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Five Awesome Outdoorsy Spring Recipes

Mouth-watering pan-seared wild asparagus recipe (works for store bought asparagus, too) and lots of other great spring recipes | Iowa DNRSet the table, because spring in Iowa is a great time to fill the frying pan and warm up the grill for the best of Iowa's outdoors, from crappie and turkey to morels and wild asparagus. 

Fish tostadas with chili-lime sauce
1 pound crappie
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 lime, halved
½ cup sour cream
½ teaspoon garlic powder
8 taco or tostada shells
2 cups shredded lettuce
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
Hot pepper sauce

Preheat broiler. Sprinkle fish with chili powder and salt, to taste.  For the chili-lime sauce, squeeze 2 teaspoons juice from half the lime into a bowl. Stir in sour cream, garlic powder and chili powder, set aside. Cut remaining lime into wedges for a garnish.

Place fish on unheated, greased broiler rack; tuck thin edges under. Place shells on baking sheet on the lowest rack. Broil fish 4 inches from heat for 4 to 6 minutes per ½-inch thickness until fish flakes with a fork. Break fish into chunks. Assemble the taco or tostada with remaining ingredients and enjoy.

Recipe courtesy of former conservation officer John Mertz and the Iowa Game Wardens’ Cookbook

Wild turkey burgers

1 pound ground wild turkey
¼ red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
½ small bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons grill seasonings
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Olive oil to drizzle over burger before cooking
½ pound deli-sliced Pepper Jack cheese
4 hamburger buns, split

Chop garlic and vegetables; combine with turkey meat and add seasonings. Divide the mixture into four equal parts and form into patties. Drizzle with olive oil to coat meat. Cook on medium heat and grill until done, about 10 minutes on each side. Place cheese on each patty and leave on grill about two minutes for cheese to melt. Place on buns and serve.

State Fair Warden’s Cook-Off Entry; Iowa Game Wardens’ Cookbook

Fresh Foraged, Pan-Seared Wild Asparagus  

Savoring the freshness of the season has never been simpler or this healthy. The perfect picnic side dish or reward for spring campers who forage Iowa’s rolling lands for this treat, wild asparagus is a simple joy. For those unwilling to forage the countryside, farmers market or storebought seasonal asparagus is equally sweet. The browning caramelizes and enhances the flavor, imparting an almost meaty quality to this green nutritional wonder.

To get the most from this spring treat, use only the tender portion of the stems. Use the flex test to bend each stalk, cutting and discarding the fibrous stem portions that do not bend. Wash and cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil to camp stove skillet, heat and add asparagus. Sauté and stir occasionally until browned on all sides, about 5-10 minutes. Lightly salt and pepper to taste. Simple. Delicious. Wonderful.  

Pep it Up: Big outdoor fun deserves bold flavors. Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese, or add that other sought-after spring delicacy, morel mushrooms, to the mix.

From The Recipes of Iowa Outdoors cookbook The Best Crappie Chowder Ever! Recipe from Iowa Outdoors - plus lots of other great wild recipes | Iowa DNR

The Best Crappie Chowder Ever

Take Your panfish to new heights with this rich, creamy chowder Fried fish and potatoes may be the quintessential end to a successful day on the water, but give this chowder a try, and it might just replace its crispy counterpart at your dinner table. This simple meal works equally well as a quiet dinner at home or a hearty campside meal on a cool spring or fall day.

½ pound bacon
One large onion, chopped
Three celery ribs, chopped
1 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 bottle clam juice
6 potatoes, cubed
4 cups raw or pre-cooked mild white fish, like crappie, bluegill, walleye, perch or northern pike, cut into chunks
½ gallon half and half
Salt and pepper to taste

Fry bacon until crisp; remove and crush into little pieces. Cook cubed potatoes until crisp tender; do not overcook. Add onion and celery to bacon grease and fry until golden. Remove and reserve with bacon. Add flour to pan drippings and stir over medium heat for 3-5 minutes to make a roux, making sure not to burn.

Add chicken broth and clam juice and stir until mixed. Add potatoes and half and half, and salt and pepper to taste. If using raw fish, add now. Mix well and cook on low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until desired thickness is reached. If using pre-cooked fish, add near the end of cooking time.

If thicker chowder is desired, mix together 4 tablespoons cornstarch or flour with a half-cup cold water, then add to soup. Stir well and cook an additional 5 minutes. Garnish with diced scallions. Serve in bowl or hollowed-out round bread loaf.

From The Recipes of Iowa Outdoors cookbook

Wild Rabbit and Mushroom Salad

2 cups cubed roasted wild rabbit
½ cup morel mushrooms
1 shallot, diced
3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup chopped celery
¼ cup chopped sweet pickles
¼ cup sunflower seed meats
3 tablespoons pickle juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Lettuce and red cabbage leaves for garnish

Combine all ingredients, except garnish. Mix well and chill before serving.

State Fair Warden’s Cook-Off Entry, from the Iowa Game Wardens’ Cookbook

For more great recipes for wild game and wild edibles - plus lots of great campground cookery - check out our Outdoor and Wild Recipes and Dutch Oven Recipes boards on Pinterest.

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