I always love the time of year when Earth Day rolls around. Whether it be the spring blooms that have me fluttering about or the fact that my birthday does indeed fall a few days later or that it’s an excuse to ‘hug a tree’, I love how April brings new growth and freshness to our lives. It’s a time to enjoy the longer days, breathe in the fresh air, plant seeds in the garden, and sit in the grass while the birds chirp in your ear.
I always want to do something to celebrate this special season. We used to have an Earth Day party every year, that I SO enjoyed planning….. what better way to celebrate the Earth and its loveliness than in the company of good friends. (And a good excuse to hug trees, frolic barefoot, and partake in a keg of local beer.) 🙂 Recently though, life sometimes gets the best of you, and I’ve been a bit absent on Turquoise Autumn, much less am I planning an Earth Day party this year. (My 3.5 year old son was just diagnosed with Crohn’s disease…. more on the subject to come in a later post, but the recipes below are definitely reflective of things I have learned along this journey so far.)
So I was really craving sharing a special meal to celebrate the season with a good friend. My lovely friend, Lindsey (from Coco Love), was just the one to share this earthy lunch. Lucky for us, it was gorgeous earlier this week and we were able to play in the kitchen with the windows open, The Shins on repeat, and whip up these simple recipes for a tasty meal.
These recipes just really came about spur of the moment. I knew I had wanted to make a salad with spelt because 1) I had never used it before and 2) my family recently went grain-free due to my son’s diagnosis, and although spelt is a grain and it does contain the gluten, it is a little easier on the digestive system. All the ingredients just fell into place after that….. I found local ramps from Happy Cat Farms at the Philly Farm and Food Fest a few days before, then fava beans at Whole Foods, and voila…. this salad was created. Lindsey and I wanted to keep it simple and fresh and highlight the spring ‘green’ flavors. (And I think we accomplished what we were after! 🙂 )
Ginger Lemonade with Mint
quarter-size knob of ginger (peeled & grated)
2 tablespoons honey
handful of mint
Juice the lemons and put juice in a glass pitcher. Add water to fill the pitcher. We added around 3.5 cups of water. Sweeten with honey. Muddle with ginger and mint.
Earth Grain Salad
1 cup of spelt
1 bunch of ramps
1 cup fava beans, blanched & shelled
butterhead lettuce or greens of choice
freshly squeezed orange juice of 1/2 orange
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt & pepper to taste
Soak the spelt berries for 1 hour. In a large pot with salted water, bring spelt to a boil. Lower heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour or until spelt is slightly puffed. Spelt should be soft and chewy.
Shell the fava beans. In a pot of boiling water, blanch the beans for 30 seconds. Immediately put into an ice bath. The waxy outer shell of the beans should now easily come off. (For pictures and details, I found this.)
Saute the ramps in a tablespoon of butter or ghee until still bright green, but wilted. (I’ve been cooking with ghee lately and I have to say, I am really liking it.) Set aside.
Make the dressing. In a mason jar with lid, mix orange juice, orange zest, olive oil, salt and pepper. Shake vigorously. (The orange zest really makes this dressing and brightens all the flavors of the spring goodness in the salad.)
In a large bowl, mix together spelt, ramps, and fava beans. Cover with dressing. Save a little bit of dressing to drizzle on top of salad once assembled.
Assemble the salad. Start with a bed of greens. Add spelt mixture and top with sliced avocado. Drizzle with the saved salad dressing.
For the crust:
3/4 cup almond flour (increase if needed for overall texture)
1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon sea salt
cinnamon for sprinkling
Grease mini tart pans with coconut oil. In a large bowl, mix almond flour, egg, melted coconut oil, and salt. Press mixture into tart pans and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake tart shells at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
For the filling:
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
a pinch of xanthan gum
a pinch of cinnamon
Slice plums and mix with orange juice, xanthan gum, and cinnamon.
Arrange in baked tart shells. Sprinkle with sanding sugar or cinnamon if desired.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.
This lunch was so simple and fresh. Lindsey and I had the best time chatting in the kitchen while preparing and I was thrilled that I got to be there when Lindsey tried her first ramps! (I love, love, love ramps!)
We also purposely made the dessert grain-free. I wanted to have a special treat from our day that the little man could partake in too. (We’ve cut out all grains from his diet to improve his digestive health, very much along the lines of the GAPS diet.) But I must say, this tart was so so simple, and the plums, oh the plums, they shine! Lindsey found these amazing plums, that really ended our meal on such a sweet note! Thank you to Lindsey for helping prepare and share this lovely little lunch!
I wish everyone sunshine and positive vibes this Earth Day! I hope you get the chance to enjoy spring’s bounty of green, frolic in the garden, and hug a tree! Xo!
“It seems to me that we all look at Nature too much, and live with her too little.” _ Oscar Wilde
(Plates, napkins, tart pans, and Weck jar: Williams-Sonoma)