BY ALISA BARRY
PHOTOS BY ANDREW THOMAS LEE & CAROLE TOPALIAN
Lovers of food all over the world wait in anticipation for each new season to emerge and offer its bounty. It’s the promise of an experience beyond simply the sustenance of filling our stomachs, although that in itself is reason enough.
With winter coming to a close, hearty stews and soup pots are put away. Spring signals a new beginning and good things to come. This time of year, the harvest is just edging its way out of the earth. Seasonal selections of vegetables are fresh and full of life.
We can’t fire up the flames fast enough for alfresco grilling and picnics in the park at the first hint of spring. Like fresh ingredients that offer a lighter fare, we ourselves lighten up in spirit. Frolicking and frivolity in the first sundrenched days of spring gets us outside and into fresh air.
Spring also signals the long-awaited arrival of local farmers markets, hinting at the bounty and abundance that we have missed for many months. Woven Moroccan baskets or reusable shopping bags are the only adornments we care to wear, vessels for the treasures we will surely uncover on our edible excursions. If we arrive to market early enough, we get first dibs on freshly laid local hen’s eggs and a baker’s dozen of tender young radishes with still-vibrant green stems. Salmon spawns golden fillets to feast on, with little to be done. A light brush of a garden herb marinade or the simplicity of a sprinkle of Sicilian sea salt, clippings of fresh herbs and a squeeze of citrus is all that is needed.
Herbs are the first of the season’s earthy abundance to appear after the winter’s reprieve.
One of my favorite ways to celebrate the season and the variety of herbs at the market, or growing in the backyard garden, is to make salsa verde. Salsa verde is Italy’s version of the traditional green sauce that’s also found in many other food cultures. It’s an herbaceous and fragrant sauce made of a combination of herbs and a variety of other ingredients such as capers, lemon, anchovies and bread. It’s fresh and doesn’t require any cooking, so it’s quick, easy and stores in the refrigerator well for a variety of uses such as dips and spreads or as a light sauce for fish, chicken and meats. Once you’ve mastered a recipe you like, be adventurous and create your own version of green sauce with whatever herbs you have on hand.
Alisa Barry is an author, artist and entrepreneur. She is the creator of the awardwinning artisan food company Bella Cucina.
Bella Cucina is based in Atlanta and has a retail store in the Virginia Highland neighborhood. bellacucina.com