First Big Harvest from Community Garden Plot

July 28, 2011 § 2 Comments

This …

harvest from Dainty's community garden plot

harvest from Dainty's community garden plot

This is what it’s all about. The seeds planted in April. And replanted in May. The battles with bugs. The constant fretting over the weather. The worry while on vacation. This haul is worth the wait, worth the time, for sure.

Red and golden beets. The last of the lettuce. Most of the red and yellow chard. A big ol’ yellow squash. The first—the very first!—cherry tomatoes. Thyme and dill. Oh, and I shouldn’t forget to mention this is all in a 15′ x 30′ urban community garden plot. Call me a city farmer.

It’s not like we haven’t harvested anything at all up until now. Not true. We’ve snipped plenty of herbs. Fresh dill sprigs went into some homemade pickles a few weeks ago, for instance. We’ve pulled up a beet here and there. Just this Monday we took home three larger-than-intended zucchini and a couple of yellow squash. And, we’ve had lettuce for months.

But now, the last week in July, is when everything comes together.

Look for a whole lotta zucchini recipes coming your way.

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Lentil-Bulgur Salad ala Moosewood

March 22, 2011 § 2 Comments

Bulgar? Bulgur? Bulghur? However you spell it, society at large has been hiding this absolutely spectacular whole-grain from me. If you are to believe movies such as The Adjustment Bureau, the men behind the curtains controlling my life have seen to it that bulgur shall never be placed in front of me. Ever. Never had it. Never saw it. Was never even tempted.

That is, until one Sunday morning a few months ago. I was tidying up the house with Food Network on in the background and Ba-Da-Boom Nigella Lawson made a bulgur dish to accompany a Moroccan meal. And if Nigella likes it, well … I gotta give this stuff a try.

Forget for a moment it’s a whole grain and nutritious and etc. It tastes good! It’s got a great consistency! And it plays well with others. In today’s recipe—and yesterday’s, too, actually—bulgur plays really well with lentils. So well, it’s like they are playing doctor, if you know what I mean.

This recipe is from the Moosewood Cookbook. I’ve eaten at the Moosewood, by the way, back in the mid 90s. And it’s true what they say—terrific food, the service coulda been better (they didn’t place my order. At. All. And that was just one of many examples). But, seriously good food. And if you can chop, you can make this stuff.

I made this for the first time Sunday. And my first reaction after tasting was, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? I just made this from that stuff??” I’m not kidding you, this stuff is taste on a plate.

A coupla notes: 1) Omit the feta and it’ll be vegan. 2) Serve at room temp – it has better flavor. 3) Stuff it in pita … yum. 4) I didn’t add the olives. I don’t think I had any and I forgot in general. 5) It’s a perfect protein. Oh yeah.

Lentil-Bulgur Salad

Lentil-Bulgur Salad

Lentil-Bulgur Salad

  • 1 cup dry lentils (use green!)
  • 2 cups water

Put lentils in small saucepan. Add water (and a pinch of salt). Bring to just boiling. Turn heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 20-25 minutes until tender but not mushy. Drain well and place in a large bowl.

  • 1 cup dry bulgur wheat
  • 1 cup boiling water

Place bulgur in a small bowl. Boil a cup of water (microwave is fine) then add it to the bulgur. Give it a swirl. Cover the bowl with a plate. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes. That’s it.

Now comes choppin’ time. Add all of this to the lentils:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (I used juice of one lemon)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp freshly minced (or 2 tsp dried) mint (do not skip this!)
  • 2-3 tbsp freshly minced (or 2-3 tsp dried) dill
  • fresh black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly minced parsley (I broke off a hunk of my frozen parsley)
  • 1/3 cup minced red onion
  • 1 small bell pepper
  • 1/2 stalk celery, minced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/2 cup nicoise olives (oops, forgot those)

Stir those around and add the bulgur, too. Now add:

  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Fold that around. Give it a taste.

Right? I TOLD you. That’s flavor that’ll make your Greek grandmother weep.

Fresh, Homegrown Parsley

January 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Fresh garden parsley in January, yo.”

Parsley harvested in November still going strong in January, thanks to some prepping tips.

That’s from my “Linguine with Clam Sauce: The Payoff” post. I had bragged about how our homegrown parsley is like Methuselah—it just keeps on keepin’ on even after being in our fridge for nearly two months. What the hell kinda parsley are we using, after all? Plastic?

No, not plastic. In fact, it’s one of those no-named varieties of flat-leafed parsley seedlings we bought from a pop-up garden center back in May. It’s the most gutsy plant we have in our community garden plot, and we couldn’t kill it if we tried. I planted pretty much every seedling that was broadcast-sown in the 4-in. pot we purchased—and every single plant survived.

Here are the growing instructions: Nothing special; water now and then.

I’m not kidding you. Nothing special. And, as a result, the two rows of parsley grew into a small hedge. In fact, it’ll probably come back from the dead when the soil warms this spring.

Just as the living stuff is indestructible, so too is the harvested parsley. Here’s how we prepared and stored the herb:

  • Gently wash with cold water.
  • Remove stems. Reserve stems for your stash of veggies for making veggie stock.
  • Lay leaves flattish on towel to air dry excess water. Best thing about parsley as a plant is that it’s sturdy—it’ll dry before it begins to wilt.
  • Once dry, store loosely in zip-lock freezer bag. Put in refrigerator. Since the storage bags are a bit thicker, I think that helps prolong the parsley’s life.

We also stashed six or eight of these zip-locks in the freezer, where it forms frozen sheets. When we run out of the fresh stuff, we’ll break off a corner of the frozen parsley sheet and add it to soups, stews, pasta, and so forth.

More importantly, this is what we DON’T do: Store the parsley wet, wrapped in a moist paper towel in a sealed bag. The humidity just seems to build up along the bag’s sides, eventually making the leaves black and slimy. Sure, we’ll do this if we’re in a hurry or we know we’ll use the whole batch quickly. But it’s not something I’d do for long-term storage.

Will our parsley-storage technique work with the store-bought stuff? I don’t know—we haven’t had to buy the fresh stuff in years. But please do give it a try and let Dainty Dot know the results.

And did I mention, we also have fresh dill from the garden still going strong in the fridge, as well? It’s like a magic tomb, that refrigerator of ours.

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