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On Your Mark, Get Set: Waiting for Spring

2011 April 5

by Marc Duquette

Inspired by Christopher’s post last week, I went ahead and made a quick pickle with organic golden beets.  It may seem like an odd ingredient to relay but I’m thinking about relaying off the vinegar.  Not only is this a key ingredient in the quick pickles and canning in general, it is also the key ingredient in vinaigrettes.  Disheartened by the sickly sweet dressing selections at the grocery store (even those that purport to be ‘natural’ and ‘organic’), I’ve been making my own healthy vinaigrettes using homegrown herbs and Vermont Organic Farm apple cider vinegar.  So, how about a spring green salad with homemade vinaigrette?  That sounds like a starting point.

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Now for the salad.  Here in New England, late March/early April is about the worst time to source organic vegetables from the garden.  The greenhouse is full of seedlings but nothing is quite ready for the dinner plate.  Except for some scraggly over wintered mustard greens, the garden remains largely dormant, save for a few cold tolerant herbs.  In addition, I’m slowly shutting down my winter aquaponics garden in the basement (featured in my January post) to transition my efforts to the outdoor garden.  Despite this, I do know where I can get some great local spring greens.

For this relay, I’m going to partner with my brother Normand, also a healthy eater who shares my food values – sourcing local, organic, and whole foods whenever possible and making sustainable food choices.  Norm signed up for Farmer Dave’s CSA ‘Spring Greens Share.’  Bingo, there’s our salad!  Perhaps I’ll contribute the last head of ‘Crystal Crisphead’ lettuce from the basement garden and the scraggly mustard greens from the greenhouse.

Late March/early April also marks the end of maple season.  All the sap has been collected and boiled down to create this season’s liquid gold.  I’m a huge fan of anything maple, or as my daughter puts it, I’m a “mapleholic.”  How about a maple vinaigrette?  That could be interesting.

Now the next challenge – how can we turn this spring salad into a light weeknight dinner?  Very quickly, I made the connection between maple syrup and salmon – maple syrup is a fairly popular glaze for salmon.  Perhaps we can top the salad with a grilled, maple glazed, wild-caught Alaska salmon.  Although not a local choice, wild-caught Alaska salmon is a sustainable choice according to the most widely cited authority on seafood sustainability: The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program.  According to Seafood Watch, Atlantic salmon, a more local choice for me, is not sustainably managed.  This highlights a common challenge we face when making sustainable food choices.  Do I buy non-organic produce from my local farm or do I buy organic veggies shipped from California?  In these cases I would choose the produce from my local farm, but the seafood from Alaska.

So, I think we have good plan for a tasty, light, weeknight, spring meal.  See you back Thursday for the results.

Marc Duquette owns and operates Marc’s Garden when he is not working his day job.  Marc’s brother Normand, among other ventures, designs websites at