Wherever you stand on the cold soup spectrum—do you think they’re silly and have no reason to exist? Or do you just think we ought to call them smoothies, rather than soup? Didn’t we discuss this last year?—today’s recipe is one I was excited about well before I found time to make it. I wanted a simple edamame soup that would provide a good base for some fun garnishes. It turned out to be rich and hearty whether you serve it hot or cold, and easy and cheap, too.
We’ve had the longest and most glorious New York spring that I’ve ever experienced here. Though today it’s gray and wet, I don’t even mind—that’s how good the good days have been: Lit-up green everywhere, trees swaying in some perfect breeze, wildflowers and rhododendrons and dogwood blossoms swaying with them, and the temperature oscillating between t-shirt and zip-up hoodie. It’s basically torture to not be outside. The spring greenery is taking over my kitchen, too. Shopping at the farmers market, I can’t escape or resist the supple little pea and sunflower shoots, baby heads of lettuce that appear as if they’ll bruise if I breathe on them, spring onions and snap peas and asparagus, all demanding to be eaten immediately.
For Mother’s Day, Food52 let me share a little essay I wrote about my mom and the first recipe I ever came up with—which is these lemon bars, dubbed “Lucas’ Luscious Lemon Bars.” It’s a slight detour from the veggie madness thing, but if you like lemon bars, I can vouch for that recipe. (And if you’re curious about the spelling of my name, it’s kind of an embarrassing story—about college, and self-expression, and poetry I was writing at the time—but suffice it to say that at the time I was making these lemon bars it was “Lucas,” and now I spell it “Lukas.”)
Now that asparagus and ramps and spring onions and all the verdant promise of a springtime farmers market are finally inching onto our plates, how about a nice and hearty Lentil and Cabbage Bake for dinner. Does that sound good? No? Am I a little off base? Oh well, this happened last spring, too. I suppose I’m always a little reluctant to close the book on cold-weather comfort food.
[Apologies for the lapse here. I hope you didn’t miss Martha Rose Shulmans’ great column a few weeks ago in the New York Times that focuses on veggie burgers.]
This burger has been in the works for a little while. The seeds were planted sometime two years ago, when I started making my own kimchi. I first used it as a condiment for veggie burgers, and from there, it wasn’t long before I thought to use it in the veggie burgers. But it took a while before I got the formula right. As usual, I wanted to add too much—watercress, chard, bok choy, tofu, seitan—and each previous attempt resulted in a flavor that was cloudy at best, and unpalatable at worst. So I did as Amanda Hesser advised in an interview that I can no longer locate (I’m paraphrasing): Cooking is similar to that rule about dressing yourself, take one item off before you leave the house.
The second day of spring probably isn’t the best time to start talking about comfort food. Creamed spinach fits squarely in this realm: on the holiday table, at Sunday supper, down south, nudged up against fried stuff. And if it weren’t for the several pounds of spinach I have in my fridge, I probably wouldn’t have thought to make it myself.
Spinach has such easy appeal, it was my first favorite dark green. It’s a mild but meaty, clean slate for all sorts of different treatments. I like it in stir fries, curries, and saag paneer; stirred into lentil soup, stuffed into an omelet, or even raw, in a salad, though spinach salads seem to be waning in popularity nowadays. Enriching it with something creamy, as it is here, is just one way to showcase its charm. Continue reading
Not to overwhelm you with quinoa, but I can’t help myself right now. This is very much a blueprint recipe and hopefully it’ll provide some ideas in terms of giving your old grain-based salads new tricks. My inspiration today, clearly, is spring: I want grill marks, I want tart and snappy textures, a zesty vinaigrette, and most of all, I want green.