We’ve bean waiting so long!
Finally, after weeks of second winters and miscommunications with our groundhog friends, the wait for springtime is over. Of course, along with budding tree buds and longer days, late March and the majority of April are also the most beautiful months for crisp spring vegetables, many of which are both delicious and incredibly sustainable to grow and eat.
Beets, broad beans, cabbage, carrots, mustard greens, onions, parsnips, peas, radishes, spinach and swiss chard are only a few examples of the types of vegetables currently growing in Canada in both greenhouses and city gardens. They say that nothing tastes better than spring, and we can’t help but agree!
Green, lean and delicious, here are two easy, restaurant-inspired ways to celebrate the season.
BUT FIRST: A note about sustainable salmon
For the first recipe, I used Presidents Choice sustainably-sourced smoked wild sockeye salmon. Sustainable salmon can be a bit pricey but the long-term benefits are worth the extra money. According to the David Suzuki Foundation, many salmon farming practices have failed to be sustainable.
Wild salmon are needed to sustain everything from orca whales to coastal wolves. Even cedar trees in coastal rainforests depend on salmon because they harvest nutrients from fish remains left by bears. Fishing in bays and outlets with nets requires too many chemicals our over-polluted oceans don’t need. Nets also catch other wild mammals, killing thousands of harbour seals and sea lions yearly.
The answer is closed containment farming, which separates farmed fish from wild fish and the environment, allowing waste, escapes, and spread of disease and sea lice to be controlled.
You can help by making safe and sustainable choices when grocery shopping. Support safe salmon farming and look to the SeaChoice guide or the Marine Stewardship Council logo when shopping.
Salmon Salade Niçoise
This salad is inspired by the classic Salade Niçoise from the south of France and features all the usual suspects—namely potatoes, green beans and anchovies, as well as Canadian smoked salmon and a maple-garlic vinaigrette for a uniquely local twist. As you’re making the vinaigrette, add more olive oil or vinegar to taste. If you like your dressing sweet, feel free to add as much maple syrup as you’d like.
- For the vinaigrette:
- 1 1/2 tablespoons red vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped very finely
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- For the Salad:
- 1 small packet Canadian smoked salmon** *
- 1 packet flat beans (or any other long beans, unfrozen)
- 1 cup baby potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut in half
- 3 medium tomatoes (local if possible), sliced thinly
- 3 organic eggs, hard-cooked and peeled**
- 1/2 cup olives
- 2 cups spring lettuce, washed and chopped
- Stir together all ingredients for dressing in a small bowl and then pour half the dressing into a large serving bowl.
- Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the beans and cook until easily pierced with a fork, about 6-10 minutes. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon into the bowl with the vinaigrette.
- While the beans are cooking, cook the eggs in a very small simmering saucepan under high heat until desired consistency. It takes 5 minutes of cooking for runny yolks, 6 minutes for soft yolks and 8 minutes for solid yolks, typically. Once cooked, take out and run under cold water. Either slice or add to serving bowl whole.
- In the same large pot (beans and potatoes have different cooking times so it’s easier to cook them separately), add the potatoes. Cook just until they are tender through, about 15 minutes. Drain and add to the serving bowl. Mix with spoon until covered in dressing.
- Take salmon out of packet and cut as desired. Add to bowl, along with tomatoes, olives and spring lettuce and mix.
- Add the rest of the vinaigrette and serve, adding any extra herbs, seafood or spices you’d like!
** If you’re vegan. Feel free to omit the eggs and salmon or substitute with avocado and smoked tofu, or vegan smoked salmon, for a similar feel.
Quick Spring Pickle
This delicious recipe is inspired by eastern-European quick pickles, which many of us grew up with. In pre-refrigerator times, these pickles were a simple way to preserve vegetables or fruits by submerging them in salty or sweet brine flavored with spices and herbs. The acidic environment of the brines stops bacteria from growing and multiplying, essentially making them spoil-proof. Vegetables you can use for this pickle include asparagus, carrots and of course baby spring cucumbers.
- Carrots or asparagus, cut lengthwise into thick but long slices
- 8 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 tsp peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp celery seed
- 1/4 tsp fennel seed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 3 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional, or use less)
- 4 cups water
- 3 tbsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- Two large mason jars
- Mix all the dry spices together and separate into the jars, as well as the prepared vegetables.
- In a saucepan, bring the water, salt and vinegar to a boil for a couple minutes. Carefully and slowly, pour the hot brine into the jars until totally submerged. Cool completely and place in fridge.
- After just an hour, eat! These pickles will continue pickling and stay fresh in the fridge for two months.