Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Quiche with Goat Cheese, Dried Tomatoes, and Chives

Yesterday I picked some fresh chives from the garden! Chives are cool-tolerant perennials, which means that once you have some established in your yard or garden, they will come back very early each spring, giving you something green and tasty to harvest while everything else is still bare dirt.

When I make quiche, I often make two at once, since it's not much more work--and it guarantees leftovers for another meal.

2 9-inch pastry shells (not too deep)
1/2 cup dried tomatoes, softened and chopped (soften in hot water)
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
3 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
6 eggs
1 3/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prick the pastry shells all over with a fork, then pre-bake for about 12 minutes.

Spread half of the tomatoes, chives and goat cheese in the bottom of the pastry shells.

Beat the eggs in a medium bowl, then add the milk, salt, and pepper and mix well. Pour half of this mixture into each pastry shell. If you are concerned about spillage, line two rimmed cookie sheets with foil and place the pie plates on top of them.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until quiches are done in the middle.

Makes 2 9-inch quiches, serving about 6.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Lamb Chops with Garlic and Rosemary

I made these last night with lamb from Crabapple Farm and Not Your Ordinary Farm. They were, in my mother-in-law's words, out of this world. And the preparation is embarrassingly easy. I served these with the sweet and savory parsnips, which made a nice pairing, and a green salad with local mesclun and feta for a bit of a Greek flair throughout the meal. The rosemary came from my potted plant.

6 or so cloves garlic, peeled
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp olive oil
4 large or 8 small lamb chops, at room temperature

Minced the garlic and rosemary together or mash in a mortar and pestle if you have one. Add the salt, pepper, and olive oil and stir to form a paste. Spread this all over the lamb chops, rubbing it in well. Let them sit for as long as you have time for (if more than an hour or so, refrigerate, bringing them back up to room temperature before cooking). Even 20 or 30 minutes is beneficial.

Preheat the broiler, then broil the chops for about 4 minutes on each side for medium rare (add another minute or so if you prefer them medium).

Serves 3-4.

Sweet and Savory Sauteed Parsnips

Having used up our own harvest of spring-dug parsnips in a single meal, I bought some more at Green Fields Market on Saturday. They were enormous--and so good. Prepared this way, they were mildly addictive. If you use really big ones, you may need to cut out the core, which can get woody.

1-2 Tbsp butter
2 huge parsnips, in 1/8-inch slices (4-5 cups)
Pinch of cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the parsnips and saute, stirring often, for about 4 minutes. Add the cinnamon, salt, and pepper, and continue to saute for another 4 minutes or so, until tender.

Serves 3-4.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pizza with Red Pepper, Goat Cheese, and Dried Tomatoes

This recipe is just a variation on the last one. I put it together when I realized I was making two pizzas but only had enough spinach for one. I pulled the red pepper out of the freezer, and found that it worked well, too. In either case, you could skip the tomatoes if you don't have them, for a simpler but still tasty pizza.

1 14-inch pizza crust
olive oil
1/2 - 2/3 cup tomato sauce of your choice
1 medium red pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup chopped dried tomatoes (to soften, soak in hot water for a few minutes)
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
4 oz. shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Paint the pizza crust with a little olive oil, then spread with the tomato sauce. Top with the red pepper and tomatoes. Sprinkle the goat cheese over the spinach, then top with the mozzarella.

Bake 15-20 minutes, until the crust is done and the cheese starts to brown.

Serve 3-4.

Pizza with Spinach, Goat Cheese, and Dried Tomatoes

I'll probably continue posting a lot of recipes for greens over the next month or two, until some more produce starts coming into season. But hey, there's a lot you can do with greens! Here's what I'm making for dinner tonight. In addition to the local spinach, I'm using goat cheese from Westfield Farm in Hubbardston and tomatoes that I dried from my garden last fall.

olive oil
1/2 lb spinach, stemmed
1/4 cup chopped dried tomatoes (to soften, soak in hot water for a few minutes)
1 14-inch pizza crust
1/2 - 2/3 cup tomato sauce of your choice
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
4 oz. shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Heat a little olive oil in a skillet and add the spinach and tomatoes. Saute just until the spinach is wilted, probably no more than 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Paint the pizza crust with a little olive oil, then spread with the tomato sauce. Top with the spinach and tomatoes. Sprinkle the goat cheese over the spinach, then top with the mozzarella.

Bake 15-20 minutes, until the crust is done and the cheese starts to brown.

Serve 3-4.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tortilla de Patatas with Red Peppers

Back in December I posted this basic recipe for tortilla de patatas, along with a garlic and sage variation. Last night I tried another version, incorporating red peppers, another Spanish staple, and it was quite delicious. I used red bell peppers from the freezer, along with local onions and eggs, and the last of the potatoes that I bought at Winter Fare.

1/4 cup olive oil
4-5 cups sliced potatoes (1/4-inch slices)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
5 eggs
1/2 tsp crumbled dried sage leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a heavy ovenproof skillet (10-inch is a good size). Add the potatoes and fry until tender, turning frequently to keep them from sticking.

When the potatoes are tender, remove them from the pan and drain off all but about 1 Tbsp of the oil in the pan. Add the garlic, onion, and pepper and saute until tender, about 3-4 minutes, then remove from heat. Turn on the broiler.

Beat the eggs and salt in a large bowl. Add the potatoes and vegetables and stir to coat. Heat the skillet again, adding a bit more oil so it is well coated, and pour in the egg and potato mixture. Cover over medium heat, shaking frequently, until half set. Finish under the broiler (just a few minutes should do the job).

Serve warm.

Serves about 4.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Thanking the Weather Gods

This weekend, I planted radishes, carrots, kale, Swiss chard, arugula, spinach, lettuce, mizuna, and a few other kinds of cool weather greens in the garden, which is free of snow and dry enough to work the soil. Normally I think of this as an early-mid April activity, so I can only say thank you to the weather gods for providing a nice snowy winter followed by a quick melt without too much rain at the same time. Peas still need to go in, though we do have some very early ones getting started in the greenhouse.

The bigger job remaining to be done now is to get seeds started indoors for all the warm weather veggies--tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, herbs, and all that good stuff. This means giving over 1/3 of the dining room table to flats and lights, which is less than ideal (but the only available space safe from the toddler), but the results are so good it's worth it.

What's Local at GFM

Over the last few months, I've been checking to see what is available in the way of local produce when I do the grocery shopping. There wasn't much over the winter, but the list is slowly starting to grow. Here's what I found at Green Fields Market yesterday:

Spring-dug parsnips, mesclun, cilantro, spinach, several kinds of sprouts, and apples (from Dummerston VT).

Last weekend, I also saw arugula, radishes, carrots, turnips, celeriac, and sunchokes. The local stuff tends to go quickly, so what I see on any given shopping trip is just a snapshot. Still, it looks like from last week to this week, the root vegetables might be petering out, while more early spring foods are coming in.

Roasted Pork with Parsnips and Celeriac

Last summer we got a late planting of parsnips done, with plans to overwinter them for spring digging. This weekend I harvested them all. Because they were planted late (around July 1), they were fairly small, but what a treat to be getting food from the garden right now! Here's what I did with them all last night, along with local celeriac and pork from Bostrom's Farm.

3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground or crumbled dried sage
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
6 cups cubed celeriac and parsnips
Olive oil
2 lbs pork shoulder chops

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Combine the garlic, sage, salt, and pepper and mix well into a sort of paste.

Place the parsnips and celeriac in a roasting pan that will also hold the pork. Toss with about 2 Tbsp of olive oil and 1-2 tsp of the garlic mixture. Roast for about 30 minutes.

While the vegetables start to roast, rub the pork all over with the remaining garlic mixture. After the vegetables have roasted for 30 minutes, stir them and add the pork to the pan, nestling it in. Return the pan to the oven and roast for an additional 15 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the pork reads 145-150 degrees. Let the meat sit for a few minutes before serving.

Serves about 4.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pizza with Arugula, Caramelized Onions, and Feta

After considering many possibilities, here's what I did with the arugula and the pizza. In summer/fall, I would use fresh tomatoes instead.

1 medium onions, sliced lengthwise
1/4 lb arugula
Salt and pepper to taste
1 14-inch pizza crust
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2-3 oz. crumbled feta
3-4 oz. shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Heat a little olive oil in a skillet and add the onions. Saute over low-medium heat, stirring periodically, until brown and very soft. Add the arugula, raise the heat, and saute just until wilted (a minute or less).

Paint the pizza crust with a little olive oil. Spread the tomato sauce over it, then spread the onion and arugula mixture over that. Sprinkle with feta and top with mozzarella. Bake 15-20 minutes, until cheese begins to brown and crust is done.

Serves 3-4.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Arugula Pizza Possibilities

I've got some arugula in the fridge and a hankering to make pizza tonight. Here are some of the topping combinations I'm considering:

1. caramelized onions, sauteed arugula, and feta with tomato sauce
2. sauteed arugula, feta, and sundried tomatoes with tomato sauce
3. a thin paste of sundried tomatoes in place of the usual tomato sauce, sauteed arugula, and lots of garlic
4. I wonder how parsnips and arugula go together?
5. onions sauteed with balsamic vinegar, arugula, a sprinkling of raisins and chopped walnuts, maybe feta, and tomato sauce

Other things I might use if I had them: gorgonzola or other blue cheese, bacon, goat cheese, good black olives

I think I'd put mozzarella on all of these as well.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Yesterday I harvested the first few parsnips from our garden--we deliberately overwintered them to improve their flavor, and as the snow melts and the ground thaws, they are ready to be pulled. Most of ours are still under a pretty good snowpack, but one edge of the bed gets more sun and is already bare. We got the seeds planted late, so the parsnips are small, but I am looking forward to tasting them.

About half our garden is free of snow at this point, and other good things are starting to come up. We cleared the mulch off the garlic and found that it is coming up nicely. There is baby spinach that overwintered from last fall (not much of it, alas). The kale is producing a few new leaves, and the chives are starting to come up. A few more warm days, and I expect to see some more!

Sausage, White Beans, and Arugula with Pasta

I scored some more local arugula at the coop this weekend and used most of it in this dish, along with sausage from Bostrom's Farm. The bean-sausage-arugula combination is a felicitous one and you could take it in a few different directions from here--perhaps add tomatoes and skip the pasta, so that it forms more of a stew. Or puree the beans with some water to make more of a sauce. Lots of options.

1 lb dry cut pasta, such as shells
1 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cups cooked white beans (I used these)
2 tsp dried ground or crumbled sage
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 - 1/2 lb arugula

Heat water and cook the pasta. While you do this, make the rest of the dish.

Cook the sausage in a large skillet, breaking it up as you do so. When it is about done, pour off most of the fat. Add the garlic and onion and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the beans, sage, and salt and pepper.

When the pasta is ready, drain it and toss with a little olive oil. Then add the arugula to the other ingredients, sauteing just until wilted (probably no more than 1 minute). Toss this mixture with the pasta and serve.

Serves about 6.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Simple Savory White Beans

These can be eaten alone or tossed into soups, etc. My son scarfs them down straight, and I have to say they're pretty tasty that way. You could also add some fresh greens--saute them in olive oil, then toss with the cooked and drained beans.

I like to make beans in the slow cooker, but you can do them on the stovetop as well, of course.

3 cups dried white beans (such as navy or great northern), soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
6 cloves garlic, bruised (no need to peel)
1 large bay leaf
8-10 whole dried sage leaves, or 1/2 tsp ground dried sage
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the beans, garlic, bay leaf, and sage in the slow cooker. Add enough water to cover generously. Cook on low for 7-9 hours. Add salt and pepper at the end.

Ginger-Sage Lentils and Barley with Greens

Pantry items plus early season greens is where we seem to be at the moment... This is adapted from a recipe in Didi Emmons's Vegetarian Planet. The flavor combination may sound odd, but it's delicious. If you're feeling lazy or rushed, just mince the garlic and ginger. Don't substitute olive oil for the canola, as the flavor is too strong (other neutral oils are fine).

1 cup pearl barley
1 Tbsp butter
1-2 Tbsp canola oil
8-10 cloves garlic, julienned
1 1-inch chunk ginger, peeled and julienned
1 medium onion, sliced lengthwise
1 cup red lentils
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
2-3 tsp dried sage
1/2 lb spinach or other greens, stemmed

Heat 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan. When it comes to a boil, add the barley and reduce the heat to a simmer with the pan partially covered. Cook until the water is absorbed and the barley is tender, about 25 minutes.

While the barley cooks, heat the butter and canola oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic, ginger, and onion, and cook 5-6 minutes. Add the lentils, salt, pepper, and sage and cook, stirring, for a minute or so. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cover and cook until the lentils are tender, about 6-8 minutes (check and stir occasionally to be sure they don't burn and stick). When the lentils are done, increase the heat to medium-high and add the spinach or other greens (you may have to do this in batches), cooking until just wilted. Remove from heat.

When the barley is done, combine all ingredients in a large serving bowl. Serve hot.

Serves about 4.

Update, 3/16/09: Thanks to the person who noticed I didn't include the amount of water to add to the lentils--it's in there now.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Life Without Citrus

My husband and I have tried to eat fairly locally for a number of years now, but we have become more conscious of it over the last year or so. I started this blog at a time when we were feeling the need to take it a little further, though we didn't have any precise plans of what we were going to do (or not do). We still don't have any hard-and-fast rules. But we have found that the further along we go, the more it just doesn't feel right to buy things from far away--especially fresh/perishable items--especially when there are reasonable alternative from here in Western Mass.

So it suddenly dawned on me recently that we basically have not had any citrus all winter long, while it was previously a winter staple. We bought a box of clementines around Christmas, and some friends brought us a few oranges back from a trip to Florida, but that has been it. We have been getting by on apples from Clarkdale and fruit that I froze last summer and fall (mainly peaches). But the truth is, it hasn't really felt like "getting by"--it has been fine. And while at this point in the year I am starting to hanker for spring and summer fruits, I don't feel any more that way than I do every year. We never made a decision to give up citrus, we just found that we didn't really feel like we had to have it. (It probably helps that those Clarkdale apples are so darn good! I think have appreciated them more fully this winter than in the past.)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Italian Lentil Soup

This is an easy recipe and a great vehicle for root vegetables--plus some of the greens starting to become available again. I often make it in the slow cooker, but it does just fine on the stove top, too. The quantities are very flexible and forgiving, so work with whatever you've got on hand. You can always add or substitute potatoes, turnips, or whatever else you like.

3 cups brown lentils
3 cups or so canned or frozen tomatoes, chopped
1-2 cups diced celeriac
2 large carrots, in 1/4-inch rounds
1 large onion, chopped
10-12 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp salt, plus more to taste
Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
3-4 cups coarsely chopped greens (spinach, kale, chard--whatever)
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Combine all ingredients except for the greens and vinegar in the slow cooker or a large soup pot. Add water to generously cover. In the slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours. On the stove, bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 45-60 minutes.

At the end of the cooking period, add the greens and cook until wilted. Stir in the vinegar, then taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serves at least 6.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Barley with Arugula and Red Beans

I scored three different kinds of local greens at Green Fields Market this past weekend--winter must be coming to an end, despite the fresh snowfall this week. Here's what I did with the arugula.

4 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups pearl barley
1 head garlic (12 or so cloves), minced
3-4 cups cooked red beans (2 15-oz cans)
1/2 lb arugula
1 - 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the barley and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until the barley is tender and all the water is absorbed, about 20-30 minutes.

While the barley cooks, heat some olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the beans, then remove from heat.

When the barley is just about ready, reheat the beans and garlic and add the arugula. Cook just until wilted.

Combine the barley and the bean mixture in a serving bowl. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Carrot and Celeriac Salad

Another option for combining carrots and celeriac, two vegetables that are both readily available at this time of year and, happily, go together well.

For the simplest version, combine equal parts grated carrots and celeriac (after peeling). Toss with a vinaigrette of your choice (I'd suggest something mustard-y).

To dress it up a bit more, add raisins or currants, perhaps some sunflower seeds or slivered almonds. A little grated apple would go nicely as well. And, of course, you can vary the proportions of carrot and celeriac to suit your taste.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Roasted Celeriac and Carrots

Local celeriac is still available at Green Fields Market. And I stocked up on carrots from Red Fire Farm at Winter Fare. Here's an easy and delicious way to combine them.

Peel and cube equal amounts of celeriac and carrots (or whatever ratio you like). Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until tender.

You can take this in a few different directions by adding additional seasonings. E.g. stir a bit of Dijon mustard and cider vinegar into the olive oil before tossing with the vegetables; add some herbs such as tarragon, sage, oregano, or rosemary; add additional vegetables such as onions or garlic; add a bit of sesame oil and ginger...

Good-For-What-Ails-You Chicken Soup

I put this together this weekend with the leftovers from a roast chicken. I had a vague vision in mind, but this was one of those very happy occasions where the end product was even better than what I had envisioned. Familiar enough to be comforting but different enough to be interesting, this also involves enough ginger and garlic that it might just actually help chase those sniffles away (no promises!). You can get local chicken from Diemand Farm in Wendell, though you have to go out to the farm for it, unlike their eggs. I had some good carrots and onions left from my Winter Fare purchases, and red pepper in the freezer to round it out. Feel free to substitute noodles for the rice if you like.

Good-for-what-ails-you chicken soup with noodles substituted for the rice
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 - 2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp curry powder
3/4 cup long grain white rice (jasmine is good here)
2-3 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 1/2 cups diced red pepper
1 1/2 cups diced carrot
Stock and/or water (add bouillon cubes if you like)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, saute the garlic, ginger, and onion in olive oil for 4-5 minutes. Add the curry powder and saute for a moment more. Add the remaining ingredients, including enough stock and/or water to generously cover the solids. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the rice is cooked. Check on it periodically to see if additional water is needed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6.