Posts filed under ‘Salads’
Winter, for me, is a season of cleansing and stark beauty. The simplicity of the silhouettes of bare branches against a steely grey sky speaks softly to my heart, also in need of a restful moment or two. Snow is a constant wonder to me, though not in the same way it was when I was a kid barreling down the long steep hill behind our farmhouse on a wooden sled that surely was dangerous with its rusty metal rails. In fact, a new unblemished blanket of white has just fallen overnight and my current home’s window frames a comforting innocence, the usually busy city street out front muffled. Soon a gaggle of neighborhood kids will be sliding down the gentle slopes of the school yard next door. I suppose the wonderment I have for winter white is that it is a great equalizer. An eyesore and a masterpiece look nearly the same under a mantle of snowflakes. Neighbors who may do no more than nod hello in every other season gather together with shovels on shoulders to clear the alleyway connecting all their homes, shouting stories about their kids or the city’s sports teams over the scrape of shovels against asphalt. For at least a few hours, everyone in the world seems a little more considerate. A little more wholesome.
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?
Here is the last of the recipes for my recent late-summer dinner plate. Albeit, it is now officially fall. But I’m a bit slow in posting these days, immersed is many other creative projects. My mind’s constantly going in twenty different directions, concerned at one moment with arranging flowers for a wedding, at another moment with blending herbal teas from my garden harvests, at another with re-designing the perennial plantings in my front yard, and at yet another with knitting up some fun and funky wrist warmers. I’m a woman with too many hobbies, I think.
But one creative passion is always ticking away in the back of my head. Recipe development is an interest and skill that’s been honed over these past several years of food blogging. I now find myself caught up in thought in the middle of my garden while harvesting, deeply considering the merits of roasting versus boiling as well as flavor pairings and contrasting textures. I know that this entire blog is based on the inspiration of freshly harvested produce for its simple and beautiful preparations, but some days I’m still blown away by how rousingly handsome handfuls of fresh vegetables are. Beets are among the most precious jewels in this capacity.
Beets, so rich in vitamins and earthy flavor, are surprisingly versatile in the kitchen. Tuck them into a popular chocolate cake to sneak them by those that might protest the deliciousness of these roots if you will, but I love them best when they are front and center in a simple salad. Beets are just coming back into their prime here in autumn, being sweetened by the chilly nights and approaching frost that cause the plant to put all its sugar reserves into its roots in an attempt to survive the cold months ahead. The beets I used for this salad happen to actually be some of the last I’ve had stored all summer from my spring crop, proof that this vegetable has staying power. Is it any wonder that I have hundreds more planted in my garden currently to put in the cellar for winter dining delights?
Warm Beet Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing is the perfect foray into fall, taking advantage of the rich flavors and warmth of roasting that contrast so pleasingly with the cool and fresh taste of tender lettuce leaves that are also once again at their best in the cooler weather. You’ll not miss the warm weather or tomatoes when you take a bite of this luscious autumnal recipe.
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!
Whew, I’m plum played out by all the activity of the past few weeks. Gardening in the spring is a joy and a brain teaser, dancing between rain, cold and mini heat waves. Not to mention time-consuming at the moment so it’s been tough to get a lot done in the kitchen. On the plus side, with four types of lettuce, three varieties of carrots, two varieties of beets, radishes, broccoli, kohlrabi, savoy cabbage, rosemary, lavender, parsley, chives, mint, sorrel, and sage now growing happily in my garden’s tidy rows, there should be more than enough ingredients in the next month and beyond to get SFTF’s kitchen out of “sputter” mode and back into “zooming along” gear.
Today’s recipe for an Organic Tzatziki Dip is a delicious hint at the warm summer weather ahead and all the fresh flavors it encompasses. Into this particular batch went some of my last local garlic and tender fresh sprigs of mint plucked from my deck container, and it was served with the very last of my carrots that wintered over. If only cucumbers were in season too… But I couldn’t quite wait for the local cucumbers as I had a real craving for this deliciously cool Greek condiment the other day when the mercury was soaring to an unwelcome 90 degrees.
I’ve typically made tzatziki with the standard plain yogurt, but decided this time to use a container of thick tangy organic Greek yogurt I had sitting in the fridge. When I was traveling about Greece and her islands a decade back, I just couldn’t embrace this unique yogurt that’s become very popular today in the States. My foodie palette hadn’t yet developed into what it is now, and I was pretty close-minded to the idea of a yogurt that was so heavy and not the least bit sweet. Afterall, I’ve always been a vanilla kind of gal. In any case, thankfully I decided to give it another try some years later. As it does with so many savory dishes, Greek yogurt puts this particular recipe over the top and I’ll be making a point to use it every time from here on out.
On another happy note, today is the opening day for the Headhouse Farmers Market in Philadelphia. For those of you in the area, be sure to visit this outstanding market for a diverse assortment of local foods. Weavers Way Farm will be there once again, as well as yours truly on occasion, helping man their table. Also, this year the market is officially expanding to provide the same market hustle-and-bustle on Saturdays as on Sundays so you now have two days to fill up your baskets and bags. Headhouse Farmers Market is open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. near 2nd and South Streets.