Why am I writing about scallions? It's not merely to highlight my alliteration abilities. I was recently reflecting on the fact that many of my spring recipes include a sauce that purees scallions beyond recognition. Each spring, I find myself with a surplus of scallions. Not one to gobble raw onions of any variety, these beautiful green alliums pile up in my fridge. Before they can wilt however, I whip them into a marinade or sauce. Some marinades get put to use immediately and others are stored in my freezer, with or without protein for a quick fall or winter meal.
Here are seven solutions for your scallion surplus followed by my recipe for Spring Jerk Marinade to be used in Jerk Lamb Shepherd's Pie (featured below) or to marinate some chicken wings or tofu steaks. All other recipes will be featured on the blog eventually or write and I'll send you the no-frills version pronto.
Korean Beef Marinade
Scallion Tart or Pizza
Cheese and Scallion Biscuits
When all else fails, add them to a crudité platter for dipping or drizzle with olive oil and grill.
Now on to the piece de resistance. I can't get enough of this jerk marinade and once you try it, you'll be making it in big batches again and again as well. This spring jerk marinade came about because two of the earliest plants available to me in the northeast are thyme (which often survives the winter and regrows on its own) and scallions. Add some ginger, garlic, spices, and of course habañero chili peppers into the food processor and you are good to go.
My jerk marinade has countless uses -- the expected chicken wings, marinating grilled vegetables and tofu, but my most unexpected and new favorite discovery has become Jerk Shepherd’s Pie. This creation was born out of a freezer clean out where I discovered some sautéed mixed greens, about a cup of jerk marinade and a 1lb package of ground beef. The resulting creation screams British pub food meets Caribbean beach BBQ. I since replaced the beef with ground lamb and have interchanged sweet potatoes for the red potatoes & yukon golds. If you use sweet potatoes or yams, I recommend baking those whole to soften them before mashing as boiling or steaming will add too much moisture.
Spring Jerk Marinade
Yield: ~ 4 ½ cups marinade
What you need:
2 shallots or small spring onions, about ½ cup large dice
20 garlic cloves
1 bunch scallions, top ⅓ of green removed, roughly chopped
4 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled & roughly chopped, about ¼ cup
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup canola oil
6 tablespoons tamari soy sauce or shoyu
½ cup lime juice, approximately 4 limes
2 bunches (1 ½ ounces) fresh thyme, leaves and tender stems only, approximately ½ cup
4-8 habanero peppers
5 tablespoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
¼ cup water
What you do:
Put all ingredients, except the water, into the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process on high until completely pureed.
Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is the consistency of a runny sauce.
Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Be judicious with the chili peppers. The heat level will intensify over time.
Jerk Lamb Shepherd’s Pie
Yield: Serves 6
What you need:
3 red or yukon gold potatoes, about 1 ½ cups cut into ½ inch cubes
2 tablespoons butter (optional)
3 medium carrots, small dice
1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
1 bunch cooking greens, chopped (such as mizuna, chard, kale, mustard greens)
1 lb ground lamb (or beef)
1 - 1 ½ cups jerk marinade (above)
What you do:
Place the cubed potatoes in a large stock pot and cover with cool water. Add a generous handful of kosher salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and cook until potatoes are fork tender. Drain. Using a ricer or potato masher, mash the potatoes, adding butter if desired.
In a medium pot fitted with a steamer basket, add water to just above the basket. Bring to a boil. Add the carrots and a few pinches of kosher salt. Steam until the carrots are tender but still firm, about 5 minutes.
In a large skillet, heat oil on medium high heat. Add the chopped greens and a pinch of salt and sauté until they are soft. Remove greens from pan and set aside.
Using the same skillet, heat another tablespoon of oil. Add the ground lamb, breaking it up with a spoon until you have ½ inch crumbles. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and sauté until cooked through.
Add the jerk marinade to the lamb. Cook about 5-7 minutes until the marinade is absorbed into the lamb and the lamb breaks down further into smaller crumbles.
Preheat the broiler. In an oven- proof casserole dish, layer the lamb, followed by carrots and greens and top with the mashed potatoes.
Heat under the broiler on high for about 12 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and crisp.
To Freeze: Wrap casseroles tightly with plastic wrap. Label with contents and reheating instructions.
To Reheat: Thaw overnight or for at least 12 hours in refrigerator. Preheat broiler. Remove plastic wrap and broil under high for 12-15 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and crisp and the center is warmed.