A Spring that has not sprung - a green stew to trick Winter cold and light up the grey days
Well, it seems that, pretty much like Winter before her, Spring is in no hurry to hit the country where I live in. As I write this, my hands are freezing, my feet are freezing, and outside is pouring. I had to go to my storage room and retrieve a parka I had thought I was putting away for good, now, just to go out and take my son to school. Spring is late, and in no hurry to get here. As I browse the weather predictions for this week and the next, the scenario is pretty much the same, with slight intermissions by midweek, this week. Rain, and grey skies and cold and the need for wellies, umbrellas and parkas.
I am slightly reminded - through Facebook's timeline - that about three years ago it was the same. The weather that would not pick up, cold and dreary and wet, raining non stop for the first two weeks of April. I confess I am tired of this weather, I confess I long for sunshine and a light breeze, an end to boots and coats and mufflers and scarves, a hold on roasts and stews and comforting dishes that will warm me up inside. I long for lighter fare, in every aspect, even in my own mind. Still, there's much to be said about the inspiration a rainy day grants to those who pursue the muses. I always find that I long to sit down and write when it's raining cats and dogs outside.
Strawberries can already be seen, though, and bought, but they still seem to lack somewhat in flavour. Asparagus feel old and dead to the touch, so I'm steering clear of them, despite the fact that I long to cook with them. I find myself tired of the old pears and apples and oranges I munch on from September forward, and I long for peaches and nectarines and cherries and apricots. I long for a glass of chilled white wine instead of a good bodied red - not that red completely leaves my table at any time of the year, I'm a red wine woman through and through - I long for thirst quenching sangrias, I long for huge salads. I long, but Spring won't come. She seems to have been delayed somewhere a lot more interesting than Portugal.
So I turn to veggie ladden stews to at least pretend that Spring has sprung, and I smuggle hints of spinaches and rabe leaves onto every pot and pan, in a failed atempt at making my stomach believe it won't be long, now, until I can flood it with those nibbles it has been longing for. My stomach, smart as it is, refuses to be fooled, and it won't do the trick. Still, spinach and rabe will always be welcome on my plate, and the vivid dark green of its leaves a colourful reminder that Spring will eventually be making an appearance and I will soon be complaining about allergies, while getting my fill of asparagus and fresh green leaves. Still, it all seems so far away.
This dish can easily be made vegetarian by ommiting the meat, but I cooked it with sausage because I like sausage. This was meant as a recipe for one, but I had enough for two on my pan. You'll be needing:
- a small bunch of spinach
- a small bunch of rabe
- half a leek
- one large tomato, or two medium ones
- one carrot
- one clove of garlic
- one fresh sausage
- a handful of pearl barley
- half a glass of white wine
- salt, pepper, and olive oil