The signs are subtle at first. A robin here, a tuft of new green there… Then it crescendos undeniably, reaching a fevered pitch – until the snow and cold winds are gone without a doubt… and life starts bursting at the seams again, in a new cycle of growth and lush greenery.
To me, the first signs of true spring are always the mosses and the ferns in the forest, and the garlic and lovage shoots pushing up through layers of compost and mulch in the garden, undeterred by s few more frosts – certain that the sun’s warmth will continue.
Whether you are in a place you can forage safely for wild greens or not, one of the best antidotes to Spring Fever is a fresh green salad, vibrant with the flavor of Spring. Here is a recipe for one of my favorite salads, which we used on a Talkeetna River rafting trip to film an episode of the Food Network’s “Beach Eats” several years ago…
The United Nations has declared that 2016 will be the International Year of Pulses in order “to raise awareness about the protein power and health benefits of all kinds of dried beans and peas, boost their production and trade, and encourage new and smarter uses throughout the food chain.”
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has a great website with information about everything you ever wanted to know about pulses, which are are a subgroup of legumes. (The term”legume” applies to the whole plant, whereas “pulses” are the dried seeds of legumes – such as dried beans, peas, and lentils.)
To celebrate the IY of Pulses, here is a garlicky lentil soup recipe which can be adapted in many ways. It may be thickened a bit more with less liquid and more vegetables, to use as a stew or over rice.
Several cloves of fresh garlic, smashed and chopped
2 stalks of fresh celery, diced
2 fresh carrots, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon of thyme and / or oregano
1 cup of lentils
3 tablespoons olive oil (organic, extra virgin)*
1 teaspoon sage
about 5 cups vegetable broth or water
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Paprika or Pimenton
Optional: sea salt or umeboshi plum vinegar to taste
Optional: ½ cup dry sherry, Manzanillo, or Marsala wine
Optional: fresh or dried lemon peel
Optional: Chopped tomatoes to taste
Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add shallots / onion, carrot, and celery; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally. Add half of chopped garlic; stir for a few more minutes. Add herbs, and stir more. If using sherry add now. After stirring again for a few minutes, add lentils, liquid, bring almost to a boil, then turn low and simmer for a while to blend flavors. Garnish with chopped parsley or scallions, and a squeeze of lemon.
*Note: For folks on a whole-foods-plant-based diet who wish to consume no oil, water or broth may be substituted for the initial saute of the onion, garlic, and herbs.