Happy Easter! It has been a long, crazy winter. We had just a hint of spring before a cold snap hit again, but it looks like we are on our way back and hopefully it will last this time!
I took advantage of the nice weather to plant my container herb garden. I've got chives, French thyme, English thyme, lemon thyme, and oregano thyme in one pot. The big one has common sage, purple sage, rosemary, spearmint, tarragon, Greek and Italian oregano, and dill. And the last one has sweet basil, thai basil, amethyst basil, lemon basil, and parsley.
I also cleared out and cleaned up my tiny backyard, and while I was removing dead leaves, I accidentally uncovered a nest full of baby rabbits! I was totally shocked and didn't know what to do. I yelled for my husband to bring me a box to put them in while I hit the internet for advice. Leave them alone and put them back was the unanimous decision. Mama rabbits only visit the babies 2 times a day to feed very quickly (1-2 minutes) so that predators won't know where they are. So baby rabbits have not been abandoned and they don't need to be rescued (unless injured by lawnmower, dog, cat, etc...). In fact, trying to take care of them yourself will likely kill them!
So I quickly finished my yard work and cleared out their (super tiny) hole. I replaced the mat of fur that I had pulled out while clearing leaves (mama lines the hole with her fur to keep them warm) and plopped the little ones back in there. Then I covered them up with dry leaves. Some people think that touching a baby rabbit will cause the mama to abandon her babies, but that is a myth. I was wearing gloves the whole time, though, so it didn't matter anyway. I didn't try to pet them or handle them too much. They were so cute and sweet, but I knew they were scared and it would stress them out.
I also learned that these guys are pretty much ready to leave the nest in a few days because their eyes were open and they were pretty active. In fact, a couple of hours after I put them back, this little guy had ventured out! I almost didn't notice him, he was so still. I took this photo from pretty far away with a zoom, and then quickly went inside so he wouldn't freak out. When I put them back in their nest, I placed tiny sticks in a square over the top of the leaves - this is so that you can see if the mother has come back to feed the babies overnight. I checked today, and the sticks were moved - thank goodness! I will be keeping an eye on the little ones to make sure they are okay. I'm so honored mama choose my yard as a safe place to keep her babies and I want it to stay that way!
Anyway, spring is about more than adorable baby animals - it's also about peas! And asparagus! And strawberries! So let's eat some srpingtime food. I love fresh English peas, the texture is so great - do try to use them if you can find them.
This salad is so full of good stuff - fresh baby greens, blanched spring veggies, crisp radish slices, and cheesy tortellini. I used baby sprouts and mache rosettes, but any fresh microgreens and baby greens will work. I also used fiddleheads, but they available only for a short window. So use asparagus if you can't find them, they taste very similar.
Finished off with a simple vinaigrette and salty feta cheese, this salad is everything - crunchy, creamy, fresh, green, spicy, bright, herby. I'm in love. Happy Spring, my lovelies!
Spring Vegetable and Tortellini Salad
adapted from The Kitchn
1 8oz pkg fresh (not dried) tortellini (cheese or pesto work great) (you can use ravioli, too) (I used tri-color cheese tortellini)
1 lb fiddleheads (or asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch spears)
1 cup shelled peas (fresh is best)
3 cups greens (baby spinach or arugula, sprouts, I used mache and baby sprouts)
4 radishes, sliced thinly
1 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
1 tbsp herbs (basil and mint are my favorite)
1/4 cup pine nuts (I forgot these, oops!)
4 oz crumbled feta (or goat cheese)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar (or a squeeze of lemon juice)
1/4 cup olive oil (high quality extra-virgin)
salt and pepper
Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath.
When the water is boiling, add the fiddleheads. They take about 10 minutes to cook. Add the tortellini for the last 5 minutes, then the peas for the last 30 seconds. (Note - if using asparagus: add the tortellini first, add the asparagus for the last 2 minutes and the peas for the last 30 seconds - 5 minutes total.)
Strain the pasta and vegetables and place immediately into the ice bath. Once they've cooled, strain again and pour into a mixing bowl. Add the greens, radish, chives, herbs, and pine nuts. (At this point you can place the salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days. I did this and ate the salad for lunch 4 days in a row, removing one portion each day and tossing with cheese and dressing individually.) Toss with feta, vinegar, and oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.