Seven Fresh Spring Recipes Inspired by the Farmers' Market
It's no secret that Sarah Carey, our editorial director of food, loves her weekly visits to the Union Square Greenmarket. She rarely goes with an agenda and her only goal is to find the very best and brightest produce that the market has to offer. Even in the transitional period between winter and summer when fresh, quality produce seems to be at a standstill, Sarah manages to always leave with a full tote bag (or two) with colorful fruits and vegetables and tons of fresh new ideas.
Much as she adores stone fruit, berries, tomatoes, and pretty much all summer produce, Sarah's favorite season just might be spring. She's a well-known rhubarb fan. In addition to buying the rosy stalks at the farmers' market, she pulls it from her mom's garden in upstate New York. This year her love of rhubarb has inspired two glorious new recipes: a vanilla-rhubarb tart that has a gorgeous decorative filling and buckwheat-rhubarb scones. Adding buckwheat to the usual all-purpose flour gives these scones a rich, nutty flavor. To go with the scones there is a sweet, strawberry butter that's made not with berries from the market but with freeze-dried strawberries from the grocery store because, Sarah says, they produce a better color and make for a longer-lasting butter.
One the savory side, Sarah layers a hummus-like pea, almond, and ricotta spread atop hearty bread, then tops it off with tender poached chicken, fresh peas, radish, and fresh mint for a fresh take on the tartine or open-faced sandwich. Her salmon-and-spinach pot pie offers a hearty taste of wild-caught salmon, anise-y tarragon, and early spring spinach. It's a lighter, brighter take on pot pie than the traditional chicken version. And in her spring fever, Sarah has also developed two, one-bowl-wonder recipes—a spicy green rice and shrimp bowl, and marinated artichoke hearts with green olives and mozzarella, a recpe that has an Italian accent. Maybe the Italians love spring produce as much as Sarah does?
Rhubarb is often combined with strawberries to counterbalance its inherent tartness. Here, Sarah mellows it with vanilla bean—pricey but worth it in recipes like this that really highlight its flavor. And if you don't have vanilla bean handy, sub half a teaspoon of orange zest—or leave it out all together and let the rhubarb reign supreme. A thin layer of rhubarb bakes into a wonderful jammy texture that's custom-made for a crisp pastry crust. Vanilla seeds straight from the bean add a mild, sweet note to tangy rhubarb. Another striking touch? This graphic herringbone pattern, made with uniform pieces cut on the diagonal.
Poached-Chicken Sandwiches with Peas and Radishes
"In the kitchen, we say that people eat with their eyes first," says Sarah, and does that ever apply to these beautifully—and scrumptiously—composed tartines, which celebrate spring peas in two different forms. There's a hummus-like pea, almond, and ricotta spread and more English peas plus snap peas that, along with poached chicken and sliced radishes, top the thick slices of bread.
Salmon-and-Spinach Pot Pie
When Sarah spotted generous bundles of spinach, an early-spring green, at the greenmarket, and then she thought of wild salmon, which is also harvested around now, it led to this delicious new dish. The lightly creamy pot pie also contains sweet peas, potatoes, and licorice-y tarragon, as well as a puff-pastry crown.
Spicy Green Rice and Shrimp
"I love a comforting bowl of something," Sarah says. "This one combines a classic Italian technique with my favorite flavors." Taking a cue from the Venetian risi e bisi, a soupy rice-and-peas, she highlights sweet, crunchy sugar snap peas with Southeast Asian ingredients: the heat of chiles and ginger, the freshness of basil and cilantro, and the salty depth of fish sauce.
Buckwheat Rhubarb Scones with Strawberry Butter
"Rhubarb is the first thing out of the ground in the spring that I bake with," says Sarah—and that's what she adds it to anything she can, including these scones. A bit of buckwheat flour gives them a nutty flavor and tender crumb, and the accompanying compound butter is a genius touch.
Marinated Artichoke Hearts with Green Olives and Mozzarella
An influx of artichokes at the market is the signal for Sarah to marinate their soft interiors—far sweeter this way than jarred or canned, she says. Steeped in olive oil scented with lemon and thyme, they make an elegant antipasto with creamy fresh mozzarella, and shine in main dishes too.