Local Food Travels: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

We spend time in far northern Michigan every summer. Much of upper Michigan is a wild and remote place; small towns are separated by forests, lakes, and incredible stretches of natural beauty. The regional culture is one of resilience, creativity, and intense local pride. Not surprisingly, local foods are also a special part of the region.

“Local” isn’t anything new in the U.P. – those who live through the long winters and brilliant, brief summers have always turned to native plants, fish, and wildlife to sustain themselves.

Upper Michigan has a wealth of natural resources, including mineral deposits; native American tribes mined copper in the Keweenaw Peninsula between 5000 BCE and 1200 BCE.  Mining has long defined this region; in the 19th and 20th centuries, industrial mining brought immigrants from all over Europe to find copper for a rapidly-industrializing American economy. Some of those immigrants were from Cornwall, and they brought with them the Cornish meat pie – the pasty. U.P. pasties traditionally have minced meat and root vegetables (usually rutabaga), and in a restaurant you’ll be asked if you want gravy or ketchup with your meal. (Note: Gravy is for tourists.) Today, locals and tourists alike enjoy pasties with an impressive array of craft beer produced in local microbreweries.

Lake Superior is the deepest of the Great Lakes, and it is better understood for what it is: an inland, freshwater sea. Local fish is prized for its abundance and clean flavor. Lake Superior whitefish can be found on nearly every menu. I loved the ubiquitous fish taco when I was visiting Southern California, but modern Yooper cooks have mastered the Lake Superior whitefish taco:

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Tourists come to the U.P., and to Copper Harbor, in particular, to hike, kayak, hunt, ski, and snowmobile. Recently, the U.P. has become well-known for world-class mountain bike trails (initially, this was our reason for visiting). We go back to Copper Harbor every summer because we can’t get enough of this quiet town on the very northern point of the Keweenaw Penninsula.

We also truly appreciate the unaffected attitude towards local foods, too. In summertime, thimbleberries are prolific in the woods and fields all around town, and you will find jams for sale at the shops – be sure to pick up some thimbleberry jam. (If you’re really into jam, a visit to The Jampot is utterly necessary.)  In Copper Harbor, Jamson’s Bakery makes exceptional fruit turnovers and muffins with these local berries early every morning for mountain bikers and trekkers waiting to board the ferry to Isle Royale.

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Until next year, Copper Harbor.

 

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The rocky shoreline.

Unloved Veggies: Fennel

wild fennel in western washington

Raw, natural fennel must look pretty weird to a lot of market shoppers. Fennel bulbs don’t enjoy the broad recognition of other summer favorites like tomatoes and peppers. Also, having a reputation for “tasting like black licorice” is probably a turn off when you’re looking for dinner items. I’m here to tell you that this goofy-looking vegetable is truly a gem – and it really doesn’t taste like old-fashioned candy (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).

A good source of vitamin C and potassium, fennel bulb and fennel seed are recognized for having medicinal qualities; try having a few slices of raw fennel after a meal as a digestive. It is also an ingredient in absinthe. Raw fennel does have a licorice-like flavor, but it’s quite subtle. If you roast or cook it, that flavor recedes even further into the background.

Distinct, contrasting flavors compliment fennel’s unique flavor. It shines in raw salads – try it in Mediterranean-style dishes that include citrus, olive oil, and fresh herbs. I simply slice it and add it to whatever lettuce salad I’m making.

mandoline for thin slices

Perhaps because fennel is hard and crunchy, using a sharp knife or a mandoline to shave it is a great way to ensure that you get the right ratio of fennel to other salad ingredients. Here are some ideas for raw fennel salads:

Not into raw? Roasted fennel is also great paired with your veggie favorites, such as potatoes and carrots. Chicken and pork are good partners. This roasted, curried fennel would be a great meatless side. So would this one for roasted fennel, chickpeas, peppers and grapes.

thin-sliced fennel

Feeling a little adventurous? Try pickling it – this recipe has that classic pairing with citrus; you can make it spicy and sweet or tangy.

Fennel is in season here in central Illinois from July to September, though usually you can find fresh fennel at the Thanksgiving Market (my family requests it every year!). That’s a good thing, because once you try it, you’re going to want more!

 

 

Unloved Veggies: Eggplant

At the market yesterday I spotted a riot of beautiful, colorful, almost chocolate-hued eggplants and brought home…several. My husband took one look at this (artfully arranged) aubergine convention on the counter and said, “I will eat one meal with that.”

A lot of people feel this way about eggplant. In fact, we’ve had more requests for eggplant help than any other veggie. Many vow that this is the one item in the CSA share that will always be left on the “trade” table. Far be it for me to tell people what they should like, but I’ll try to suggest some preparations that might pique your interest in this very versatile vegetable.

Eggplants come in many varieties. At the market you may spot them in shades of the deepest purple or edging closer to lavender; you can find shapes that are akin to that of zucchini squash and also squat, stout ones. (Ask your farmers to tell you about the ones they grow!) You, like me, might buy them for their sheer aesthetic qualities, and then wonder what you could possibly make with it that your family members will actually eat.

Eggplant’s meaty texture adds great volume and depth to a dish. (Having said that, I think one complaint is the eggplant is mushy – solve that problem by cooking it briefly or gently or just not too much.) I like it best with strong flavors – smoky or garlicky and especially anything that includes tomatoes and tomato sauce. (You’ll find endless ideas for eggplant by exploring Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines.)

Eggplant easily adapts to any flavor profile – to me it’s one of those “canvas” veggies that you can project anything onto.

A friend who has spent a good deal of time in Spain suggests grilling eggplant whole and unpeeled on top of smoldering coals (not on the grill grates – right on the coals! You need to use hardwood lump charcoal for this – not regular charcoal). I love this because it involves no actual prep work – no slicing or oiling or anything. My kind of prep.

You could also grill-roast the eggplant for baba ganoush.

Where I grew up, lots of Greek families run family-style restaurants (“Coney Islands,”) where you can find homemade moussaka on the menu alongside Coney dogs (“coneys”), Greek salads, burgers and all-day breakfast. Greek cuisine is also known for vegetarian variations like this one.

We had big plans to grill a bunch of things tonight in preparation for weeknight meals, including eggplant – and we plumb ran out of time and energy. (True story: we went out for gyros.) But I wanted to prep this pile o’aubergines on the counter for use later. I like adding roasted eggplant chunks in a quick pasta meal, for instance, and if it’s already cooked that’s a bonus. Also, if I didn’t roast them tonight (remember, my kitchen counter held enough to feed a family of 12) I might not make them at all. Worst case, I can roast and freeze them, because in the middle of January I love being able to pull summer veggies out of the freezer for lasagna.

Before roasting, I like to pull out some of the moisture in the eggplant by sprinkling it with salt (let it sit for 30-60 minutes before roasting – the photo above shows just how much water gets pulled to the surface when you do that). Right now, I have a casserole dish of roasted eggplant slices ready to go into a quick weekday dinner

Eggplant is a fantastic vegetable to layer in lasagna; you could also make a beautiful eggplant terrine with zucchini and feta (that’s late summer in a dish, right there). It is a team player in any kind of casserole.

I tend to get a bit myopic when it comes to eggplant, focusing on the westernized menus. But eggplant actually came from the east, and there are no shortage of options when you look for uses in Asian cuisines. This stir-fry is on my list to try. The food writer Mark Bittman intriguingly suggests that you microwave (quick and easy! Not soggy!) eggplant in this south Indian curry.  Since we are in the quick-and-easy vein, try this 30-minute curry from Rachael Ray.

Let’s hope I managed to make this unloved veggie a little more enticing.

Enjoy!

I Can Grill That?

Last week I found out that one could grill green beans. My first thought was, “don’t they fall between the grates?” (HAHAHA.) (No, really, that really was my first thought.) It turns out that beans do very nicely with a bit of char – you can use a grill basket or heavy duty aluminum foil. But it made me wonder: what other vegetables can I grill? Here is a short list of recipes with veggies that you’re sure to see at the market this week.

Corn. (Corn!) Everyone’s favorite. If you make this, you can also make this. And this. (Trust me, elote is going to be your new obsession.) Grilled corn is beautiful with grilled sweet peppers, too.

So…PEPPERS. Are you a fan of jalapeño poppers? Well, here you go. (No need to go out for this anymore – make it at home with truly excellent, local peppers.) And if you’re a fan of spicy dishes, try a grilled jalapeño potato salad. 

Squashes and zucchini are a popular choice, and you can add any range of flavor profiles – even just a bit of sea salt. Here is one with basil (definitely in season!), and it’s also great with mint. Oh heck – here’s one more. It’s just all so good.

Eggplant is another veggie that loves the heat. This recipe might just make an eggplant lover out of a skeptic (I know you’re out there!). I love that this dish has an easy, flavorful yogurt sauce. Looks fancy; very easy.

Panzanella (bread and vegetable salad): another summer classic.

Fruit! Grilled peaches can pair with a main course as a side, shine in a salad, or as a super-easy dessert.

Lettuce! (Yes, lettuce!) Romaine lettuce, in particular, holds up just fine to a hot grill.  (At the market, you might try another variety – ask a farmer which varieties are sturdy like Romaine.) Lots of flavor options with this, too.

And while we are on the subject of lettuce, we should consider how salads don’t just come in the cold and raw variety (or even include lettuce, of course). Great salads often combine both hot and cold elements, cooked (or grilled) and raw ingredients, salty/sweet/crunchy, etc. It’s all about having a combination of flavors and textures – and using local, fresh veggies means that the flavor is going to be just that much better (and will need very little dressing up!). Check out this grilled corn and nectarine salad (you could easily sub peaches).

Lastly…BEER CAN CABBAGE. (Seriously!) Why let the chickens have all the fun? (And you can grill cabbage without a beer can, too.)

We are in the heyday of summer vegetables. I can’t stop smiling. You, too?

Happy summer, and enjoy.

Green Bean Celebration

This being July (!), we’re now seeing the incredible bounty of summer, especially the fresh version of our favorites that we wait for all year long. I HAVE IT ON GOOD WORD that green beans will arrive at this Saturday’s market just in time for your 4th of July celebrations.

Green beans have got to be one of our most familiar veggies – but if you’re feeling a little stuck for something new, they are also extremely versatile. Here are some ideas for new twists on this crowd-pleasing veggie:

Enjoy!

Week 8: Market Menu

Are we really two months into market season? It’s been a great one so far: beautiful spring greens are about to give way to the veggies that come with the heat of mid-summer. Are you ready? Yeah – we are, too!

So what’s new this week at the market? TOMATOES! We should start seeing early-season tomatoes coming, though getting some is probably going to require your showing up in time for the starting bell. I heard a rumor that, last week, one farmer brought a small number of her first tomatoes to the market and (thoughtfully) rationed them to one per customer to an eager line of tomato-lovers. That’s the kind of pent-up demand for “real” tomatoes you see in June at the market!

Here’s a question that farmers at the market get a lot: what makes a vegetable an “heirloom” variety?

Commercial tomatoes sold in most grocery stores have been grown from plants that were developed to withstand cross-country shipping and distribution. In short, they are bred for durability rather than taste. Heirloom tomatoes are often very delicate, come in a range of colors (even striped!) and have distinctive flavor profiles.

In season in June: Green beans, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, cucumber, spinach, squash, potatoes...

Breakfast Ideas:

Hot outside? A cucumber-pineapple smoothie is going to be a nice way to keep cool.

If you’re one of the lucky shoppers who got the prized early tomatoes, slice one up and enjoy it with a crispy egg and whole grain toast from one of our market bakers. (What? You’re not doing the crispy egg? My friend, we have to talk.)

Enjoy some berries from Normal’s amazing Refuge Food Forest over yogurt and homemade granola (way easier than you think!). (Feeling adventurous? Consider making your own yogurt – both Common Ground Grocery and Green Top Grocery carry Kilgus Farms dairy milk. It is way easier than you think!)

Lunch Ideas:

This is the time of year when I start to keep a bowl of cucumber salad in the fridge at all times. I keep making it, and we keep eating it. I usually don’t do much beyond slicing cucs, putting them in a bowl with enough water to cover, and add a bit of vinegar and sugar (a teaspoon or two each) until I like the balance (here is a recipe for something very similar). My grandmother made them this way, and also sometimes with sour cream. Like many salads, there are wonderful variations on this theme across a world of cuisines, which should keep you from getting bored of cucumbers for quite some time.

You might pair this with a healthy and hearty lentil salad or chick pea salad. In our household, we try to cook extra proteins over the weekend if we are grilling so we can add leftovers to salads, too.

Caprese salads have become a summer standby – grab some basil and fresh mozzarella to go with your farm fresh tomatoes and you’re in business.

Other salad ideas for lunch or dinner: broccoli salad (again, so many variations here). My version includes a slightly sweet dressing (yogurt, vinegar or lemon juice, a teaspoon of sugar) and sometimes raisins, apples, and/or carrots.

And I adore this lemon tahini kale salad from the Good Health Gourmet (gluten-free friends, check out this blog – wonderful recipes and gorgeous photos!).

Dinner Ideas:

Summer can mean that meals get a lot simpler. I’m always looking for shortcuts because I’m not eager to spend too much time on cooking (but I still want to eat well!). So…

Rotisserie chicken. Grilled hot dogs with chowchow, a southern condiment staple. We love our bratwurst in the midwest – how about some homemade sauerkraut? (Here is one thing I don’t mind spending time on: a good meatless burger. Impress your vegetarian friends this summer.)

Here’s a great tip: get some really great bread and grill it when it starts to get a little stale and you need to use it up.

I had some great local bread from Chad at The Garlic Press and it was a few days old. My parents were visiting and my mom sliced it, and grilled it in a pan with a bit of canola oil (olive oil is too delicate for this) and sprinkled sea salt. It was phenomenal. (Evidence is to your left.) We ate it with pasta and a salad and it might have been the best part of a fantastic meal.

Happy marketing and bon appetit! – J.S

 

 

 

REAL Cornmeal from Corn Country

Cornmeal is a versatile grain that is probably more integral to southern cooking than it is to midwestern fare*. But if your family has southern roots, or you’ve got an Italian grandmother, then I’ll bet that cornmeal appears in your personal food history.

You can anchor a meal with cornmeal in the same way you use potatoes, rice, and noodles: serve with proteins and vegetables to create a balanced and filling meal. Because it is gluten-free, corn is a great option for those eaters avoiding gluten. 

Cooked cornmeal is incredibly flexible – you can go savory or sweet. Once cooked, polenta (grits) can also be formed and grilled or fried into cakes or fries. It freezes well, too – it’s one of those things that I make extra of so that I can freeze and use later.

Breakfast

I have to imagine that “hot cereal” is so old-school that it’s now cool again, right? (Anyone else grow up loving Cream of Wheat?) When you need a change-up from oats, add grits/polenta to your breakfast repertoire. You could also make cornmeal pancakes or waffles.

Savory Options

It’s not uncommon to see polenta paired with hearty, tomato-rich sauces, especially those prepared with slow-cooked meats (the quintessential American version of this is cornbread and BBQ). Here is a great slow-cooker recipe for beef (it’s getting hot out there! OK, that was two recipes). This recipe is for sausage lovers, and this one for a meatless option. Last week I made a pot of polenta and served it with sautéed mushrooms, onions, asparagus and peppers with a splash of white wine.

Here’s an interesting twist on meatballs from chef Vivian Howard, a champion of southern regional cooking. They would make a great party appetizer.

Here is a meatless option from Haiti that I made this winter – made with black beans. I loved it!

Baked Goods and Dessert 

Steph says that we MUST check out cornmeal cookies from Milkbar’s Christina Tosi.

Cornmeal also has a wonderful use in muffins* and cakes. I have a go-to cornmeal cake that I make for pretty much any occasion (“occasional” also defined as “any time I want cake”). It’s so good that, when pressed for time or ingredients, I just leave out the (frankly optional) blueberry sauce. I’ve also served it with prepared jam from the store. Warning: you’re going to want to save yourself a couple of pieces for breakfast the next day (goes great with coffee!).

Preparation Options

Stovetop Method

The cornmeal I have from Ackerman Farms (sold at their farmers’ market stall or at Common Ground Grocery) and it is ground quite fine, so it cooks on on the stovetop very quickly. Here is the easy method that I used.  

Pressure Cooking Method

(Have I mentioned how much I love Hip Pressure Cooking?) The cornmeal I had cooked up so quickly on the stove, I’m not sure it would be worth it to haul out my pressure cooker.  But I really enjoyed their outline of the debate between Italian foodies and Italian nonnas about the pressure cooker as an appropriate polenta-cooking tool.  (I am not taking sides, but would be happy to participate in a taste-off if in this debate.) Some good polenta ideas in there, too. 

You know I’ve got a local twist on this, right? The Ackerman family grows organic corn – you can find their cornmeal at the market and at Common Ground Grocery

*I know someone is going to argue with me about this statement. No matter! Just promise to prove me wrong by sharing your family’s cornbread recipe.

** Add “ricotta” to yogurt and buttermilk as essentials for quickbread ingredients. Don’t these muffins look good?! Tell me if you make them…

Enjoy! — J.S.

THAT BEET DIP recipe (as promised)

OK, so from what I can tell, Amy got this recipe from another friend, Laurel. So they both get credit. Yay for sharing recipes with friends and neighbors far and wide!  Thanks to both for sharing.

Here’s the recipe I was telling you about in the last post (the one that makes nice people throw elbows to get to the snack table at a party).

Beet Walnut Dip

Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 45 minutes

Ingredients 
1 pound beets (4 smallish beets), scrubbed
1 cup walnuts
1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
3 teaspoons sherry vinegar or lemon juice
a few fresh herb leaves, such as marjoram or thyme (optional) 
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (or half as much table salt) 
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup Greek yogurt

Directions

1. In a small pot of water, covered, over high heat, bring the beets to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer them until they’re tender, 20-45 minutes, depending on their size. I stick a tiny knife in and call them done when I feel no resistance. Drain the beets in a colander, run cold water over them, then relieve them of their stems and skins, which should slip right off now. 
2. Meanwhile, toast the walnuts (a toaster oven is perfect for this) at 350ºF for five or so minutes until they smell toasty. Let them cool and, if you like, rub them in a dishtowel to remove more of their skins, which can be bitter. Or don’t bother if you don’t mind the flavor. 
3. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, whir together the beets, walnuts, garlic, sherry vinegar, optional herbs, and salt, stopping to scraped down the side of the bowl every now and then, until the mixture looks like a coarse puree. 
4. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil, then whir in the yogurt. 
5. Taste the mixture for salt and tang, adding more salt or vinegar as needed, then mound in a bowl and serve with crackers, veggies, or pita chips. 

*Ingredient Tips
The sherry vinegar gives the dip a hauntingly deep flavor — a perfect echo of the walnuts — but lemon juice is a good substitute; it makes a fresher-tasting and sharper dip. Brace yourself for how stunning this is. 

Enjoy!

— J.S.

A quick post about BEETS!

Oh, boy.

Beets are a pretty contentious vegetable; people usually either love them or hate them. They are marvelously good for you, though, and I’d love to tempt some of the beet-skeptics into trying them.  I have a plan…

I’m about to step away from the computer for the holiday weekend and my parents are coming to visit. This is incredibly good timing, because my mom is NUTS about beets.  What luck! There will be beets at the market on Saturday. (One of my favorite things to do is to bring guests and family from out of town to the market on Saturdays. I am so darned proud of our market!)  Mom is already excited about the fresh beets we’ll be adding to our dinner table this weekend.

So this quick post is to give you three levels of beet-commitment to consider.  Here goes.

Level One: The Beet Lover

Profile: You love beets in any form. You’ll even eat them plain. (I am not one of these people.)

Preparing beets for these eaters is easy. My mom is one of these admirably unfussy people; once cooked, she simply peels and slices them and adds a pat or two of butter with a bit of salt and pepper.  Directions:

  1. Cut off the tops (save for another use) and wash the beets under cold water.
  2. Place them in a large pot and cover with water; bring the water to a boil and simmer the beets until they are soft, to taste. My mom likes them very soft; some prefer their beets a little bit hard.  Use a fork to test for the amount of softness that you prefer.
  3. Drain and cool so that you are able to handle them; gently remove skin with your hands (like I said, make sure they are cool enough to handle).
  4. Add a bit of butter, salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, warm, or cold (but Mom likes them hot).

Level Two: Your Beets Need Friends

Profile: Beets are a bit…strong for you, but are much more appealing with contrasting flavors and textures.  Fruit, nuts, cheese (especially goat or feta), greens and (try this one!) sliced avocado are great options. The key is having a good dressing; I like to make sure that the dressing is either on the sweet side or the tangy side and a favorite one for me is citrus-based. This one would be great.

A beet salad is a great way to pair boiled or roasted beets with multiple, contrasting flavors. I adore beets with bitter or spicy greens like arugula, but any green will do, including lettuce or spinach.  I also love beets with feta – a Greek salad at one of many Coney Islands (that’s a type of restaurant, by the way) in my hometown of Detroit is always served with beets.

Oranges are probably my favorite beet comrades; citrus complements that bossy beet flavor nicely. Many fruits are flexibly beet-adjacent. A quick internet search will give you lots of ideas. Here is a NY Times Food recipe (don’t forget that this app/site is free, just create an account) that combines a lot of these elements. In these kinds of salads, you can be creative with whatever you’ve got in the fridge, on the counter or in the pantry.

Level Three: Beet Boss

Profile: You’re going to show up at that party with a dip no one can resist and its going to be healthy too.

My friend Amy often brings a dip like this * with her to gatherings, which makes her already-surging popularity (really, she is the best) go through the roof. By that I mean to say that the dip goes quickly and that otherwise gentle people with longstanding friendships suddenly find themselves elbowing each other rather aggressively to get to the food table. Trust me: make this dip.

*I realized when I googled this recipe that there, not surprisingly, many variations on this type of dip, so I picked the one with the best looking web site! But I’ll see if I can track down the exact one she uses, because it’s awesome. Serve with those gourmet pretzel chips from the grocery store.

How’s that for some beet love? I dare you beet skeptics to try it. Tell me what you think.

Enjoy! – J.S.

 

 

 

 

What to Do With All Those Springtime Herbs

If I had to choose one thing that has really changed my cooking, it’s using fresh herbs. Tossing some chopped parsley, chive or cilantro on a dish is an easy, healthy and time-saving shortcut to robust flavor.

I grew up in family that is typically planning the next meal with gusto as we are eating the current one (you, too?). Since the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree (brace yourself for endless bad food puns in my posts…sorry), once I was on my own in the world I would work through ambitious food projects because, well, I wanted to eat them. Make your own chicken stock?* You bet. Find the most authentic way to make a timpano?** It’s ON. Binge-watch the Sopranos and then make Italian-American meals that you saw on Carmela’s dinner table? Maybe I did. Fuggedabboutit.

But as my life got busier and busier (sound familiar?) I had to find cooking shortcuts. It dawned on me that sometimes I just shouldn’t bother cooking things; the veggies from the market and my CSA were so flavorful that, in most cases, I loved them raw. Talk about a time-saver. Duh.

I digress (is my middle name). Fresh herbs are an immediate way to punch up the flavor of any meal and are perfect when served chopped and totally raw (especially if, like me, you sometimes forget to follow the recipe and the dish is done and all that’s left to fix things is salt, pepper, and fresh parsley. Yay for parsley!). Because they are delicate, you almost always add fresh herbs at the end of your cooking to have that burst of flavor alongside the ones that you simmered, roasted or grilled.

But sometimes herbs are actually the star of the show, and springtime brings with it an explosion of flavor in tiny little bundles.  When you’re perusing the offering at the market, it’s going to be hard to resist those adorable clusters of herb joy – so don’t do it. Buy a bunch and when you get home and panic and think, what the heck do I do with all of this? you can check the blog and we’ll help you out.  No problem.

An herb sauce that is endlessly useful on meat or on veggies is chimichurri (which is also a great way to use your green garlic). There are many variations on this Argentinian staple (feel free to make up your own) and it works on just about anything savory, though traditionally it’s used as an accompaniment to grilled beef. (Try the leftovers on eggs!) For plant-based eaters, it’s lovely on grilled portobello mushrooms. Check out other options here and here.

Another great use for herbs is tabbouleh, served on its own as a salad and frequently as an accompaniment to hummous and with other mezze. I love a variation on tabbouleh that includes wheat berries, which are grown locally at Ackerman Farms and are sold at Common Ground in Bloomington.

Are you a salmon lover? (We are utterly devoted to our Sitka Salmon CSA share – did you know you can get sustainably-fished salmon and seafood from small, operator-owned fisheries in Sitka, Alaska delivered right to your door?) This recipe also calls for scallions (spring/green onions), another item that is plentiful in the early months of the summer market.  (I also love this NYT feature on parsley. The NYT Cooking section and app is excellent and FREE.)

I don’t want to leave anyone out, so how about some love for mint, cilantro, tarragon, and dill, while we’re at it.  That last link might send you down a rabbit hole, because Smitten Kitchen is about the best food blogger out there and it’s very likely that you’ll want her to be your best friend (I do!). But don’t forget that the thesis of this post is that all you have to do to enjoy herbs is chop them up and throw them on whatever you are eating. Done.

Happy spring! — J.S.

*Surprise! That link is actually to a hands-off recipe for homemade chicken stock! Not complicated at all.

**And you know that Stanley Tucci’s Big Night is the best movie ever, right? Full disclosure: have not yet made the timpano.