Spring is glorious. For foodies at least, the new season means a wider, brighter palette for dishes. I’m still waiting with bated breath for the farmer’s market on the Hanover Green to open, but at the moment, I am content knowing that a few ingredients can add color, texture, and fresh flavor to my meals. There comes a time when a medley of winter root vegetables tires and becomes, well, mediocre. So when ingredients like asparagus, favas, snap peas and spring radishes appear at the market, there’s cause to celebrate.
And while there’s still a chill in the Hanover night air, I no longer gravitate towards warming comfort food . The fresh flavors of spring and especially summer lend themselves well to no-fuss preparations. Tonight I enjoyed one of the simplest pleasures I can think of: a simple yet satisfying seasonal dinner with two hungry friends and a bottle of white wine (that’s the other thing about light food. It means you can say yes to that third class of chardonnay). On the menu? Quinoa, that grain that is, in fact, “so hot right now”—and for a good reason. Quinoa is a blank canvas to make the colors of spring’s palette POP. I looked for ingredients that would capture the whites and pinks of spring blossoms and the green mountains of New Hampshire (these greens were my inspiration ). With peony-hued French breakfast radishes, tiny white spheres of fresh Vermont goat cheese, fava beans (or frozen edamame, courtesy of Dartmouth Dining Services) and a chiffonade of basil for good measure, I had found my spring palette.
To amp up the green factor, I served an avocado kale salad on the side. Cliché, some might say, but not when massaged (literally, you can get your hands dirty) with avocado dressing and been bedazzled with golden raisins and oven-roasted & salted sunflower seeds.
I got a little too excited about the ripeness of the avocadoes at the local Co-Op…which meant I had enough leftover dressing to create a dip for these raincoast crisps (If weren’t as lazy…or easily seduced by the jewel tones of the crisps, I might have tried these almond herb crackers)
Brooke Elmlinger is a student at Dartmouth College who strongly believes that food is the way to any girl’s heart. She would like to say her love of avocado, edamame and kale have something to do with Dartmouth being the Big Green…but in reality, she just loves the taste, and that they make her feel less guilty about chardonnay.
Spring Quinoa with Favas, Goat Cheese, and Radishes
1.5 cups white quinoa (red would do fine, but won’t let the other colors “pop” in the same way)
1 cup of shelled fava beans or edamame(frozen and thawed, if the latter)
A bunch of radishes (French breakfast radishes have a more cylindrical shapes)
4-6 oz. fresh goat cheese
3 basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
Rinse quinoa several times under tap water. Bring 3 cups of water in a large sauce pan over the stove top; add the quinoa, and cover for about 15 minutes or until all water evaporates. (Be sure to keep an eye on the quinoa, as burner temperatures will vary! Burned quinoa has no hope of reincarnation). Set quinoa aside to cool.
While cooking, if you are using fava beans remove the beans from their pods and boil for 2-3 minutes on the stovetop. Rinse under cold water to cool them, so that you can remove the beans from their skins. Rinse, scrub, and pat dry the radishes, and then slice them into disks roughly ½ centimeter in diameter.
Crumble goat cheese into small balls either by hand or with the aid of a half-teaspoon measure for added aesthetic value.
Chiffonade the basil: Stack the three leaves and roll tightly into a log. Cut this basil log into thin strips to produce fine green ribbons.
Toss cooled quinoa with olive oil, fava/edamame, radish slides, and goat cheese and finish it off with a chiffonade of basil. Season with salt and pepper, and serve some salt on the side for good measure.
Massaged Kale Avocado Salad
Note: Any extra dressing can reinvent itself as a dip, so make sure to have some crisps on hand! With even more leftovers, test out some of these avocado concoctions
2 bunches of lacitano kale
2 avocados (must be RIPE)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tsp. salt
¾ cup golden raisins
½ cup sunflower seeds (roasted and salted works best)
After washing and patting the kale dry, stem it and cut it into strips about 2 cm wide. Set aside in a large bowl.
Remove flesh from avocado and mash to a smooth consistency with the back of a fork or your clean hands, and place into a small bowl. Add the salt, olive oil and juice of one lemon and whisk with a fork to combine. Toss kale with dressing, making sure that each leaf gets an even coating, and then add raisins and sunflower seeds on top.