Those of you following this blog know I love beets. I always have, but this deadly serious vegetable is starting to push my beet-loving boundaries. Last spring I decided that planting my own small garden would be a great complement to my Grant Farms “small” CSA share. One quick blink later, I’m overwhelmed by beets, radishes and everything green.
I am was determined to eat all most of what I find in my veggie box and what I’ve grown in my garden. But I must admit, my late-spring exuberance is being overcome by roots, stems, leaves and bulbs. I’m still up for the challenge, but beware – my recipe development is showing the strain.
ruby red beet cupcakes
what you need
1-1/2 cup Pamela’s GF Baking Mix *
1 cup prepared beets (roasted and puréed) *
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I use NOW Foods, organic cocoa powder)
1/4 cup coconut oil (or butter or oil of choice)
1 teaspoon vanilla
what you do
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt coconut oil — I put it in a heat-proof bowl and stick it in the oven for a couple of minutes as the oven is preheating (it only takes a minute or so). Blend together oil, eggs, vanilla and maple syrup. Add beets and mix well. In a medium sized bowl, stir together flour mix and cocoa powder. Add to wet ingredients and blend well. Spoon into greased or paper-lined muffin cups, 2/3rds full and bake for 18 to 22 minutes depending on your oven and your flour blend (gluten-free baked goods usually take a little longer; I baked these cupcakes for the full 22 minutes).
These dark chocolate, ruby red treats are delicious! Seriously good and no one would guess they’re made from beets.
Yield: 10 to 12 cupcakes
Options: add chopped nuts, chocolate chips, and/or top with frosting
* For more information on baking with gluten-free flours or how to substitute regular flour in this recipe, please check here.
* I’ve made these cupcakes with raw, grated beets and with roasted, puréed beets. I like the depth and moistness of the roasted version, but either way works fine.
Mixing rhubarb and blueberries isn’t a blend that immediately comes to mind, but that’s never stopped me before. In fact, my approach to preparing food is more about what ingredients I have on hand than what combinations go together.
Sorry, but first I’m going to indulge my less mature side and expand on my veggie personality profiling. Several posts ago, Tom Robbins helped me describe the deadly serious nature of the beet. I took that a step further with my kohlrabi post, describing that peculiar vegetable as a strange and off-beat teenaged boy.
Rhubarb is a bit of a tart. Unlike the sobering beet, rhubarb is playful, saucy and tempting. Tempting, yes, but with a bite. If rhubarb wore clothes, she’d be wearing hot pants and a crop top and might convince the earthy and well-grounded potato to break ranks and take a hike with her on the Appalachian Trail. If you know what I mean.
rhubarb blueberry sherbet
what you need
1 cup rhubarb, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces *
1-1/2 cup blueberries
1-1/2 cup Redwood Hill Farm vanilla goat yogurt
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
Electric ice cream maker
what you do
Heat water and rhubarb in a medium-sized sauce pan. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using a fork, mash rhubarb as it simmers and softens. After about 5 minutes, add blueberries and continue to simmer for another 8 – 10 minutes, mashing as you go. You want to end up with an applesauce, jelly-like consistency. If you need to add a little water, do it in small increments. If you end up with it too watery, simmer some off. Remove from heat, let cool and puree in food processor until smooth. Blend in maple syrup and vanilla and chill in refrigerator for at least two hours.
Once chilled, stir in the yogurt (mix well) and churn in ice-cream maker for 30 minutes or so (follow manufacturer’s directions).
* My CSA box contained 2 very long rhubarb stalks, which ended up as 1 cup of chopped vegetable.
For more information on rhubarb, including a gluten-free rhubarb crumble recipe, check here.
If the beet is intense and deadly serious, the kohlrabi is off-beat and free-spirited. It’s the plant version of a 17 year old boy with a skull and crossbones tattoo on one arm and a skateboard under the other. Ahh, but I like colorful people and unconventional vegetables. Kohlrabi is included in that cast of characters.
Nutrition information and tips
Kohlrabi is a cross between a turnip and a cabbage and is a relative of broccoli. It’s high in vitamin C, low in calories, contains a good amount of fiber and serves up some calcium, potassium and iron. I’m not big on peeling my veggies, so other than trimming away the funky parts of the skin and the tough base end, I don’t bother (wash and scrub well). You can use both the globe part and the leaves, but it’s best to store them separately. The leaves don’t last long; use them quickly as you would any other green. The globe can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or more. Both have a mild, slightly sweet taste. You can eat it raw, sauté it, use it in stir fry recipes, or cook it and mash it.
Spinach (one cup) provides a whopping 1110% (no mistake, that’s thousand) of the daily value of vitamin K, 294% of vitamin A, 84% of manganese, 65% of folate and 35% of iron. It also has plenty of vitamin C, B2, calcium, potassium, B6, dietary fiber, protein and on and on. Even some omega 3 fatty acids. This is all packed into one cup of spinach, which carries with it a measly 41 calories. Lots of bang for your buck!
warm kohlrabi & spinach (salad?)
1 washed and scrubbed kohlrabi globe, chopped into strips
2 cups washed, dried and chopped spinach
roasted sunflower seeds
vegetable or chicken broth *
course sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
* I like keeping a small carton of chicken or vegetable broth in my fridge to use for sautéing veggies. Pacific Natural Foods has small (1 cup serving size each) 4-pack containers of organic broth, which lasts me 2-4 days.
Using a large skillet, heat about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of broth over medium heat. Add kohlrabi and simmer until semi-tender, 5-8 minutes or so. Add spinach and a splash more broth if needed, stir gently until spinach is slightly wilted. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Salt and pepper to taste. (This was my lunch, make a much larger amount for more servings.)
Caraway seeds also go well with this warm salad. I toast them in the pan before adding the other ingredients. I was thinking garlic scapes would be great with this, but I wanted to save mine for a salmon salad (I’ll post that recipe in a couple days).
Raw kohlrabi, carrot, jicama, apple and/or radishes cut in matchstick pieces makes a wonderful raw salad. Top with an olive oil/honey mustard dressing. You can also grate kohlrabi into any green salad or stir fry. Although it may look intimidating, it’s really quite friendly and versatile.
Those of us on the Farmer’s Market or CSA circuit here in the Rocky Mountains are being bombarded with seasonal greens right now. My goal is to eat everything – no waste, no carting stuff off to the compost pile.
I’m on a mission, but my gosh, these pesky greens aren’t making it easy. Plus, I got all caught up in the whole “victory garden” thing and had to plant a few of my own veggies and herbs.
What was I thinking?
First off, when you live a short distance from one of the best organic farms in the country, with farmers who’ve been growing fresh produce for decades, why would I want to bother with doing this myself? I have so little free time as it is and to spend it weeding and tending my nano-acre of produce seems silly. Having said that, I’m thoroughly enjoying my dozen or so plants, even though my lettuce bolted and my rhubarb got hail damage. I have more weeds than produce and something is snacking on my veggies when I’m not around.
This is a good lesson (well, sort of, the weeding part I could do without). I have a tendency to be very picky about what I eat and have a basic list of things I find important when choosing my food. Freshness, organically grown, seasonal, as local as possible (I do cheat though, my addiction to Fuji apples trumps all else). But I like knowing where my food comes from.
Whoa, all that’s well and good until I actually tried growing that food I’m so darn picky about. Please see my food pyramid remix list of healthy eating tips for details.
Bottom line? Growing organic food is not easy and wasting it is bad karma. But, discovering new ways to use farm-fresh ingredients can be a delightful, healthy and rewarding experience. From garlic scape pesto to dairy-free beet ice cream, I have a ball playing with my food. And to be honest, I’m thrilled to have someone else growing it for me. It’s also less expensive in the long run.
Now, on to those pesky greens.
One more thing (always), please keep in mind that most of my recipes are just plain my way of messing with food. I don’t follow rules well and I don’t measure things, so my recipes are guidelines. I make stuff up, so beware.
kale, chard and mushroom lasagna
what you need
4 cups washed, dried and chopped kale *
3-4 cups washed, dried and chopped chard (that’s how much I had in my garden)
2 cups mushrooms (I used 12 crimini mushrooms), washed and sliced
1 cup chopped onion
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1 package Tinkyada organic brown rice pasta (lasagna version)
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1 jar (25.5 ounces) Muir Glen Organic Garden Vegetable Pasta Sauce
1 can Muir Glen Organic Chunky Tomato Sauce *
2-3 tablespoons of oil (I use coconut oil) for sautéing vegetables
salt and pepper to taste
what you do
Prepare pasta per directions, but cook a couple minutes less than indicated. Set aside. Heat oil in large skillet. Sauté onions and garlic for 2-3 minutes, add mushrooms, stir gently for another couple of minutes. Add greens and stir until partially wilted (it doesn’t take long). Remove from heat.
Spread a small amount (maybe 1/3) of sauce into an ungreased baking dish (I used a large round dish, but a 11 x 7 x 2 size is typical). Layer half the lasagna noodles on the sauce and add a little more sauce. Spread the vegetable mixture over the sauce and top with dollops of ricotta, half the mozzerrela and some shredded parmasean. Add another layer of noodles and the rest of the sauce. Top with dollops of ricotta, the rest of the shredded mozerello and parmesan cheese.
Cover and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Remove foil for last 10 minutes or so to brown the cheese. Keep and eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
Let sit for a few minutes to settle. This was absolutely delicious!
* You can use all kale or a mixture of any hearty greens (chard, spinach). They cook down quite a bit, so 7 or 8 cups of prepared greens really isn’t that much.
* I mixed in the extra can of tomato sauce with the pasta sauce because I was afraid the one 25 ounce jar wouldn’t be enough and I was right.
Go forth and eat your greens! And hug a farmer.
P.S. Stay tuned for a rhubarb recipe and another garlic scape creation.
Last week’s Grant Farms CSA box included dill and parsley, along with a bunch of other green and red goodies (see past two beet recipes). This post will focus on the herbs. I’ll be brief and spare you the geeky details. I almost promise. However, my enthusiasm for the healing power of food might trump your eye rolling (I have a Mac with spy capabilities, I know when you’re making faces).
Dill — has a clean, faint lemony smell and taste to it; with a hint of anise or fennel. Freezing preserves the flavor better than drying, but either work well. You can freeze dill whole in a plastic bag and cut off little sprigs as needed. Add dill at the end of cooking as it loses its flavor if overcooked (thanks chef Miles). Dill goes well with beets (yeah), cucumber, tomatoes, potatoes, fish and seafood, rice, egg salad, spinach, zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, celery root, cabbage, salad dressings.
Nutritional profile of dill
The volatile oils in dill make it a “chemoprotective” herb. It helps neutralize certain carcinogens (cancer causing agents). It’s also a good source of calcium and iron. Calcium? Surprise, surprise.
Parsley – is a bit like dill, but with a tangy hint of pepper. It’s one of the most versatile herbs and is essential to several flavoring mixtures (French bouquet garnis, fines herbes, salsa verde, tabbouleh). It combines well with basil, bay, capers, garlic, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, tarragon and can be used with most vegetables. I love it with tomatoes, rice and fish.
Nutritional profile of parsley
This one’s a nutritional powerhouse. Seriously, don’t take it for granted and don’t leave that parsley garnish on your plate. Eat it! It’s an excellent source of vitamins K, C, and A, is a good source of folate and iron, and its volatile oils put it in the same chemoprotective category as dill.
Fresh parsley, dill and tomato pasta what you need
4 large tomatoes, diced
3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
2 – 3 tablespoons Vidalia onions (or green onions), finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon dill, finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey Dijon mustard (I use Annie’s Naturals, it’s gluten-free)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
12 ounces pasta (I use Tinkyada organic brown rice spaghetti style pasta)
what you do
Combine olive oil and honey Dijon mustard in medium sized bowl. Whisk until well blended. Add the rest of the ingredients with the exception of the pasta and the salt and pepper. Blend well and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. When ready to serve, add the salt and pepper and toss with prepared hot pasta. Makes about 4 servings. This can also be made into a cold pasta salad.
I had some leftovers, which I refrigerated and served the next night (reheated) over a big plate of the fresh leaf lettuce from the CSA delivery box. It sounds weird, but it was delicious!
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)
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!
*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.
“It is a shame to be caught up in something that does not make you tremble with joy.”
That quote is from legendary culinary queen, Julia Childs, but the thing I love most about it is that applies to so many aspects of my life. It’s a personal mantra of sorts, from farm-fresh food to outdoor adventure to family and friends. Yes, life should be all about trembling with joy!
I don’t advertise on this blog, but I do advocate healthy living and a huge part of that is a focus on nutrient-dense foods. Because I have celiac disease and want to avoid the pit-falls that often accompany autoimmune conditions, I choose high-quality, organic foods and steer clear of the vitality-zapping junk that makes up the Standard American Diet (very SAD indeed).
Those of you who have been following this blog know I support my farmer friends at Grant Family Farms. I thrive on their organic fruits, veggies and pastured eggs and as a nutrition therapist, I know exactly why. It’s my medicine (lucky me). Nothing like fresh garlic scapes sautéed with summer squash, served with wild rice and a few ounces of wild-caught salmon for a dose of healing flavor. Or fresh, omega-rich eggs that look and taste much better then their store-bought counterparts. There’s no comparison.
So, while I don’t advertise on my blog, I won’t hesitate to encourage you to jump on the “eat healthy and eat local” bandwagon. For those of you in Colorado, please check out Grant Farms as they’re now delivering to the mountain communities. Yippee! From Dillon to Winter Park to Steamboat Springs to Leadville, Fairplay and Buena Vista – Grant Farms will bring organic goodies right to a drop-off location near you. For more information and to sign up, check here.
Okay, so I have ulterior motives. It’s about that tremble with joy thing I started with. Every Tuesday during the 26-week harvest season, I’m inspired by what I find in my big red CSA delivery box. Inspired to play with my food, strengthen my body and nourish my spirit. Food can do that, especially when you know it has been grown with love right up the road from you.
Bottom line? I want my local farmers to be successful! I actually need them to be successful. My health depends on it.
Go forth and hug a farmer – then tremble with joy!
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should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.