With a few magical 70 degree days under our belt, I think it’s safe to say that we are well into spring. Even more so than the presence of the sun, I felt pretty sure spring was here the moment I started adding fresh herbs into everything – tucking ruffled mint leaves and licorice-tinged tarragon into my salads and making green sauces of all the herb scraps (throwing in a bit of jalapeño for heat). I may have pushed spring a bit as I poached long strands of jewel-toned rhubarb and rolled them into roses to top an almond cake, but I just can’t help myself – I’m so glad spring is here.
Spring cooking has a lightness about it. The produce that emerges from the just warmed soil is soft, timid even. It’s not yet the full flavored stone fruits or dripping tomatoes of summer. It’s grassy herbs, tart rhubarb, softly sweet carrots, peppery radishes, tender asparagus, and peas that pop with sweetness.
I think also there’s something akin to magic that happens to us Pacific Northwesterners, as the spring sun starts to show itself. Sure, the moment it hits we always fool ourselves into thinking that it’s going to now be here until October. When the rain shows up a few days later we suddenly feel betrayed, but really we know this drill, don’t we?
And yet there’s a lightness about our steps, there’s hope and there’s triumph for passing through another gray season. Because we’ve literally been in the dark for so long we appreciate all the light, the gentle warmth, and the stunning beauty of everything in bloom. We appreciate the new and experience it as a gift.
This morning my husband, while trying to navigate some emotionally distraught children, was pointing out some of the good that we have in our everyday life. “Look!” he excitedly said to our 5-year old, “you have a lunch!” Through tears she said, “But every day I have a lunch!”
She doesn’t see lunch as something to celebrate because it’s part of her every day. It’s so much easier to celebrate what we only get to experience on occasion, like the opening of spring. I hope we all experience each of these sun-filled days with the giddiness and joy we felt on the first day of sun. May it always feel like a sweet gift.
Award-winning food blogger
Author of Date Night In
Spring Chopped Salad
We have had this salad many times in the last couple of weeks. The produce changes depending on what’s in the fridge or what looks good at the market. There’s always salami, specifically finocchiona, sharp cheddar, and a bright, shallot-laced vinaigrette that brings it all together. (Serves 4-6)
Use this recipe as a guide. It’s really the sort of meal that does a great job of using up the leftover bits in the fridge. That’s actually how this salad got its start.
5-6 cups cut, cleaned greens, cut in 1-inch ribbons (I used romaine & treviso)
1 cup blanched fresh (or frozen) peas
1 cup chopped fresh herbs (chives, mint, parsley)
4-5 radishes, chopped
1/2 avocado, diced
1 cup garbanzo beans
1 cup chopped sharp cheddar
1 cup chopped salami such as finocchiona
1/4 cup toasted pepitas
Blanched green beans
Shallot and Cider Vinegar Vinaigrette:
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
Pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine everything in a medium bowl and whisk.
Add all the salad components to a large bowl then toss with the dressing. Serve immediately.
Recipe by Ashley Rodriguez. Used with permission. All rights reserved.