Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ode to Spring and New Ideas

Of all the seasons, I’d say my cooking gets the most creative in spring. Partly it’s because the ingredients that are seasonal are here for such a short time (ramps, rhubarb, baby artichokes) and I feel the (self-imposed) pressure to use them before they’re gone. There’s always the excitement of being able to get stuff out of my own garden, like the chives that are finally in bloom. Mostly, though, it’s because these are just inspiring flavors, and since I don’t get to cook with them the rest of the year, there’s a lot of joy in the experimentation.
Like this sorrel pesto, for instance—it’s a once-in-a-year type of dish. I had some sorrel from my farm share and I found this recipe on the Guardian UK website. I threw in some of my own chives. Then I pan-roasted some arctic char in a cast-iron skillet and draped this pesto on top, and served it with a portobello mushroom and potato salad with watercress. I was pretty pleased with the way it came out. The pesto’s garlic and lemony tang played off the fish’s rich texture nicely, and it was the perfect fleeting–joy-of-spring meal.
            Which brings me to my writing. I just finished up a draft of a manuscript that I’ve been working on for two years. I think it’s certainly gotten better as I’ve written and rewritten it (this is probably the tenth first draft) but I am, quite honestly, completely lost in the muddle. If this WIP were a food, it would be porridge. (Don’t get me wrong. It could very well be delicious and nutritious. I just couldn’t tell you right now because I can no longer judge the damn thing. Guess that’s what agents and beta readers are for.)
Luckily, there’s a shiny new YA novel idea that’s starting to percolate in my brain. It feels new and fresh and full of possibility. I’m ready to grab onto it, with the full understanding that the newness and freshness won’t last. That’s okay, though—I’ll just enjoy it while it’s here.


Sorrel Pesto
Adapted from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall in the The Guardian UK

2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 small clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1-2 handfuls young sorrel leaves (about 45g in weight)
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, stalks removed
1 tablespoon chopped chives
Sea salt
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup hard goat's cheese, grated

In a small frying pan over a medium heat, lightly toast the pine nuts until they're just beginning to turn golden, then tip out into a food processor. Add the garlic, sorrel, parsley, chives and a pinch of salt to the pine nuts, then pulse a few times until roughly chopped and combined. Slowly pour in the olive oil, pulsing as you go, until the pesto is the consistency you like.
Spoon the pesto mixture into a bowl and stir in the goat's cheese. The pesto will keep, sealed in a jar with a slick of olive oil over the top, for about a week.


  1. I planted sorrel for the first time this year, and I was wondering what I could make with it. I'm a mad fan of pestos so this is an awesome recipe! Thanks!