Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with a spacious kitchen. They often bring some of their market's best ingredients home with them and cook up a feast, and when they're not cooking at home, they're working with the staff at Marczyk to create recipes for the rest of us to enjoy, usually turning to Whitney Ariss, a home cook and the market's marketing project manager and events coordinator, for inspiration.
At Marczyk's, the first signs of spring -- fiddleheads and nettles -- have arrived in the produce section. "Finally, our eating habits can come out of hibernation," says Ariss, and soon, she adds, "We'll get even more fun stuff like morels, peas and ramps."
And to celebrate these early springtime ingredients, Ariss tracked down this recipe for chilled nettle soup with pickled fiddleheads. "It's the perfect entryway into seasonal eating, because it takes advantage of some really flavorful ingredients that are usually only around for a fleeting period of time in the spring," she says, adding that the soup can be made with just about "any assortment of greens, including watercress, mizuna or even beet greens."
But if you're feeling adventurous, she encourages you to play with nettles. "Their stinging ability is enough to frighten people away," she admits, "but as long as you don't handle thee greens with your bare hands, you'll be just fine." Empty them straight from the bag into a pot of boiling water, she advises, and after five minutes, the sting diminishes. "The flavor is lovely, akin to a combination of spinach and cucumber, and adds a really unique flavor to this delicious and wholesome soup," she says.
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