Serving up spring
It’s officially spring! And its signs are everywhere. Snow is disappearing fast and dandelion greens appear where it has melted.
Warmer days and chilly nights mean that maple syrup season is in full swing. Again this year, most Maple Weekend activities will not take place due to the pandemic. But there is plenty of syrup available — so contact your local producers and get some to sweeten your days!
More light means chickens are laying more eggs. Passover and Palm Sunday are this weekend.
Passover and Easter come each year with special food traditions. Eggs are part of both holidays. At the Passover feast, eggs symbolize life, sacrifice and rebirth. The egg on the Seder Plate reminds us that God has no beginning and no end. And eggs are part of most recipes made for the holiday – like kugel, matzoh brie and matzah farfel casserole.
Eggs symbolize new life and new hope, so they’re an obvious symbol of the resurrection. After the cold, dark winter they proclaim rebirth and renewal. Decorated eggs, chocolate eggs, games with eggs, hidden eggs, rolling eggs and egg dishes are all part of Easter celebrations. And they’re part of many traditional Easter dishes.
In early spring, it is time to switch from a diet of sweet roots that have been stored through the long winter to fresh, sharp new shoots and leaves like parsley, dill, spinach, lettuce, arugula and young onions. Fresh greens also symbolize life, hope and spring, and are part of holiday meals as well. Karpas (fresh green leafy veggies) are traditional on the seder plate. They commemorate the bitterness of enslavement in Egypt, and the flourishing of the Jews before they were enslaved. For Easter, fresh greens symbolize new life. Many Native American tribes held salad eating feasts in the spring when wild plants, which become tough later in the season, sprout tender new shoots and leaves. And they represent fresh, bountiful springtime harvests. Welcome spring with fresh green herbs, spring lettuces, baby spinach, pea shots and asparagus.
As for meat, lamb is a popular dish for both Passover and Easter. The focal point of the Jewish celebration is the sacrifice and ceremonial eating of the paschal lamb. Early Christians celebrated the resurrection of Christ with lamb, because Jesus is the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). In the 9th century, the Pope roasted an entire lamb for Easter dinner. Today, we often have ham or pork for Easter and beef brisket for Passover. But Middle Eastern, Italian, French, German and Greek Orthodox traditions all include lamb in their holiday feasts.
Spring is a time of wonder and newness, a time to celebrate fertility and new life. Maple syrup enchants us with its sweetness. Springtime brings a seasonal end to heavy winter dishes, and the emergence of lighter summer fare.
2 strips bacon (optional)
1 cup chives or scallions, sliced about ? inch
About 2 or 3 mushrooms (portobello or white button)
1/2 cup finely minced red bell pepper
2 cups fresh, washed, torn spinach, spun dry
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons water
1/4 cup grated sharp cheese
Cook bacon till crisp; remove and drain on paper towel. Drain off all but 1 Tablespoon of the drippings.
Add scallions, and cook about 2 minutes, till softened. (If not using bacon, cook scallions in 1 Tablespoon butter). Add mushrooms, peppers and spinach and cook a couple minutes more, until spinach wilts.
Beat eggs with salt, pepper, milk and water. Pour evenly over the vegetables, making sure the mixture spreads over the whole skillet. Sprinkle with cheese; cover pan and cook undisturbed to set the eggs and melt the cheese. Serve hot or at room temperature with the reserved bacon and fresh bread. Serves 2.
Salad of Spring Greens with Winter Fruit
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon maple mustard
1/2 teaspoon basil, oregano or thyme
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 – 3 teaspoons olive oil
4 cups torn or shredded mixed greens (like spinach, dandelion greens, arugula, radicchio, endive, watercress, sorrel, leaf lettuce)
1 bunch chives or about 4 scallions
1 blood or navel orange
Crush or grate garlic. Combine with salt, mustard, and herbs in the bottom of large salad bowl. Squeeze in the lemon, making sure to strain out the seeds, and blend the olive oil in with a fork.
Wash the greens to remove sand and dirt. Add the greens to the bowl and toss into the dressing; toss everything together until lightly coated.
Wash and slice chives. Slice the scallions, removing wilted greens and root ends. Add to the bowl and stir.
Peel the orange; remove white pith. Quarter lengthwise, then slice across the sections into the salad (this will release some of the juice which will blend with the dressing).
Slice or chop the kiwi into cubes. (No need to peel unless you want to). Stir in.
Serve right away. Serves 2 – 4.
Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached at email@example.com or on Facebook at Words Are My World.