Question: What foods are in season in Iowa in April?
Answer: Maple syrup, spinach from the greenhouses, and… storage crops from last fall like potatoes, beets, garlic, carrots and onions.
For the most part, April can be a tough month to find fresh food in the Midwest, as it’s the month that many plants are seeded. Even native plants aren’t quite ready to peek above the ground, just in case a fated late blizzard comes their way.
So we are patient for the greens, peas and radishes to arrive at the farmers markets in May (Decorah Farmers Market opens Wednesday, May 3), and in the meantime, we get creative with what we have and try to reinvent the foods we’ve been eating for many months.
Don’t get me wrong — I hope you are celebrating the season by enjoying large spinach salads with maple-mustard vinaigrette. One can’t live off of spinach salads alone, though each spring I try!
Many farmers still have potatoes, garlic and meat from last year’s abundance. Let’s help them by incorporating it into our spring menus!
To brighten up roasted-anything (pork, potatoes, onions or chicken) try one of my favorite easy homemade condiments: zesty cilantro sauce. It’s also delicious on brats, used as a salsa or shaken up with vinegar for a quick salad dressing (I know, again with the salads!).
This sauce is a breeze, uses inexpensive, easy-to-find ingredients and stays in the fridge for up to two weeks!
Josh’s Cilantro sauce
2 bunches of cilantro
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ to 1-1/2 cups vegetable oil (depending on how large the cilantro bunches are)
Salt to taste
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Rough chop cilantro—stems and all!
Add cilantro and garlic to a blender or food processor. Pulse.
With the machine on low, pour vegetable oil in until the oil starts to pool and it reaches a pourable consistency. Start light — you can always add more.
Add salt and/or red pepper flakes. Pulse.
Taste test, adjusting salt/oil/garlic as needed
Classic maple mustard vinaigrette
2 parts olive oil
1 part apple cider vinegar
1-2 t. brown or Dijon mustard
3 t. real maple syrup
1 clove garlic, halved
In a mason jar pour 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
Add garlic halves, mustard and maple syrup to taste
Shake vigorously, and enjoy!