“When April steps aside for May,
Like diamonds all the rain-drops glisten;
Fresh violets open every day:
To some new bird each hour we listen.”
— Lucy Larcom
What a truly merry month, the month of May! A month full of flavorful occasions to celebrate, from spicy, zesty Cinco de Mayo, to toasting the heart pounding excitement of the Kentucky Derby with fresh mint juleps, lilac laden Mother’s Day brunches, all the pomp and circumstance of joyous college graduations, intermingled with the delicious delights of barbecue season.
Local gardens are beginning to produce seasonal crops during May, that are the perfect ingredients for festive gatherings. Beets, red, golden and the wonderful striped Chioggia, lend breathtaking color to both roasted and raw vegetable platters , or spectacular salads. Cooked beets can be whipped up with cream or goat cheese for a fabulous fuschia colored dip. Not only do beets provide gorgeous color on the plate but gorgeous health benefits as well, as they are rich in immune boosting vitamin C, and are a nutritious source of fiber, potassium and folate.
Fresh peas are coming into season, and their superb sweetness is one of the most sublime flavors of May. One of the most luscious crops to consume straight off the vine, fresh peas also meld well into stir-fries, salads, risotto, savory pancakes or crepes, soups or even pureed into pesto. Peas are low in fat, while being a tasty source of protein, fiber and restorative vitamin C and E.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge rhubarb as another marvelous May ingredient. Rhubarb also provides the body with fiber, protein, vitamin C, potassium and even calcium. It’s puckery, sour sweetness is absolutely divine in cakes, breads, pies, cobblers or cooked down into either a savory or sweet sauce. Savory rhubarb sauce is a scintillating accompaniment to grilled pork or chicken, while a sweet sauce can top pancakes or French toast, or crown a dish of frozen yogurt, creating a superb spring sundae! Straining rhubarb sauce will yield a perfectly pink syrup that can be combined with cold, sparkling seltzer water for festive non-alcoholic drink, or added to Prosecco for a beautiful brunch beverage.
Raise a toast to preparing a delicious life and savor the merry month of May.
Beautiful Brunch Rhubarb Syrup
4 cups chopped rhubarb
½ to ¾ cup white sugar (use up to a full cup if you like it sweet, but the beauty of rhubarb is it’s sourness!)
1 cup water
Combine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn heat down a bit and let mixture simmer for approximately 20 minutes, or until very, very soft. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. After letting rhubarb mixture cool down, place mixture in strainer and press on it with a spoon to extract all the liquid you can. Pour liquid into a clean glass bottle or jar and store in the refrigerator. Should keep for at least one month. If you prefer a little spiciness, add a few slices of ginger to the other ingredients when starting the cooking process. You could also add some orange or lemon peel.
For a Rhubarb Bellini combine 1 part rhubarb syrup with 4 parts Prosecco or Champagne. Garnish with a lemon or orange peel.
For more information on Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “the Conscious Cook” go to www.theconsciouscook.net