Spring Greening

May 23, 2012

Recipes, The Acupunc Eats

So far everyone I’ve talked to this week seems to be in a bad mood. Maybe it was last weekend’s solar eclipse, maybe it’s the weather. Anyway, it’s not unusual for this time of year.

Spring is a time of great transition. As the weather gets warmer, flowers bloom, trees leaf out and us humans begin to feel a burst of energy and optimism about easy summer beach days… But spring is also a time of inbetween-ness, at least in New England. It’s been hot and cold and impossible to figure out if we should be retreating inside or running barefoot through grass.

In Chinese medicine, the spring season is related to wood, which sprouts green shoots this time of year. On a physiological level, this is related to the classical interpretation of the liver, which controls the coming and going of energy and emotions. Warmth makes wood sprout quickly, which can manifest as a burst of manic behavior, or extreme anger. And with the fickle weather we’ve been having lately, it can get kind of hard for our livers to figure out whether things should be coming or going, relaxed or wound up, happy, angry or depressed.

The good news is that all the wonderful just-in-season spring greens like asparagus, fiddlehead ferns, nettles, watercress, arugula and ramps, are perfectly designed to help ease this transition, both emotionally and physiologically. This is just one remarkable example of how conscientiously eating seasonally is eating healthily.  If you’ve only ever had steamed asparagus, I highly recommend the following recipe, which I have become especially fond of. Made with uber fresh eggs, ramps, lemon, asparagus and fiddlehead ferns, your liver (and taste buds) will thank you.

Springtime Asparagus and Fiddleheads with Ramps, Lemon, and Eggs

Recipe adapted from Cook This Now by Melissa Clark, a fantastic seasonal cookbook organized by what produce is available each month.

You may be a little surprised that I recommend frying in butter. Like a lot of nutrition advice, warnings of butter being bad for us is complete mythology. Butter from grassfed cows is an amazing thing, as it remains soft even refrigerated. That’s because, like coconut oil (which is also awesome), it contains short and medium saturated fats, which help boost the immune system, and are quickly broken down into energy (i.e. not stored as love handles). It’s also an excellt source of vitamins A and E. And, of course, it tastes amazing. Why keep depriving yourself?

If you cannot find ramps, you can substitute 2 sliced shallots for the ramp bulbs and a handful of chopped chives for the leaves. If you can find ramps, buy lots. They store quite well and they’re pretty much the most delicious vegetable on earth. 

  • 1 bunch ramps (about 4 ounces), roots trimmed
  • 3 Tb unsalted butter or high-oleic sunflower seed oil
  • 3/4 tsp salt (or dulce), plus more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 3 thin lemon slices, each round cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 large bunch asparagus (about 1/2 lb), trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 handfuls of fiddlehead ferns, ends trimmed (don’t collect these yourself unless you really know what ostrich ferns look like)
  • 6 large free-range eggs

Remove the leaves from the ramps and finely chop them; thinly slice the white bulbs.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sliced ramp bulbs and lemon wedges and cook, stirring until slightly softened, about 2 minutes.

Add the asparagus, fiddleheads, ramp leaves, salt and pepper. Cover and cook, checking and stirring occasionally, until the asparagus is tender, 4-5 minutes. Scrape the mixture onto a plate. 

Crack the eggs into the skillet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until the edges are set, about 2 minutes. Cover the pan and cook until the eggs are completely set, about one minute more. Spoon the eggs onto the asparagus-fiddlehead-ramp mixture and serve.

Yields 2-6 servings, depending on appetite.

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One Comment on “Spring Greening”

  1. frugalfeeding Says:

    Stunning photos – I’m really enjoying all the green stuff this spring.


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