If I’m Eating This, It’s Spring, Right?

It can stop snowing any day now.

Don’t misunderstand me: I love winter. I love being inside a cozy house and looking out into storm and wind. I love wearing sweaters and boots. I love frost on the windows and snow-heaped sills and winter holidays and all of that. At the end of February, though, this begins to get rather tiresome. The walls of my shabby old Victorian house let in drafts at every right angle, the three-mile round-trip walk to the train station seems longer and longer, and the precipitation changes from beautiful (if mildly treacherous) snow to hideous (and always treacherous) freezing rain. I do not enjoy spending hours hacking my car of out a block of ice, and I begin to believe that I will never be warm again.

Lacking powers of meteorological manipulation, all I can do is try to summon spring with my meals. I’m not exactly tired of root vegetables and stews yet, but I find myself daydreaming of brighter accents for them. Last night I roasted a medley of beets, Brussels sprouts and turnips (three of my favorite vegetables, season notwithstanding), tossed them with lemon juice and hazelnut oil and served them with lemon-marinated turkey fillets. Lemon is bright, yes, but I wanted something to contrast with the earthiness of the vegetables and to make the entire meal pop. Online (on epicurious.com, where I get a lot of ideas), I noticed a recipe for lemon-marinated chicken breasts (similar to my turkey fillets) served with a watercress-scallion mayonnaise, all of the ingredients for which I had in the fridge. I didn’t like epicurious’s proportions–it seemed like a whole lot of mayonnaise to comparatively little herb–so I just added in whatever amounts I wanted.

Into the food processor went the leaves from an entire bunch of watercress, two torn up scallions (roots removed, of course), a squirt of lemon juice and salt and pepper. I pulsed the machine a bit until everything was chopped and violently green, then added in two or three tablespoons of mayonnaise. (I love mayonnaise, and have even been known to lick the spoon, but I don’t think that the stipulated 3 Tbsp per person is a reasonable serving size).

I pulsed the mayonnaise in, spooned the vibrant, green-bestudded sauce onto the waiting plates, and idly licked the spatula as I put it into the sink. I paused, licked again, then put down the spatula and used my fingers to get all of the remaining flecks out of the food processor bowl. It was good: spicy from the watercress, oniony from the scallions, sparky from the lemon juice and rounded by the mayonnaise. The ingredients blended into a piquant whole without an identifiable main ingredient; one might, however, say that it tasted like the platonic ideal of onion dip.

Indeed, it was the hit of the meal. The vegetables were excellent and the poultry was fine on its own (white meat is so difficult), but the sauce made it into food, not just items on a plate in a cold cold room.

Published in: on February 28, 2007 at 10:02 am  Leave a Comment  

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