Wednesday, May 8, 2019

QUICK BITE: Spring Side

Nothing says spring in the kitchen like bright green veggies of the season. This means something different for each person, depending on where one lives, since fresh spring vegetable medleys reflect the local terrain, growing season, and food culture.

For me, in New York City, I can see spring in the markets when veggies cover the stall tables in all shades of green, from the pale green of artichokes and spring onions to the kelly green of asparagus and ramps, to the darker forest greens of swiss chard and spring kale varieties. Mushrooms vary depending on the season, and morels are a classic spring funghi -- though many are imported from the Pacific Northwest, and they can be difficult to find here in the northeast... and expensive when you do find them. But they're sooo delicious! In reality, a good spring vegetable medley is comprised of whatever you love and whatever you can find locally, so don't let any set idea of what this medley should be get in the way of putting together a personalized, killer mix as an accompaniment to any main course, or AS the main course. (I love throwing a great veggie medley on top of a soft polenta made with generous lashings of whole milk and grated grana padano or pecorino romano cheese).

So, for tasty dinners this May and early June, try taking a cue from the farmer's market, and make a simple sauté of spring veggies: mostly green, with some mushrooms in there for good measure. The mix is a celebration of the verdant offerings from the garden, and the earthy flavors that spring from the shaded floors of forests and fields as the days grow longer. 

In the large photo at the top of this post, I sauteed some spring garlic in olive oil, and added asparagus, freshly cleaned and sliced artichoke hearts, zucchini, ramps, and shiitake mushrooms. All they need is a sprinkling of sea salt and they work with just about anything you can serve alongside them for lunch or dinner. Or, toss with fresh pasta, pile on top of polenta, or stir into a risotto. Most important is enjoying the veggies of the season at their peak. 

Eviva la primavera! Long live spring!