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What’s in Season

Refreshing Spring Sauces
by Lisa Masé • Photography by Brent Harrewyn

egg sauceGrowing up in Italy, I knew spring as primavera, or “first truth,” because spring brings renewal and new growth for all living things. In Vermont, this season comes slowly, with gentle thaws and maple sap. As I make my way over muddy ruts and puddles to dig parsnips and leeks or marvel at crocus blooms, I remember to awaken my body from its slow winter pace by choosing foods that support the liver.

This essential internal organ stores blood and promotes balanced digestion. After a winter of rich, nourishing foods, the liver benefits from gentle spring cleansing. In order to do so, choose more green foods, try sour foods like the ones in these recipes, eat a lighter dinner and cook with more water and unsaturated vegetable oil and use fewer saturated animal fats.

Add these sauces to any simple dish, from pot beans and rice to potato soup. Their bright flavor will awaken the senses and help ease the transition from winter to spring.

Hard-Boiled Egg Sauce
I grew up making this sauce, which is typical of the cuisine of the Dolomite mountain region. Along with wild asparagus, this delicious topping is a sure sign of spring in my family.

8 eggs
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon each powdered cumin and coriander
½ bunch fresh parsley, roughly de-stemmed

Place eggs in a stockpot. Cover with water, bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, drain hot water and rinse with cold water until they are cool enough to handle. Peel eggs and place in a blender. Add all the other ingredients and blend at highest speed for 2 minutes. Add water to make sauce creamier.

Eat with leftover rice and pesto, over steamed asparagus or broccoli, or as garnish for simple soups. Keeps refrigerated for 4 days.

Healing properties:
Eggs—Each one contains 6 grams of protein, 9 essential amino acids, and only 1.5 grams of saturated fat; rich in lutein, which helps prevent macular degeneration and cataracts; improve human lipid profile, thereby balancing cholesterol; contain naturally occurring vitamin D.
Parsley—chemo-protective food, which can help neutralize carcinogens; increases the blood’s antioxidant capacity; rich in vitamins C and A; cleanses palate and breath.

sauces_artichoke

Artichoke Spread
These elegant yet prickly vegetables are not local to Vermont until the summer, but many preserve them in water or oil to enjoy as a spring dish. Artichokes help the liver metabolize fat.

2 large artichokes
¼ cup olive oil
½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ tablespoon dried thyme leaf

Steam artichokes for 20 minutes, or until leaves start to open. Remove from heat, rinse to cool, peel leaves off the stem and score them with the tip of a paring knife. Open each leaf and scoop the meat out into a blender or food processor. Once you have removed all the meat from both the leaves and the stems, add the rest of the ingredients to the blender or food processor. Blend at highest speed for 2 minutes. Taste for salt.
Serve with grilled lamb or tempeh, roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes, and as a sauce for whole-grain pasta. This spread makes a delicious sandwich when combined with hummus and goat cheese. Keeps refrigerated for 5 days.

Healing properties:
Lemon—awakens the pungent flavor in the body, detoxifies the lymphatic system and provides vitamin C.
Olive oil—anti-inflammatory; rich in vitamin E and monounsaturated fats, which enhance colon health. Choose the best olive oil possible, preferably one whose label lists an acidity of less than 0.5%.
Thyme—contains thymol, an anti-microbial volatile oil that can help prevent colds; rich in flavonoids whose antioxidant activity keeps blood pH in balance.

Creamy Green Sauce
Spring greenhouses are bursting with arrow-shaped spinach leaves. This delicious sauce maximizes their potential.

2 large yellow onions, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
2 pounds spinach

Gently warm the oil in a skillet that has a tight-fitting lid. When oil is hot, add onions, stir briefly with spatula, turn burner down to medium-low and cover. Add a splash of water, salt and black pepper.Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water if onions are sticking to the bottom of the skillet.

Meanwhile, cover the bottom of a medium stockpot with water and add a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil.
Rinse spinach, add to the stockpot, cover and reduce heat to low. Braise greens for 5 minutes. Depending on availability and preference, you can substitute kale, collards or Swiss chard. If so, braise for 10 minutes.
Drain any remaining water from greens, add to onions and stir well to incorporate. Turn off the heat and purée, either with an immersion blender or in a blender.

Enjoy mixed with cooked rice and kasha, as a delicious sauce for salmon or white beans, and mixed with yogurt as a tortilla filling. Keeps refrigerated for 4 days.

Healing properties:
Dark, leafy greens—These iron-rich, fiber-filled foods stimulate the bitter flavor on the palate, which encourages bile production, thereby strengthening digestion and aiding liver rejuvenation.
Onions—anti-microbial; anti-bacterial; contain oligosaccharides, which stimulate growth of healthy bifidobacteria in both the small and large intestines and help maintain balanced intestinal flora.

sauces_pateWalnut Leek Pâté
Look for local Vermont walnuts, which taste less
bitter than the traditional English variety.

1 large leek, washed well and chopped into rounds
5 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
White wine or lemon juice
½ cup walnut halves and pieces

Gently heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet and add leek. Reduce heat to medium low. Add salt, black pepper; cover and simmer for 5 minutes. If you have leftover white wine, add a couple splashes. If not, just add a splash of lemon juice. Simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat.

As the leeks are cooking, place the walnuts in another skillet. Toast on medium heat, tossing often with a spatula, for about 3 minutes or until walnuts are lightly browned.

Once leeks and walnuts are cooked, place them in a food processor and add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Blend at highest speed for 2 minutes. Taste for salt.

Try it with biscuits, on sourdough bread, and as a dip for carrot and celery sticks. This pâté makes a lovely appetizer when served with nut and seed crackers. Keeps refrigerated for 5 days.

Healing properties:
Leeks—strengthen lungs; anti-microbial; anti-bacterial; offer rich source of fructo-oligosaccharides, which stimulate growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of harmful bacteria in the colon.
Walnuts—rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids; gently laxative; contain ellagic acid, which supports the immune system.

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