From Chelsea Rinnig. Email her at chelsea[AT]borderstan.com.
The thawing of winter means the coming of a new crop of fresh spring produce… well, eventually.
Asparagus, cherry tomatoes, strawberries and melons are on their way, but not quite ready to be picked and sold at the market. A longer than anticipated winter delayed much of the growing process, and so we will have to wait until June for rhubarb.
However, manipulation of the greens and fruits available can certainly brighten up and lighten your dishes while sticking to the concept of local. A recent New York Times article also demonstrated examples of spring flavors, but with innovations in farming such as greenhouses, one does not have to, as the article suggested, “cheat” by buying artichokes from California.
For example, many of the available greens, such as arugula, can make for a beautiful pesto when blended or processed with pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper and top any baked white fish or pasta for a light Spring dinner. Apples in fresh lettuce with walnuts, celery, gold raisins and Dijon dressing serve as a healthy modified Waldorf salad. And the recipe below makes Spring wraps perfect for your next lunch picnic in Meridian Hill Park or at the Cherry Blossoms.
Now, who’s bringing the white wine?
Collard Wraps with Carrots, Cucumber and Lentils
- One bunch of rather large Collards or Swiss Chard
- One bunch carrots
- One chopped white or red onion
- 2 cups dry red lentils
- Lemon Juice
- 2 tbsp. Tahini
- 1 tbsp. EVOO
- Sunflower seeds (optional)
- 1 cup white wine
- 3 cups water
- Warm water and vinegar in a pan
- Rinse and sort lentils. Toast chopped onion and dry lentils in the bottom of a medium sized saucepan on medium-high heat for one minute, stirring a couple times.
- Add water and white wine, cover and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
- Slice the stem and extra stalk from the leaves of the Collards or Swiss Chard. While the lentils simmer, soak green leaves in a shallow pan of warm water and vinegar for approximately 10 minutes. Chop carrots and cucumber into sticks.
- Whisk the lemon juice, tahini, and EVOO together for an optional dressing, or process with half of your carrots and the sunflower seeds.
- Once the lentils have cooked and cooled, assemble wraps using two leaves layered in opposite directions (be careful not to overstuff). Depending on the size of your leaves, slice in half and/or wrap in aluminum foil. The soaking should help maintain the shape of your wrap without breaking.