A Promise of Spring: Two Recipes

by Melody Wren

Welcome the arrival of Spring by creating dishes that celebrate nature’s bounty. Some ingredients create a fusion so delicious, it’s as if they were grown to be eaten together. Peas and new crops of lettuce, or mint and baby spinach combine flavors and when food is fresh and seasonal, you don’t need to do much to it,.

Spring Green Pea and Boston Lettuce Soup

¼ cup butter
½ cup finely chopped green onions
3 tbsp flour
7 cups chicken stock
1 head of Boston lettuce, shredded
8 spinach leaves, shredded
5 cups fresh or frozen small peas
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup whipping cream
Chopped green onions for garnish

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and cook onions until translucent, stirring frequently. Stir in salt, pepper to taste and the flour and over low heat, continue cooking for two minutes. Stir in chicken stock. Add lettuce, spinach, four cups of peas and the sugar. Bring to the boil, cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook 40 minutes. Meanwhile, cook remaining 1 cup of peas until barely tender in a small quantity of salted water, drain and set aside. Puree soup in a blender or with a hand stick blender and transfer to a clean saucepan. Stir in cream.

To serve: heat through and add whole peas and ladle into warm soup bowls. Garnish each bowl with chopped green onions. Makes 8 servings. 

Acorn Squash with Quinoa, Spinach, and Mint (photo above) 

*adapted from “Yum and Yummer” by Greata Podleski, One Spoon Media

Gluten free and can be made vegetarian/vegan

This dish can be served as a vegetarian meal or I often add crumbled goat cheese to the top if I need a hit of protein.  Use the squash as your bowl, clean- up is easy.

2 medium acorn squash
1 tbsp melted butter or vegan spread
2 tsp pure maple syrup
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 ¾ cups chicken broth
1 cup uncooked quinoa
½ cup dried currants or sultanas
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp curry
½ tsp coriander
2 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped
¼ cup sliced almonds
2 tbsp minced fresh mint

Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash squash, pat dry and cut in half crosswise. Scoop seeds out and place on parchment lined baking sheet.

In a small bowl, whisk together butter, maple syrup, and cinnamon.  Brush over cut sides of squash and inside cavity. Roast squash for one hour until caramelized and very tender. 

Meanwhile, make filling. In a medium pot, bring broth and quinoa to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and add currants, cumin, coriander and salt. Cover and simmer 12 to 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed and quinoa is cooked. Remove from heat, stir in spinach , cover and let stand for 10 minutes until squash is ready.

When squash is done, add almonds and mint into quinoa mixture. Stuff quinoa into empty squash cavities until overflowing.  

If protein is needed, sprinkle crumbled goat feta over each squash half on top of quinoa mixture.