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Savor the season: Spring recipes

May 2nd, 2018 | Category: Cooking

by Rio Thomas

April was a wild ride of unpredictable weather for gardeners and farmers who have no choice but to play the hand that we are dealt as we strive to nurture the seeds we’ve sown with faith that the days will lengthen, sunny breaks will happen, urged along by visions of delicious things to come.

Chive popovers. Photo by Rio Thomas

Chive popovers. Photo by Rio Thomas

Despite the calendar’s declaration of March 21st being the beginning of spring, in our upper NW corner of the country, April tables serve the last of the storage crops, using up any remaining squash, potatoes and onions, rummaging in the pantry and freezer for a taste of summer to tide us over until there are fresh veggies to harvest again.

And then comes May, bringing with it the first flush of abundance for seasonal cooks and eaters, along with the pure delight of conjuring meals from what the new season brings in it’s time; the scrumptious reward for being patient for our local crops!

If you’ve ever succumbed to the temptation for out-of-season strawberries or asparagus, you’ll know what I mean. The flavor and freshness of just picked produce is beyond compare, and well worth the wait.

I derive deep satisfaction from growing much of what we eat, and plan our garden accordingly, with intention and much forethought both to fresh eating and preservation.

Dreams of particular meals guide my hand as I sow, tend, and harvest.

Some menus are only made and enjoyed annually in springtime, from fleeting ephemeral ingredients that linger on like a dream until the cycle turns once again.

Staple crops like alliums, potatoes and winter squash are grown for storage along with plenty of tomatoes and peppers for fresh eating, canning, drying and freezing, along with a growing selection of culinary and medicinal herbs for adding pizzazz to our meals and soothing mugs of tea all through the year. And. ALWAYS, always some exciting, new things that are offered from Uprising Seeds, because their descriptions always entice and bewitch me. Did somebody say mentuccia?!!!?

Eggs and green. Photo by Rio Thomas

Eggs and green. Photo by Rio Thomas

Meal planning is determined by whatever’s ready in the garden, whether heading out with my basket for some cooking greens, gleaning unexpected treats like the tender, vibrant regrowth of parsley, or a handful of last fall’s parsnips, forgotten in a far corner.

Among my personal springtime favorites are rhubarb, chives, sorrel, spinach, radishes, tender lettuces, asparagus, and raab/rapini. Here are a handful of recipes, showcasing some of spring’s finest offerings.

Rio Thomas is unabashedly obsessed with garden and farm grown food. She’s worked on several farms over the past two decades in Whatcom County, is the founder of Small Potatoes Gleaning Project, as well as growing much of her family’s own food for over 25 years. See her website www.seasonsgleanings.com. 

 

Chive Popovers

Ingredients 

4 lg eggs

2 c whole milk

2 c ap flour(I use 1/2 whole wheat pastry or spelt and 1/2 all purpose)

1/4 c finely chopped fresh chives

2TBS unsalted butter, melted

1 tsp salt

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 425degrees F. Butter 20 muffin tins. Mix ingredients in bowl, whisk until only tiny specks of flour remain, about a minute. (Can be made 2 hrs ahead. Cover, let stand at room temp.)

Divide batter among muffin tins. Place into preheated oven.

Without opening the oven door at any point, after 15 minutes, reduce oven temp to 350. Continue to bake until puffed and brown, about 10-15 minutes more.

Loosen from pan, serve HOT!

Makes 20

 

Oven Roasted or Grilled Asparagus

Ingredients 

Asparagus

 

Directions

Wash asparagus, trim any tough ends.

Dry spears, then drizzle generously with olive oil, salt and pepper, mixing with your hands to ensure spears are well coated.

 

Oven method: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Arrange the prepared asparagus onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in the preheated oven until just tender, 12 to 15 minutes depending on thickness.

 

On Grill: Place prepared spears across the grates so they don’t fall in! Grill, turning occasionally until tender and slightly charred. Let cool a couple of minutes before devouring so you don’t burn your tongue.

 

Spring Pesto

Recipe adapted from The Kitchn

 

Ingredients 

Approximately 6 c gently packed spring greens (arugula, spinach, cilantro, parsley, etc.)

1/4 c fresh mint or more to taste (optional)

1/4-1/2 c hemp, sunflower, hazelnuts, or walnuts

2 TBS chopped preserved lemon, or fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 garlic clove, or fresh garlic greens

2/3 c olive oil

seas salt to taste

 

Directions

Place everything except the olive oil in a food processor or blender. Pulse until finely chopped. With machine running, slowly add olive oil in a steady stream. Blend until it thickens slightly, stopping to scrape sides of container as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Use this pesto as a sauce on pasta, soft polenta, or as a topping for your favorite soup.

It’s also great as a topping for Socca- (Chickpea flatbread) Voila! Gluten free pizza!

The Kitchn has a great recipe.

 

Rhubarb with Earl Grey Tea, Cardamom, and Orange zest

(adapted from Food 52)

 

Ingredients 

3 cups roughly chopped (1-inch pieces) rhubarb

3 cups roughly chopped (1-inch pieces) apple, from 2 peeled apples

Juice of 1 small Meyer lemon (regular lemon can be substituted)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons organic sugar

Seeds of one green cardamom pod crushed well with mortar and pestle

2 bags of Earl Grey tea steeped in 3/4 cup just-boiled water for 3 minutes and then cooled

Zest of 2 oranges

 

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease dish.

Place chopped rhubarb and apple in a medium casserole dish or oven-safe pot.

Add remaining ingredients (retaining the zest of one orange for later) and gently toss. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Stir. Bake an additional 15 minutes. Check rhubarb with fork, fruit should be tender. Stir in reserved orange zest.

Serve warm or cold.

Serving suggestions: Enjoy as is, or topped with whipped cream.

Use as a topping for yogurt, pancakes, waffles, panna cotta, or ice cream.

Serves 6

 

Rio’s Go-To Recipe for Cooking Greens 

Nettles, kale, raab, rapini, chard, and collards

 

Ingredients 

Greens of choice, (either whole or chopped) washed

Pot of water

1-2 Tbs sea salt

Omega Nutrition’s Garlic-Chili Flax Oil

Chili flakes

Tamari to taste

 

Directions

This is my method for delicious, tender, easy-to-devour greens.

Boil enough water to generously cover whatever quantity of washed greens that you have, enough so that they can ‘swim’ freely. When the water boils, add a Tbs of sea salt, more if you’ve got a larger quantity of greens, then add the greens, stirring a couple times to be sure they’re not clumped together (swimming without too much crowding), and let simmer for 3-8 minutes, less for nettles, more for thicker leafed greens like collards.

Taste for desired tenderness, then drain. (If you’re not eating them right away, immediately cover with cold water, stir to cool, then drain.) Once well drained, add desired seasonings, and store for future use.

We especially love this recipe to go with either soft boiled or poached eggs for breakfast, or for lunch with an 8 minute egg and avocado toast…fresh radishes dipped in salt!

Serve with a side of quinoa for a heartier meal, as a topping for baked potatoes, polenta, or stirred into almost any soup at the last minute to boost nutrition.

 

 

 

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