Seven months. Seven months of flannel sheets. It was the ‘winter-that-wouldn’t-die’ and for seven very long months, The Professor and I wrapped ourselves in those flannel sheets while dreaming of white sandy beaches where they serve sweet fruity drinks with umbrellas in tall, chilled glasses. But today . . . off with the flannel and on to the Egyptian Cotton, baby.
Our trees burst with bright green as their leaves shoot from their branches; yesterday buds, today their laciness hide birds flitting from branch-to-branch, while scolding us from high above for having the audacity to sit beneath the canopy those leaves provide. Our tulips and daffodil blooms have long been spent but the Korean Lilacs are just about ready to pop open with their heady scent; our season is about two weeks behind but after seven months of flannel sheets, I’ll take it.
Fern fronds creep from the earth, tightly wound at first, ends furled and then single spikes – first one, then another and another, then another. Purple-red leaves appear at the base of our rose bushes – dead canes giving way to new life and our barrel of mint has returned for another season of teas, mojitos and spring soups. A brand new harvest of our beloved rhubarb patch has doubled in size and promises jams, cakes, scones and the perfect topping to meringues.
Bees are coming this year – we’ve waited until the right time to bring two hives to the Smith Bites homestead and 2014 is the year; we’ve heard from other beekeepers that the winter of 2013-14 was not kind to hives here in the Midwest as several hives were lost during those seven months of flannel sheets.
But spring is finally, finally here; blue skies, a new Koi pond has been dug, more earth to turn, gardens to plant and friends to invite over for good food and great conversation.
Flannel sheets be damned.
I’ve followed Tom Hirshfeld’s work for quite some time but hadn’t officially ‘met’ until earlier this Spring when I was invited over for lunch. Tom fixed a lovely meal of braised leeks, venison carpaccio, a gluten-free seeded nut bread, gluten-free brownies for dessert and a sprouted lentil and beet salad similar to this one. I didn’t ask for the recipe but the soft crunch of the sprouted lentils combined with the earthiness of beets tied together with a vinaigrette had me creating something of my own at home within the week.
SPROUTED LENTIL & BEET SALAD
FOR THE SALAD:
- 1.5 lbs of cooked beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 6-8 small-ish beets)
- 1 cup of sprouted lentils
- ¼ cup of thinly sliced purple onion (more or less to your liking)
- Mustard vinaigrette – recipe to follow
Makes approximately 1 cup
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup red-wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Place all ingredients in a medium-sized jar, tighten lid and shake until emulsified
TO ASSEMBLE THE SALAD:
- Place beets, lentils, purple onion in a large bowl and toss with about ½ cup of the mustard vinaigrette adding more if desired
- Divide among individual plates and serve immediately