Set your table with spring blooms; daisies, chamomile, hydrangeas and basil make a lovely fragrant bouquet. Consider apples or other fruits as a tablescape. From lower left, clockwise: Burrata with Roasted Grapes, Sweet Potato Mash with Basil Lime Sauce, and Tomatoes with Sumac, Onions, and Pine Nuts. Photos by Saori Wall & Food styling by Amanda Weir

We may once again be observing spring holidays without family and friends but we can still celebrate the season. In this spring-themed culinary adventure, TNT contributors Saori Wall and Amanda Weir experiment with the vibrant Mediterranean-inspired flavors of Israeli British chef Yotam Assaf Ottolenghi, whose bestselling cookbooks include Ottolenghi, Plenty, Jerusalem and SIMPLE

This trio of recipes feature simple, fresh flavors that are perfect for a spring backyard picnic or holiday meal. Most of the recipes call for easy-to-find ingredients. Sour, tangy sumac, made from ground, dried sumac berries, may be a little harder to find—check with the Canyon Gourmet or the General Store. A vegan alternative to burrata—a soft cheese of fresh mozzarella filled with curds and cream—a vegan option might be to use hummus in its place.

Burrata With Grilled Grapes and Basil

Serves 6

Ingredients 

Seedless red grapes

2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar

3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 ½  teaspoons dark brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted and lightly crushed

flaked sea salt to taste

3 large balls of burrata 

basil sprigs to serve

Put the grapes in a medium bowl with vinegar, oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds, 1/4 teaspoon of flaked salt and plenty of pepper. Mix well and marinate for at least one hour. Thread 5 or 6 grapes on to each skewer. Don’t throw away the marinade. Place a grill pan over high heat. Once it is hot add the skewers in batches and grill for 2 to 3 minutes, turning after 1 1/2 minutes.

When ready to serve, tear the burrata in half and place half on each plate. Arrange the skewers to lean against the burrata, two per portion. Pour over the remaining marinade, sprinkle with the remaining fennel seeds, garnish with basil and serve.

Tomatoes With Sumac Onions and Pine Nuts

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

1 1/2 tbsp sumac

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

salt and black pepper

an assortment of the freshest tomatoes

2 tbsp olive oil

a handful of basil leaves

a handful of toasted pine nuts

Put the shallot in a small bowl with the sumac, the vinegar, and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt. Mix together with your hands so the sumac gets well massaged into the shallots. Leave for 30 minutes to soften.

Cut the  tomatoes in half lengthwise and then into wedges. Place in a large bowl. Pour in the oil, add the basil, a third of a teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of pepper. Toss gently with your hands to combine. Arrange the tomatoes on a large platter and spread the shallots over the top. Lift some of the tomatoes and basil so they are visible above the shallots, sprinkle some basil and the pine nuts over the dish.

Sweet Potato Mash with Lime Salsa

Serves 4-6

Ingredients 

2 lbs sweet potatoes, skin left on and cut in half lengthwise

Lime Salsa

5 tablespoons olive oil

Large handful of basil leaves finely chopped

Large handful of cilantro finely chopped 

1/2 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

2 limes, zested and juiced 

salt to taste

Heat oven to 350 F. Season the sweet potatoes with two tablespoons of oil and a quarter teaspoon of salt, lay flesh-side down on an oven pan and roast for 30 minutes or until fully cooked. 

Put lime salsa ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. 

Remove skins from sweet potato and mash until smooth. Spoon salsa evenly over the mash and serve while it’s hot.

De vining grapes and skewering them before grilling is an activity the family can help out with.
Spoon lime salsa evenly over the sweet potato mash and serve while it’s hot.