There’s No Gift Like The Present

This here salad is made entirely from things that survived the winter and are now roaring back. Some stuff–I’m talking to you, Asian cabbage–is just bolting and bitter, but the mizuna, pan di zucchero, and radicchio are lovely. There’s a bit of chervil, too, and parsley, and I cut all the tatsoi too since it was thinking about flowering.

Now I love a good bowl of greens; there’s nothing quite so soul-polishing as a perfect salad. But the difference between just-picked and even the good, local, organic mesclun? Is night and day. Bitter, sweet, chewy, yielding, a little spicy, and with all of those qualities echoed and amplified by quality oil and vinegar, and heightened still further by the joy of spring’s timely arrival–I ate the living shit out of this salad.

In keeping with the gardeny theme, the rest of the meal was a roast chicken with sautéed kale and freshly-dug carrots and parsnips roasted with oil and herbs. I resist digging parsnips in the fall so we have something sweet and wonderful to enjoy as soon as the ground thaws. And last year my second planting of carrots actually grew quite well, so we have a lot of those, too, which I’m pulling up to make room for new things.

The only other noteworthy thing about this is the gravy; I used kimchi brine along with some of the pork stock to make it, and it was pretty great. I’m finding more and more ways to use it in place of citrus, often with superior results: gravy, mayonnaise, vinaigrettes, ceviche, tuna salad. So now every time I put a fresh batch into jars, I make sure to fill a quart jar with just brine so there’s plenty on hand. It’s more nutritious, it’s free, and it doesn’t go bad.

4 comments to There’s No Gift Like The Present

  • Zoomie

    Got some of those parsnips in my fridge right now – gonna have 'em tonight!

  • Muskeg Harpy

    Man, we were just lamenting about carrots. The store-bought woody things don't hold a candle to the fresh ones from the garden. Where do you live that you can have overwintering root veggies? Ours don't survive. I'm trying root cellar-ing this fall.

  • Zoomie

    Oh, and BTW, I wrote about the sushi that you inspired on my blog today. Ankle on over when you have a minute, and thank you!

  • peter

    Zoomie: Try adding a little vanilla.

    Harpy: Zone 5- the Hudson Valley. I recommend root cellaring, but if you mulch the shit out of them and cover them with a tarp, you might find that they do OK.

    Zoomie: Will do.

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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