Bloomington's finest hours may be in the springtime that earns us our name. We truly are a blooming town; with red buds, dogwoods, fruit trees, daffodils, crocuses and hyacinths, we are a riot of soft and fragrant color these warming days.
You can see the difference at the farmers market too. We have only one more winter market before the city market takes over for the summer, and the vendors there already have fresh green things to sell.
I made a salad last weekend with supermarket frisée, liberally scattered with pea shoots, fennel sprouts, and radish sprouts from the market. Each of those thready little microgreens packed a punch belied by its size – you’d have thought sweet green peas, crisp fennel and pungent radishes were lurking in the curly lettuce. So simple and oh so good. (Threw some bacon – an honorary vegetable, remember – in there for good measure and dressed it with some very fruity olive oil, sweet chardonnay vinegar, garlic and mustard. Best salad I’ve had in a while. Much better than the braised chicken I served it with, which I will post about another time.)
Besides loading up on sprouts and shoots and herbs at the market, I bought three bunches of beautiful Bright Lights Swiss Chard, which I promptly stored in my vegetable crisper and forgot about until lunchtime yesterday. Bright Lights Swiss Chard is one of my favorite vegetables (gorgeous photo here), rich and dark green, with luminous veins and stalks of red, yellow, orange, and pink. The taste is wonderful too – you know you are eating mineral-laden greens, but the taste is still sweet and beety, not metallic as some greens can be.
I found the chard as I was scrounging for a last minute lunch before heading to the airport, and there was a wax paper-wrapped wedge of Judy Schad’s Capriole Farms Pipers Pyramid in the fridge as well, just crying to be eaten before we left. Goat cheese and greens for lunch!
I wasn’t even packed yet, but food comes first and I knew I would only see airport fare for the rest of the day. So I sautéed a slivered red onion in my favorite fruity olive oil til it caramelized and then threw in a chopped up clove of garlic and the chard, cut into strips. The water clinging to the leaves from a quick rinse of the chard was enough liquid to cook it quickly over high heat. It was so fresh and young that there were no heavy stalks to braise, so I stirred it around a couple of times and added a handful of dried sweet cherries and a dash of sherry vinegar and let it simmer a minute. Scooped it all into a bowl, scattered it with pistachios and let some chunks of goat cheese melt into it all.
If I’d had time I’d have tossed the whole thing with pasta, but I was running late (and running to fat as well), so I ate it just as it was.