Early Spring SLIDERS! – Carol McFarland

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It is now April and the daffodils have been transitioning into tulips. I even saw some lilac buds beginning at the WSU campus. Things are feeling a bit lean on the local food scene these days and I confess I went to my favorite warehouse store last weekend. It was a busy week and unfortunately our own food scene suffered a bit. With a busy weekend coming up I wanted something that could go beyond Friday night dinner.

At the core of the meal is ground beef from Palouse Prairie Farm, which can be found at the lovely Palouse Grown Market and there are lots of other great places on the Palouse to get ground beef.

Vegetarian Modification:

This recipe could actually be gluten-free and vegan if the beef were swapped with large crimini mushrooms or your favorite vegetarian burger swap-out (larger patties could be cut into 1/4s for the slider effect)

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A note regarding the local and seasonal nature of the rest of the meal:

When I go to the grocery store, regardless of if it is the Co-op or my favorite warehouse store, I try to be aware of what is in season. Often things that are in season go on sale, because they are easier to produce and so it can be done more cost-effectively, which can translate into savings and environmental bonus points for eaters.

What is in season is sometimes interpreted a bit loosely to include what is produced within our region- roughly meaning the West/Northwest. When making my own food choices in the grocery store, I often consider making choices that reflect what could be produced in the Palouse-Clearwater foodshed, if our food system were more robust.

This recipe is a good reflection of those choices resulting from it still being about a month away from the beginning of the new local food growing-season.

Sliders – with veggies:

1 lb ground beef

1/2 onion

1/2 lb mushrooms

1 or 2 medium potatoes

1/2 c marinated artichoke hearts (these could be grown here and preserved from the summer)

1/2 c dried tomatoes in oil (these could be grown here and preserved from the summer)

1 lb asparagus

3 c spinach

Black pepper, salt, favorite spice blend, cilantro can all flavor this dish – together or not

Start with the onions on medium-high in a big-ol’ fry pan, get those started sauteeing in a bit of your favorite cooking oil/fat

Form the beef into small (about 1/4 c sized) patties and add to the onions once they are translucent and cook; covered, 5-8 minutes then flip and repeat until sliders are medium rare

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Add the mushroom caps and potatoes and cook another 5 minutes

Add the artichokes on the side, along with the tomatoes

This can be turned down to low at this point and allowed to simmer for awhile, or turned up to cook faster if you are in a hurry. Just make sure to keep an eye on it.

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Just before you are ready to serve toss in the asparagus for 2 minutes on top of everything else in spears, or cut into 1″ pieces. Then add the spinach and cook for another 2 minutes.

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Now it is ready to be served on your favorite toasty grilled bread, flatbread, wrap; over-top of rice, quinoa or couscous; or alone (if you want to do that feel free to bulk up with another potato or two or anything else you like

And it goes into a lunchbox pretty easily too!

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How do you eat seasonally this time of year? How do  you eat more local food in April? Where are places we can get some of the ingredients?

With Gratitude- especially to Shane McFarland for always helping to clean up the mess I make!

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