over salmon. Broil 3 to 4 minutes or until sour cream topping is lightly browned, salmon is almost opaque throughout and internal temperature reaches 145°F. Slip spatula between salmon skin and flesh to remove skin. Serve over cucumber mixture; garnish with dill sprigs and lemon slices.

Seared Duck Salad with Pecan-Brie Cheese

From L’école Culinaire

    “There’s nothing Spartan about this salad, which contains rich duck and slices of luxurious brie,” says Jamie Manley, chef/instructor at L’École Culinaire. “You can lighten it up a little by removing the duck skin and going easy on the cheese, but why deprive yourself? You’re getting plenty of good antioxidants from the spring mix, tomatoes, pecans and cherries.” Serves one.

4 oz. duck breast

1 oz. sun-dried cherries

1 oz. toasted pecans, chopped fine

2 ½ oz. brie cheese, sliced

3 yellow pear tomatoes

4 oz. spring mix

Salt and pepper as needed


½ oz. Dijon mustard

2 oz. white balsamic vinegar

6 oz. salad oil

Honey, fresh herbs, salt and pepper as needed

1. In a bowl, mix mustard, honey and vinegar and whisk to incorporate. Slowly drizzle in salad oil while whisking to create emulsion. Finish with fresh herbs, salt and pepper.

2. Preheat medium sauté pan. Score duck breast just through top skin. Season with salt and pepper. Sear skin side down until golden brown. Turn and cook other side until medium rare. Let rest before carving on the bias.

3. Place greens, tomatoes and cherries in bowl. Add small amount of dressing (enough to coat greens). Mix.

4. Roll brie in pecans to coat.

5. Arrange duck on salad plate. Top with dressed greens and brie. Serve immediately.

Wild Rice Salad

From Straub’s

    “This healthy dish is a perfect addition to a light sandwich or a green salad in the warmer spring days ahead,” says Straub’s executive chef Freddie Youngblood. “Marrying the flavors of vegetables and fruit with nutty whole grains makes it a tasty alternative to more conventional lunch and dinner sides.” Serves eight.

8 oz. wild rice

1 stalk celery, diced small

1 Granny Smith apple, diced small

2 chopped green onions

½ roasted red bell pepper, diced medium

½ roasted green bell pepper, diced medium

½ roasted yellow bell pepper, diced medium

10 sprigs parsley, chopped

4 sprigs dill, chopped

6 sprigs tarragon, chopped

¾ c. Straub’s House Roasted Garlic vinaigrette (can substitute red wine vinaigrette)

1 ¼ oz. golden raisins

1. Rinse wild rice, place in a small pot and cover with lightly salted water.

2. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer for 45 to 55 minutes, or until wild rice starts to burst.

3. Cool rice and toss with remaining ingredients. Let stand for 2 hours before serving.