Spring Delicacies at the Farmstand and in the Galley
Spring can be a little slow to start up here in Maine. We get our first taste of it in early March when the first false spring lures us to get the grill out for a day. Then we celebrate maple sugaring season as the woods are filled with maple taps among the snowy trees. Second false spring follows but so does more snow before we finally get to mud season in mid-April. But now, (finally!!), in mid-May, our gardens, farms, and woods come alive! Take a look at the local farm stands and you’ll find early leafy greens, rhubarb, herbs like chives and parsley, radishes, asparagus, and fiddleheads.
Some “from away” may not be familiar with fiddleheads. They’re the young unfurled tips of Ostrich Ferns that are quite edible and quite delicious and a very novel treat for many of our Windjammer guests. They have a mild nutty flavor and are super easy to prepare. Most people end up loving them.
Our cooks love using fresh local in-season ingredients. The dinner menu one May or June evening might include beef bourguignon, smashed potatoes, and this recipe for Sautéed Fiddleheads or this Spring Vegetable Salad with Asparagus, Peas, and Radishes.
Spring Vegetable Salad with Asparagus, Peas, and Radishes
(Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes)
To make the salad:
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
¼ sliced almonds or sunflower seeds
Salt and Pepper to taste
½ cup fresh or frozen (thawed) peas
6-8 stalks of asparagus, ends cut off
1 head butter lettuce or 3-4 cups mesclun mix
¼ cup loosely packed herbs (a combination of mint, dill, and tarragon works well)
For the dressing:
2 TBSP sour cream or crème fraiche
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 TBSP lemon juice
Zest from 1/2 lemon
2-3 TBSP fresh minced chives
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp salt
Optional additional toppings:
Sliced hard-boiled egg
Or try fiddleheads!
Toast the almonds. Add a touch of olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add the almonds and a touch of salt. Stir occasionally until the almonds are lightly browned. This will only take 4-5 minutes. Watch them closely so they don’t burn.
Finely chop the asparagus and radishes. You can use a mandolin if you have one to slice the radishes very thinly. Cut the asparagus at a steep angle into very thin slices – no need to cook the asparagus!
Add all the salad ingredients except the lettuce and almonds/sunflower seeds into a bowl.
For the dressing: Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Let sit for a half hour, if possible, to let the flavors come together.
Mix about 1/2 of the dressing into the veggie mix and about ¼ of it into the lettuce. Leave the extra dressing to drizzle on top, if you’d like.
Spread the lettuce onto a platter then top with the rest of the salad. Sprinkle with the almonds or seeds. Add other toppings if you’d like!
(Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes)
2 cups Fiddleheads, trimmed (see below)
4 TBSP butter
1 clove garlic or one finely chopped shallot or ½ small onion, finely chopped
Trim the fiddleheads by removing any papery brown parts in the center or brown parts on the stem. Rinse them in cold water right before cooking.
Since fiddleheads are wild-foraged, they should be boiled before sautéing to make sure they are not harboring any bacteria. Boil them for about 8 minutes – you don’t want them to get soggy.
While the fiddleheads are boiling melt the butter in a skillet and cook until browned. Stir the butter often so it browns evenly. Add the garlic or shallot and sauté for 3-4 minutes.
Drain the fiddleheads and add them to the skillet. Sauté for another few minutes to blend the flavors.
Photos by Jenny Tobin
Categories: Food, Maine Windjammers