With the first warm winds of spring come the first harvests, those hardy green sprigs breaking through the thawing soil. If you live in cooler climes, rhubarb is a terrific harbinger of the changing season. It loves a brisk spring and is a tangy palate cleanser after the heavier starches of winter.
- 4 to 5 cups rhubarb, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 6 stalks)
- a generous pinch of grated lemon rind
- 1 2/3 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- a pinch of salt
- two pie crusts, either store-bought or homemade
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine rhubarb with all ingredients (except crusts). line ungreased 9-inch pie pan with one crust. fill pie with rhubarb mixture. Cover with top crust. Pinc edges and slash to allow steam and juice to escape. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 20 minutes to brown the crust. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Parsnips? Really? Well, yes. Although they’re not a particularly popular feature on American menus, this root vegetable that looks like a fat, white carrot is inexpensive and easy to prepare. Starchy enough to serve as a stand-in for potatoes, parsnips are also a fine ingredient for soups, salads and side dishes. Try peeling them, then roasting them with olive oil, salt and a drizzle of maple syrup.
For gardeners, the handy thing about parsnips is that you don’t have to harvest them in the fall, In fact, some people think they’re tastier the longer you leave them in the ground. Some gardeners dig them up throughout the winter as they need them. Others wait until spring, when parsnips are at their sweetest.
Curried Parsnip Soup Recipe
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 pound parsnips, peeled and cubed
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 3 1/4 cup boiling vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup milk
- salt and pepper to taste
- red pepper flakes or paprika for garnish
Saute the onion in a large pan over medium heat until soft, about five minutes. Add the parsnips, garlic and curry powder to the pan, and saute for a couple of minutes. Pour the vegetable broth into the pan, stir and simmer for 15 minutes, until the parsnips are soft. Remove from heat and blend with a hand mixer, immersion blender or regular blender for 30 seconds to one minute. Pour back into the large pan, then stir in milk and heat through. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with paprika or pepper flakes.
As we near the end of winter, we may be lamenting the variety of color on our plates. Luckily, citrus fruits are still in season, and they’re not just for your sack lunch. Even better, they pack a tasty vitamin C punch while we’re still in the midst of cold and flu season. Make this fresh citrus salad with cranberries to lighten your plate in more ways than one.
Fresh citrus salad with cranberries
Serves 8. Recipe adapted from www.bhg.com
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
2 stalks celery, sliced thinly
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup sugar or other natural sweetener
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
5 ounces baby arugula or other local greens
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Coarsely chop cranberries and transfer to bowl
Cut peel from oranges and section them over the bowl to catch juice
Add oranges to cranberries and stir in celery, onion, sugar, lemon juice and ginger
Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 days
Toss arugula or other salad greens with mint leaves and oil. Top with citrus cranberry mixture and serve.
Serves about 8.
Do you have a citrus recipe you love? Share it in the comments section.
Looking for a Pumpkin Pie Alternative?
Autumn’s classic front-porch decoration is often sold short in the kitchen, doomed to a thousand versions of the same old (though delicious) custard-style pie. But pumpkin, high in fiber and antioxidants, low in calories, is capable of so much more. This year, send it to a new fate with this pumpkin pie alternative recipe. Matched with zesty red Thai curry and silky coconut milk, cubed pumpkin becomes the keystone of a vibrant, hearty dish, with just enough fire to remind you winter is coming.
Thai-Style Pumpkin Curry Recipe
- 4 cups pie pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
- 14 ounces coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons (or less, to taste) Thai red curry paste
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons tamarind paste (or substitute 2 tablespoons brown sugar and juice of one lime)
- 3 or 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- optional: asparagus or green beans, cut into one-inch pieces
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, mix together a few tablespoons of the coconut milk and the red curry paste, and stir over medium heat until well-blended. Add the rest of the coconut milk, chicken stock and tamarind, and bring to a simmer. Add pumpkin cubes and simmer for about 10 minutes, then add bell peppers and asparagus or beans if desired. Simmer for another 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in cilantro and cut the heat. Let stand a few minutes before serving over rice.
Be sure to come back and tell us what you think of this pumpkin curry recipe in the comments.
Perennials are the reliable joys of gardening, sending up new shoots in a barren yard every spring with little or no attention from you. Autumn is the perfect time to plant new ones and do a little upkeep on the old ones.
New bulbs, like hyacinths, lilies, tulips and daffodils, are best planted now, before the first frost. Perennials like hostas or salvia that have gotten very large or crowded, or that are beginning to die out in the center, should be dug up, divided and replanted farther apart. Experts recommend doing this on a dry but cloudy day. Dig up the entire root ball and separate, making sure each new section has more roots than shoots. Replant immediately, trimming plants to half their height and removing dead foliage.