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The Journal Gazette

  • Grain Bowls and Soft-Boiled Eggs with Avocado and Kimchi will help get you into the spring mood. (Washington Post photos)

  • Shake off winter doldrums with Shaved Asparagus Salad with Pistachios and Preserved Lemon Dressing.

  • Soft-Boiled Eggs With Anchovy Toasts

  • Rhubarb Rickeys

  • Soft-Boiled Eggs With Yogurt, Lemon and Za’atar

  • Crab, Spring Potato and Watercress Salad

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 1:00 am

Spring's distinct taste

Some ingredients take on whole new flavor this season

Julia Turshen | Washington Post

If you go

Several farmers markets are open now with fresh spring produce, and several more will open in the coming weeks.

South Side Farmers Market: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays; runs until mid-December; 3300 Warsaw St.

Fort Wayne's Farmer's Market: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays; ends May 13; Lincoln Financial Event Center, Parkview Field, 1301 Ewing St.

YLNI Farmers Market: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays; opens May 20, runs through Sept. 9; corner of Barr and Wayne streets.

Historic West Main Street Farmer's Market: 3 to 8 p.m. Fridays; opens May 12, runs through Oct. 13; 1936 W. Main St.

Salomon Farmers' Market: 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays; opens June 7, runs through Sept. 6; 817 W. Dupont Road.

Kitchen 101

One of the simplest ways to turn rhubarb from sour and tough to sweet and yielding is to chop it and simmer it with sugar and water.

This mixture can be strained and mixed with lime juice and seltzer for a pink twist on a Lime Rickey, or mixed with the same plus some tequila for the most beautiful margarita (throw it in the blender, if you wish, and salt the rims of your glasses). Or you can purée the poached rhubarb with its syrup and fresh strawberries and freeze the mixture to make a granita that has all the flavor of strawberry-rhubarb pie without all the fuss of making one.

The syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

– Julia Turshen, Washington Post

Share your recipe


Do you have a favorite spring recipe? Email Corey McMaken at cmcmaken@jg.net and it could appear in a future edition of The Journal Gazette.

Ingredients and their availability can tell you a lot about time and place. In a country where it's easy to buy a lemon no matter where you are and no matter what time of year, it can be hard to remember how food and the seasons are closely tied.

When it comes to spring, there are certain items such as tender green shell peas that help us stretch toward the light after a long winter. And then there are ingredients such as asparagus that are available pretty much everywhere, all the time, but taste so especially good in season. In noticing the distance between the OK and amazing, and the pleasure of celebrating something when it has a small window of time, there's a valuable life lesson.

Some of the best – and my favorite – spring ingredients are a mix of the readily available and the fleeting.

Shaved Asparagus Salad with Pistachios and Preserved Lemon Dressing

2 tablespoons finely chopped preserved lemon, plus 1-1/2 tablespoons preserved lemon brine

1 teaspoon honey

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

1 pound fresh asparagus, tough ends trimmed

3 tablespoons roasted, unsalted shelled pistachios, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped

Whisk together the chopped preserved lemon, its brine, honey and oil in a large mixing bowl. Taste and season lightly with salt, as needed (this will depend on how salty your preserved lemons are).

Use a sharp vegetable peeler to shave each asparagus spear into long ribbons, adding them to the bowl as you work. If any of the asparagus tips break off while you're doing this, just add them as well.

Use your clean hands to gently coat the asparagus with the dressing. Transfer to a serving platter; sprinkle with the pistachios and serve right away.

Makes 4 servings.

Rhubarb Rickeys

2 rhubarb stalks, finely chopped (about 9 ounces total)

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)

2 cups plain seltzer

Ice

1 lime, cut into thin slices, for garnish

Combine the rhubarb, water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring now and then, until the rhubarb is softened. Let cool, then strain into a pitcher through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing down to extract all the flavor from the rhubarb. Discard those solids or reserve for another use. The syrup yield is about 1/2 cup.

Stir the lime juice and seltzer into the rhubarb syrup.

Fill 4 highball glasses with ice. Put a few lime slices in each one. Divide the Rhubarb Rickey mixture among the glasses and serve right away. Makes 4 servings.

Rhubarb Margaritas

Ice

1/2 cup Rhubarb Rickeys syrup

1 cup silver tequila

1 cup plain seltzer, preferably chilled

Coarse salt, for rimming the glasses (optional)

1 lime, cut into thin slices (optional)

Fill a pitcher with ice. Add the rhubarb syrup, tequila and seltzer in a pitcher, stirring to incorporate.

Wet the rims of 4 chilled margarita glasses. Invert on a small plate with the salt, if using, to garnish the glasses. Turn right side up; strain the margarita mixture into each glass. Add a lime slice or two, if desired. Serve right away.

Makes 4 servings.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Granita

2 rhubarb stalks, finely chopped (8 to 10 ounces total)

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

1 pound strawberries, hulled and chopped (3 cups)

2 tablespoons vodka

Combine the rhubarb, water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring now and then, until the rhubarb is softened. Let cool.

Transfer to a blender, along with the strawberries and vodka. Puree until smooth, then transfer to an 8- or 9-inch-square baking dish, cover and freeze for a total of 21/2 hours, pulling it out to scrape through with a large fork every 30 minutes or so, to create a flaky-crystal consistency.

Divide among shallow bowls or small glasses for serving. Makes 4 servings.

Stir-Fried Peas and Spinach

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (may substitute canola or vegetable oil)

One 3-inch piece peeled fresh ginger root, minced (2 tablespoons)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2-1/2 cups shelled fresh peas (may substitute 13 ounces frozen small green peas)

2 tablespoons water

5 ounces baby spinach (may substitute fresh pea shoots/tendrils)

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 small handful fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped

1 small handful fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until they're sizzling and smell very fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the peas and water; cook, stirring, until they're bright green and tender, about 2 minutes.

Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted, a minute at the most (2 large spoons used as if you were tossing a salad makes easy work of this). Turn off the heat and stir in the fish sauce, mint and cilantro. Serve right away. Makes 4 servings.

Grain Bowls and Soft-Boiled Eggs with Avocado and Kimchi

4 large eggs

4 cups cooked grains, such as brown rice and quinoa

Flesh of 1 ripe avocado, thinly sliced

1 cup drained cabbage kimchi, finely chopped, plus 3 tablespoons juice from the jar

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Kosher salt

1 small handful fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Gently add the eggs; cover and cook for 6 minutes (it's best to set a timer).

Once the time's up, use a slotted spoon to transfer the eggs to a colander and rinse them under cool tap water to stop them from cooking. Tap the eggs on a work surface and peel them.

Divide the cooked grains among individual bowls. Evenly divide the avocado and kimchi among them, then place one egg on each portion. Break it open or allow your guests to break their own.

Whisk together the juice from the kimchi jar and the mayonnaise in a small bowl. Season lightly with salt. Drizzle over the bowls and sprinkle each one with some cilantro. Serve right away.

Makes 4 servings.

Soft-Boiled Eggs with Anchovy Toasts

4 large eggs

Unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 thick slices country bread, toasted

Good quality anchovy fillets, drained

Crushed red pepper flakes or chile oil, for garnish

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Gently add the eggs; cover and cook for 6 minutes (it's best to set a timer).

Once the time's up, use a slotted spoon to transfer the eggs to a colander and rinse them under cool tap water to stop them from cooking. Tap the eggs on a work surface and peel them.

To serve, generously butter each slice of toast and place on individual plates. Arrange anchovy fillets on top (to taste), then gently crush a soft-boiled egg on each portion. Sprinkle some crushed red pepper flakes or drizzle lightly with chile oil. Makes 4 servings.

Soft-Boiled Eggs with Yogurt, Lemon and Za'atar

4 large eggs

1 cup full-fat, plain Greek yogurt

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt

Olive oil

Za'atar

Toasted pita bread, for serving

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Gently add the eggs; cover and cook for 6 minutes (it's best to set a timer).

Once the time's up, use a slotted spoon to transfer the eggs to a colander and rinse them under cool tap water to stop them from cooking. Tap the eggs on a work surface and peel them.

Whisk together the yogurt and lemon juice; season lightly with salt. Divide among individual bowls, then gently crush an egg on each portion. Drizzle with a little oil and sprinkle with za'atar. Serve with the toasted pita bread, for mopping up the bowls. Makes 4 servings.

Crab, Spring Potato and Watercress Salad

1 pound small white creamer potatoes or fingerlings

Kosher salt

12 ounces jumbo-lump crabmeat

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons red chile paste, such as sambal oelek

1/3 cup creme fraiche

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 large bunch fresh watercress (tough stems discarded), coarsely chopped

1 small handful minced fresh chives

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan set over high heat and cover with 1 inch of cool water. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook the potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and let them sit until they're cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile place the crab in a large bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and the chile paste. Stir gently to combine and season lightly with salt.

Whisk together the remaining oil and lemon juice in a large bowl along with the creme fraiche and Dijon mustard. Season lightly with salt.

Cut the warm potatoes in half or into bite-size pieces. Add them to the bowl of dressing along with the watercress and toss gently to combine.

Transfer the potato mixture to a large serving platter and top with the crab salad. Sprinkle with the chives and serve right away. Makes 4 servings.