Dinner party conversation last night was about growing things (the search for a true red geranium) and also about the lack of things grown--the farmer's market pickings are still slim, as we are barely, barely into spring here in near-New England. I did make it to the Lenox market on Friday, and mostly bought plants--herbs and some lacinato kale which I will set out in a week or two. We bought some cider, too, no doubt from stored apples. Fine, but not exactly a sign of things to come.
I did manage to find some fiddleheads at the healthfood store this week, though, and so I decided to experiment with them. (For those who don't know, fiddleheads are fern shoots, tightly coiled baby leaves forming circles about an inch across, shaped like the head of a violin. Along with morels and asparagus, they are a classic first-of-spring delicacy, but one I'd never eaten or cooked.) I first blanched them, then briefly sauteed them in good olive oil with salt and pepper; I served them as part of a salad (they were still warm when I tossed it all together) with pea shoots and goat cheese (both local) and a vinaigrette with champagne vinegar, shallots and more good olive oil. (So much for that locavore thing.) It was good, but the fiddleheads overwhelmed the pea shoots, and the whole thing needed a punch--I think pomegranate seeds would have been a welcome addition. (Again, just kick that whole 100 mile idea to the curb.)
My main course, chicken breasts with a kale stuffing, came from Mark Bittman's Bitten blog, a source of many great meals over the last few months. I adapted his dish, changing his spinach for kale (a California-grown lacinato like the one I plan to plant) and using currants instead of golden raisins, because that's what I had in the pantry. I also added a little chicken stock and cooked the stuffing a bit longer, since the kale is tougher and slower to soften than the spinach. The result was truly delicious, served with brown rice cooked with cumin and ginger, a staple of my diet these days (and another challenge to eating locally.)