It’s the first day of spring, we’ve changed our clocks and it’s light out until almost 8 o’clock now! Because I find that my tastes and food preferences change with the seasons, it’s the time of year when I want to put away my slow cooker and start thinking about salads and lovely green vegetables. Sounds good right? Well when you live in the temperate rain forest of the Pacific Northwest, just because it’s light out and the lilac bush is budding, doesn’t mean it’s warm and springy! Yesterday I barbecued in the snow!
It’s a perilous thing when your brain is telling you to make chicken caesar salad and your tummy is asking for beef stew. It can make trips to the grocery store or farmers market confusing and meal prep time becomes a mind over matter (rather craving) feat. No matter how badly I want a grilled cheese and tomato soup I must resist the urge and use the pea shoots I bought on the weekend!
So how do you manage the ‘shoulder season’ of cooking? A few of my favourites to get through this difficult and confusing time are lentil soup with loads of spinach, roasted green vegetables (asparagus, green beans, leeks, fennel etc.), and fresh pea risotto. Anything green will help awaken your senses, but if you prepare it in a comfort food manner you’ll warm your belly on a cool day. It’s a win-win!
In terms of my seasonal cooking/eating I think of myself as English in the winter, Italian in the spring, Greek in the summer and French in the fall. The core flavours and cooking methods of these cuisines fit right into my seasonal repertoire. Just when I get sick of one type of food I’m ready for the next. It’s like a culinary European adventure all year long! And although the humps in between the seasons can be a bit tricky, it’s a wonderful thing to listen to your body and eat seasonally, while embracing the beautiful local ingredients at your doorstep.
If you’re not sure what to buy, check out this great resource from the BC Association of Farmers Markets on what’s in season in BC to help avoid the perils of seasonal cooking: http://www.bcfarmersmarket.org/inseason.htm
To roast veggies, grab a mix of any of the following, toss with olive oil, salt & pepper, and roast at 425 degrees for 15-30 mins. depending on your veg mix:
Roast for 30 mins (turn once during cooking):
- brussel sprouts
Roast for 15 min (add to any mix of the above):
- green beans
- asparagus (halved lengthwise if thick)
- squash (any variety, in small cubes)