Green Sauce or “Going-out-of-Town” Sauce

If you love vegetables (and herbs) and/or you have a CSA or shop at the farmers’ market or have a vegetable garden, chances are you have pangs of guilt or sadness when you’re getting ready to leave town for the weekend and there’s beautiful produce in your fridge that may or may not last until you get back.

 

Over the last few years I’ve found myself making herb sauces, pestos and ratatouille before I leave town in late summer. Whether you’re going camping, staying with friends or booking a room somewhere, these things all travel well and improve anything they touch and are good at room temperature. They also are just delicious and need nothing but crackers to be consumed–as I recently did at a soccer tournament in a hotel lobby. Fellow soccer parents were thrilled with the spread!

 

I realize most folks are probably not in the habit of cooking right before leaving town but it may turn into something you do. Coming home to rotting vegetables/herbs is no fun and enjoying the fruits of that extra time spent before heading out may just be worth it.

 

I just made this sauce and it’s going to Walla Walla with us later today and it will grace the sandwich I pack for myself for the road.

 

P.S. If you’re tired of wasting produce and want more tips and tools like this subscribe to the Seasonal Recipe Collection and take control of that crisper:)!

 

Green Sauce

 

There are many variations for this herby sauce that improves anything it touches. It is a bit richer and more complex the than Italian-style salsa verde I make frequently. I particularly like this herb combination (parsley, tarragon, dill) but play around with different ratios and herb combinations including basil and mint, if you’d like. The above version employed cilantro, parsley and dill.

 

You can chop everything by hand (as I did above) or process in a food processor, it will be saucier/looser if you process and I kept the above version a bit drier (less oil) so I could use it as a sandwich spread as well. I usually use the processor but my knives had just been sharpened and it was a joy to chop all those herbs!

 

This makes a lot of sauce but I doubt you’ll have trouble finding ways to use it.  It is particularly good with poached, baked or roasted fish, boiled potatoes and/or carrots, turnips, summer and winter squash, etc.

 

1 good-sized bunch parsley, washed and stems cut off where the leaves begin

1/4 cup tarragon leaves

1 good-sized bunch dill, picked and tough stems discarded

2 green onions, chopped (or 2 tablespoons regular onion or shallot)

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed

3 anchovy filets

2 hard-boiled eggs, yolks and whites divided

Juice of 1 1/2 – 2 lemons (to taste)

1/2 cup or more olive oil

Sea salt and pepper

 

In a small bowl crumble or mash up the eggs yolks a bit and finely chop the whites. Process (or chop by hand) the herbs, onions, capers, and anchovies and yolks in the food processor until finely chopped.  Add the lemon juice and start adding the oil through the feeding tube and process briefly.

 

Taste and add salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper. Add lemon juice or oil to taste and to create a fairly loose sauce. I like my sauce quite lemony. Finally put the sauce in a bowl and stir in the chopped, cooked egg whites.

CSA Vegetables, Recovery & a Delicious Slaw

With my gorgeous winter share from 47th Ave Farm. Photo credit Shawn Linehan Photography

Enjoy and love your vegetables! We’re told to eat our vegetables, all the time. We tell our children to eat their vegetables. But I think we sometimes forget the sheer pleasure and goodness of in-season vegetables, year-round. And yes, good health, is a big bonus!

 

It has been a tough winter for bugs of all sorts. Most everyone I know has battled several rounds of colds, flus, and other unpleasantries. Our little family of three has been practically unscathed. It has also been a big winter for vegetables. I’ve had the pleasure (and responsibility:) of two, full Winter CSA Shares (I’m guessing that’s 20lbs/week). I don’t have any proof that it’s all the black Spanish radishes, daikon, celeriac, leeks, turnips, kale, collards, purple sprouting broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, winter squashes of all shapes and sizes, and loads of onions, carrots and garlic, but I’d put money on my remarkable health and vitality these days having something to do with this pleasure and plethora of vegetables.

 

I’m just over a year out from a double mastectomy and six months of chemotherapy that laid waste to my immune system. However, when these gorgeous, nutrient dense, vegetables show up every week and the sheer volume allows you to eat as many vegetables as you possibly can, my immune system seemed to rebuild with gusto. I know I am very fortunate to have access to this bounty and everyone should be so lucky!

 

Most of us will hopefully not experience a health crisis of these proportions but we are all susceptible to stress and illness at every turn and what we choose and have access to eat, will make an impact. CSAs are one way of insuring a regular supply of truly seasonal produce. There’s something about this regularity that slowly builds habits that sustain and nourish not only our bodies but a better understanding of our communities, our soil, the people who cultivate it and share the fruits of their labor with us. I have never been more in love with the CSA model and more convinced that it is an antidote to so much of what ails us.

 

There’s still plenty of time to subscribe to a CSA and you’ll get access to all the recipes I’ve developed cooking my way through CSA shares for more than a decade in the form of the Seasonal Recipe Collection if you subscribe to one of these farms! But no matter what farm, just give it a shot, especially if you don’t travel much. Being home to enjoy all the bounty is one of the keys to CSA success.

 

Happy spring!

 

47th Ave Farm  — Minto Island Growers — Love Farm Organics — Full Cellar Farm — Mud Creek Farm  — Laughing Crow Organics — Hill Family Farm — Farmer Joe’s Gardens — Olsen Communities CSA — Cully Neighborhood Farm — Full Plate Farm — Coyote Family Farm — Abundant Field Farm — Sweetland Farm — Backyard Gardens — Legacy Acres Farm — Tanager Farm — In Good Heart Farm — Sweet Digz Farm — Lewis Educational Agricultural Center (L.E.A.F) 

 

Radish & Carrot Slaw w/ Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

This is gorgeous, bright, tart and crunchy from the seeds. It’s delicious as a salad as well as on toast with hummus or avocado or cheese or egg, in some form. It will enliven most anything, really.

 

Serves 4

 

2 medium carrots, grated on large holes of a box grater
1 1/2 – 2 cups grated radish, of most any kind: Watermelon, Black Spanish, Ostergruss or common little red ones
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley or a combination
2 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts
1/2 serrano chile (optional), minced or a few pinches red pepper flakes
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (toast in a 350 degree oven for 8-12 minutes until turning golden and a bit puffed or in a dry skillet over medium-low heat)
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

 

Toss all ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning with more vinegar, salt, pepper to suit your taste. Enjoy fairly soon if you want to enjoy the full crunch!

Hazelnut Honey Tart

Hazelnut Honey Tart

Filbert and Honey Tart
–inspired by a recipe of Piper Davis’ (owner of Grand Central Bakery) in The Chef’s Collaborative Cookbook by Ellen Jackson

This is a simple, rich tart. It’s sort of the Oregon version of a pecan pie but much less sweet and with a higher nut to custard ratio. You’ll need a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom.

Serves 10 +

½ recipe of this pie dough made with 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour and 1/2 all purpose flour (or your favorite pie/tart dough)
2 cups toasted filberts*
Scant ¾ cup honey
½ cup butter (1 stick/8 tablespoons)
Generous 1/3 cup heavy cream
Scant ¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon whiskey or bourbon (optional)
Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Toast filberts in a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes until very fragrant and a couple shades darker. Cool and then rub off as many skins as you can.

Roll out the dough into an 11-inch or slightly larger round. Press the dough into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough carefully into the base and up the sides and fold any overhang back over onto itself and integrate back into sides and set in the freezer for 5 minutes. Prick the base of the dough half-a-dozen times with fork.

Place a piece of parchment paper or a buttered piece of foil onto the chilled dough. Fill the tart with pie weights or dry beans. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until the crust is just beginning to color. Remove tart from oven and remove paper or foil and pie weights. Leave tart on the baking sheet.

While the tart crust is blind baking make the filling.

Heat the honey and butter in a heavy saucepan until boiling. Boil it hard for a minute and then whisk in the cream. It will bubble up significantly. Pour the caramel into a bowl. Whisk occasionally to speed cooling. When no longer hot, whisk in the salt, vanilla and whiskey, if using. Then whisk in the eggs one at a time.

Turn the oven down to 325.

Cover the bottom of the pre-baked tart with the filberts. Carefully pour the custard over the nuts and put the tart, still on the baking sheet, in the oven. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until custard is just set. Cool completely on a rack.
Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

 

What It Takes

SIO Lettuces
Lettuces at Sauvie Island Organics

For as much time as I spend working for and with farms I spend a very small amount of time actually on farms. I recently spent several hours at Sauvie Island Organics and in that time learned more about soil ecology, biology and chemistry and related strategies employed to bring a palatable variety of produce to my table, than I can convey here.  I don’t fully understand how cover crops create conditions in the soil to enable minerals and nutrients of all kinds to be available to both the plant and eventually us, the eaters. I can’t imagine the complexity of having a handful of different soil types on one small farm and the different methods and crops rotations it takes for each one to produce delicious and nutritious food year after year.

 

All this to say, I was reminded of Slow Food Founder Carlo Petrini’s point that farmers are some of the most skilled workers on earth and that we should hold them in the same esteem we hold folks with PhD’s (and paid accordingly and that’s up to us eaters in great part). And I was humbled to really stop and think about what it takes to grow the produce I eat every day.  So, as CSA and farmers’ market season come into full swing I want to thank all the farmers and producers–the ones who fight with row cover on windy days; who plant gorgeous (and useful) swaths of flowers to attract the bugs that then eat the harmful bugs in the neighboring plots; who manually weed the onions so they grow big and juicy; who harvest and wash and pack a dozen varieties of greens each week–for ALL they do so that we can eat and thrive. Let’s make them thrive! Sign up for a CSA, shop your local farmers’ market and get a glimpse of what these farmers are doing for our soil, water, flora and fauna, not to mention our communities and our table. The future of food is the future!

 

SIO kale
Kale at Sauvie Island Organics

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!