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Celebrate the ‘prettiest’ season of them all with recipes that feature spring’s bounty

  • The tender grassiness of just picked asparagus is what we're longing for after the darker, heartier foods of winter. Here, Asparagus and Parmesan Pastries. (Renee Brock/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT)

    The tender grassiness of just picked asparagus is what we're longing for after the darker, heartier foods of winter. Here, Asparagus and Parmesan Pastries. (Renee Brock/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT) Purchase photo reprints »

  • The tangy sweetness of strawberries is what we're longing for after the darker, heartier foods of winter. Here, Greens and Strawberry Salad. (Renee Brock/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT)

    The tangy sweetness of strawberries is what we're longing for after the darker, heartier foods of winter. Here, Greens and Strawberry Salad. (Renee Brock/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT) Purchase photo reprints »

  • The refreshing sharpness of sorrel is what we're longing for after the darker, heartier foods of winter. Here, Classic Sorrel Soup with Sorrel Pesto. (Renee Brock/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT)

    The refreshing sharpness of sorrel is what we're longing for after the darker, heartier foods of winter. Here, Classic Sorrel Soup with Sorrel Pesto. (Renee Brock/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT) Purchase photo reprints »

  • The tangy sweetness of strawberries is what we're longing for after the darker, heartier foods of winter. Here, Greens and Strawberry Salad. (Renee Brock/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT)

    The tangy sweetness of strawberries is what we're longing for after the darker, heartier foods of winter. Here, Greens and Strawberry Salad. (Renee Brock/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT) Purchase photo reprints »

  • The tender grassiness of just picked asparagus is what we're longing for after the darker, heartier foods of winter. Here, Asparagus and Parmesan Pastries. (Renee Brock/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT)
  • The tangy sweetness of strawberries is what we're longing for after the darker, heartier foods of winter. Here, Greens and Strawberry Salad. (Renee Brock/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT)
  • The refreshing sharpness of sorrel is what we're longing for after the darker, heartier foods of winter. Here, Classic Sorrel Soup with Sorrel Pesto. (Renee Brock/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT)
  • The tangy sweetness of strawberries is what we're longing for after the darker, heartier foods of winter. Here, Greens and Strawberry Salad. (Renee Brock/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT)

It’s the season for brighter, fresher flavors: The tangy sweetness of strawberries, the tender grassiness of just picked asparagus, the refreshing sharpness of sorrel and the spice of young garlic and onions are just what we’re longing for after the darker, heartier foods of winter.

It’s an age-old craving, this desire to indulge in the tonic vegetables and fruits of spring.

Margie Thorpe, founder of Vegetable Husband, a website that delivers organic foods for community shared agricultural farms, finds the arrival of spring has some of her customers thinking of tomatoes and other summer crops. She has to explain that tomatoes are going to be hitting their stride in late July. Instead, she tempts them with strawberries, our first local fruit of the year.

Thorpe says her customers are as excited about the arrival of strawberries as she is. “If there are children in the family, they see those strawberries and you’d think we had put a chocolate Easter bunny in there. It’s great to have something you can enjoy right out of the basket,” she said.

For those who want to invest a few minutes of preparation in their strawberries and are thinking beyond dessert, chef Ron Eyester of Rosebud and the Family Dog in Atlanta has three fast strawberry preparations.

He makes strawberry syrup, steeping the strawberries in a sugar syrup with cloves, cinnamon sticks and cayenne. The result was is reminiscent of cinnamon Red Hots. Eyester’s suggestion for serving is to combine the syrup with a glass of ginger ale or champagne.

He tosses strawberries with roasted beets, thinly shaved fennel, Marcona almonds and arugula, then dresses everything with lemon olive oil, sweet chile sauce and red wine vinegar for a colorful salad.

He also sautees strawberries with sorghum syrup, sherry, balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of black pepper and serves the result over grits.

Eyester provides no recipes, just inspiration to create similar dishes at home.

Of all the spring vegetables available at the farmers market, sorrel may be the least familiar. “I’ve only been eating sorrel for the last five years. One of my farmers introduced me to it,” said Thorpe.

She appreciates the tart, lemony flavor which is somewhat of a surprise from what looks like a leaf of lettuce or arugula. She adds a little chopped sorrel to her salads but she really loves sorrel pesto, which she adds to eggs, spreads on sandwiches and uses as a base for a variety of crostini. Like strawberries, sorrel is rich in vitamin C, just what we’re craving after all the vitamin K and calcium of our winter diets.

It’s time to celebrate the arrival of our prettiest season and treat yourself to a bite of spring.

Related

Recipe: Sorrel Pesto

Friday, May 3, 2013

Makes ¾ cup Pesto is very forgiving: substitute any nut or seed you’d like. For a vegan version, use an equal amount of nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan. This pesto is so good, you’ll use it as a sandwich spread, mix it with yogurt for a veggie dip, stir it into scrambled eggs or mix it into a salad dressing. … 0

Recipe: Classic Sorrel Soup

Friday, May 3, 2013

Serves 4-6 To prepare the sorrel, rinse the leaves and remove any tough stems. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter ½ cup chopped leeks, green onions or ramps 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade 5 cups chopped sorrel (about 3 small bunches, 6 ounces) Salt to taste ½ cup cream 2 egg yolks Sorrel Pesto, for garnish (see … 0

Recipe: Greens and Strawberry Salad

Friday, May 3, 2013

Serves 4 ½ cup chopped walnuts 4½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided 1 stalk green garlic, thinly sliced 2 cups sliced strawberries 1 bunch small green onions, thinly sliced ½ cup (2 ounces) shaved and crumbled Parmesan ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper 1/8 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar 4 cups butter lettuce, leaves torn into bite-size pieces In … 0

Recipe: Asparagus and Parmesan Pastries

Friday, May 3, 2013

Makes 48 Dill patches are just sending up tendrils at this time so they taste of spring, too, but substitute basil or another herb if you prefer. ½ cup grated Parmesan, divided ¼ cup part skim ricotta or Neufchatel (about 2 ounces) 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill Zest of ½ lemon 48 stalks asparagus, tough ends snapped off 1 (14.1-ounce) … 0

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