Spring has been right around the corner for a little longer than we’re accustomed to this year in Calgary.
So with trees just starting to bud and gardens sitting unplanted, here are a few ways to make it seem like spring — in your kitchen, at least.
1) Grow microgreens
You can buy them at many grocery stores or garden centres. Or start your own peas, radishes, sunflower, kale or any number of little green things on your kitchen windowsill and harvest the shoots for salads, sandwiches or to top your dinner — restaurant-style.
2) Make your own ricotta
Fresh ricotta tastes like spring — it’s perfect dabbed on toast, tossed with pasta, atop a pizza or in little tartlets. Or spread it on crunchy crostini, topped with microgreens and a pinch of black pepper or a drizzle of honey.
All you need to do is heat four cups whole milk to 190˚F, remove it from the heat and stir in a big pinch of salt and 3 Tbsp. lemon juice.
Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve. Let it sit over a bowl for an hour, and you’ll have your own homemade ricotta.
3) Keep fresh herbs
They’re available all over the city already, and with more sunlight streaming in the windows, they’ll be easier to grow indoors.
If you wind up with an abundance, pick some sprigs and spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Dry in a 200˚F oven for a couple hours, then rub the leaves off the stems to preserve.
Alternatively, tie bundles with kitchen twine, then hang it upside down with a small paper bag over it, lampshade style to keep away dust for several days or until completely dry. Or blend fresh herbs into a paste with some olive or canola oil and freeze in ice-cube trays.
4) Make some pesto
Once you get your hands on some fresh basil, spring greens or baby kale, make a batch of pesto to spread on salmon, toss with pasta or spread over pizza crust. It goes very well with that homemade ricotta and thinly-sliced prosciutto.
Baby Kale & Spring Greens Pesto
- 4 cups torn baby kale, chard, spinach or basil
- ½ cup almonds, toasted
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
- juice of half a lemon
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
Place your baby greens in the bowl of a food processor with the walnuts, parmesan, garlic and lemon juice and pulse until well mulched. With the motor running, pour in the olive oil, blending and scraping down the side of the bowl, until well blended and roughly smooth. Season with pepper.
Serve immediately or refrigerate in a jar for up to a week. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.