According to the calendar it isn't spring yet. According to the calendar, it's still a week and a half away.
But really? It's spring.
We're going outside without jackets, the snow is melting, and we're remembering that there is indeed grass under all that snow. We're starting to see our neighbours again after staying inside through the winter. It's sunny, it's windy, and the air smells fresh and young. What other season could it be?
I'm finding myself cooking with ingredients like green onions and lemons, too. I didn't deliberately choose this recipe because of the spring connection, but it sounded so fresh and delicious that I couldn't pass it up. It was a huge hit, and I'll definitely make it again soon. Perhaps to commemorate the day that the calendar tells me it's officially spring.
In honour of my favourite season, I present this poem, and this recipe:
If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze
that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house
and unlatch the door to the canary's cage
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,
a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies
seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking
a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,
releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage
so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting
into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.
- Billy Collins
Quinoa Cakes with Lemon Yogurt Sauce
(adapted from Canadian Living)
1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 Tbsp olive oil (first amount)
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups trimmed fresh spinach
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp grated lemon rind
2 Tbsp olive oil (second amount)
1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil (third amount)
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)
In fine sieve, rinse quinoa under cold water; drain. In saucepan, bring quinoa, broth and water to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Drain in five sieve and let cool completely.
Meanwhile, in skillet, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium heat; fry onion, garlic and salt, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 4 minutes. Add spinach, cook, stirring until wilted and no liquid remains, about 3 minutes. Let cool and coarsely chop.
In large bowl, whisk together eggs, Parmesan cheese, flour, baking powder and lemon rind. Fold in quinoa and spinach mixture. With wet hands, form into 16 cakes; transfer to waxed paper-lined tray. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
In nonstick skillet, heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium heat. Fry half the cakes until golden (about 4-6 minutes per side). Use two spatulas to flip them if you’re concerned about them falling apart. Keep the first set warm on baking sheet in 200 degree oven while the second set is cooking. (You may need an extra 1 to 2 Tbsp of olive oil for this batch.) Serve drizzled with Lemon Yogurt Sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Lemon Yogurt Sauce:
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 pinch salt
Stir together yogurt, onions, lemon juice and salt. Set aside in refrigerator until ready to serve.