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mizuna

How does my garden grow?

Lets put it this way – I’m counting on my friends at Grant Family Farms to grow most of my food for the next 26 weeks. I can come up with creative ways to prepare fresh food (again, with a little help from my friends), but I’d starve if I had to rely on my own wimpy garden to get me through the summer. My CSA delivery starts next Monday and I’ll be posting weekly recipes according to the harvest. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I’ve been watching my little organic garden thrive in spite of my dog’s initial digging interest, the recent rain and hail we’ve had and a few overly enthusiastic wild bunnies. The photo above is of one of my four purple mizuna plants. My micro-victory garden is .00229568415ths of an acre. Seriously.

Urban gardening at the nano-level.

I didn’t make that number up, I actually figured it out. Of course, I could be totally wrong. It’s not like I went to MIT or anything. Within seconds of square feet conversion calculating, I was having synapse spasms, but I pushed on and I think I’m right.

Although I won’t have much of a “harvest” per se, working my little .002295-whatever of an acre has been very rewarding. I’m feeling like quite the little farmer-ette. Today I made a wonderful mizuna salad for lunch. I walked outside, clipped off some leaves and made my lunch. Oh my gosh, I love that feeling. Zena, Farmer Princess.

Purple mizuna is a Japanese salad green that I find to have a mild earthy taste. Maybe it’s a mild spicy taste. Or a mild peppery taste. I can’t really identify it.

* Cid, can you help me with this since you’re the expert on all things Japanese? What does it taste like? Other than good.

Purple mizuna salad
I made this up with ingredients that were sitting on my counter and it turned out delicious. The fresh cherries, dates and walnuts made this mix a winner. Crumbled goat cheese or feta would be a nice addition.

2 cups mizuna greens
mejool dates (I used 3, pitted and chopped)
fresh cherries (I used about 8, pitted and cut in half)
walnuts (4-6 chopped)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
drizzle with dressing

dressing (any good vinaigrette will do, this is just one of my regular versions)
whisk together
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon agave nectar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Go forth and grow your own greens!
Melissa

*Thanks Kay, for all your gardening tips and guidance. Kay is a blogger friend who is a master gardener, composter extraordinaire, worm rancher (or something like that), chicken herder and all around hard-working farm girl. She’s my gluten-free garden guru.

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22 Responses to “purple mizuna with cherries, walnuts & dates”

  1. That lettuce is beautiful! And your recipe sounds great. Though it has mejool dates and nothing can be less than delicious with dates in it.

  2. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    Sounds good to me… never thought of adding cherries but what a great idea. I’m growing my own greens on a small scale this year too. Last year the caterpillars nibbled their way though everything like locusts. If I feel guilty about not having enough leafy greens, I put a large handful into the juicer along with other fruit and veg. As for dates, I love them too so this is going to be a winner for me. Mizuna…. I can’t say I’ve heard of it so I’ll keep an eye out for it next time at the grocers.

    It’s hot and sunny here at the moment but don’t let that fool you, later on there could be a howling gale and monsoon…. but for now it’s Pimms weather, so cheers my friends.

    Cid

    p.s. my long awaited and very Japanese noren arrived recently and look strangely ‘at home’ in my very English house and garden… it won’t be complete however, until a pot of Mizuna appears.

  3. Melissa says:

    Meghan,

    Thanks! And I couldn’t agree more about mejool dates, they’re one of my kitchen “staples.” They’re expensive, but worth it when you want to add a dash of sweetness to the mix.

  4. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    The cherries were sitting on my counter and I have to say, they are perfect in salad greens. And the dates added some sweetness to the mizuna, which does have a different taste. I was counting on you to pinpoint it.

    :-)

    I’ve seen it called Japanese mustard.

    Where did you hang the noren? And what color is it (and pattern). I can only imagine how creative your house and garden must be.

    The weather has been strange here as well, with almost daily tornado warnings in the late afternoon. Lots of rain, but everything looks beautiful and green!

  5. greedydave says:

    Melissa,

    That’ll be a hundred square feet then? :) Or we could just round it up to three-thousandths of a square furlong.

    I love mizuna leaves though I’ve never tried the purple variety, but yours look splendid. It’s so difficult to describe flavour, isn’t it? But such a scrumptious sounding salad, especially with your suggested addition of crumbled goats cheese. Fine stuff!

    GDave

  6. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    The noren are for my front door to deter flies and look wistfully glamourous :) I’ll have to send you a picture.

    Cid

  7. Melissa says:

    GDave,

    You’re one smart guy. Now what’s a furlong?

    Yes, it is difficult to describe flavors. I have the same problem with wine. I’d never make a good sommelier. I describe wine as light, smooth, mellow, and girlie OR rich, earthy, saddle-bagish and manly. Two categories. I can’t quite apply that sophisticated method of mine to lettuce leaves.

    And the goat cheese is wonderful. We have a local version that I love.

  8. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    Wistfully glamorous — I love that. Sultry-like, maybe?

    I’d love a picture. I’m imagining a very eclectic look. Classy and creative, but with an edge. A good edge. Once we’re famous for our soup and natural beauty products, we’ll branch out into household decor.

    :-)

  9. greedydave says:

    Melissa,

    Since our last wine discussion I heard a great quote on how to fit it with the sommelier classes. Just describe a wine as being, ‘approachable.’ White, red or rosé, it works a treat!

    GDave

    PS. Got my math wrong, it’s actually three-ten thousandths of a square furlong. Honestly, you’d think I’d never gone to school. :)

  10. Cheryl says:

    no matter how small, there’s nothing like your own garden. All I harvested from my first was 3 tomatoes and one stray cat…he used to watch me garden, and is now taking over my lap as only a contented cat can.

  11. Melissa says:

    Well, whatever you studied in school, math had to be a focus somewhere in there. I would have never guessed you”got your math wrong.” Next time I have to figure out something like this, I’m emailing you first!

    I love “approachable” — it’s a rather snooty word in an ironic way, isn’t it? The more I think about it, the more I like it. Yes, that will be my new wine word. It might even find its way into food posts.

    Thanks, GDave.

    :-)

  12. Melissa says:

    Cheryl,

    I agree, I’m enjoying this little garden SO much. No stray cats so far, but that’s probably because I have a dog watching over it. The bunnies only have access when my dog is in the house.

    Thanks for the comment!

  13. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    Just to bring the tone down… I heard a well known UK tv wine expert refer to wine as ‘bosomy’… which presumably meant warm and well rounded. By the time we’ve finished this topic, you’ll be a sensation at dinner parties :) By the time we all sit down to our ‘bring your own plate’ supper, I’ll be relying on GDave to tell me whether the wine is approachable in a favourite uncle sort of way, or ravishing in a sort of Daniel Craig way…. it could be adventurous like Ray Mears or wildly creative like the sand artist. Without clear guidance I’ll be lost :)

    You’re right about my place…. it’s truly eclectic, borrowing bits and pieces from cultures widespread. Cluttered would be another word that the Stepford Wife fraternity might add :)

    What did I say to you about weather yesterday…. this morning bright humid and sunny, this afternoon monsoon rain and lightening and decidedly cooler… I’ve had to put my fleecy top back on! Who knows what tomorrow may bring?

    Cid

    p.s. I’ve made a huge batch of duck egg pasta which is hanging like vines from wooden spoon handles in my kitchen. Can you make pasta from a gluten free flour?

  14. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    You’re bringing the tone down?! Or heating things up? Approachable and bosomy — those are wonderful wine terms. I can’t wait to use them at my next wine tasting party.

    I can’t imagine that you need much guidance at anything. You seem to have things very well under control.

    There’s a big difference between cluttered and intriguing accumulations. I’m sure your home is of the latter.

    Wow, duck egg pasta?! I am so sorry you aren’t my neighbor! You know, we could have a lot of fun together. Amaranth flour would be a good one for us to try with pasta. Very health, very tasty and has a nice color to it.

    Melissa

  15. Kay says:

    “farmer-ette,” you crack me up! Your mizuna looks great! I’m growing the green variety. I’ve mixed it in with other salad greens. And I’ve shared a little with the chickens. They go crazy over garden greens. They also got my lettuce that bolted.

    I have tiny beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and an 8-ball zucchini. Wish I had time to post some photos.

    Happy harvesting!

    And I’d LOVE a gluten free pasta recipe. Been noodle-free since giving up rice months ago. I’m using sorghum and millet flours and potato starch these days. Think I can make pasta with those ingredients?

  16. Melissa says:

    Kay,

    Weelll, you are a farmer-ette! I’ll try to find you a GF pasta recipe. One of our local celebrity chefs makes the best amaranth pasta. I’ll see if I can get the recipe.

    Why did you give up rice? Do you use any nut flours? I love adding a touch of nut flour to my blends.

    Happy harvesting to you, too — although “harvest” is a bit of a leap in my case.

    :-)

  17. Miles says:

    Melissa,
    You have reminded me of growing my own mizuna, I grew tons of the stuff in my polytunnels. It was truly the most cost effective salad of them all, never has ‘cut and come again’ been so apt for a lettuce.

    Miles

  18. Okay, here I am to say, I’ve never even heard of mizuna!! But, yours is the loveliest mizuna I’ve ever seen. ;-) How you concocted that salad is how I make tons of great salads, just considering what I have on hand. Don’t you think the great chefs do that, too? I bet they do. See … you are not only a farmer-ette, but a gret chef as well. Now I’ll be looking around for some mizuna …

    Shirley

  19. Kay says:

    I gave up white rice after buying some white rice flour on sale and noticing puffy eyes after eating it. So I decided to try replacing my brown rice flour as well. I managed to convert my recipes using sorghum and millet flour. My eyes aren’t puffy at all some days. Still get a little puffy when I eat goat cheese, but I only eat it occasionally.

    I have issues with some nuts, pecans and cashews. So I’ve cut out all nuts except peanuts for now. I’d love to be able to eat almonds and almond flour, but I’m tired of being my own guinea pig at the moment. I’d planned to give them a try months ago. But I got used to feeling great every day and have stuck with my safe foods.

    I haven’t tried amaranth or teff flour, but own both. Maybe I’m ready to take the leap.

    Last year I discovered I was allergic to the beautiful cherries on my tree. I was sad at first. I have problems with lots of fruits. This year I invited friends over to pick the cherries. It was a fun visit and they got enough for a nice pie. Plus, I got to hear their chicken news. And I still get to watch the chipmunk and the robin fight over the few remaining cherries. Nature is very entertaining here at Leaning Tree Farm.

  20. Melissa says:

    Miles,

    Polytunnels? Hmmm, I’ll have to do some research. I don’t know what polytunnels are. Of course, I’m always looking words up when communicating with you Brits. It’s good for me!

    :-)

  21. Melissa says:

    Shirley,

    I actually haven’t seen any mizuna at the regular market — check out your farmer’s market. I have it going strong in my little wimpy garden. It’s easy to grow, and tastes good too. It does look lovely mixed in with other greens.

  22. Melissa says:

    Kay,

    Boy, you have a lot of food sensitivities, don’t you. My eyes get puffy when I eat things that don’t “sit” well with me, too. That’s a common allergy reaction. It’s nice to feel good though, isn’t it? And when you figure out what it is that bothers you, it’s not worth messing with. Good for you.

    I like both amaranth and teff. Sorghum is a good “base” flour. I’m just not eating that many grains anymore.

    Sorry about the cherries. What a drag. I love cherries. I’m going to make a cherry crumble as soon as I can get some on sale or find some at the farmer’s market that won’t cost me a fortune.

    Love what you’re doing at the Leaning Tree Farm. You are an inspiration to me, girl!

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