Lime-Agave Vinaigrette

August 11, 2011 § 2 Comments

Life, sometimes, can get a bit bitter. Thank goodness we have sweets.
Mary Poppins was right about that spoonful of sugar—it helps pretty near everything taste A-okay.

Like my lettuce, for instance. I am still harvesting lettuce from the garden—in mid August! How crazy is that? But, well … it’s up and bolted on me. That’s a gardening term that means that nice compact head of leaf lettuce has sent up a flowering stalk, dragging all those individuals leaves with it. Worse yet, the leaves become bitter.

Now, typically you’d give up the ship at that point. Chuck it to the chickens, maybe. Not Dainty. Waste not, want not. Right? I mean, this’ll be my lunch for the next four days, come on! Keep the bitter stuff!

But I gotta sweeten it up. Maybe a salad dressing …

And then I remember a vinaigrette Giada DeLaurentis made on the Today Show two years ago. Lemon dressing with sweetness brought to you by agave nectar. Pretty darned good, I have to say.

Open hydrator drawers in fridge. No lemon. But there’s a big plump lime?

Lime-Agave Vinaigrette
3 Tbs lime juice
3 Tbs evoo
1.5 Tbs agave nectar

Combine. Shake. Season if you want, or just sprinkle a light dusting of salt and pepper over your salad.

Lime-Agave Vinaigrette

Lime-Agave Vinaigrette

Hits the sweet spot without the sugar.

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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.

Greek Salad Dressing

June 23, 2011 § 3 Comments

Lettuce and spinach from the garden

Did I mention it’s salad season? We have a plot in the Washington-Rutland Community Garden, right across from Flour Bakery, and it’s spitting out lettuce at a pretty good clip now. What we have most of now, actually, is spinach. It’s late June, and considering the warm temps, its the end of the spinach season. As my garden neighbor said, we had March until Memorial Day, then we had August. No normal spring weather – cool days and nights – to get a really good spinach crop going. Just cold and wet, not very good for seeds to germinate. And when they did finally come up, the seedlings didn’t like the heat. They sent up flower stalks immediately – at just 2 inches tall. Yikes. So what fills my salad spinner now are small, small spinach leaves. But a lot of them. Along with some of my larger lettuce leaves.

And did I mention I recently trimmed our oregano plant? It’s massive, and it was about to flower. To keep an herb going strong through the growing season, I trim off any flowers that pop up. I have a big bag of oregano clippings wrapped in moistened paper towel and sealed in a ziploc bag, sleeping nicely in the fridge. My recipes this week are leaning towards oregano.

What to drizzle over my spinach and lettuce leaves? The Lemon Oregano Vinaigrette is fabulous, but we need a little variety now and then. I found this recipe for a Greek-style dressing online at The Food Network site – it’s by a guy named Ernie? Never heard of him, but he’s got a knack for dressing, that’s for sure.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 cup white wine vinegar (equals 2 tbsp)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt – it calls for “fine salt,” but I used kosher and added a bit more to compensate
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper or dash of cayenne, optional
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves

-Use a blender to combine the vinegars, mustard, salt, pepper, red pepper, and garlic on the puree setting. With the motor running, very slowly pour in a steady stream of olive oil to make a smooth dressing. Repeat with the canola oil.

-Transfer the dressing to a glass storage container and mix in the oregano. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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