Vegetable Fajitas — SweetRoot Seasonal Sizzle

Ingredients: one medium onion, 1-2 cloves of garlic, a few summer squash (or a lot), 2-3 sweet peppers, and anything else that looks good. 

Directions:  Finely chop the garlic, then cut all other veggies into long thin strips (roughly 1/4 inch thick).  Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy skillet, throw the garlic and veggies in, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  When veggies have started to soften, stir in 2-3 teaspoons of your favorite chili powder (more or less, to taste), or a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cumin, ground coriander, red chili flakes, salt, and black pepper.  Stir till veggies are evenly coated in spices, taste and adjust seasonings, and continue to cook till veggies and reach your desired level of firmness for eating.  Spoon everything into warmed tortillas and add any or all of the optional additions:  cheese, beans, salsa, and sour cream.  For meat-eaters, you can startby sautéing strips of chicken, beef, lamb, etc., before the veggies, and stir all together before serving. 

Great Scape Veggie Tacos

 This made a fast, easy, fresh from the field dinner for us on Monday this week.  Minimal cooking, less than 20 minutes from idea to table, and uses several of this week’s subscription box ingredients.  We used flat crispy corn tortillas, but you could also use taco shells, or roll it into soft tortillas for burrito-style.  This recipe served two farmers. 

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of garlic scapes (or 8-10 scapes) 
  • 1/2 bag of greens: lettuce mix, Asian Greens, or arugula 
  • 2-3 green onions 
  • 1 cup cabbage, finely chopped 
  • 1 can pinto beans 
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup salsa
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons of your favorite cooking oil
  • 2-4 taco shells or corn tortillas per person

 

Directions

Chop garlic scapes into small pieces (1/2 inch or less).

Heat oil in a heavy frying pan, sauté the garlic scapes for 2-3 minutes, then add the canned beans (drain off the liquid first) to the pan, and stir occasionally till heated.  

While scapes are cooking, chop the greens finely by piling up several handfuls and chopping vigorously with a large knife till they are small peices.  (note: we often don’t both to chop our baby greens at all, but a finer texture in this case helps you pile a lot more of them onto each taco shell….pack ‘em in! The two of us actually used a whole bag of greens for one meal). Chop green onion, including the greens, into small slivers, and grate or finely chop the cabbage.  Combine all of these in a bowl, and stir them together with the salsa and yogurt (you can replace part of the yogurt with sour cream to be really decadent).  

Layer grated cheese, scapes-and-beans, and the cabbage/ greens/ onions mixture onto the tortillas or taco shells, and serve.  Add more salsa, hot sauce, or additional toppings to taste.  Could of course be made non-veggie by cooking some ground or thinly sliced meats into the scape and beans mixture. 

Cilantro Lime Dressing

INGREDIENTS

  •   3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • juice of one fresh lime, or about 3-4Tablespoons bottled lime juice 
  • 1 small bunch cilantro
  • one stem and flower head of fresh chives 
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground if possible) 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Chop cilantro and chive finely (use the whole stem, and the flower head), and stir it in with yogurt, mayonnaise, and lime juice in a bowl or a glass jar with agood lid.  Add salt and pepper and mix well (you may want to adjust the quantity up or down according to your taste).  Can be served immediately, but is even better if covered and refrigerated for at least an hour to let tastes blend.  

Makes a great salad with crisp greens, black beans, and a crumbled cheese, or as a burrito sauce. 

 A Varation:  Cilantro-chive and lime Dressing

  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • juice of one fresh lime, or about 3-4Tablespoons bottled lime juice 
  • 1 small bunch cilantro
  • one stem and flower head of fresh chives 
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground if possible) 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Chop cilantro and chive finely (use the whole stem, and the flower head), and stir it in with yogurt, mayonnaise, and lime juice in a bowl or a glass jar with agood lid.  Add salt and pepper and mix well (you may want to adjust the quantity up or down according to your taste).  Can be served immediately, but is even better if covered and refrigerated for at least an hour to let tastes blend.  

 

Massaged Kale Salad: Orange, Dill, Scapes and Balsamic Version

Ingredients

  • one bunch kale (any type works, curly varieties are especially nice) 
  • one small handful of fresh dill leaves and/or flower heads
  • 2-4 garlic scapes
  • 4-6 tablespoons orange juice
  • 3-4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4-5 tablespoons olive oil or walnut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste) 
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, or about 2 cups home-cooked garbanzo beans 

Directions

Trim the center stems from kale leaves, and chop into roughly 1-inch squares (i.e., bite-sized pieces). 

Place the kale in a large bowl, and sprinkle with the 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, and 4 tablespoons of orange juice. 

Begin grabbing the kale by large handfuls in the bowl, and squeezing….keep grabbing, squeezing, and mixing back in until all the kale turns a brighter greens, and feels softer and less springy. You can also rub smaller handfuls between your fingers…this is the massaging, which breaks down a bit of the toughness of the kale leaves and will make them softer and easier to chew.  This may take several minutes, so be patient and just keep massaging.  

When kale is soft, set it aside and chop the dill and garlic scapes finely.  Toss them in with the kale, add the olive or walnut oil, and begin taste-testing. You may want to add more vinegar, more orange juice, or salt.  When you like the general combination, add the garbanzo beans, and stir.  

Serve immediately, or chill to serve later.  Goes well with a bed of brown rice, rolled in a whole-wheat tortilla, or stuffed into pocket breads. 

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa for Canning

 Get your summer in the jars, before it's gone!  Noah and Mary moving fast at last year's salsa-canning party.  See below for a more reasonable home-scale canning recipe to make 6 pint jars of salsa.  

Get your summer in the jars, before it's gone!  Noah and Mary moving fast at last year's salsa-canning party.  See below for a more reasonable home-scale canning recipe to make 6 pint jars of salsa.  

September is a time for, to paraphrase that Greg Brown song, putting the taste of summer in a jar.  This time last year we were swimming in tomatoes, bring flat after flat to market, and cheering on customers' work freezing, canning, saucing, and salsa-ing vats of red summer goodness.  This year, it's a little bit different.  We are still crossing our fingers and covering our rows in hopes of a September ripening pulse for field tomatoes, but this may not be the year of red salsa.  But that's ok.  This year, our tomatillos are booming and we have officially declared this to be the winter of salsa verde.  

Funny story about salsa verde...I grew up in rural Oregon before the region had the benefit of much Hispanic presence and culture.  Think Farm Bureau picnics stocked with 15 kinds of potato salad and corn on the cob; maybe someone got exotic and made the taco salad that included crumbled tortilla chips and ground beef cooked with chili powder over iceberg lettuce. So, I felt pretty worldly when my 7-th grade Spanish skills accurately analyzed "salsa verde" on the menu of the one Mexican restaurant in the area to mean "green salsa."  But for years, I assumed it was made with green (as in un-ripe) tomatoes.  I might even have tried making it that way once, with predictably not-so-good results.  

I don't know exactly when I first learned that the key to good salsa verde was good tomatillos, or in which garden I first grew these sprawling, hardy, prolific little plants, but I do know that now I am hooked.  Tomatillos are a relative of tomatoes, but grow to a smaller size, meaning among the things that they tend to ripen sooner, and will generally just keep popping fruits through the first few frosts.  They offer a sweet-tart taste and texture that is so much better than un-ripe tomatoes, and I am always grateful for how tough they can be through fluctuating temperatures, watering, and often a good bit of neglect.  

We have been selling small salsa packs at market with all the ingredients needed for a quick and easy fresh salsa verde to make and eat in small batches.  As we head into fall, with cases of tomatillos piling up, it was clearly time to find a good recipe for folks looking to stock up and can (and we need to do some of that ourselves!).  To keep yourself well supplied with local salsa through the winter, we recommend this simple roasted-tomatillo recipe published by Ball (the canning jar company).  If you are freezing the salsa, you can play around with adding or substituting ingredients and altering the recipe with abandon.  If canning, please stick with the recommended quantities, as this will give proper levels of acidity for safe preservation.  

Roasted Salsa Verde Canning Recipe

makes about 6 pint jars of salsa

8 lbs tomatillos, husks removed

4 medium-sized white onions, each cut into 8 wedges

4 jalapeno, serrano, or Anaheim chilies

12 garlic cloves, peeled

1 cup lime juice

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

4 tsp salt

2 tsp black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.  Arrange tomatillos, stem side down, on a large rimmed baking sheet or casserole pans.  Place onions, peppers, and garlic on baking sheet or dish.  Bake at 425 for 15 minutes or until garlic is softened.  Remove garlic from baking sheet.  Bake onion and tomatillo mixture 15 more minutes or until onion is tender and tomatillos and peppers are slightly charred.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.  When peppers are cool enough to handle, remove stems and seeds (can include seeds by putting them back into he mixture for a hotter salsa). 
  2. Process roasted vegetables and garlic, in batchs, in a food processor until smooth.  Transfer to a large stainless steel or enameled saucepan.  Stir in lime juice and remaining ingredients.  Bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat. 
  3. Ladle hot salsa into a hot har, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles.  Wipe jar rim.  Center lid on jar.  Apply band, and adjust to fingertip-tight.  Place jar in boiling-water canner.  Rep[eat until all jars are filled.  
  4. Process jars 20 minutes (25 minutes for our altitude, if you are making this here in Hamilton).  Turn off heat; remove lid, and let jars stand 5 minutes.  Remove jars from water bath and allow to cool.  

 

Enjoy through the winter as a salsa or an enchilada sauce!  

 

Recipe from:  The Best Ball Home Canning & Preserving Recipes, Spring 2016 edition

Salad For Dinner: Beyond Lettuce.

One of my favorite moments with one of our the members of our Community Supported Agriculture programwas when, last summer, Mo told us in a tone of surprise “I realized this summer that I love salads, I just don’t like lettuce!”  She’d spent the summer loving the “spicy mix” and other Asian greens, Boc Choi, Napa Cabbage, and all the other fresh leaves that go way beyond lettuce.  I’ve been remembering that discovery for several reasons this week.  

For one, we are still hoping to enroll quite a few more members into our summer CSA program, which starts this Tuesday, so I’ve been considering how to explain the program and the benefits you can get from becoming a part of the farm family in this way.  Exposure to new types of leaves and vegetables is actually one of the best features of a farm membership.  We all get stuck in ruts and habits, but when you are presented with a bag of leaves of a different type than usually fill your salad bowl, or a head of fennel or boc choi, you are likely to eat it simply because it is in your kitchen—and more often than not, we hear from our members, you are likely to just fall in love!  Whether it’s discovering salads other than lettuce, learning to cook something you’d never buy at the store, or just having a little more impetus to actually get your 5+ servings of veggies a day, letting us pack a bag of vegetables for you each week can open up some new habits and experiences, and we think that’s great.  

I’ve also been thinking of salads beyond lettuce for a slightly more embarrassing reason—a major mis-calculation on my part meant we over-estimated our lettuce yield this week, and in selling 57 pounds of lettuce mix to the Western Montana Grower’s Co-op yesterday, we fear we may run short at market.  With hot weather on the way, salads for dinner are going to sound great, and we are short on lettuce?!  Nuts.  But then of course I remembered, there’s more to salads than lettuce!  And we have plenty of other greens coming in.  And so, for this week, a new dressing recipe (thought up in the washing station with hands full of greens, and tested out Thursday night), and a couple of simple ideas for non-lettuce salads.  With a sudden change of weather and forecasts of highs in the 90’s, now is a perfect time to load up on cool crisp greens, keep a few types of pre-cooked protein in the fridge (hard boiled eggs, tofu, chicken, etc.), and build up a solid dinner salad.  

Boc Choi cut in the field, ready to join you at the dinner table.  As a raw green, it's high water content and crunch make for a great cooling salad, perfect for the hot weekend coming up.  

This week’s recommended, non-lettuce salad #1:  

Mild and crisp: Boc Choi and Radish Salad with Sesame-Miso Dressing

Cut the bottom end off of a head of boc choi, and rinse all stems and leaves in cold water (we dunk the heads in clean cold water, but sometimes soil hides down at the base of the stems, so a second rinse before cooking is good).  Chop all stems and leaves finely.  Combine in a large salad bowl with one bunch of radishes, grated or thinly sliced.  Snow peas or snap peas make a nice addition, too. Sliced hard-boiled egg or baked tofu are great mixed in to make this more of a meal.  Serve with dressing recipe below, as a salad, or rolled into a tortilla for an easy lunch wrap.  

Miso-sesame dressing.   A mild but savory dressing, we think it does go well with Boc choi, radishes, and/or Asian greens.  

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons Miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Blend all ingredients until smooth, store in an airtight jar in the fridge. 

This week’s recommended, non-lettuce salad #2:  

Strong, Sweet, and Spicy:  Asian Greens and Ginger Dressing

Top baby Asian Greens (the greens mix formerly known as “spicy mix”) with snow peas, scallions, and cubes of chilled grilled chicken.  Dress with the Ginger-soy dressing from this recipe.  Tossed with chilled cooked noodles or crusty bread, this makes a good hot-weather salad dinner. 

Hot And Brothy Asian Expat Soup

When Noah and I began our courtship through long emailed letters he was still working in Asia and Africa, with a home base between projects in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. From more than one country, he wrote fondly of the comfort of noodles.  The simplicity and warmth of a very basic simple soup, just broth, sauce, greens, and noodles.  If I were to dig back through our history, I am sure I could find the slightly giddy Skype text chat wherewe used “noodle” as an affectionate mutual moniker.

After he moved back to the US, one clear drawback to our small-town Pacific Northwest life was a noticeable deficiency of street stalls where a weary conservation worker/ photographer/ writer/ farmer could walk out and pick up a restorative hot steaming bowl of noodles and vegetables in broth.  The solution, as has become the case with so many farming needs from soup to chicken pluckers, was simply to learn to make it ourselves.  

The following recipe is a simple base that can be improvised upon endlessly, works with fresh or frozen greens, and seems especially appealing in the cold rainy moments of spring when the field is full of leaves that have to be harvested.  After a particularly good batch of broth came out of our last chicken butchering (big feet on those roosters = thick and savory broth), we have used this soup to warm up and get back to the field many days these past few weeks. Whatever your tasks at hand this week, we hope it will bring come comfort to your table, too.  

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts of the best broth or soup stock you can make or get, home-made if possible.  Bonus points for a broth made with chicken feet for extra gelatinous goodness.  If your broth is lacking in oomph, consider adding a tablespoon or two of Miso paste to help.  
  • 6-12 cloves garlic
  • 2 dried “red rocket” chilies, finely chopped or ground in a spice mill or coffee grinder.  can substitute 1-2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 head Boc Choi
  • 1 bag (1/2 lb) cooking greens or Spicy Mix/ Asian Greens mix
  • 1 medium onion
  • soy sauce, salt and pepper, and hot sauce, to taste
  • 4-6 oz of noodles (we like Soba noodles, or a rice noodle, but have been known to use whatever was in the pantry, in a pinch..including broken up lasagna noodles on one desperately cold and rainy harvest day this spring)  

Directions: 

In a medium-large pot, slowly bring the broth to a low simmer.  Add noodles and allow to simmer while you cook other ingredients (approximately 8-10 minutes).  Check periodically, and remove from heat when noodles reach almost-done stage.  

While noodles are simmering in the broth: 

Coursely chop onion, garlic, and boc choi head (stems and greens).  

Sautee the onion and garlic in oil (sesame or coconut oil are especially good with this soup), until they start to soften. 

Add the boc choi and red chili flakes, sauté for about 2 more minutes, until boc leaves turn brighter green and begin to soften. 

At the very end of cooking, add the bag of cooking mix or Asian greens and stir in the pan until they just start to wilt.  Add the contents of the sauté pan to the broth and noodle pot, and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes to blend flavors, then dish into bowls and serve hot.  

Garnish if desired, with soy sauce, drops of sesame oil, rice vinegar, chopped green onions, peanuts, or cilantro, more red chili flakes, sri racha sauce, grated radishes…for example.  

Other options:  in season, add thinly sliced carrots, sweet peppers, cabbage, or summer squash to the veggie combo. You can skip the noodles entirely and pack it with additional greens, for a grain free version.  You can vary the broth by adding a few spoonfuls of peanut butter and a dash of rice vinegar or cider vinegar, and/ or a spoonful minced ginger.  

 

Spring Greens and Quinoa Salad

This salad started as a Sunday volunteer lunch-feed, but the enormous bowl continued to support us for several more meals in slightly altered variations.  Even if your schedule is busy with things other than planting, weedind, and wrangling animals, you may still appreciate the two meals from one start, and a great way to use a pile of fresh spring greens.  

First-round:  Chilled Quinoa and Greens Salad

Several hours before the meal, cook 2 cups quinoa (or substitute your favorite noodles for a pasta salad). After cooking, cool the cooked grain or noodles in the fridge.  

While quinoa cools, finely chop one half-pound bag of Arugula, and one half-pound bag of cooking mix or spicy greens.  Grate 1 bunch radishes and set aside.  

Mix the Dressing:  in a wide-mouth pint jar, or a blender, combine: 4 tablespoons olive oil, 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 tablspoon water, 1 teaspoon blackberry jam, and 3 tablespoons minced chives.  Blend till smooth with an immersion blender or standard blender (add salt and black pepper to taste).  

When quionoa is cool, toss together with chopped greens and dressing.  Top with grated radishes, and serve.  

Second Round:  Sausage and Salad Tacos  

To authentically re-create this working lunch, you should first, one to two years before planning this meal, befriend a nice farming or homesteading family. This will bring you many benefits, the most relevant to this recipe being that you may happen to have on hand some delicious home-grown sausage that they happened to drop off on their last visit.  If you are vegetarian or vegan, you could substitute some extra onion, garlic, and/or mushrooms to make your tacos instead, but I still recommend making the friends.  

Cook sausage (4-6 oz per person) in heavy pan till browned. Add 1/4 cup of finely chopped onions for each person, and a pinch of crushed red chilies.  Stir in 1-2 cups of the leftover quinoa per person, and stir till heated through and the sausage bits are evenly distributed.  

Scoop into warmed corn tortillas, and serve topped with cheese and salsa or additional red chili flakes.  

 

 

Ginger Dressing

This ginger dressing is one of my favorites, perfect for these salad mixes of baby "Asian Greens" (as we have recently learned to call our "spicy mix" when delivering the the Western Montana Grower's Co-op). I seem to like it best in early spring, and turn to other fruity vinaigrettes and creamy dressings mid-summer, so this is the perfect season to share this one, from one of my favorite seasonal cookbooks, Simply In Season, by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert: 

Ginger dressing
6 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp mustard, Dijon or stoneground
2-3 cloves minced garlic
2-3 inches ginger root (peeled and minced) 
freshly ground black pepper to taste.  

Combine in jar with tight-fitting lid, and shake well.  Or, mix all ingredients with blender--an immersion blender in a wide-mouth mason jar works beautifully.  This dressing also works well as a stir-fry sauce for a variety of vegetables or cooked greens of all sorts.