Noshin': What's in Season: Late Spring

When people outside of Minnesota think of our the state, I always hear “cold and snowy” mentioned in the same breath. And then there’s the requisite joke talking about how we have two seasons: winter and road construction. There’s also the one barely veiled as a joke about how we have nine months of winter (and isn’t that just an insult posing as a fact, or vise-versa?).
Yes, it’s cold here. A lot. Even if it was inexplicably 70 degrees in March, and a scorching 94 as I’m (sweating while) writing this (in May, no less). But cold weather doesn’t mean we can’t grow anything! I simply would point nay-sayers in the direction of the farmer’s markets or any adept garderner’s backyard plot.
So, what is edible this early in the season? Lettuce, spinach, asparagus, rhubarb (see last week’s post), green onions, and radishes. Is it rabbit food-esque? Perhaps, but it’s a nice respite from root vegetables (or even no vegetables) and other produce that’s been shipped in from around the globe. Some light, crisp, green fare is just what Mother Nature ordered.
Early season produce can nearly all be eaten raw, like in salads, but if you’re looking for further inspiration, I’ve got some ideas for you: light creamed spinach, grilled asparagus and green onions, and radish tea sandwiches.
Light Creamed Spinach

3+ C fresh spinach
2 wedges Laughing Cow Light cheese (or any low-fat, spreadable cheese), preferably in the French Onion flavor
2 Tbsp skim milk
A good amount of black pepper
Salt to taste
Dash of nutmeg (optional)

  1. In a large pan over medium heat, add the milk, cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, smashing the cheese to form a thin sauce.
  2. Add about a cup of spinach, coating in the milk sauce. When that has broken down sufficiently (about a minute) and there is more room in the pan, add about a cup more spinach (or however much will fit).
  3. Continue in this fashion until all the spinach is incorporated.

Grilled Asparagus and Green Onions
Asparagus (about twice as much as the green onions by volume/size)
Green onions
Olive oil
A good amount of black pepper
Salt to taste
1/2 – 1 tsp dill (dry will do)

  1. Heat your grill.
  2. Roughly chop asparagus into 1-inch long pieces. Chop the onions into 1/4-inch or so lengths.
  3. Coat veggies in olive oil and seasonings.
  4. Using a grill pan (or you can try some aluminum foil), let the veggies cook for a couple of minutes (3-4); mix, making sure everything is moved around so it cooks evenly.
  5. Remove from heat when asparagus is tender and onions are soft and semi-translucent.

Radish Tea Sandwiches
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced (optional)
8oz cream cheese, any flavor
8 slices white bread (or any flavor of your choosing)

  1. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on each slice of bread, about two tablespoons each slice.
  2. Evenly distribute the sliced radishes (and cucumbers, if using) on half the bread slices. Top each with one of the remaining halves.
  3. Cut each sandwich into four or eight smaller sandwiches, or just dig into one big one.
  4. Serve with a nice fresh lettuce and spinach salad.

Photo credits: Sara Rice, Esteban Cavrico