Eat This

April 11, 2014 at 11:52 am

tomato mountain spinach

Ok, you’re walking right past the asparagus display this week at Whole Foods. Right. You don’t feel the need to violate your eat local principles just because it’s “Spring.” Shelling fava beans does not meet some primordial call of the Motherland does it. You can resist the urge/a> to have peas, because, frankly unless they’re frozen you’re really not getting good peas now anyways.

What passes for the Spring season is still weeks away in the Chicago area. Can you manage as a locavore. Of course. Commit to eating local now and you’ll never waver. Scoff at those who think they have to put distant items on their menus now. You are eating this instead.

For instance, frost kissed spinach season came very (very) late this year. Normally, we’d be extolling the virtues of cold grown Wisconsin spinach in the middle of winter, but this year it got too cold even for this green. It’s finally arrived. It’s a true treat of the season. Unlike shipped in asparagus and peas that will taste wane, imitations of what they can be. This will taste alive and special. It carries sweetness a plant creates when battling against the elements. Do you think those coddled California plants do that. It’s highly versatile. You can bring frost kissed, local spinach, across a spectrum of temperatures from raw, as a salad; wilted (as a salad again!), sauteed, to more fully braised. What you get this time of year is so ample you can expand your repertoire. Make local dolmades with the giant leaves. Use the stems as an entire second cutting of the species. Juice to detox.

Need another unique, seasonal, treat? How about over-wintered parsnips. Something else the everlasting gardens out West cannot duplicate. You can get asparagus later. Can you get these roots with flavors amped up by extra time in the ground. Again, cold is our friend. Again, the plant in battling the elements produces something tastier, special.

You can find what’s in season now, now. Irv and Shelly have local spinach on their roster. The Vivacious Condiment Queen should also have spinach at the year-round Evanston market. Growing Power is a great source for seasonal parsnips. When your friends wonder how you did not put asparagus on your Seder table; peas on the Easter buffet, you can tell them, eat this. This local stuff actually in season.