Califonia Bountiful

Thoughts of spring

March/April 2021 California Bountiful magazine

Chef uses commute time to plan menus




After originally planning to become a veterinarian, Mindy Oh eventually pursued a culinary career. Photo: © 2021 Lori Fusaro

There's a silver lining to L.A.'s typical bumper-to-bumper traffic: That's where chef Mindy Oh does much of her menu planning.

"It usually takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to get to work and usually I'm hungry when I'm stuck in traffic," she said with a laugh.

The commute gives the L.A. native plenty of time to brainstorm ideas for Mora Italiano, where she adds a modern touch to traditional Italian cuisine.

"I have a lot of freedom, which is awesome because usually chefs don't get that opportunity until they own their own place," she said. "I have the ability to bring into fruition my ideas that I get when I'm driving. It's like, 'OK, you know what? Let's run a special tonight, because this sounded really good in my head. So let's do it.'"

This time of year, Oh's thoughts turn to favorite ingredients of spring, including crisp salad greens, asparagus, green garlic, peas and ramps (also known as wild leeks).

"It's exciting to start cooking in the springtime again, because suddenly you have all these options popping up at the farmers market," she said.

Although the pandemic has changed how people entertain, Oh noted they still crave safe ways to share meals.

"We do notice that folks are sometimes hosting in their backyards or meeting with their quarantine pods," she said.

For California Bountiful readers who want to host a shared meal with minimal fuss, she offers the following menu.

"The things that I can do in advance are the things that I tend to gravitate towards," she said. "That's where a lot of these recipes came from—where you could either do it in advance or just throw it in an oven."

Barbara Arciero

Recipes

Polenta with caramelized shallots, roasted asparagus and salsa verde

Asparagus soup with dino kale, white beans, Parmesan Reggiano and prosciutto

Radicchio salad with mint, pistachios, Pecorino Romano and grapefruit honey vinaigrette

Roasted chicken with fingerling potatoes

Roasted radishes, asparagus, shallots and green peas with green goddess dressing


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