Spring Onion and Quinoa Soup with Roasted Asparagus
My friend Terry Walters has brought food to another level of healing in my life by showing me that cooking can be a meditation. I recently attended a sourdough workshop with Terry and experienced firsthand the mindful experience of preparing and cooking food together. Enjoy her beautiful seasonal soup, and don’t miss her latest book.
THIS SOUP IS EVERYTHING I WANT FROM A SPRING MEAL. Its broth is infused with the sweetness of spring onions, and high-protein quinoa adds just enough body to satisfy. I roast the asparagus first and add it last so that it retains its taste and texture, adding another dimension to this soup that always hits the spot.
1 bunch asparagus
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 medium spring onions
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
6 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon mirin
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Bend asparagus near bottom of stalks to break off dried ends at natural breaking point. Discard ends and cut remaining stalks on an angle into 2-inch pieces. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and spread on baking sheet. Roast 20 minutes or until asparagus is tender and lightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside. Trim spring onions and slice white bulbs and light green stems into thin rounds (discard dark green stems). Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add sliced onions and garlic. Sauté until onions start to soften (about 2 minutes). Rinse quinoa, add to mixture and toast 2 minutes to lightly toast. Add stock and mirin and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered until quinoa is tender (about 20 minutes). Season to taste with salt and pepper, keeping in mind that soup will get saltier from roasted asparagus. Top each serving with a scoopful of roasted asparagus and serve. Note: Spring onions can be hard to find, not because they’re not available, but because grocery stores tend to label them inconsistently. Look for slightly overgrown scallions with a rounder white bulb.
Recipe credit: Eat Clean Live Well, Sterling Publishing, 2014 ©Terry Walters
Fiddlehead Fern Curry
Nature guides us in the rebirth it brings forth each spring. Our native flora and fauna provide an effortless example of this transition. The efficiency of nature to produce exactly what we need to flourish is an undeniable brilliance. Fiddlehead ferns are a perfect example. Ascetically, they tease the senses with their unfurling beauty, beckoning the sunshine, rain, and air to open them to their full potential. And they are a nutritional powerhouse, filled with vitamins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids, making them a fantastic spring energizer.
Enjoy this beautiful recipe from my editor and cookbook author Leda Scheintaub.
The fiddlehead fern, the magical furled fronds of a young fern, looks like the scroll at the end of a violin. The taste is grassy, with hints of asparagus and artichoke. They are available only for a short time during the season, and they are a true wild food, only found through foraging. (Note that many varieties of fern are poisonous, so make sure you’re well informed before you decide to search out your own, and do not eat them raw, as raw fiddleheads can cause gastric upset.)
I had no idea that ferns were also savored in Southeast Asia until I flipped through my copy of James Oseland’s Cradle of Flavor to find his recipe for an Indonesian fern curry. This recipe is adapted from his, with some added Indian flavor notes to tailor the dish to the menu of our South Indian food truck, Dosa Kitchen, based in Brattleboro, Vermont.
Serves 6 as a side dish
1 pound (about 6 cups) fiddlehead ferns
1 large red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 to 2 small fresh green chiles, or to taste
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup coconut milk
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon jaggery or unrefined brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Clean the fiddleheads: Brush away as much of the light brown papery sheath from the fiddleheads as possible, then wash the fiddleheads in several changes of cold water.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the fiddleheads, return to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes. Drain, then rinse the fiddleheads. Rinse the saucepan, dry it, and return it to the stovetop.
Meanwhile, combine the red onion, garlic, chile, and ginger in a food processor and process to a paste, scraping the sides of the machine as needed and adding a little water if necessary to loosen it.
Heat the oil in the saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds and leave for about 30 seconds, until they start to pop. Add the red onion paste and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the paste thickens and no longer smells raw.
Add ¾ cup of the coconut milk, 1 cup water, and the fiddleheads. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the fiddleheads are tender and a darker shade of green, about 10 minutes.
Add the salt and jaggery and stir in the remaining ¼ cup coconut milk. Return to a simmer to heat through. Turn off the heat, add the lime juice, taste, and adjust the seasonings with salt, jaggery, and lime juice if needed. Stir in the cilantro and serve.
Spring Season Ginger Lemon Tea
Welcome to kapha season! In Ayurveda, this late winter/early spring season brings with it so much possibility. After a long dormant period, kapha season is a time of rebirth and growth, a time of shedding old habits and emotions. It’s when we begin to lighten up, dry out, warm up, and move, balancing kapha’s earthy qualities: heavy, moist, cool, and dull. This invigorating, pungent, and slightly sweet drink will assist in detoxifying your body and clearing allergies as you transition into the new season.
- 4 cups hot water
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
- 1-inch piece turmeric root, chopped, or 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 to 2 tablespoons raw honey
In a blender, combine the hot water, ginger, turmeric, and lemon juice and blend until the ginger and turmeric are broken down. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into mugs, pressing on the solids to extract all the liquid. Stir half of the honey into each mug. Sip and enjoy throughout the day.
Janelle Salzman, contributor