Spring Table

Spring Table

March 28, 2024

Categories: Legends Magazine

Recipes by Chef Kelly Franz Lucas
Photography by Lizzy Rollins

Three couples, old friends and new, gather for a sunset dinner at the Beach family home on Kiawah Island.

Tonight, the three couples are gathered to experience the culinary prowess of Kiawah Island Club Chef Kelly Lucas. She is a veteran of the acclaimed Charleston food scene and, more recently, the beloved chef behind the River Course clubhouse. Lucas has created a menu to delight—roasted chicken with pea succotash, a Nicoise salad, gnocchi with roasted mushrooms, and hot-out-of-the-oven cornbread with sorghum butter.

Marilyn and Bob Beach bought a lot on Kiawah Island on impulse in the late seventies. Bob was working on Wall Street and Marilyn was in law school. They traded lots for the next couple of decades before finally settling on their current location and building a house. All three of their daughters were engaged at Kiawah, and now the house is a gathering place for their burgeoning family of sixteen.

Cindy and Jim Thompson honeymooned on Kiawah in the early eighties, back when the old Inn ran jeep safaris on the sandy dirt roads to the east end of the Island. They moved abroad and mostly forgot about Kiawah until Bob and Jim worked together for a brief stint in Winston-Salem. The Beaches invited the Thompsons to Kiawah, and the four visited The Beach Club with their young kids. The Thompsons were hooked. They bought a place in 2002.

Nalini and Chris Rogers bought the house next to Bob and Marilyn in 2021 and became friends while renovating their house. The Beaches discovered that the Rogers summered with mutual friends in Maine. It also turns out Nalini and Jim went to business school together in the eighties. The Beaches and the Rogers share the same extraordinary view across Ibis Pond to The Beach Club and the Atlantic beyond. 

This gossamer web that connects the Beaches, Rogers, and Thompsons epitomizes how Kiawah can make a big world feel small. These connections—loose acquaintances turned neighborhood friendships—forge a feeling of community and closeness. 

Skillet Cornbread


1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. unsalted
butter, divided
2 tbsp. sorghum syrup


Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Stir together. Pour the buttermilk into a small bowl and add eggs. Stir together with a fork. Add the baking soda and stir. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir until combined. 

In a small saucepan, melt ¼ cup butter. Slowly add melted butter to the batter, stirring until just combined. In a cast iron skillet, melt the remaining 2 tbsp. of butter over medium heat. Pour the batter into the hot skillet. Spread to even out the surface. Place skillet in oven and bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Edges should be crispy.

To make the sorghum butter, mix 2 tbsp. sorghum syrup into ¼ cup softened butter. Top hot cornbread with the butter. 


Nicoise Salad


2 heads romaine lettuce, washed  and cut into pieces
1 cup pitted Greek olives
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts
10 baby potatoes
1 bunch asparagus
1 bunch Easter egg radishes
2 lb. raw ahi tuna

Ahi Tuna Rub

1 tbsp. dried basil
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp. granulated onion


Roast baby potatoes and radishes with olive oil until al dente, 10 to 15 minutes at 375°F.

Lightly blanch asparagus in simmering water with a pinch of salt for 1 minute; shock in ice water. Mix all herbs together and rub on the tuna steaks. Sear each side for 1 to 2 minutes. Allow to cool completely and then cut into quarter-inch slices. Compose the salad and serve family style.

Gnocchi with Roasted Mushrooms

Gnocchi Ingredients

4 large (about 2 lb.) Idaho potatoes
2 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 large eggs
2 tbsp. plus 2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper 


Place unpeeled potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water by 2 inches. Add 1 tbsp. of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender, about 40 minutes. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water. Drain potatoes and peel while still hot, holding them with a clean kitchen towel. Pass potatoes through a ricer or a food mill onto a lightly floured work surface. Make a well in the center of the mound of potatoes and sprinkle 2 tbsp. flour evenly over the potatoes. Break eggs into the well and add 2 ½ tsp. salt and the ground pepper. Using a fork, lightly beat eggs and incorporate the remaining 2 cups of flour to form a dough. Knead lightly on the work surface until the dough is soft and smooth. Lightly dust the work surface again with flour. Divide dough into 4 balls and shape each ball into a rope. Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces. 

Fill a large saucepan with cold water, add 1 tbsp. salt and bring to a boil. To cook gnocchi, drop half of them into the boiling water and cook until they float to the surface, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the cooked gnocchi with a slotted spoon and place them in the ice bath for about 20 seconds. Transfer from an ice bath to a colander. Repeat this process with the second half of the dough.


Roasted Mushroom Ingredients

1 1/2 lb. shiitake or oyster mushrooms
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Clean mushrooms and remove stems. Toss together with remaining ingredients and spread on a sheet pan. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes. 


Whipped Ricotta Ingredients

2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
2 lemons, juiced and zested
2 tbsp. Maldon flake sea salt
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped


Whip all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Add additional salt to taste. To serve, top gnocchi with whipped ricotta and roasted mushrooms.


Roasted Chicken over Pea Succotash

Succotash Ingredients

2 tbsp. butter
1 red pepper, diced small
1 green pepper, diced small
1 small red onion, diced small
2 stalks celery, diced small
2 cups sweet corn from the cob
2 cups green peas, fresh or frozen
1 tbsp. dill, chopped
1 tbsp. parsley, chopped
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add bell peppers, red onion, and celery and sauté until onions are translucent. Add corn, peas, and herbs, stirring often. Remove from heat when peas are just warm. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. 


Chicken and Brine Ingredients

1 lemon, halved
2 bay leaves
1 sprig parsley, chopped
3 sprigs thyme, chopped
2 tbsp. honey
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 gallon water
6 9-oz. airline chicken breasts


Combine all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, making sure salt is dissolved. Cool completely. Cover chicken and brine for 24 hours. Remove chicken from brine after 24 hours and pat dry. In a cast iron skillet, sear chicken breasts skin side down for 6 to 7 minutes over medium heat, until they separate from the pan naturally and are golden brown. Flip the chicken and place in a 375°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until chicken is cooked thoroughly. Allow chicken to rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Lay roasted chicken breasts over succotash. Serve at room temperature.


Sea Glass

1.5 oz. Nippitaty Aurora Gin
.75 oz. Cocchi Americano
.75 oz. Blended Family No. 17 Triple Sec
Shake on ice, strain into coupe. Garnish with lemon wheel and lavender flower.

 Nippitaty is an organic gin distilled in North Charleston. Nippitaty means a particularly good and strong liquor.  Nippitaty Aurora Gin gains its beautiful color from the addition of Butterfly Pea, a tropical climbing vine that produces flowers often used as a natural food coloring.