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Donatella Arpaia on Spring Cleaning, Warm Weather Flavors and Al Fresco Dining

A Q&A Discussion with the Iron Chef America Judge, NYC Restaurateur and Mother

Although it may not feel like it, spring is officially here. And with the changing season come new flavors and opportunities to refresh our kitchens and our palates. We caught up with Iron Chef America judge Donatella Arpaia to learn her tips and tricks for making the transition to brighter, lighter meals a seamless one.

Spring is the ideal time to breathe new life into your home. How do you refresh your kitchen for the arrival of spring?

The best way to refresh and get into the spring mindset is to purge and clean your pantry and fridge. I empty my pantry and fridge completely and do a thorough cleaning. Anything I haven’t used within the past 5 months, if it isn’t expired, I donate to a local food rescue program. I clean and reorganize all my staples – it feels so good!

What’s your rule of thumb for “out with the old, in with the new” when it comes to kitchen/pantry ingredients?

I’m ruthless when it comes to editing my kitchen.  If I haven’t used it in several months it is out. If food is expired, it is out – if it is something that I just don’t love, it is out! And after it’s done, it feels great.  I donate the food to a charity so it goes to those less fortunate.  A clean and organized pantry and kitchen is like shedding the winter blues and saying welcome spring! Welcome spring fruits, vegetables and healthy living!

Spring means brighter, lighter colors. What’s your most colorful spring recipe? 

To me nothing says spring is here like peas! Have a spring cocktail party with your girlfriends with Prosecco and these beautiful light hors d'oeuvres – Peas & Ricotta Crostini!

Peas & Ricotta Crostini

Salads are a great way to lighten up for spring. How do you incorporate fruit into your favorite salad recipes?

Fruit is a sweet and unexpected colorful surprise to a salad. The sweetness of fruit and acid in a salad dressing creates a powerful flavor punch. Try my Green Bean and Blood Orange Salad. This recipe takes your greens from ho-hum to wow!

That first truly warm day of the spring is best celebrated with a meal al fresco. What’s your go-to picnic recipe?

For me, sandwiches for picnics are not my thing. I like to have an assortment of charcuterie and cheeses along with something homemade and sweet like my Peach & Coconut Scones with artisanal jams to spread on them. Yum!!!

Peach & Coconut Scones


Peas and Ricotta Crostini
Green Bean and Blood Orange Salad
Peach Coconut Scone