Are we finally transitioning from winter to spring? I think I actually got a little sun kissed yesterday. Nothing inappropriate, just a peck.
Here in San Francisco I’m down to one light jacket versus a knit cap and multi-layers. And I’m craving things like fresh fish tacos and a glass of rose instead of hot rice porridge and a warm bath.
And if it really is true that the frost is starting to melt away, then it also means we are moving from months of root vegetables into months of peas and sun chokes and Padrón peppers and then, at long last, stone fruit. It’s coming. We’re almost there.
Which is all to say that we are moving towards months of new ingredients to play with and thus, new flavors. Because don’t forget: while that spice rack has cumin and coriander seed and cayenne pepper and sumac (what is sumac?), a lot of those unassuming items in the produce aisle and farmers market also hold sweet, spicy, bitter, savory, and salty (it’s true) tastes to make your recipes burst with amazingness.
So this week’s roundup is all about flavor made with whole ingredients (not the spice rack). Like citrus, which is very very much in season. In the hopes of inspiring you to play with your ingredients and play up the natural tang, bite, sugar, and salty punch they pack inside.
PASTA-PEEL: Oh hey, did I mention I was writing a low-sodium recipe column for FOOD NETWORK’s HEALTHY EATS blog?!?! And here’s my first post, a creamy citrus pasta. Big yes.
YUMMY UMAMI: A primer (by yours truly) on umami, where to find it, how to use it. Beyond soy sauce.
CITRUS CRUSH: I adore Heidi and I LOVE this bright avocado, orange, fennel salad.
GOOD GRAIN: Barley means extra bulk as well as a nutty taste. And an easy salad addition that makes for an envious desk lunch.
PULL AN IRISH: St. Patty’s Day is around the corner. Skip the green beer and make this roasted cabbage instead for a smoky, savory side.
MAKING MUSTARD: Okay, so it’s not a vegetable, but it is a DIY tip on quick, homemade mustard worth sharing.
FOOD PLAY: Sometimes flavor comes just from using unusual ingredients in unusual ways. Like making sugar cinnamon hearts from tortillas (just use the corn kind). Tracy, I heart you.
SEASONAL SEASONS: And for those in the bay, a useful chart on what’s in season. So you can best plan out those flavorful meals.