Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘spring greens’

Salads and Beans

My Lunch Salad

The lettuces and other greens that overwintered in my garden don’t seem to mind the cold wet spring. The longer days and occasional rays of sun are enough for them to grow a few inches a day it seems. And as noted in last week’s post, my neighbor’s greens are even more prolific.

Not only are the cultivated greens thriving these days but so are the wild ones. I have never known much about what edibles one can forage but last week I had the pleasure of hosting a local TV news station and Edible Portland in my kitchen. They filmed a segment on wild edibles that had been picked earlier that morning in an urban neighborhood here in Portland by John Kallas, one of the authorities on wild foods. John wrote a comprehensive book on wild edibles including lots of recipes and photos to identify these delicious and nutritious foods. So if you don’t have any lettuces in your garden you  might want to check out the book and then take a walk in your neighborhood and see what you find. The salads and frittatas we sampled during the filming were delicious.

Cooked Pinto Beans, previously frozen

And beans! I love beans and to my great delight I caught a bit of Splendid Table (the NPR weekly food show) on Sunday about some of the healthiest people on earth who live in Turkey and eat lots of beans, olive oil and red wine.

But back to yesterday’s lunch salad–the salad I make in some fashion several times a week for lunch and for dinner has two main components: greens and beans. I always have home-cooked beans in the freezer and usually a quart in the fridge (canned beans work fine for this kind of thing too). And in the winter I almost always have kale around (which works beautifully in this hearty salad in its raw state) and the above mentioned greens. You really can use most any kind of green leafy item from spinach to kale to watercress and arugula to endive to romaine. Same with the beans. . .. red, black, pinto, white, garbanzo are all delicious.

Nice additions to this salad foundation are some of kind of cheese, hard-boiled egg,  some herbs or nuts, thinly sliced onion or minced garlic. . .. You can also play with the ratio of beans to greens. If you want a bean-heavy salad, just chop the greens and herbs a little finer and have the focal point be the beans, eggs, nuts, etc. And finally you need a zippy dressing. My standard is good olive oil (I like Unio by Siurana available locally at Pastaworks), lemon juice or red wine vinegar, salt and pepper and my secret ingredient: reduced apple cider. I take a half-gallon of organic apple cider and bring it to a boil in a big pot and reduce it at a rolling boil until it gets a little syrupy and viscous. I usually get about 1 1/2 cups from half a gallon. I store the syrup in a jar in the fridge and add a couple of teaspoons to my salad dressing.

Lunch Salad with Pinto beans, lettuces, hard-boiled egg, sharp cheddar and onion

With or without a slice of good bread (or maybe a batch of cornbread at dinner time) this is a light but satisfying meal.

And finally, since I promised you two recipes this week, here is a link to a recipe from my current favorite cookbook: Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi from the eponymous restaurant in London. I  made these leek fritters last night and reluctantly sent my husband off to work with the leftovers.

P.S. There are a few spots left in my May classes, including next week’s Spring Market Class.

Greens & Bean Salad

See notes above about how to adapt this kind of salad to your liking and to what you have on hand, and hence the vague quantities below. This is really more of an idea than a formal recipe.

2-4 cups of packed greens of your choice

1-3 cups cooked (or canned) beans of your choice (pinto, black, white, garbanzo. . .)

2 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped

1/2 shallot or small chunk of red or yellow onion, slivered or diced

1-2 ounces of cheese of your choice (feta, sharp cheddar, fresh goat’s cheese. . . )

handful or two of raw or toasted nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts. . .)

1/4 cup roughly chopped herbs (parsley, basil, chervil, tarragon, cilantro. . .)

Dressing

1/4 cup of good olive oil

2-3 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons reduced apple cider (see note above) (optional)

salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 clove of garlic, minced

Place all salad ingredients in a large boil. Mix dressing and drizzle over salad and toss well.

Advertisements

Food & Community

Chard and garlic in my back yard garden

I tend to mention farmers’ markets in every other blog- or facebook post. Now it’s time to talk about CSA’s – Community Supported Agriculture. My CSA share will be starting in a few weeks and some in the area are already up and running and a few even go year-round. I can’t wait for mine to start. It’s like Christmas every week.

CSA is a farming operation which gives the farmer much needed cash at the beginning of the season when folks sign up and pay for a share of the harvest (produce, herbs, eggs, flowers, etc.) throughout the growing season, and subscribers get a box of whatever is at its peak every week. For all the details on CSAs and a comprehensive list of all the choices check out the Portland Area CSA Coaltion (PACSAC).

I love CSAs for a variety of reasons (in random order): 1) I love the surprise and beauty of opening that box every week and seeing my “treasure.” 2) I love not thinking about what to buy. 3) The CSA model fits perfectly with my cook-with-what-you-have strategy and in fact helped inspire this way of cooking. 4) The quality is unsurpassed since it is always the freshest most perfectly ripe items. 5) I actually spend less on produce when I have my CSA since I go to the farmers’ markets just to supplement with berries, etc. (since I can’t stay away from the markets even if I have plenty of produce at home!). 6) I feel connected to that farm, the crops/varieties,  people, weather challenges, etc. in a more intimate way.

Ornamental strawberries in my back yard

If not knowing what produce you’re going to get every week makes you nervous instead of happy then farmers’ markets might be a good bet. However, there are also good ways to slowly work your way into CSAs if the model, convenience, price point, idea, etc. appeals to you. It’s easier to pick up a box or have it delivered than make your way to a market sometimes (although there are so many markets now that it’s awfully convenient too). You can begin by splitting a share with a neighbor or friend. That way you won’t be overwhelmed with produce and can get in the swing of things and build your confidence and skills in cooking that way (by taking classes from me, among other things:) and eventually graduate to a full share (or keep sharing with your neighbor or plant your own little veggie garden).

Chives, oregano, and alpine strawberries in my garden

A friend of mine and extraordinary farmer Josh Volk of Slow Hand Farm offers very small shares. This is the  perfect “gateway” CSA. And the produce is so delicious that the simplest of preparations are the best. Josh details the crops and amounts of each item you’ll receive in your share in great detail on his site. Just spending a few minutes on Slow Hand Farm’s website I learned so much about what’s growing and why, what we can look forward to, and what this erratic-but-fairly-typical-weather means to someone who isn’t just worried about getting wet walking from the office to the bus stop.

So I invite you to explore some of these farms and their offerings (if you aren’t already a CSA subscriber) and see what you find.

Forgive the lack of recipes in this post. I will post again tomorrow with a recipe!

Note: Since I don’t have any photos of local CSA farms I’m including photos from my own little garden in this post. And I currently have enough parsley, thyme, oregano, winter savory, and sage for the whole neighborhood so if you’re in need of any of those stop by and I’ll happily share!