Posts tagged ‘salad’
It’s still four full days before Thanksgiving tables will be heaped full of food, and yet my trip to the grocery store just now was harrowing. The aisles were packed with manic masses desperately lunging for the last bag of prepared seasoned stuffing and can of pumpkin puree. All I wanted were some bagels for breakfast. Silly me. While I realize the core of our nation’s traditions for this holiday aren’t likely to undergo a serious shift any time soon, I wish that more folks focused on doing just want the pilgrims did: gathering locally grown food to the table and giving thanks for the harvest rather than gorging on supermarket spoils hard-won from the sucker next to them in line.
Farmers markets are still open this time of the year and have a cornucopia of items fit for any thankful feast. There are potatoes, yams, pumpkins, kales, mustards, collards, lettuces, spinach, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, garlic, carrots, beets, honey, local cheeses, eggs, meats, breads, nuts, pears, apples, and cranberries galore! No need to brave the supermarket hordes.
Today’s recipe is for a very simple to make salad that is certainly worthy of a place on your holiday table. Elegant in its “deconstructed” nature with individual servings featuring a whole pear half in a beautiful dish, this salad features the lovely pure flavors of local seasonal offerings. I used pears from my family’s ancient tree, honey from my own beehive, lettuce just picked from the container on my deck, and hunks of an amazing goat cheese from Shellbark Hollow Farm in Chester County, PA.
There is an incredible (and addictive) deliciousness to be found in the contrast between the sweet honey and pear and the salty herbed pecans and cheeses. No need to set foot inside a grocery store to make this salad (presuming you have a decent spice rack in your kitchen already) and there are several other recipes in the blog index that do the same.
Squash Apple Cheddar Tart
Butternut Squash and Green Bean Curry
Roasted Beets over Gingered Millet
Saffron Pan Seared Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower
Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Soup
Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake with White Chocolate Ganache
Bittersweet & Nutty Greens
Mixed Fried Potatoes
Roasted Pumpkin & Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding
What locally grown ingredients will your Thanksgiving table feature this year?
Sticky. Hot. Car seats that scorch the back of your legs when you get in. Sudden storms. Constant state of feeling wilted. Favorite flip flops starting to break after months of constant wear. Mosquito bites from working in the garden at dusk to avoid the blazing heat of the day. Awkward tan lines.
Fresh peaches. Corn on the cob. Blissful cold showers and a box fan. Abundance of delicate blooms in the garden. Farmers markets bursting at the seams. Anticipating autumn. Messy ponytails are okay. Cold pitchers of ice tea. Long weekends. Laundry on the line. Dewy mornings. Long twilights. Watermelon and cantaloupe. Cucumbers.
Hey, guess what? I’m in England right now! Yep, that’s right. I’m traversing the pond to take a whirlwind tour of gardens of the U.K. Among them is a personal Mecca of mine - Perch Hill Farm. Can’t wait to get back and tell you all about it! In the meantime, here’s a new recipe to keep you occupied.
This dish is a bit more geared towards those of you that grow your own garden as the beets/greens need to be very young, so much so that I doubt anyone out there is selling them this small. Actually, it’s a fun trick I’ve developed in my garden this year. When the time comes to thin out any extra seedlings from the crops I direct seeded – carrots, peas (for shoots), lettuces – into my vegetable beds, I save the tender young plants I thin and eat them whole. So, these itty bitty beets – really just long red roots with tiny greens attached – were what I culled from the rows of what are now becoming beautiful big ruby orbs, which are due shortly to make their appearance in several recipes here on SFTF.
For those of you who are vegetarian out there, I used the Morning Star chicken strips and found them perfect for this recipe. The dressing is just a basic formula you can adapt a hundred different ways; add a dash of red pepper flakes, a pinch of fresh thyme, orange muscat champagne vinegar instead of balsamic, apple juice in place of honey, walnut oil instead of olive….the adaptations and flavors are endless. The idea behind the recipe is to keep it simple and fast so dinner is healthy and delicious without being time consuming. And to not waste some of the most tender, albeit small, harvests from the garden.
Young Beet Greens and Chicken Salad
A Straight from the Farm Original
¼ C. balsamic vinegar
¾ C. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. ground mustard
1 t. ground ginger
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. honey
salt and pepper to taste
2 C. chicken breast, cut into thin strips
2 C. fresh baby beet greens, roots and all, washed and dried
Make the dressing by whisking together the vinegar, oil, mustard, ginger, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper until well combined. Set aside.
In a large skillet, cook the chicken over medium heat until brown and cooked through, seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the beet greens and toss to combine with the chicken. Drizzle with half a cup of dressing and toss again. Cook just until greens begin to wilt. Remove from heat and taste. Add additional dressing and salt and pepper as desired. Serve immediately while warm.
It’s about time for some health food around here. The past several posts have all be scrumptious sugary goodness…and now my teeth are starting to hurt just a little bit and the thighs have really taken advantage of the “situation”. Good thing I’m working up a serious sweat every day in my gardening gig. My garden is growing gold these days. I’m harvesting beets, carrots, lettuce, all sorts of herbs, broccoli, swiss chard, and young mustard greens. But my two favorites have to be the kohlrabi and sugar snap peas.
I had a friend recently tell me he’d never even seen a kohlrabi before, let alone eaten it. Of course I made him try it offered him one to eat as soon as they came into season (about a month ago). But before he would take a bite, he wanted to know what it tasted like. I always have such a tough time with that question. Kohlrabi tastes like…um, well, sorta like broccoli. Yep. And sorta like a mild radish. Okay. And maybe even a little like an apple. What?? Well, that’s just my take on it anyway. It’s definitely very crunchy and when it’s peeled, it looks like the white crisp flesh of an apple. There is a mild sweetness to mine, but I’ve had other people tell me that’s not always the case with kohlrabi. Another friend who overheard me trying to describe this to my kohlrabi-virgin friend declared it was just like eating a giant broccoli stem. Hmmm, perhaps, though I like to give this alien-looking vegetable more credit than that.
I do believe my friend liked the kohlrabi, by the way. And I know for sure he and everyone else who’s visited my garden as of late loved these sugar snap peas. I can only tell you that if you’ve never had a sugar snap pea plucked straight off the vine and popped directly into your mouth, pod and all, then you’ve been denied one of life’s most delicious experiences. Don’t even kid yourself if you are thinking right now, “Well, maybe I haven’t been there to pick them myself, but I’ve surely had the same great taste from the fresh peas I buy at the farmers market”. Peas are the one vegetable everyone should try to grow themselves as they are never quite as good as they are those few precious minutes after they’ve been picked. Really, mine rarely make it into the kitchen as I inevitably eat them standing before the vine, dirt in the crack of my hands to boot, about mid-way through my evening of gardening when my tummy reminds me I never made it into the house to have some dinner. Obviously I made an exception to make this salad. Talk about practicing self-control!
Here we are once again, standing on the doorstep of a brand-spankin’ new year. Every January there’s a sense of resolve in the air around my house. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I make resolutions. I don’t have a mind that operates in those clearly defined terms. But I do assess my current situation in life and think about where I’d like to see myself heading over the next 365 days.
I’ve never been a slender woman, although since high school I have been a fitness fanatic with a nicely toned body. Unfortunately, the chaos of changing careers, moving into our first house, taking on freelance assignments to supplement the drop in pay by going back to school, and giving up my daily bike commute, my hips have been sadly spreading over the past year. So, for the first time in years, I find myself starting this particular new year with the same misgiving about weight that so many do.
To that end, I’m on the hunt for recipes with fresh flavors but fewer calories and lower in saturated fat. This recipe for Kohlrabi and Carrot Salad is a bright colorful way to start off and tasty enough to help me keep my resolve. It’s a quick lunch, crunchy enough to make you feel full, or it’s a nice little starter to curb your appetite at the start of dinner. Kohlrabi in particular seems to me to be a great vegetable for satisfying some of the more common cravings out there: it’s got the crunch of a pretzel but the slight sweetness of an apple. Sprinkle it with a little salt and it’s surprisingly satisfying.
I had a sad moment this weekend when I surveyed my garden and realized it was time for the cucumber vines to be ripped out. They’d just maxed themselves out over the last three months, and they didn’t have any proverbial gas left in the tank to do their cucumber making thing. So, I wrestled them off the tomato vines they’d got entangled with and tossed them in the compost heap…but not before I searched each vine for any last little lemon cucumbers.
It’s funny how many cucumbers a person misses when they’re harvesting. Those little (or big) buggers like to hide under the leaves and blend in with their surroundings, evading plucking yet another time. Does this happen to anyone else or am I just really bad at picking cucumbers? Well, in any case, I discovered some mammoth lemon cucumbers once I had the vines held up by the toes, turning them every direction to see what was on them.
Some were the size of softballs and must have been on there all season! Of course, once cucumbers – lemon and regular slicing varieties alike – get too big, they’re really no good for eating. I hate to give away trade secrets, but I also like to inform my readers so here’s a bit of farmers market wisdom for you: If a farmer’s got a great deal on giant cucumbers, don’t be suckered in. Even if a cucumber the size of a child’s baseball bat can be all yours for the very small price of a one humble dollar, it’s not even worth that. But you’re all such savvy seasonal eaters, you probably already knew that.
But let’s get back to today’s recipe for Sour Cucumbers with Fresh Dill. After I’d pitched the softball sized lemon cucumbers (ha, get it?) into the compost heap along with the spent vines, I had a grand sum of five reasonably sized cucumbers left to use in a final cucumber recipe for the season. I wanted them to be showcased, not smothered, in a simple dish so I could savor the last homegrown cucumbers I’ll have for many months.