The awakening of spring has arrived. Asparagus, young turnips and the first peas appear on the market. But even beets can be resilient if given the chance.
I was craving a light, fresh meal to match the season. Earthy beets beckon in the market in bright bunches, leaves attached to them. They were so attractive that it was hard to choose: the ruby red or the sunny gold?
Although they take a while to finish, freshly roasted beets are worth it. You can cook about ten at a time and keep them in the fridge, ready to use in salads or soup. I wanted a spicy soup that hinted at borscht, but not in a wintry way. So I seasoned and tempered sweet beets with a dash of vinegar, then whipped them into a silky smooth puree. To contrast the rich flavor of the soup, I wiped a generous amount of yogurt, studded with tarragon and chives, over the surface of the soup. The good news is that it tastes good hot or chilled — and, I think, is best served in small portions.
On the west coast, spring is the start of the wild salmon season. There really is nothing like wild salmon simply tastes better than farmed salmon and is always a better choice, sustainably speaking. (Is it a splurge? Yes, except in places like Seattle.) Whether you choose king salmon, coho, or sockeye, be careful not to overcook it: At the fish market, I ask for one large fillet. Then I lay it flat on a baking sheet and roast in a moderate oven just until white juices appear on the surface of the fish. This makes for moist, flaky salmon.
To fortify the fish, I mashed grated ginger and lime zest and juice into butter to spread over the hot fillet. I used the same butter to quickly shrink a huge jar of baby spinach, which was a great accompaniment. Their additions were in keeping with the theme of fresh, bright and resilient, reinforcing, not minimizing, the role of greens.
Summer’s riotous bounty may be getting more attention, but the return of spring’s seasonal offerings to my basket feels like a real treat. When I saw cherries on the market rounds recently, it gave me a little spice in my step. Brilliant, shiny cherries straight from the market are the ideal end to a meal. Just put them in a big bowl and bring them to the table – instant delicious dessert.