Tag Archives: spring

Rhubarb: not just for dessert anymore!

A quick note about rhubarb. This week, our CSA fruit share included about 3 pounds of rhubarb from Briermere Farms, and I’ve been contemplating what to do with it. I’ll most likely make a few pints of this delicious Rhubarb-Vanilla Jam from Food 52 that I made last year, but I’m also thinking about savory uses for rhubarb. Rhubarb, in and of itself, isn’t sweet, but it’s most often paired with strawberries in jams, compotes and pies. I found this savory, Indian-inspired recipe for a Rhubarb Lentil Stew last year, and I thought it was brilliant. Usually, I’ll add lemon juice to lentil-based soups and stews to add that bright burst of tartness that balances out the earthy flavor of the legumes. In Mark Bittman’s recipe, the rhubarb provides not only the necessary acidity, but also complex flavor and texture to an already flavorful dish. As with so many of Mark Bittman’s recipes, this one is minimal effort for maximum pleasure. Enjoy!

Lentil and Rhubarb Stew with Indian Spices by Mark Bittman

  • 3 or 4 stalks rhubarb, strings removed, chopped
  • 1 cup orange lentils, well washed
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 dried ancho or other mild chili, optional
  • Salt
  • Chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
  • Combine all ingredients except salt and cilantro in a saucepan and add water to cover by about 1 inch. Cook at a steady simmer until lentils and rhubarb are quite soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove cloves and, if you like, cardamom pods. Add salt, then taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

The Obligatory Ramp Post

Always label your pickles!

Always label your pickles!

In case you haven’t heard, it’s ramp season. Ramps are generally celebrated for their aromatic, garlicky flavor and short season. Pickled ramps are on many menus these days, and I decided to give them a try myself. I got this recipe from Food52, and I have to say I’m quite happy with it. I didn’t have fresh thyme on hand, so I substituted with a half-teaspoon of dried thyme, and it worked out just fine. This recipe only uses the white and purple bulb/stem portion of the ramps. I reserved the leaves for sautéing. In fact, I pan-seared a pork chop from my butcher shop, and sautéed a few handfuls of ramp greens in a bit of the reserved fat rendered off from the chop with a sprinkle of salt. It was perfect.

Pickled Ramps Makes about 1 pint pickled ramps


  • 3 bunches ramps (about 1 pound), green tops and root ends trimmed off
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 slices fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¾ cups red wine vinegar
  • ¾ cups water


Leaves and Bulbs

Bring a medium pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the ramps and cook for 1 minute. Drain and run cold water over the ramps to stop the cooking. Drain again. Place the ramps in a medium bowl or mason jar. Add the chilies, thyme, ginger, and fennel seeds.

ramp bulbs ramps in a jar

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, salt, red wine vinegar and water. Bring to a boil and pour this mixture over the ramps. As soon as they’re cool, you can serve them, or just cover and refrigerate.

A Culinary Ode to Spring. SPRING!

To celebrate Spring, I’d like to start out this blog with a recipe that highlights three harbingers of the season: morels, asparagus and leeks. I was poking around on Epicurious looking for promising seasonal vegetarian entrees for one of my clients, and I came upon this gem — Lasagna with Asparagus, Leeks and Morels. I had seen fresh morels at Whole Foods the week before, but I just knew that I wouldn’t have the time to make something wonderful with them, so I had to pass that day. When I was ready to make this recipe, I couldn’t find the morels, so I substituted with a mix of trumpets, shiitakes and criminis, which are also delicious. I’m still hoping it’s not too late to try it again with the morels.

a black morel

The original recipe is for individual lasagnas, but I’ve written it as one whole lasagna. Also, I wasn’t satisfied with how the recipe instructed its followers to make a béchamel sauce, so I’ve included instructions on how to make the sauce starting with a roux. Enjoy!

Lasagna with Asparagus, Leeks and Morels


  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, divided
  • 1 pound thick asparagus spears, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 ounces fresh morel mushrooms, rinsed, coarsely chopped, or 5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), halved lengthwise, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 9-ounce package no-cook lasagna noodles (12 noodles)
  • 1 1/4 cups (about) finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided


9″ x 13″ lasagna pan


Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large, heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Add asparagus, mushrooms and thyme. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and sauté, stirring often, until asparagus is slightly tender and bright green, about 5 minutes. Transfer the asparagus mixture to a bowl, and melt remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the same sauté pan.  Add leeks; cook until wilted, stirring often, about 3 minutes.

Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the sauté pan to prevent burning, for one minute. Add broth, cream, bay leaf, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Then reduce the heat to maintain a brisk simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Spread 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch lasagna pan. Place four lasagna noodles on top of the sauce. Scatter 1 cup of the vegetable mixture over, spreading in an even layer. Drizzle ½ cup sauce over. Sprinkle ¼ cup cheese evenly over the vegetables. Repeat layering two more times: noodles, vegetables, sauce, and cheese. Drizze the remaining sauce over the lasagna. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and place on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any spills). Bake until noodles are tender, about 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese begins to brown, about 6 minutes. Let stand at room temperature 5 minutes before serving.

Ingredient Tip: If fresh morel mushrooms are unavailable, pour 2 cups boiling water over 1 ounce of dried morel mushrooms and let stand until the mushrooms are soft, about 30 minutes. Drain the mushrooms and squeeze dry before chopping.