Growing Bounty of Spring
Apr 03, 2018 09:15PM
By Lesley Stiles
Growing Bounty of Spring
Early Spring is an Amazing Month for Root Vegetables
“April showers bring May flowers,” theoretically speaking, that is. Precipitation blessed the month of the Irish somewhat generously and rewarded us with blooms of all ilks to capture noses, eyes, and hopes that it is enough to stave off another drought, for this year anyway. Remaining hyper vigilant with conservation measures is a not so bad idea, and personally, I would love everyone to tear out their lawns and plant crops -- of food, that is. Installing a good irrigation system has potential to save bucket loads of water as well as cash while providing even, steady watering that plants thrive on. Legislation presently in front of California lawmakers gives tax breaks to water capture systems, much like tax breaks afforded to home solar systems. Wouldn’t it be cool if solar and rainwater capture systems were the normal state of affairs? Chuck those bills out the window and eat like the queen herself.
As usual, asparagus comes in on the tails of winter, lighting up April about halfway through the month. Amazing simply steamed and garnished with lemon oil and cracked sea salt or dolloped mayonnaise, asparagus is also fabulous cut up and sautéed with scramble eggs and cheese. However you assuage your asparagus wants, do it now before it slips quietly out of season until next year.
Early spring is also an amazing month for root vegetables in soft, loamy soil allowing sugars to run crazy in beets and carrots. Rainbow hued carrots offer a colorful variety. Purple carrots are sweetly peppery while white are candy personified. Orange are still amazing, freshly dug and procured at market, while all three together explain the fascination of a ménage a trois. Vitamin A rich carotene colors orange carrots, while anthocyanins color purple, and lycopene gives red ones their scarlet hue. Yellow can easily sculpt a quartet when called upon to even out a meal that utilizes earth-penetrating spears of sugar love. Black can be spicy for sure but definitely serve their purpose when called upon.
Locally, carrots are in season year round and prefer cool weather, which encourages easy additions to spring and winter gardens.
Creating with Carrots
Carrots caramelize fiendishly well with onions and a heavy touch of butter and add brilliant fodder to any plate as a side. For addictive hash browns, grate as many colors as you can find and fry with sweet potato and chopped onion, then finish in a 350-degree oven for ultimate crunch. Grate carrots with apples and toss in toasted local walnuts, yogurt, and honey for a not-your-grandma’s version of Waldorf salad. Throw colorful big chunks of roots to roasting chicken along with potatoes, garlic, and onions toward the end for a seasonal feast for the eyes as well as taste buds.
Hit your farmers’ market and partake in the growing bounty of spring love presented especially for you
Grilled Asparagus Salad With Spicy Bitter Greens and Poached Egg With a Honey Tarragon Vinaigrette
This is my play on a classic French brassiere salad that usually incorporates lardons (chunks of cooked bacon), but is your choice whether or not to use.
2 pounds asparagus, washed and trimmed
2 pounds Winter Greens Mix from Trader Joes or a mix of mustard, Tat Soi, arugula, escarole, and frisee
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup cooked bacon chunks - optional
½ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
¼ cup Champagne or white wine vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Bring a sauté pan of water to a boil and place ½ teaspoon of baking soda and ½ teaspoon of salt in water. Bring to a boil. Heat a grill or grill pan. Toss asparagus in 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt. Grill on hot pan or grill until soft, about 10 minutes. Set aside but keep warm. Prepare vinaigrette by placing all ingredients in a bowl and whisking together (or shake in a jar with a tight fitting). Season with salt and pepper. Place greens in large bowl and toss with vinaigrette and bacon, if you are using it. Place on large salad plates and lay 3 or 4 spears of asparagus on top of greens. Crack eggs one at a time into boiling water to poach. Remove with slotted spoon while still easy and soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Place eggs on top of asparagus. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm.