Take a look at the picture of my rendition of the “Spring Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs,” from the April 2012 issue of Bön Appetit. It looks more like a thick stew, doesn’t it? That’s because my chosen small pasta was fregola, made of toasted semolina that swells into a marvelous chewy nugget. Hearty and crowd-pleasing. We loved this.

I made 30 perfect little chicken meatballs with this recipe, making sure to coat them in some extra fresh breadcrumbs, because they were a bit too moist. The inclusion of Parmesan, garlic, and chives made a flavorful combo. My soup’s broth was enhanced by the tasty leek. Instead of tossing in baby spinach, I used some chopped kale. Obviously, this soup allows improvisation: meatballs + veggies + pasta. I added 1 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper at the end.

And just when I was processing fresh breadcrumbs for the soup recipe, I used some more to make the “Roasted Cauliflower with Shallots and Golden Raisins,” from the March 2012 issue of Everyday Food. This is one of those recipes that you really can’t mess up. I roasted my cauliflower for a long 40 minutes, with a generous glug of olive oil. The sweetness of the shallots and raisins paired with the powerfully roasted cauliflower smoothness. Sigh with victory. And the breadcrumbs? A favorite shining star, here.

Fresh Chives = $1.04
Leek (1) = .68¢
Cauliflower (1) = $4.20
Shallots (2) = $1.62

RECIPES: the soup gives back whatever you put into it, and a roasted vegetable will always be wonderful
ladle your soup after less than an hour of work; roast your cauliflower until you think it’s tender enough
sweet, chewy pasta, chicken meatballs enhanced with Parmesan, garlic, and chives, and leeks and greens sing in your soup; marvel at how easy cauliflower, shallots, and raisins become deliciously roasted fireworks

Next time, I want to showcase the darling “Strawberry-Lemonade Muffins,” from the April 2012 issue of Southern Living. See mine when you come back to my site soon.