Here are some seasonal recipes to get you started with using foods that are in abundance at different times of the year in our region. Most of these are dishes we cook often ourselves with our own harvests. The crops grown on our farm are italicized.
Roast Stewing Hen Dinner (February 2013)
When we culled our flock we had over a dozen stewing hens (old layers that don’t lay enough eggs anymore) in the freezer, so learning what to do with them was a project this winter. Mostly we did soup, but then we heard about slow-roasting them. So we tried it, and it was great! Here’s the recipe (substitute your own veggies, for instance, beets would work well, too):
2 small stewing hens
6 to 8 medium sized potatoes – waxy ones such as Red Norland work best
12 small onions
6 medium carrots
2 medium rutabagas
3 large parsnips
6 large cloves garlic
Oil or butter
6-8 slices stale bread
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
First, set the oven to 275 degrees, and while it’s heating, prepare the stuffing. Crush up your stale bread, throw in some chopped onions, shallots, and/or garlic, and soak it in most of the chicken broth (save ~1/2 cup). When the bread has absorbed the broth, stuff it into the thawed birds. It may help to truss them (tie the legs together) to keep the stuffing in. If the stuffing falls out, it’s still delicious when mixed with the veggies.
Rub oil or butter onto the birds, either on the skin or under the skin. Then rub spices into the oil. I used a curry/tandoori spice blend, but there are lots of possibilities here. Put them in a deep roasting tray with a lid (tin foil works if you don’t have a lid), pour about 1/2 cup of chicken broth in the pan, and stick it in the oven, covered, for about 2 hours or so.
Meanwhile, get the veggies ready. Chop them up into 1 inch cube pieces, toss them with oil, and rub spices onto them. Once the birds have been in the oven for about 2-3 hours, you can throw the vegetables in. In 1-2 hours, start checking the vegetables and bird for doneness. The vegetables should be soft, and the bird will be very tender (practically falling apart). If you have a meat thermometer, use it, but there should be no pink left in the chicken meat.
May 11: Italian Dandelion Greens
Dandelion greens have a reputation for extreme bitterness. And it’s well-deserved. But don’t be scared off of them. They’re great for you (they were last year’s superfood-of-the-moment) and the bitterness is an acquired taste that, once acquired, will have you scouring your backyard for greens. This recipe is an excellent way to acquaint yourself with dandelion greens. I had it for dinner tonight and wish I had made more. It uses the strong flavors of lightly cooked garlic and balsamic vinegar to balance the dandelion’s bitterness. It’s a regular dish in my grandmother’s kitchen, who at 85 still keeps a garden of dozens of tomato plants plus probably 15 other vegetables. It must be the dandelion.
optional: red/black pepper
Chop dandelion into strips, discarding the base of the leaves, which are a bit stemmier. Heat 1 or 2 tbsp of olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, dump in the greens. Sprinkle some salt on them (use your own taste and judgment for amount). Add pepper, if desired. Mince up the garlic and, once the greens have wilted, throw it in the greens. Reduce heat to medium-low. Let that cook for 1-2 minutes, then splash in 1 or 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Mix that in, cook for 30 seconds, then remove heat. Can also be cooked longer, until some of the greens start to crisp up.
Rice and vegetable casserole (June 20, 2012)
Makes one 11×7 casserole dish. Serves 4 or 2 very hungry farmers.
2 cups brown rice
1/2 cup lentils
1 bunch (about 8 big leaves) of kale
5 small green onions
2 garlic scapes
1 bunch broccoli
2 cups yogurt or sour cream
½ cup milk
2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast (or powdered vegetable stock)
½ cup roasted cashews, chopped
3-4 Tbsp oil
1 cup grated cheese
Preheat oven to 350F. Cook rice in rice cooker along with 5 cups of water (will take about 40 minutes). After 20 minutes, add the lentils. While that is cooking, chop vegetables into bite-size pieces (separate white and green portions of the green onions). Sauté vegetables in a pre-heated pan over medium-low heat. Start with carrots and broccoli. After about 5 minutes, add the garlic scapes and the white portion of the green onions. After another 5 minutes, add the kale and the green portion of the green onions. After another 5 minutes, the vegetables will be done and you can turn off the heat. After the vegetables are done, or while they are cooking, you can mix the sour cream, egg, salt, nutritional yeast and roasted cashews together, either in a separate bowl, or if you’re conserving dishes, in your casserole dish. Mix the cooked rice, vegetables, and yogurt mixture together in the pan, and sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake about half an hour.
Kale and Garlic Scape Pesto (June 20, 2012)
Makes about 8 servings
1 bunch kale
4-6 garlic scapes
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup walnuts
1-2 cups grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 Tbsp lemon juice
about 2 cups olive oil
Throw it all in a food processor and make it go until it looks like pesto consistency. Serve on pasta. (Also delicious in deviled eggs or on sandwiches.)
Spring Vegetable Fritatta (June 13, 2012)
1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, jack, and/or mozzarella)
2 green onions
4 asparagus spears
3 cups greens (kale, chard, spinach, mustard greens, etc.)
1 garlic scape
2 Tbsp olive (or other) oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop asparagus, garlic scape, and green onions into small pieces. Separate the white end portion of the green onions from the green portion. Beat eggs. Pour oil in pre-heated frying pan (cast iron is best) and sauté chopped asparagus, garlic scape, and the white portion of the green onion until asparagus is tender. Add greens and the green portion of the green onion, and sauté until greens are just wilted, about 2 minutes. Pour beaten eggs into pan, onto vegetables. Decrease burner heat to medium-low. When egg is almost cooked through, sprinkle the cheese on top and allow to melt.
Early Summer Recipes
Favamole (July 18, 2012)
Avocado-free guacamole (handy, since avocados grow 2000 km away, and fava beans grow quite well right here).
1/2 pound (1 bunch) fava beans, shelled
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic OR 4 garlic scapes
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup (1 small bunch) cilantro
1 tsp salt
Blanche fava beans in boiling water for 3 minutes. Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until well-blended and guacamole-textured. Add more water if needed to make it creamy. Serve with chips or tortillas.
Cabbage-Tempeh Stir Fry on Mashed Potatoes (July 11, 2012)
1 head cabbage
1 large onion
4-5 medium carrots
2 cloves garlic
10 medium potatoes
approx. 1 c milk
butter to taste
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 package tempeh*
Wash potatoes, and place in a pot with enough boiling water to cover them. Meanwhile, chop cabbage, carrots, onion, and garlic into fairly small (bite-sized) pieces. Also chop tempeh into bite-sized pieces. Preheat oil in 2 pans (cast iron works nicely) over medium heat. When hot, add the chopped vegetables to one pan and sauté until onions are translucent and carrots reach desired level of tenderness. In the other pan, put the tempeh and sauté until slightly browned. The potatoes should be tender enough after boiling for 15-20 minutes. Check for tenderness with a fork. When the fork inserts easily and potatoes appear cooked, pour out the water and mash with a potato masher. Add in milk until potatoes reach desired texture (normal mashed potato texture). Add in butter, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve the cooked veggies and tempeh on top of the potatoes. Soy sauce makes a nice condiment for this meal.
* You could substitute tofu, seitan (hail seitan!) or probably even chicken here
Kale Chips (June 27, 2012)
1 bunch kale
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (optional)
spices (see below for suggestions)
Preheat oven to 350. Remove tough stems (and compost them, or feed them to your dogs, mine love kale stems!) Cut or tear kale leaves into bite-sized pieces, then toss with olive oil, vinegar, and spices until well-coated. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake 10-12 minutes, until just browned and crispy (watch carefully, they can transition to burnt very quickly). Eat immediately, they don’t save well.
Some spice suggestions:
– 1 tsp salt (coarse or fine)
– 1 minced garlic clove, pinch of salt
– ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, ½ tsp salt
– ½ tsp chili powder, ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, pinch salt
– salt and pepper, ½ tsp crushed chili peppers
– ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, ½ tsp chili powder, 1 tsp sweetened cocoa powder
– zest from 1 lime, ¼ tsp chili powder
Late Summer Recipes
Tomatillo soup (September 2011)
Roast together: 12-24 tomatillos, 6-12 peppers (anchos are best, but sweet peppers or jalapenos work, too), 2 sweet onions, 3 or 4 cloves garlic, season with salt and pepper.
Stir every once in a while and once the skin on the veggies starts to get blistered, take it all out and put it in a big pot. Add chicken broth, veggie broth, or just water until veggies are just covered. Simmer for 30 minutes. Then mash or blend everything up. Add some lime juice and cilantro (if you can stand it).
Autumnal Minestrone (October 2011)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
3-4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 1/2 cups peeled and cubed winter squash*
2 celery stalks, diced
2-3 peeled and diced carrots
2 1/2 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 cups water
4 cups chopped kale
1 1/2 cups cooked or canned cannellini beans (15-ounce can, drained)
1 rind from a wedge of parmesan cheese**
* I recommend a firm, rich winter squash, such as acorn, delicata, or buttercup.
** The parmesan rind is absolutely essential. Don’t omit it under any circumstances.
Warm the oil in a large soup pot on medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the squash, celery, carrots, potatoes, oregano, salt, pepper, cheese rind, and water and cook covered for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are almost done. Add the kale and beans and simmer for another 5 to 7 minutes, until the kale is tender and the beans are hot. Serve immediately with parmesan cheese on top.
Pumpkin curry (October 2011)
We had a lot of pumpkin left over from Sam making pumpkin pie the other day, so I decided to try this. It turned out to be very good – the pumpkin adds a nice texture to the curry, much like coconut milk. I intend to try it without any coconut milk, to really see how good of a substitution it is. On with the (very rough) recipe:
Started out by soaking and cooking chickpeas. When they were almost done, I added curry powder, coconut milk, ground coriander, ginger, and mashed pumpkin to the water, and let that sit while I readied the veggies.
For veggies, I stir-fried some onions, hot and sweet peppers, carrots, zucchini, garlic, and potatoes in oil with cumin, coriander, and mustard seeds. Once the veggies are almost burned (yummy crispy brown spicy bits) I dumped in the chickpea pumpkin curry mixture. Let that simmer until the potatoes are cooked. Serve over rice.