Recipes for Spring
What with the panic of flood clean-up and all of the uncertainties of a first-of-the-season CSA delivery, I ran out of time yesterday to put together recipes for the boxes. So here, straight from the rather fishy-smelling Circle M farm fields, are some terrific ways to use the first bounties of the spring garden.
Rule number one of seasonal eating is go with what you’ve got. Chives are where it’s at right now, so take advantage of them. So tasty and so pretty. Simmer 1 cup apple cider vinegar in a non-reactive pot on medium until it’s reduced slightly. Then pour the hot vinegar over 1/4 cup chopped chives (you can even use the tough stalks from the blossoms). Let set until cool. Strain through a coffee filter into a ball jar, and add 1 cup olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste, and add the juice of 1/2 lemon. When you dress your salad, pick the little flower umbrels off of the chive blossoms and sprinkle liberally over the top of the greens. Spicy!
Ginger Mint Lemonade
This is always a favorite at Circle M workdays and festivals. Fill a one gallon pitcher with hot water from the tap. Add 1 3/4 cups of sugar – white or raw will do. Stir to dissolve. Add 1 inch from a fresh ginger root, 3/4 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar. When lukewarm, add 3 sprigs of chocolate mint. Pour over ice and enjoy!
This drink is one of the reasons I hover over the mint patch waiting for it to erupt each spring. My first taste of this addictively refreshing treat was with a Cuban friend in Chicago who actually smashed the sugar cane for each glass he served. I use raw sugar, but simple syrup will do just fine, too. “Mojo” means soul in Spanish, thus “Mojito” means little soul. Have a little soul this week!
3 fresh mint sprigs
2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 1/2 oz light rum
In a tall thin glass, crush part of the mint with a fork to coat the inside. Add the sugar and lime juice and stir thoroughly. Top with ice. Add rum and mix. Top off with chilled club soda (or seltzer). Add a lime slice and the remaining mint, and serve.
Myself and many of my fellow farm workers are quite wild about nettles this time of year while they are still young and not flowered out. Nettles are the highest plant source of iron, and also contain loads of vitamins and minerals. You can use them in any recipe that calls for spinach or kale, but a nice quick way get the most nutrition out of them is to make a tea you can sip throughout the day. This recipe for nettle tea is borrowed from a fellow CSA farm in California – Mariquita.
Nettle tea is pleasantly herbacious without tasting like you are steeping a suburban lawn. I find the â€˜afternotes’ especially pleasant and mellow. Nettle tea is reported to be a great blood and liver tonic. A nice thing about this recipe: you can use the whole leaf and stem, no need to remove the leaves from the stems. I use a little tea strainer when pouring the final tisane into cups.
1 pyrex measuring cup
nettles to loosely fill 1/3 to 1/2 of the measuring cup
1. Soak the nettles in cool/cold water for a few minutes.
2. Boil the water
3. Rinse nettles, using tongs or dishwashing gloves to not sting your hands.
4 Place cleaned nettles in measuring cup or teapot or glass bowl, pour water over to fill cup, and steep the â€˜tisane’ (a tea made with fresh herb) for 5 or so minutes. Enjoy.
Pea Tendril Saute
I rarely get to saute pea tendrils because I eat all I’ve picked by the time I’ve walked from the gardens back to the house. So fantastic! But Epicurious did have this nice, basic recipe for pea tendrils, sort of done Asian style.
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1/2 pound pea tendrils or pea shoots
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Discard garlic. Add butter, then pea tendrils. Cover; cook just until wilted, stirring often, about 5 minutes for pea tendrils or 2 to 3 minutes for pea shoots. Season with salt and pepper.
Broccoli Raab Penne
Another great recipe from Mariquita Farm:
1 lg. bunch broccoli raab
1/2 lb penne
3 tbsp. olive oil
4 lg. cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup currants, soaked until plump and drained
1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
red pepper flakes (optional)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Wash the broccoli raab well and separate the large stems and leaves. Bring several quarts of water to a boil. Blanch the large stems for about 1 1/2 minutes, until barely tender. Add tender stems and leaves and blanch 1 minute. Remove the greens to a colander to drain. Reserve cooking water. Salt the greens water and add the pasta. While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and soften it. Stir the greens into the garlic oil and remove from heat. When the pasta is cooked al dente, add the currants, pine nuts, and red pepper flakes to the greens. Scoop the pasta from the water with a pasta scoop or sieve and transfer it to the pan of greens. Leave some water clinging to the pasta. Place the pan over high heat and toss the pasta with the greens. Add 1/4C or so of the greens/pasta water. Season to taste. Serve with Parmesan cheese. Serves 3-6