Thursday, May 17, 2012

Seven Signs of Spring

From my little corner of the world in cute-as-can-be Charlestown, Mass, spring has most definitely sprung. We’ve got the rain, the budding blossoms and the long lines for pedicures to prove it. Baby carriages crowd sidewalks while competitive cyclists and runners whiz by them, adding to the hum of the season’s anthemic bird song. I’ve recently discovered a tiny nook of tiny homes built in the eighteen hundreds just east of Bunker Hill. Winding my way through a cul-de-sac off Chestnut Street with unabashed voyeurism, I spot a young lass setting up shop for her seventy-five cents per plastic cup lemonade stand; she pours me her first sale. Commuters in dark suits and white sneakers are about to flood train platforms a fifteen minutes walk from here, ascending the San Francisco-esque hills of Chucktown to make their way home. If she’s lucky, they’ll do so sipping lemonade.

The signs of spring abound in city streets this time of year, but so do they in farmers’ markets, CSA bins and backyard vegetable gardens. It’s the taste of spring that most excites me, and it’s the ease of eating homegrown, seasonal, real foods, that really makes me hunger for the harvest that is but a few months away. Winter on the East Coast (however mild) makes eating locally tough. But by mid-May, edible causes for celebration have sprouted from the ground, and with a little ingenuity, you can serve them for supper.

My list of the seven surefire signs of spring includes vegetable harbingers that herald the coming of the harvest season. These early, most often green, crunchy, earthen,  veggies make a locally sourced real foods diet plausible, but their esoteric nature too often makes them unidentifiable. What to do with gobs of garlic scapes and heaps of fiddlehead ferns? Here are but a few ideas for how to bring a dash of spring to your supper table; just click through the links below for vegetable histories and recipes and Eat it Up!

Seven Signs of Spring

1) Asparagus – soups, salads, grilled sides

2) Fiddlehead Ferns – penne, frittata, sautéed sides

3) Garlic Scapes – pesto, mayo, mushy peas

4) Radish – pickles, finger sandwiches, crudités

5) Ramps – omelets, whole fish, linguine vongole

6) Rhubarb – pies, chutneys, fools

7) Stinging Nettles – tea, ravioli, martini

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