(Photo credit: Lindsay A. Strannigan)

What to Eat | What to Plant | Make This Now: April, 2012

It’s pretty damn lovely in Portland this time of year. Many of the farmers markets are open again, after lying dormant throughout the winter. The cherry trees aren’t naked anymore; they’re covered in pretty pink blossoms. Gardens are growing and thriving. The whole town just feels alive. Whenever the sun makes an appearance, the streets are flooded with pasty-skinned joggers, cyclists, and other hopefuls just trying to soak up a little Vitamin D.

Welcome to Spring in the Northwest.

What To Plant:
This is a great time to plant in the Pacific Northwest! Granted, it’s still a bit too early to plant tomatoes, squash, eggplant and peppers in the garden but you can start them inside.

However, it is warm enough that you should be able to plant most other summer vegetables and herbs, such as: cilantro, spinach, carrots, arugula, broccoli, fennel, chives, onions, parsley, mint, dill, radishes, and potatoes.

(Photo by David L. Reamer)

What To Eat:
Tis the season for spring onions and all their stinky (yet delicious) relatives: leeks, ramps, garlic scapes and chives. It’s also the season for foraged delicacies like fiddlehead ferns, morels (and other mushrooms), wild ramps and nettles. If you visit a farmers market in the near future, you’re likely to find the first crops of spring asparagus and rhubarb, as well as a wide variety of leafy greens, raabs, beets, carrots, radishes, parsnips and more.

It should also be said that seasonality isn’t necessarily limited to produce. After chatting with the folks at New Seasons Market, I discovered that April is the peak season for Wild Alaskan Halibut. The halibut are line caught in the waters of Alaska and are flown directly to Oregon, to ensure the freshest fish possible. The frigid waters of Alaska make the fish especially succulent, as the fish pack on extra weight to combat the cold temperatures. Extra fat = extra tasty halibut. While the halibut season technically runs through August, the seafood department at New Seasons informed us that April is the best time to purchase and devour halibut. So get it while the getting’s good!

(Bonus: Halibut will be offered at a special sale price at all New Seasons Markets starting on 4/25/12. Yeah!)

Make These Now: Seasonal Recipes for your Eating Pleasure

(Photo by David L. Reamer)

Pancetta Roasted Halibut
(Recipe courtesy of New Seasons)

1 1/2 lbs halibut, at least 1” thick; cut into 4 servings
Sea-salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp minced fresh thyme
1/3 lb thinly sliced pancetta
2 Tbls chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 lemon, quartered

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a rimmed baking sheet in oven on middle rack.
Season halibut with salt, black pepper and thyme.
Starting ½” from bottom of fish piece, wrap with pancetta slices, overlapping slightly and wrapping until ½” from other side. Place wrapped fish pieces on heated baking sheet, at least 2” apart.
Roast 12-15 minutes; pancetta will crisp and fish turn opaque and begin to flake. Check fish after 12 minutes and continue cooking if necessary. Serve immediately with lemon wedge and parsley.

And, here’s a few more seasonal recipes from some of our favorite blogs!

Radish Leaf & Pesto Pasta Salad with Asparagus from Rosemarried
Salmon with Morel Mushrooms and Fiddlehead Ferns from Heather Christo
Spring Pea Risotto with Roasted Marrow Bones from Flying Fourchette
Chipotle Rhubarb Salsa from Naturally Ella
Shaved Asparagus Salad with Hazelnuts from Rosemarried
Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Raab from Smitten Kitchen
Spring Carbonara with Duck Prosciutto, Fava Beans and Ramps from Zen Can Cook
Radicchio Salad with Golden Beets and Walnuts from the New York Times