The scents of Spring ride down gently from a sky brilliantly blue
With kindness, the buds and blossoms breathe their sweet breath into the air
Like a release, a sigh, after being excitedly awoken, finally set free,
After they were breathed on, with a warmth that melted the ice and snow lovingly
A sprout bravely breaks through thick-layered soil
With the strength and fervor that compares to none,
Despite its size, despite its seemingly fragile frame
It is successful in its righteous aim
To be free, to be able, to be seen, to keep growing,
Inhibited by nothing, reaching tall towards the sun
The joy of renewal shimmering beneath, spilling out
Now is the time for celebration, a victorious shout!
Oh please, Lord please, let me be like these
Beautiful buds and sprouts that seem so simple, so free
For surely free is what I’m meant to be,
For freedom’s sake I was set free,
By the price you paid, I am free indeed
So make me, remake me to be like these
Sprouted Lentil, Fenugreek, and Radish Salad with Grainy Mustard Dressing
A few weeks ago I purchased new sprouting jars and definitely went a little sprout-happy! Maybe it was my effort to usher in Spring as soon as possible. It didn't work so well, but they sure were tasty anyways. Fenugreek sprouts have a strong and slightly bitter flavor that some may not favor. If that's you, opt for another seed sprout! BUT, I urge you to do some research on the little guys first because their benefits are AMAZING - including maple syrup-smelling sweat. Yep.
Ingredients for the salad:
4 cups sprouted lentils*
2 cups fenugreek sprouts (or other crunchy sprouts)*
7 radishes, halved or sliced
3 handfuls of spinach
Ingredients for the dressing:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon brown rice vinegar (or other vinegar)
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 clove garlic, roasted*
Sea alt and pepper to taste
1. Fashion a steamer basket in a pot with about an inch of boiling water. Steam lentils and radishes together for 10 minutes, then add spinach during last 2 minutes of steaming.
2. Meanwhile, simply whisk together all dressing ingredients in a bowl until emulsified. A small blender would also work well.
3. To serve immediately, toss the steamed ingredients together with the fenugreek sprouts and the dressing. Otherwise, keep the dressing separate and both mixtures will keep in the fridge for a few days.
*Notes: You can roast garlic either by placing a whole head of garlic in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until soft and fragrant, about 15 minutes or by toasting separate cloves, unpeeled, in a cast iron pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Instructions for growing your own sprouts can be found here!
Amaranth Porridge with Caramelized Blood Oranges
I love porridge to my very depths. Amaranth is the perfect grain (well, seed actually) for porridge because it naturally forms a creamy, smooth texture, yet maintains a little chew. When paired with the soft, juicy oranges and crunchy, meaty pumpkin seeds, I must say this recipe makes a divine breakfast. Good blood oranges are hard to find outside of California and, of course, Sicily, their place of origin. But, if you can get your hands on some (thank you, Eataly), there's nothing like them!
Ingredients for the porridge:
1/3 cup amaranth, soaked in water overnight
2/3 cup water
1 teaspoon raw honey
½ teaspoon blood orange zest
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
Juice of 1 blood orange
Pinch of salt
Ingredients for the oranges:
1 blood orange, sliced
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive or coconut oil
¼ cup toasted or activated pumpkin seeds
A splash of nut milk
1. Drain and rinse amaranth through a small sieve and place in a small pot with the water and salt. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cover with lid.
2. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Stir in remaining porridge ingredients, except the honey, during the last few minutes of cooking. Remove from heat.
3. While the porridge is cooking, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and add orange slices. Allow slices to caramelize, about 5 minutes each side.
4. Stir honey into warm porridge, arrange your bowl, and serve immediately!
Roasted Fennel Carrot Salad with Blood Orange and Toasted Fennel Seed Vinaigrette
This salad is heavily inspired by my time on an Umbrian farm, where the family I stayed with served a raw carrot and fennel salad almost every evening. To be honest, nothing will compare to that salad because it was dressed with the most exquisitely thick balsamic vinegar and the family's fresh pressed, bright green olive oil (I think I've mentioned it before...). But, I was very, very pleased with this vinaigrette creation and actually learned in the process that toasted fennel seeds/powder have the most enticing aroma and flavor! I will be putting it on everything now.
Ingredients for the salad:
1 head of fennel, cored and sliced to ½ inch thickness
4 medium carrots, quartered lengthwise
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Ingredients for the vinaigrette:
Juice of 1 blood orange
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss sliced fennel and carrots together with olive oil and salt and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes until just tender, yet still crunchy and brightly colored.
2. Meanwhile, in a dry skillet, toast the fennel seeds over low heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes, tossing very frequently to avoid burning. Transfer to a mortar and pestle (or a spice grinder) and grind to a powder.
3. Whisk the fennel seed powder together with remaining vinaigrette ingredients.
4. To serve, toss the roasted vegetables with the dressing and sprinkle with fennel fronds.
Makes 1 ½ cups
Pesto is a staple in my fridge. For tossing with grains and pasta, spreading on toast, stirring into soup, eating by the spoonful... I rarely make the traditional variation with basil and pine nuts, but rather use what I have on hand - often just leftover greens such as beet or spinach or even carrot tops! Along with whatever seed or nut I have enough of - sunflower, pumpkin, walnuts. But the best combination I have yet found is this - nettles and pumpkin seeds. They both have such surprisingly rich flavors that take everything they touch to another level. Just be careful with the nettles as they truly are stinging! Also, I always add a bit of miso to my pestos to create that desired umami flavor that parmesan usually does. But, feel free to opt for the cheese or neither.
2 oz stinging nettles, large stems removed with gloves
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds*
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sweet white miso
¾ teaspoon sea salt
1 garlic clove
1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and fill a bowl with ice water. Boil nettles for about 5 minutes (this removes the sting) and promptly transfer to ice water with tongs.
2. Once cooled, drain the nettles and then place in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add all remaining ingredients and run processor for a few minutes, scraping sides occasionally, until mostly smooth.
3. Store in the fridge in an airtight container/jar for up to 2 weeks.
*Note: To toast pumpkin seeds, place them in the oven on a parchment lined baking sheet and toast for about 10-12 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, tossing halfway through. Make sure they don't burn by checking often!
Spring Cleaning Green Soup
Makes 4 cups
Come Spring and warmth and sunny days, I find myself craving all sorts of fresh ingredients, particularly herbs and greens. Although I am anxious to get my hands on some fresh basil and parsley to make a super herby green soup, I made a deeper, green-ier soup here that is seriously packed with cleansing greens. Cause that's what Spring is all about. Cleaning things up! If you can find ramps, use them. Not just here, but everywhere and in everything. They're so flavorful for such littleness. Also known as wild leeks, they add a spice similar to garlic, but with even more dimension. Yum.
4 cups filtered water
1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
½ head broccoli rabe (or regular broccoli or cauliflower), large stems removed, chopped
2 large handfuls greens (swiss chard, spinach, nettles, kale, anything!), chopped
A few garlic chives
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon vinegar (brown rice vinegar is nice here)
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon tamari
1. Heat oil in a medium stockpot over medium heat. Add diced onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add all greens and sauté for a few minutes until just softening up.
2. Add water to pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower to a simmer and cook for just 5 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully transfer to another pot or bowl to allow to cool slightly.
3. Combine the ingredients from the pot with all other seasoning ingredients in an upright blender and blend until smooth. Serve with a handful of sprouts, a sprinkle of fresh ground black pepper and a dollop of pesto!