Put your winter woes aside, friends. Spring is arriving in slow trickles, whispers, pops and things that go whooooosh. The sun is borderline blinding me as it streams down onto my desk and I cannot be bothered to draw that shade. We’ve waited too long. The grass is shifting from yellow-green-brown muck to actual fresh, emerald-hued blades (that rustle in the wind! So great.). There’s a mighty anticipation of what is surely wonderful–it’s just around the corner, the most minuscule shred of time longer.
Still, there’s nothing definitively “spring” available at the markets currently. It will be a while before the ground fully thaws and turns those seeds and roots into something nourishing and delicious (looking at you asparagus, breakfast radishes, wild leeks and peas). Until then, some more cool-weather items and sprouted goods will appease my craving for fresh, totally crisp, high-vibe things. Are you all kind of feeling this now too? The need for crunchy, fresh, higher-water-content kind of foods? I’ve been wanting giant salads and green drinks all the time. I think my body is ready for a seasonal warm up, so I’ve been giving myself what I need to move on to the next seasonal moment. Plenty of vegetables, fresh juices, herbal tea and So. Much. Water.
One of the local grocers always has a wonderful selection of fresh sprouts. There’s daikon radish, various herbs, pea shoots, wheatgrass and my favourite: sunflower sprouts. I picked up a pot of them for a radicchio salad with some cider-pickled beets I had made and a bit of sprouted wild rice. I decided at the last second to make these into more of a portable salad thing with a sweet, chive-flecked vinaigrette to take the bitter edge off of the radicchio wrap. They ended up being exactly what I wanted. The sprouted rice is chewy, the beets are still crisp and nicely acidic, sprouts for freshness and hemp seeds for nuttiness. If you enjoy cheese, a happy sprinkling of sheep’s milk feta would be quite pleasant I think.
I offer instructions for pickling the beets in the refrigerator style here. I love doing this with winter vegetables and it couldn’t be easier to rig up. Equal parts water and vinegar of your choice, spices, herbs, little salt and sweetening, all heated up. Pour it on top of vegetables packed in a jar, put the lid on and leave it in the fridge for 5-7 days. Super low maintenance and plenty of crunchy, tangy things for salads and snacks throughout the week. Sprouting the wild rice is similarly low key. Just place the rice in a jar, cover it with plenty of water and put a lid on it. Change the water twice a day for 2-3 days until you start seeing the white of the rice coming out and some curling up in the grains. Delightfully chewy complex carbohydrates are now at your disposal (back in the high life again, guys). If you can’t wait a couple days to sprout it, you could always stir in some cooked wild rice on the more al denté side. The chew-factor is so important.
I would love to know how you all ease into the warmer weather as it slowly seeps in. Do you cook up and eat anything special? Start going to yoga more? Do you obsessively seek out green things? Are you contemplating a juice fast/feast? (I feel like everyone around me is) Do you listen to awesome throwback 80s-style jams? I’m so curious about all of yous :)
Oh and! A lovely gal I know has started a thoroughly rad book blog called Algonquin Side Table. It’s wonderful for decidedly casual readers like myself because Rebecca’s voice is so approachable. This week, she asked me to take part in a bit of a bookshelf interview, all pertaining to cookbooks and works on food! If you’d like to sneak a look at my bookshelves and take in some of my favourites you can check it out here.
sprout + crunch radicchio cups w/ honey chive vinaigrette and avocado recipe
serves: makes 8-12 cups
notes: If you don’t love the bitter quality of radicchio, you could sub a head of boston/butter lettuce in.
cider-pickled beets ingredients:
1 medium golden beet, peeled
1 bay leaf
1 white from a green onion (I only used this because I had a few)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp raw honey or agave nectar
honey chive vinaigrette ingredients:
2 tbsp white balsamic or wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp raw honey or agave nectar
salt + pepper
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped chives + extra for garnish
radicchio cups ingredients:
1 large head of radicchio, core removed
1 heaped cup of sprouted or cooked wild rice
3/4 cup chopped cider-pickled beets
big handful sunflower sprouts
1/4 cup hulled hemp seeds
1 batch honey chive vinaigrette
1/2 ripe avocado, peeled + pitted
salt + pepper
Make the cider-pickled beets: cut the beet in half lengthwise and then cut each half into thin slices. Pack them into a clean 2-cup+ capacity jar, leaving about a 1/2 inch of space at the top. Tuck the bay leaf, black peppercorns and green onion bulb into the jar too. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the apple cider vinegar, water, salt + agave/honey. Bring it to a boil and pour the mixture into the jar with the beets until all of the slices are covered. Put a lid on the jar, place it in the fridge and let it do its thing for 5-7 days.
Once you’ve removed the core from the radicchio, carefully pull off whole leaves. Once you have 8-12 or so, wrap them in damp paper towel until you’re ready to fill them.
Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the white wine vinegar, dijon mustard, honey/agave, salt and pepper until combined. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while you whisk the vinaigrette together. Add the chives and whisk once more. Check for seasoning and set aside.
Make the filling: In a medium bowl, combine the sprouted wild rice, chopped pickled beets, sunflower sprouts, hemp seeds, all of the honey-chive vinaigrette, salt and pepper. Toss until everything is evenly mixed.
Place the radicchio leaves on a platter and spoon the wild rice + beet mixture into the cups. Dice the avocado and garnish the cups with it. Sprinkle some extra chopped chives on top and serve.