“… asparagus, tinged with ultramarine and rosy pink which ran from their heads, finely stippled in mauve and azure, through a series of imperceptible changes to their white feet, still stained a little by the soil of their garden bed….”
Proust has it right concerning the joys of asparagus. My idea of the perfect spring dinner is a meal filled with this most favored vegetable, juicy strawberries, early greens, tangy rhubarb, succulent chicken and hot crusty bread.
Here are ways I like to cook these foods:
- Asparagus – Wash and snap off the tough ends. Drizzle with olive oil, grill or broil until just tender, (about 7 minutes), then sprinkle with salt and lemon juice.
- Strawberries – There’s nothing better than sliced berries served with freshly whipped cream. To whip the cream beat on high with electric beaters, add sugar and vanilla to taste then continue beating until soft peaks form.
- Early Greens – New lettuce, dandelion greens, (harvest before they flower) and edible flowers can be tossed with a vinaigrette. To make the dressing whisk together ½ teaspoon of salt, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, one tablespoon of vinegar and a ½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard.
- Rhubarb – Ok, now I know this is really gilding the lilly to have two desserts but it has been a long winter so time to live it up. I like making a rhubarb crisp; chop up your fruit, sprinkle it with a generous amount of brown sugar, dot with butter and sprinkle with uncooked oats, nuts, more butter and more sugar. Bake at a 350 degree oven until the rhubarb is soft and bubbling and the top is lightly browned. To make a fancier version I like to use the Joy of Cooking apple crisp recipe.
- Chicken – Last but not least, comes the noble bird. For a super juicy chicken the trick is to use a dutch oven and sear the chicken on high heat in a few teaspoons of canola oil. You can use a whole chicken or parts. Once the meat is well browned take it out, put in a chopped onion, turn down the heat and deglaze the bottom of the pan. Next I throw in whatever vegetables are at hand like turnips, potatoes, celery and carrots. Return the chicken to the pot, top this all with generous handfuls of fresh herbs, a bit of salt and pepper then put the lid on and put it in a 275 degree oven for 1 ½ to two hours.
Bon appetit! In the comments section let readers know your favorite early spring foods and how you like to prepare them… yum.