The Dish on Springtime

Photo credit: Trattoria632.com

As winter begins to fade into the warm mist of spring and trees awaken from their long sleep, so do our taste buds.  The cold season forces our physical being to retreat into a deliberate hibernation for which our tongues are included.  We succumb to and embrace the earthy, subtle tastes of root vegetables and slow cooked casseroles subconsciously accepting the reduction of color and brightness to our palate.  There is a culinary beauty during this time of year and the dishes that it provides, but there is nothing like the smell of a ripe tomato that the summertime brings.

The sun is beginning to poke out of the clouds and the ice is melting off the lake. It’s a time of awakening. We are again reminded of colors, aromas and flavors that only the spring and summer can bring. We are again hopeful and inspired by the greening of grass, the smell of honeysuckle and lilac and the blooming tulips.

Our lives revolve around the changing of the seasons.  We rely on these changes to refresh our bodies and recharge our souls.  Rich, decadent flavors of the holiday’s slowly evolve into winter staples like a warm bowl of chili or a nice chocolate stout.  All of these dark flavors mirroring the short sunny hours and grayness of the year.

Then, right when we hit a level of depression that makes us want to scream, we start to hear the chirping of the birds again and we finally spot the fat red breasted Robin sitting in the thick green branches of the pines in the yard.  Spring has come!  At last, a new hope has blossomed and a new day has risen from behind the snow banks, giving us hope once again that flowers will bloom, fruits will mature and aromas will fill the air.

Don’t get me wrong, I love winter and all the beauty it brings, but nothing beats the hope that a warm spring morning can hold.  It inspires creativity and awakens the taste buds to realize that they will once again, feel alive.  Farmer’s markets will soon be a normal Saturday visit and be abuzz with all the earth has to offer.

These delicious gems include early spring fruits and vegetables of all shapes, sizes and colors.  Bright greens of asparagus, artichokes and peas will be complimented by rich, vibrant reds of rhubarb and radishes. Flowers will peak up from their long winter nap and we will once again be reminded of the joyful flavors that spring and summer bring.

As the days begin to get longer and the smells stronger, don’t forget to stop and take a deep breath. Pause and take it in. Because before you know it, another summer will have flown by and harvest completed. Take advantage of what every season has to offer. Each provides its own reminder of what it is like to be alive and kicking.

In case you are wondering what to prepare in these first days of spring, just think about all of the excitement that spring brings to the table.  I have attached a couple yummy looking recipes that help you take advantage of the spring harvest.  Below is a delicious pea and bacon risotto recipe compliments of Food and Wine Magazine, contributed by James Tracey.

For all you gluten free folks out there I have also attached a rustic rhubarb tart recipe that looks glorious from the picture compliments of the Bojon Gourmet.  I plan to make it once I see my first rhubarb sprout.

Enjoy.

 

GLUTEN FREE Rustic Rhubarb, Almond and Honey Tart

image

http://www.bojongourmet.com/2014/05/rustic-rhubarb-almond-and-honey-tart.html?m=1

 

Pea-and-Bacon Risotto

pea-bacon-risotto1

TOTAL TIME:50 MIN

SERVINGS:6

  • 6 ounces lean bacon, diced
  • 2 cups frozen baby peas, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 7 cups simmering chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups small pea shoots
  1. In a skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp, 6 minutes. Drain the bacon on paper towels; reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat.
  2. In a food processor, puree half of the peas with 1 cup of water.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the rice is evenly coated with the oil. Add the wine and simmer until almost evaporated, 3 minutes.
  4. Add enough hot stock to just cover the rice and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the stock has been absorbed. Add more stock to cover the rice. Continue cooking and stirring, adding more stock as it is absorbed, until the rice is al dente and suspended in a creamy sauce, 25 minutes. Add the pea puree, the remaining peas and the bacon and cook, stirring, until hot. Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the butter, reserved bacon fat, cheese and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with the pea shoots and serve.