An increasing number of Quebecois are consciously adopting environmentally friendly eating habits. A clear example of this is eating “in season”, where seasonal foods grace your plate. This eating style enables farmers to respect natural growing cycles, without needing to accelerate Mother Nature’s good timing for production reasons. A seemingly small gesture, it’s actually highly economical in addition to being environmental. Want to try it out? We’re eager to help! Each month, we’ll offer you delectable recipes cooked with seasonal products, so you know what to put in your grocery cart.
In the month of May, asparagus, rhubarb, beets, and cabbage are in season. For a more thorough list of products, search the web; the Équiterre.org website is a great start.
From mid-May to July, Quebec-grown asparagus is popping up all over grocery stores, and can be prepared in a million delicious ways. Fresh, tender and somewhat spicy, it’s a great addition to salads (with a tangy vinaigrette!), fabulous in pasta, and makes a super side dish. Have you considered adding it to paella!? Our version of this Spanish classic adds a touch of spring to your plate.
Chicken and asparagus paella
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes
60 ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
8 skinless drumsticks
4 Merguez sausages
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) arborio Italian rice (short-grain rice)
1/2 can, 540 ml (19 oz.), of diced tomatoes in juice
750 ml (3 cups) chicken broth
1 large pinch Spanish saffron
2 ml (1/2 tsp.) anise seed, crushed
80 ml (1/3 cup) Corinthian raisins
Salt and pepper to taste
225 g (1/2 lb.) asparagus tips, cut into sections, blanched
1. In a large frying pan, heat half the oil on high. 2. Brown chicken and sausage 2 minutes. Remove meat from pan. 3. Add the remaining oil, onion and garlic, and fry 1 minute. 4. Add rice and fry 1 more minute. 5. Pour in the tomatoes and broth, mix well and reduce heat to medium. 6. Add saffron, anise seeds, raisins, salt and pepper. 7. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 25 minutes or until the liquid is completely absorbed. Stir often. 8. If the rice is still somewhat hard and no liquid remains, add 125 mL (1/2 cup) more broth. Repeat as necessary. 9. Add asparagus and season to taste 4 minutes before removing from heat. 10. Let stand uncovered for 3 minutes before serving. 11. See all products recommended with the recipe.
Wines bearing the Fruity and Medium-bodied taste tag will pair wonderfully with this recipe. The noses of the aforementioned wines are heavy with aromas of fruit. Serve a rosé that will pleasantly highlight the paella’s tomato components.
Act fast: rhubarb season lasts only a few weeks! Use that time wisely as you enjoy the springtime sun, and make this glorious strawberry-rhubarb pie. It’s a perfect mix of tart rhubarb and sweet strawberry that will thrill taste buds no matter where you serve it this spring.
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 50 minutes
6 to 8 servings
500 ml (2 cups) strawberries, hulled and cut into sections
500 ml (2 cups) frozen rhubarb, thawed and drained
265 ml (1 cup + 1 tbsp.) sugar
60 ml (1/4 cup) maple syrup
80 ml (1/3 cup) cornstarch
2.5 ml (1/2 tsp.) ground cinnamon
2 pie shells, 23 cm (9 in.)
15 ml (1 tbsp.) butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). 2. In a bowl, combine the strawberries, rhubarb, 250 ml (1 cup) sugar, maple syrup, cornstarch and cinnamon. Stir gently and set aside. 3. Line the bottom of a 23 cm (9 in.) pie plate with the pie shell. 4. Fill with the strawberry and rhubarb mixture. 5. Sprinkle with pieces of butter. 6. Brush the edge of the pie with a bit of water. 7. Top with the second pastry shell. 8. With a fork, seal the pie by gently pressing the edges together. 9. With the tip of a knife, cut two incisions in the shape of a cross at the centre of the pie. 10. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. 11. In a bowl, beat the egg with the cold water. 12. Remove the pie from the oven. 13. Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash. Sprinkle with 15 ml (1 tbsp.) of sugar. 14. Bake for 10 minutes. 15. Set aside to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. 16. Serve the pie with vanilla ice cream.
Look no further than a cider or sweet wine with the Fruity and Extra-Sweet taste tag for a perfect match to this pie. Tropical fruit and honey aromas will beautifully compliment the sweetness of this dish.
If you have a few leftover rhubarb stalks, save them for cocktail time! This delightful drink puts this sensational stalk back in its rightful, tasty place of honour.
Place the rhubarb and sugar in a 500 ml (2 cups) Mason jar and crush using a muddler.
Add vodka and almond liqueur and allow to macerate overnight in the refrigerator.
Strain using a sieve, pressing to get as much juice as possible. Divide among six julep or highball glasses. Top up with sparkling wine. Garnish with mint stems.
Photos: Marie des neiges Magnan