Celebrating Spring and All Things Green

Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook


What a week of weather to celebrate as the kitchen garden and greens sprout with curls and furls of verdant sprigs. We had high temperatures with humidity rearing its head, low temperatures and violent storms. Still, the farmers markets are opening their tents while CSA’s offer the first produce of the season. My CSA at Clagett Farm is celebrating Meet and Greet weekend to prepare for the 1st pickup May 10.

The first recipe is perfect for the blossoming tender greens as we have lots of them available. The crowning glory is a crostini (same as bruschetta) loaded with the creamy crab concoction we love here on the Chesapeake.

I have been making and sharing this pea dip for years. I first thought of it when tasting that “pretend” guacamole made with half avocados and half peas. Yes, the pureed pea is sweet, wholesome with a winning color.

The fulfilling salad recipe is warmed by roasted tiny tomatoes and a heated vinaigrette which brings out the flavors of the vegetables.

Sorrel Soup with Spring Crab Crostini

Serves 6

Arugula, baby spinach or watercress can be substituted if sorrel isn’t available although sorrel just sings when combined in a creamy base.

Soup

  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 3/4 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 4 ounces sorrel leaves, stemmed, ribs removed
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Crostini

  • 6 ounces crab meat (backfin preferred)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 1 baguette sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 2 teaspoons fresh garlic chives or regular chives, snipped

In a heavy soup pot, bring the stock to a boil. Add the potatoes and lower the heat to a simmer, partially covering the pot and cook the potatoes until fork tender (about 15 minutes).

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, puree the sorrel, pulsing on and off for about 30 seconds. Add the butter and process until the sorrel is completely pureed and blended with the butter. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and set aside.

When the potatoes are tender, puree the soup in batches in the processor and return to the pot. Add the cream and stir until the soup is just simmering. Add the sorrel butter and stir until well combined. Add salt and freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings. Keep warm until the crostini are done.

Heat the oven or a toaster oven to about 400 F. While heating, place the crab, mayonnaise and parsley in a medium bowl and mix gently. Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and toast until just brown-about 5 minutes. Top with crab mixture and return to oven to heat until golden on the top-6-8 minutes.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Place 2 warm crab crostini on top of each as a decadent garnish. Sprinkle with snipped garlic chives.

Sweet Pea Dip with Lemon Thyme and Mint

As a special big nutrition dip for veggies, try it with whole grain crackers, flatbread and pretzels.

  • 3 cups fresh or frozen green peas
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons thick plain yogurt or sour cream

If using frozen peas, thaw completely, then heat just until hot. If using raw peas, blanche the peas by bringing a pot of water to the boil, add peas and cook for just 2-3 minutes. Plunge them into an ice bath or very cold water to halt the cooking process. Set aside.

Put whole clove of garlic in a food processor and pulse to mince. Add the remaining ingredients and blend on high to puree. Mound the puree in an attractive serving bowl and top with a dollop of yogurt. Store, refrigerated in an airtight container for 3-4 days.

Spring Greens with CousCous Roasted Tomatoes and Warm Vinaigrette

Serves 4

Tuscan  or Dinosaur is a powerhouse of a green-or actually almost a black green but is worth a search when found.

As an entree this concoction satisfies the appetite for a Meatless Monday or any day of the week.  As a salad, it’s satisfying and just needs a side of fish or poultry.

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil + 2 tablespoons
  • 2 bunches dinosaur kale or young kale, coarse midrib removed, sliced (about 8 cups)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups cooked couscous(about 1 cup raw)
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed, drained and thoroughly dried

Vinaigrette

  • About 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic (about 1 tablespoon)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • dash hot sauce

Preheat oven to 400F.

Toss tomatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place cut side up on a baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes or until slightly browned and shrivelled. Set aside.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add kale and fry, tossing, for 4 minutes or until tender and slightly crisp. Season with salt to taste. Reserve.

Vinaigrette:

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add the onion, garlic, a pinch of salt, pepper, and cook about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low; whisk in honey, lemon juice, vinegar and hot sauce. Slowly pour in the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil, whisking constantly. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

To Assemble:

Place kale, tomatoes, couscous and chickpeas in a large bowl. Toss with warm vinaigrette-just enough to moisten, and serve.


 

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