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Spring Has Sprung

Mar 03, 2019 05:52PM ● By Lesley Stiles

Lesley Stiles

Famous for its “Ides,” March blows in and begins our spring season, leading up to the equinox to make it official. The Ides of each month were sacred to Jupiter, the Romans' supreme deity, always being kowtowed to with supreme sacrifices of the animal or human variety. “Beware the Ides of March” stems from the assassination of, or the interpretation of the assassination of, Julius Caesar as told by William Shakespeare. Caesar’s assassination was foretold by his enemy seer to be on the Ides of March. Upon entering the senate, Cesar himself snarkily stated to the dreadful fortune-teller, “the Ides have arrived,” to which the seer replied, “Ahhh, but they have not yet departed.” We know how that ended.

Joyously enduring a precipitation deluged February creates fortune for March. We will be rich indeed in a fanciful picture of flowers, blossoms, and chartreuse vibrant hills surrounding us. As we approach the Ides of March, we can expect even more rain in the Bay but not enough to hurt or destroy our amazing spring crops and flowers. Even as meteorologically audacious circumstances resonate, apricots and cherries will be plentiful on trees as well as bowing tables come May Day.

Gardens put on a brave performance during chilly to freezing days and nights, resting and conjuring marvelous affection for their roots, soon to push out silky smooth velvety limbs of nutritious love above ground for us to partake. Winter crops such as broccoli, cauliflower, and chards take to winter cold with brassy defiance and produce crops that explode with sweet flavor and beg for olive oil, garlic, and lemon to bust a move from raw to hotly edible in a matter of minutes.

Cool weather loving herbs commence to spill over sides of pots and tangle restlessly over garden walls, loving the cold and rain. Parsley and cilantro are obliviously alluring, with oversized leaves and stems that beckon on looks alone to be picked and chopped along with lemon and garlic into chimi churri sauce to cover anything savory you could ever want to put in your mouth.

Cilantro leaves, also known as Chinese parsley, has seeds that, when dried, miraculously morph into spicy coriander. A common and loved addition to Asian foods as well as Middle Eastern fare, cilantro can be a touch soapy to some taste buds if over used. When meats or vegetables are marinated in copious amounts of chopped cilantro, chopped mint, garlic, and olive oil, once seared into flesh on a sizzling grill, herbs melt bodaciously into lusciously charred love.

Vibrant emerald green with a crisp bite that pops flavor into all it touches, there is no substitute for flat Italian leaf parsley. Epicureans’ concur that spring herbs cozy well with parsley. Ask the French about bouquet garni -- bundled up parsley w/ thyme and marjoram -- to flavor soups and stocks. Osso Bucco would be naked without gremolata -- chopped parsley with copious amounts of garlic and lemon. Delicate fines herbs artfully ménage e trois chervil, chives and tarragon on a honeymoon together, elegantly careening across our taste buds. Exotic Lebanese tabbouleh -- green with fresh parsley signing up mint as a comrade in arms -- levels out cucumber, lemon juice, and tomato.

My personal favorite go-to sparker upper is persillade. Combining chopped parsley with fresh chopped garlic, copious amounts of lemon peel, a drop of vinegar, and grated parmesana Reggiano, it garnishes delicate soups, seafood stews, and addictive, buttery croutons. This is where we got garlic fries from. Charmoula marries parsley, cilantro, mint, garlic, lemon, and freshly toasted and ground cumin to round out roasted codfish or grilled chicken breast. Add a handful of chopped parsley to pesto to obtain the greenest hue. Both herbs, long proven as antioxidants, are also known to calm your jumpy stomach by chewing a good handful while at the same time sweetening even the most potent of garlic breathe, allowing you to love your clove with who you love.

Again, even in rain, get out and walk our valley any way you can, and keep an eye toward the east. Just over the windmills on a clear day, you can see the Sierra snowline.

Our wonderfully amazing and fun new project, the reopening of Roxx on Main, is scheduled to begin satisfying taste buds as well as ears with food, drink, and music around mid-April. We will keep you posted, and you can visit us on Roxx on Main Facebook page, Instagram, and So excited, and can’t wait to open!!

Plus, the Farmers’ Market Lovers’ calendar for 2019 is available at a reduced price. If you are still interested, contact me at [email protected].

Pasta with a Velvety Ragout of Spring Onions, Mushrooms and Peas

1 pound pasta, cooked

2 pounds cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 pound spring onions or scallions, sliced

1 pound shelled fresh peas

1 Tablespoon each chopped fresh thyme, fresh Italian parsley, and cilantro

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup chicken or veggie stock 

¼ cup cream

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 cup grated Manchego cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large sauté pan with butter and olive oil to hot and melted. Add garlic and onions and sauté on medium heat until opaque and soft, about 7 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté on same heat about 5 minutes. Add peas, stock, cream, herbs, and pasta and simmer on medium high for about 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with grated Manchego cheese. Serves 4 to 6.