Knowing that the season for sea asparagus is a short one and soon to come to a close, I was relieved to have made it to the farmers’ market yesterday just in time to nab the last bag of it at Forbes’ Wild Foods table. My intent being to continue on the trail started last post with more ideas for using this darling of the seashore. Turns out, I stumbled into a whole sea garden’s worth of treasures. I was able to scoop up delicacies I’d never even dreamed about. Sea Spinach! Sea Parsley! Sea Chickweed! Who knew? How did this knowledge escape my notice in the many years I lived on the Atlantic coast? Obliviously surrounded by its wealth back then, I now covet and must seek out what morsels wash up on these urban tidal shores. Having tasted their splendors, I am only too happy to do so. May you also have the good fortune to chance upon these in your neighborhood markets.
On the menu today: an appetizer, a side, and two salads……
The first, “Watermelon and Sea Asparagus Cocktail” takes a little inspiration from the popular combo of watermelon and feta. Here the salty feta is replaced with salicornia and mint leaves round out the refreshment.
A terrific side dish can be made of freshly shelled peas and sea asparagus. Dunk the peas in boiling water for a minute or two, drain, and sauté briefly with well-rinsed sea asparagus in olive oil. Throw in some minced garlic scapes if you have, or just garlic. A little butter finishes it off nicely.
The sea spinach is the salt and the sea chickweed is the pepper in “Salt and Pepper Salad”. Pretty much anything goes with it. Here is a version with apples and grapefruit. It’s all tossed in olive oil and blueberry vinegar.
And for dessert: more salad! No dressing required, the savory sea parsley, aka,
sea celery, combines beautifully with fresh figs and feta for a jolly threesome….
It was a good week for discoveries……not for plant life alone….I also came upon a very striking bee that I had not been familiar with. It was busy with a coneflower (Echinacea) and sported a shiny green thorax (upper body), black and white striped abdomen, and enormous pollen sacs, looking like a cowboy in chaps. They are small bees, and solitary, in that they do not have hives. They tunnel their nests into the ground. Agapostemon is their Latin name, and they are called ‘sweat bees’ because they like to land on humans and drink in their sweat. Don’t worry, they aren’t aggressive. I hope that someday one will land on me. I’ll chalk it up to good luck.