Lighten Up for Spring

Seen in Sunset Park this morning... Spring is coming!

Somewhere that is not New York City it is already spring. On the Frenchie fashion blogs les filles are blogging about their open toed shoes and cute, light weight spring clothes. On the foodie blogs bloggers from California, the Southern US, and yes, France, are talking about all the delightful spring produce. I’m craving new lettuce, peas, green beans, fiddle heads, ramps, dandelion greens and all those other early spring delicacies. But so far, nothing. When I was in Central New York State two weekends ago there was still snow on the ground, so I’m not holding my breath for any local produce any time soon.

Julienne Vegetable and Pearl Barley Soup inspired by I Know How to CookI’m ready for lighter spring fare, though, so I decided to work with the vegetables available at the Co-op and approach them in a different way. Inspired by I Know How to Cook and Stephane Reynaud’s Printemps book (and a little bit of Mark Bittman) I created a julienned vegetable and barley soup and a lemony veggie tagine in the crock pot. It’s a little bit of winter, but with a lightness and taste that’s looking towards spring. Both of these recipes, incidentally, are vegan.

Julienne Vegetable Soup


3 Leeks

3 small turnips

1 medium potato

3 medium carrots

3 stalks of celery

1 small napa cabbage

4 cloves garlic

1 small head escarole

3/4 cup pearl barley uncooked

Salt and pepper

Water, vegetable stock, or vegetable bouillon

Wash and julienne (cut into small strips) the leeks, turnips, potato, carrots, celery, and cabbage. In a large soup pot heat olive oil on medium heat and saute the vegetables for a few minutes.

Julienned vegetables in the soup pot

Chop the garlic and add it to the pot. Add the barley, salt and pepper and cover the mixture with water or stock (about 8 cups). Bring to a gentle boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer with the top on for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables and barley have softened. The barley will absorb a lot of liquid, so keep your eye on it and add liquid as needed.

Turn off the heat. Wash and roughly chop the escarole and stir it into the soup. This soup can be a lunch in itself. Enjoy!

Vegetable Tagine (in a Crock Pot)

Every time I visit my sister in France she tries to get me to bring home her tagine. A tagine is kind of a clay oven used in North African cuisine to create flavorful stews that can be served over couscous (or semoule en francais). I do want a tagine (hint hint), but I can’t see myself hauling it home on the plane from France. However, since the key to a good tagine is letting the flavors blend together on low heat the crock pot was a good alternative.

Tagine in a crock pot


1 small eggplant

1 large potato

1 zucchini

2 carrots

2 celery stalks

1 small onion

1 fennel bulb

1 lemon, cut into wedges

1 can chick peas

4 cloves garlic

1 TBS fresh ginger

Pinch of safron

1 TBS Raj al Hanoot

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp corriander


Roughly chop the vegetables and place them in the crock pot. You can cut the onion and fennel into wedges and the zucchini, potato and eggplant into large chunks. Add the seasonings and chick peas and stir. Add 2 cups of water. Simmer in the crock pot on low heat for 4 to 6 hours until the mixture is stew like. Serve over couscous.

I hope these recipes will tide our fellow northerners over until real spring arrives!

About 2cooksinthekitchen

Two cooks, one from Bushwick and a passionate meat-eater, one from Sunset Park and a former vegan, and both NYC transplants, set out to share original recipes that can be made dairy free and vegan deserts; showcase culinary resources in the outer boroughs (and sometimes Manhattan) where one can find unique, specific and fairly priced ingredients; and participate wholeheartedly in the many cultures of cooking and eating that make up New York City.
This entry was posted in Cooking, Spring, Winter Recipes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Lighten Up for Spring

  1. Yay, you’re back! I’m thinking we have the same soup pot…

  2. Pingback: Magical Midweek Mango Salad with Quinoa and Black Beans | 2 Cooks in the Kitchen

  3. Dad says:

    Well El – I save your blogs to reread when I want freshness and energy and entertainment. You and Sharif when you do your food blog thing provide all of the above. And reflect the value of use of language, new tools of technology to make the message better etc. Still it is the creativity of the creators that makes it a worthwhile read. Yes , we are all fans – but objective, if you think Avis and Allison are as ” outside ” voices. Dad

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