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Fresh And Light As Spring

In her New York and London restaurants, British chef Annie Wayte has seen more customers ordering soups, salads and sandwiches instead of heavy entrees. So her new book, "Keep It Seasonal," is full of fresh and easy recipes for these items.

Each recipe calls for fresh ingredients, which taste great and are more affordable—a key factor for our Chef on a Shoestring series on The Saturday Early Show.

Below are the recipes for Wayte's three-course meal for four on a budget of $40. On the menu:

Shaved Asparagus Salad
Fresh Tuna Burgers with Avocado Relish
Strawberry Rhubarb Soup

It's a menu that screams "Spring!"

Asparagus: The optimum season for fresh asparagus is from February through June. Choose firm, bright green stalks with tight tips. It's best cooked the day it's purchased, but will keep in the fridge for three or four days.

Yellowfin Tuna: Also known as ahi tuna, this fish has a rich, firm flesh that's moderate to high in fat. The yellowfin can grow as large as 300 pounds and is often found swimming with dolphins.

Brioche: A French creation, this light yeast bread is rich with butter and eggs.

Rhubarb: It's considered a fruit, but rhubarb is really a vegetable. Its stalks look like pale red celery, and are the only edible part of the plant (the leaves are toxic). Rhubarb is quite tart which is why you usually find it combined with a lot of sugar.

1 bunch asparagus (about a pound)
1 bunch arugula
2 oz Parmesan cheese
3 T olive oil
1 T lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Shave a bunch of asparagus with a vegetable peeler, forming long strips, and place them in a bowl. Add a handful of Parmesan shavings and a handful of arugula. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Whisk the olive oil and lemon juice together, and drizzle this dressing over the salad. Toss to mix thoroughly. Arrange the salad on a platter and serve.

1 lb tuna loin, skinless
4 scallions (white part only), finely sliced
½ cup finely diced red onion
¼ teaspoon chopped hot chile pepper, such as jalapeno or Thai
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
2 tablespoons lime juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 hamburger buns, brioche buns, or English muffins
4 small handfuls arugula leaves
1 recipe avocado relish, see recipe below

1. Fill a large metal bowl halfway with ice cubes. Set a medium-sized bowl on top of the ice. Dice the tuna into ¼-inch chunks and place in the medium-size bowl. (This will help maintain the temperature of the fish while you season it.)

2. Add the scallions, red onions, chile, garlic, cilantro, lemon and lime zests, and lime juice. Add a generous pinch of sea salt and pepper, and stir well to mix all the ingredients.

3. Line four 1-inch-deep, 3 ½-inch diameter ring molds or cookie cutters with plastic wrap, overlapping the edges. Using a dessert spoon, pack the tuna mixture into the molds, compressing it firmly with the back of the spoon. Fold the overlapping edges of plastic wrap over the tuna, covering it completely, then carefully remove the ring mold. Place the burgers in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours.

4. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Remove the plastic wrap from the burgers, place them in the pan, and cook for approximately 2 minutes. Then turn them over and cook for 2 minutes for medium-rare (this will depend upon the thickness of the burgers). If you prefer them cooked a little more, continue to saute them for another minute on each side.

5. While the burgers are cooking, preheat the broiler.

6. Cut the buns in half and toast them on both sides under the broiler.
7. Arrange the arugula leaves over the bottom half of each bun. Place the tuna burgers on top and finish with a generous spoonful of avocado relish. Set the top halves in place and serve immediately.

2 ripe avocadoes
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
2 tablespoons lime juice
¼ teaspoon chopped hot chile
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt

1. Slice the avocados into strips or cubes and place them in a medium-size mixing bowl. Add the lime juice, lime zest, chile, garlic, red onions, cilantro, and olive oil. Season with sea salt to taste.

Serves 6-8
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and coarsely chopped
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup light brown sugar
½ vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced, reserving 6 to 8 whole strawberries for garnish
3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
Grated zest and juice of 2 limes
4 generous tablespoons buttermilk

1. Combine the rhubarb, orange and lemon zests, and orange and lemon juices in a bowl. Add the brown sugar, scrapings from the vanilla bean plus the empty pod, and clove. Stir well and set aside to marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

2. Toss the sliced strawberries, confectioners' sugar, and lime zest and juice in another bowl. Macerate for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
3. Pre-heat oven to 350oF.

4. Give the rhubarb a stir and place it in a shallow 7-by-11-inch ovenproof dish. Cover with foil and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the rhubarb is tender. Remove from the oven and cool. Remove the vanilla pod. Set aside ½ cup of the baked rhubarb. Place the rest in a blender and puree until smooth.

5. Once the strawberries have started to release their juice, give them a good stir, place them in a blender, and puree until smooth.

6. Combine the two fruit purees in a mixing bowl and taste. Adjust the flavor with either sugar to sweeten or lime juice to sharpen. 7. Chill the soup in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight. At the same time, place soup bowls in the refrigerator to chill.

8. Divide the soup among the chilled bowls. Garnish with the reserved rhubarb and whole strawberries. Swirl a spoonful of buttermilk over the soup. Serve.

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