The warm weather lately has turned my thoughts to springtime. Arkansas weather tendencies being what they are, I admit that these thoughts may yet be premature, but there’s no denying that everything around us seems tensed and ready to bud and sprout and get all that allergy-inducing pollen going. And while I love winter, with its rich soups and comfort food, I always look forward to the fresh vegetables of the spring and early summer. We can, of course, get most any vegetables around here in the wintertime, too – but no hothouse-grown tomato trucked in from elsewhere can hope to hold a candle to a vine-ripened Arkansas tomato, and there isn’t a cucumber anywhere right now that will taste as clean and good as the one grown in somebody’s back yard during the season. With that in mind, I’d like to get a small head start on the spring by presenting a few simple and tasty things that you can prepare with all the yummy things that will be available just around the corner.
- 1 quart ripe strawberries, hulled and sliced in half (or quarters for larger berries)
- 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- cracked black pepper
- fresh mint, cut chiffonade
Place your sliced berries in a bowl with the vinegar and sugar. Allow to macerate for an hour, then serve on a plate with a sprinkle of the pepper and as much mint as you like. These berries are also quite good on ice cream.
Quick Radish Pickles
I got this method of making radish pickles from David Chang’s Momofuku cookbook. They’re good as a snack or on a salad.
- 6-8 spring radishes. Radishes in the spring time are smaller and sweeter than their winter counterparts.
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
To make these simple pickles, just slice your radishes into thin wedges and toss with the salt and sugar. Allow them to sit for 5-10 minutes and then enjoy them! This is one of my favorite snacks on a hot day.
- 1 pint grape (or cherry) tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1-2 cucumbers, peeled with the seeds scooped out and chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
- olive oil
- red wine vinegar
Toss the tomatoes, cucumbers, and dill together with a generous glug of olive oil and a few dashes olive oil. Salt to taste, and allow to sit in the fridge for half an hour or so for best taste. This is a great salad to serve as a side dish or as a light lunch. Enjoy!