Garden to Table: Spring Treats
I’m sheltering in place this spring, more from the weather than the pandemic this Mother’s Day. The polar vortex came swirling southward this week bringing us freezing temperatures and worries over which vegetables and flowers will survive.
It hasn’t been this cold in May in the mid-Atlantic in a long time. We hit 33 degrees last night and are headed for more cold in the next few days. That’s in a month when we typically see nights from 40-50 degrees and daytime temperatures in the 60-80 range. Which is what was happening in late March and April – highly unusual for those months. I was lulled into complacency and I planted my tomato seedlings two weeks ago. This week will be fraught with anxieties as I cover each plant with pots and blankets, try to time the removal each morning after it is warm enough but not cooking the plants yet. 27 out of 29 tomato plants survived the first frigid night, and then two more of them succumbed to wind damage as 30 mph gusts ripped through the farm. It’s turning out to be a very interesting year!
As I sit here snuggled up in my fleece and slippers, it’s difficult to remember that it is truly spring. Yet our table shows the reality as overwintered Swiss chard, kale, and cabbage make their way into meals. I’ve harvested most of my early radishes already, and new asparagus spears knife their way out of the ground daily. Green garlic adds umph to many dishes, while the last of the tulip salads ended a week ago. Dandelion fritters and wild sorrel soup fill my foraging thoughts this time of year. Visit BouquetBanquet to find some ideas on using spring flowers in your meals. While I wait for the snap peas flowers to turn into pods, and the spring cabbages to head up, I’m starting to think of more recipes to bring the garden goodness to our table.
Here are a few dishes for you to try as you wait for your summer garden to swing into production. Spring can be such a neglected time of year in the garden as people wait for consistent warmth to start planting. Step away from the crowd and start your garden early each year so you can try these delightful recipes.
Wood Sorrel Soup Recipe
- 4 T. unsalted butter, divided
- 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
- 4 cups wood sorrel (leaves, flowers, and tender stems)
- 3 T. flour
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup cream
Melt 3 T. butter in a pot on medium. Add the onions, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring stock to a simmer in another pot. Add the sorrel leaves to the pot with the onions, add a pinch of salt and stir. When the sorrel is wilted, cover and cook for 10 minutes on medium-low. Mix in the flour and cook for 3 more minutes. Whisk in the hot stock and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks and cream together in a bowl. Temper it by spooning a little of the hot soup mixture in while whisking the egg/cream mixture. Do this 3 times to warm the mixture without cooking the eggs. Now – whisk the egg/cream mixture into the soup and add the final Tablespoon of butter. Let this cook BELOW A SIMMER for 5 minutes. Using a stick wand, blend the soup until creamy. Serve immediately.
Radish Toasts Recipe
- 1 baquette
- Butter, softened
- Large spring radishes
- Salt and pepper
Slice the baquette thinly and toast lightly in the oven. Slice the radishes thinly as well.
Spread butter on the bread slices, top with a radish slice, salt and pepper. Eat up…you’ll find it’s hard to stop!
Lemon Parmesan Asparagus Salad Recipe
- Two handfuls spring asparagus, sliced long-wise, very thinly
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 T. fresh lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
Whisk the oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper together. Place the thinly sliced asparagus and Parmesan in a bowl, pour dressing over-top and toss lightly. Serve immediately.
Citrusy Spring Peas Recipe with Mint
- 3 cups freshly shelled English peas
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- Zest of one orange
- Handful of fresh mint leaves, chiffonade
Cook peas for 4 minutes in 2 quarts boiling water. Drain well. In a small bowl, mix melted butter, orange zest, and mint chiffonade. Pour over peas and toss lightly. Serve warm.
Floral Sesame Snap Peas Recipe
- 4 cups freshly picked snap peas
- 1/2 cup snap pea flowers
- 1/2 cup calendula flower petals
- 1/4 cup dark sesame oil
- 1/4 cup light sesame seeds
Cook snap peas for 2 minutes in boiling water, drain well. Cool by running cold water over them in the colander for a moment. Toss the peas with sesame seeds, calendula petals and snap pea flowers. Pour sesame oil over everything and toss lightly. Serve cool.
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