If you like local, in-season produce — welcome.
If you like recipes, sort of, a little, but nothing too complicated — enjoy.
I don’t want to write another in a sea of internet food columns with tricky recipes that must be followed exactly, or that send you searching for watermelon in January.
Watermelon in January is wrong.
Each week, I’ll write about a fruit or vegetable that’s currently in-season in southcentral Pa., where to get it (think local orchards and farmer’s markets, not box chain stores that begin with “W”) how to prepare and store it, and most importantly, a semi-detailed suggestion on how to eat it, straight from my not-at-all sophisticated kitchen.
In fact, you might not even always get measurements. I have this little dude (who is starting to eat fruits, so stay tuned for a post on strawberry pacifiers), a full-time job, my own writing on the side, and obsessions like “The Voice” and keeping the dog from being abused by the cats. My time is limited. My “recipes” are a list of ingredients to throw together, and roughly how to prepare them.
Sometimes, measuring is a luxury.
Another disclaimer: I co-habitate and have otherwise pledged to share my existence with a green-thumb kinda guy. He works part-time at everybody’s favorite indoor city market and farms our land the rest of the time. Much of my knowledge is gleaned from what I’ve learned while watching him anchor tomato plants to a clothesline and scolding me for putting green avocadoes in the fridge.
But he really liked these tacos, and it was his gift of a grocery bag brimming with bunch after bunch of pristine spring onions that inspired them.
Spring onions, green onions, scallions — whatever you call them, their crunch and tender flavor can punch up any savory dish you don’t want to overwhelm with a stronger onion.
Spring onions are, in fact, just baby onions that farmers pull early to thin out rows so the remaining onions have room to get deliciously enormous.
But these babies are delicious in their own rite. My father used to pull them right out of the ground, rinse them, snap off the root, drag them through salt and eat them raw. I even eat them like this occasionally, but my advice is to try the tacos first.
Cutting tip: Take your rinsed bunch of scallions and slide the rubber band up the stalks to the point you wouldn’t cut past (incidentally, you can use more than you’d think, but once you get past white to pure green, you’re in less flavorful garnish territory). Tap the root ends on the counter or cutting board to line them up, then slice off and discard the roots and continue slicing until you get up to the rubber band. Perfectly diced spring onions in about 6 seconds.
What else you need:
- Tortillas (I like flour; corn is good, too.)
- Sweet corn (Frozen, canned, freshly cut off the cob … are you getting the “details don’t matter” vibe here?)
- Fish fillets (I like frozen tilapia, but maybe you like fresh red snapper?)
- Finely shredded cabbage leaves (Cabbage to fish ratio should be roughly equal.)
- An avocado (which, as I’ve learned, should be nicely ripe now because you sat it on the kitchen windowsill instead of putting it in the fridge while it was still green, RIGHT?)
- Sour cream, a black bean salsa, any taco sauce you like. Roll with it.
I like these tacos because there are so many variations. When it gets hot, you can serve these cold or room temperature by using a mayo-based fish salad instead of fillets. Otherwise, to prepare the fish, you can grill it, broil it, bread-and-fry it, whatever you like. Loosely chop it up and set it aside.
In a frying pan, add a little olive oil and flash fry the shredded cabbage until just wilted. This is the only important part: Don’t overcook the veggies. Almost raw is better than even a little bit mushy because fish is kinda mushy, tortillas are kinda mushy, avocado is definitely mushy, and you want non-mushy elements or the whole thing is a mush mess. Stir in the corn just long enough to heat it up, then — I didn’t forget about you, scallions, you yummy things — throw in the onions. Turn off the heat, mix, spoon onto tortillas, add your fish and other trimmings, and oh look, you’re already eating.
Between the softness of the fish, avocado and tortillas is the crunch of the three veggies, which makes for a heart-healthy, texturally pleasing, spring-y dinner.
Where my guy got the scallions: Charles Family Farm (Lancaster County) stand at Central Market House, York.