Category: Salads

The Vinaigrette

When Dan and I got married, dear friends gave us a wedding gift of a wooden salad bowl and tongs, as well as several favorite salad and vinaigrette recipes.

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Eventually the tongs took on multiple uses, such as a drumstick for banging pots and pans when my boys were toddlers, and sadly, one day the tongs broke.  But we still use that wooden bowl for delicious salads, which, at their very core, consist of fresh greens and a vinaigrette.

The basis for every vinaigrette is three parts oil mixed with one part acid. The acid is usually a vinegar but can also be a citrus juice.  You can make any amount of dressing that you want and add all sorts of good stuff, but if you want the dressing to mix well and taste good, stick to an approximate 3:1 oil/acid ratio.  

How to choose your oil and vinegar?  1) Whatever tastes best to you!  2) Whatever complements your salad toppings. Here’s what I choose from most often:

OILS

  • olive
  • avocado
  • canola
  • sesame (in combination with olive or canola)

VINEGARS/CITRUS

  • balsamic vinegar
  • red wine vinegar
  • white wine vinegar
  • unseasoned rice vinegar
  • lemon juice

Combine your oil and vinegar in a jar or bottle, add a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and shake, shake, shake it! You’ve just made your own salad dressing. 

If you want to get a little more creative, here are some of my favorite ingredients to add, NOT all in the same dressing.

ADDITIONS

If you’ve never made your own dressing before, please don’t let all these lists intimidate you! Think of them as tools for unleashing your creative culinary genius on your next salad.  If you’d like specific recipes, here are a couple combinations I used in the past week.

For the single-serving salad I posted about on Monday, I made this:

Garlic Vinaigrette

  • 1 T avocado oil
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • one clove minced garlic

On Sunday I made a chopped spinach salad (8 oz spinach) with blue cheese, chopped Paula Red apples, and caramel corn.  (Yes, caramel corn.  What can I say–I ran out of pecans but had just opened a bag of Chicago style popcorn!)  We’ll call this a honey mustard vinaigrette because syrup mustard just doesn’t quite sound right.

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 1 T white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Rogers Golden Syrup (I ran out of honey.  Fortunately I had this cane syrup that, sadly, you can only purchase in Canada.  Thanks to my parents and Canadian relatives for keeping me stocked in this deliciousness!)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Note: My 8-year-old Harper declared this salad delicious and a little sour–I took that as an okay to make it again this week. 🙂

If you don’t use all your vinaigrette at once, it can be stored in the fridge for a week or longer, depending on your ingredients.  Make sure to shake it up again before using to mix together the oil and vinegar.

What’s your favorite vinaigrette?

Photography: Anne Kingma 

The Salad

Let’s talk about the most basic way to eat those leafy greens you’ll find nearly every week in your share: The Salad.

 Fresh greens and root crops make up the bulk of your fall share, and one of the great things about our greens is that they’re almost always harvested the morning of distribution, and if not the morning of, you’re getting them within just a a few days of harvest.  We’re talking serious freshness here, people.  Which makes them perfect for a leafy salad.

If you’re looking for something specific, try these fall salad recipes from the farm blog: Kale Salad with Apples and Figs , Chopped Salad with Asian GreensGreen with Maple Apples and Onions.

But this post is less about giving a specific recipe and more about giving you ideas for how to make a salad of whatever you have in the house, Waste-Free-Kitchen-yet-still-super-tasty-style.

The most basic salad is a simple side salad made up of about an ounce of fresh greens and tossed with your favorite dressing.  (Or, if you’re Farmer Dan, just greens.  For real!)

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1/4 oz serving for child / 1 oz serving for adult

We, however, often eat salad as our lunchtime meal, a time when we need more than greens to power through the rest of the day.  In this case, I like to top 2-3 ounces of greens with some combination of the following:

Savory Salad

fresh veggies, chopped or grated (peppers, cucumbers, beets, radishes)

cheese, grated or cubed (cheddar, havarti, pepper jack, mozzarella)

beans (garbanzo, black, kidney, pinto)

meat (usually leftovers from the night before)

hard-boiled egg, chopped

fresh herbs, chopped (thyme, oregano, basil)

tortilla chips, crumbled

dressing (sometimes store-bought; sometimes a quick, homemade-for-one vinaigrette)

Sweet Salad

fresh fruit, chopped or sliced (apples, pears, strawberries, grapes)

cheese (Brie, cheddar, Camembert, blue cheese, gouda)

caramelized onions and garlic

nuts, chopped (pecans, walnuts, almonds)

dressing, like poppyseed or a honey-mustard vinaigrette

Here we go.  I’m going to make a salad here and now out of whatever’s in my fridge, pantry and garden, and show you what I come up with.  Be right back!

This is what I came up with:

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A little bit of this, a little bit of that: pepperoni, cucumbers, hard-boiled egg, brick cheese, green onions, olives, red-wine vinegar/avocado oil/garlic vinaigrette

I used salad greens but you can use any type of green for your base–spinach, kale, mustard greens, tat soi, bok choy, beet greens–any kind of green!  Each one will give your salad a slightly different taste and texture–yay for culinary adventures!

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Later this week we’ll talk more about vinagraittes, the quick-and-easy salad dressing you can make in less than five minutes and that can truly make or break your salad’s flavor.

What are your favorite salad toppings?

Recipe: Greens with Maple Apples and Onions

In the spring and fall, when fresh greens are abundant and delicious, I often eat a salad for a lunch.  I throw a bunch of Perkins’ Good Earth Farm baby lettuce or spinach in a bowl, then search the fridge for toppings.  I know some people aren’t big fans of leftovers, but I’m not one of them.  Leftovers turn my bowl of greens into a meal complete with protein, veggies, fruit, fats, and carbs. 

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For instance.  A few weeks ago, I made Pork Chops with Maple Apples for dinner, a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens’ weeknight cooking features.  Since pork chops are somewhat of a treat in our family, I didn’t have any leftover meat, but I did find surplus maple apples, aka apples sautĂ©ed with onions and garlic, then simmered in apple juice, cream, maple syrup and thyme.  I warmed up the apples, placed them on my greens, and topped the salad with toasted almonds for flavor and crunch.  My only disappointment was that I didn’t have enough leftovers for a second bowl.

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While you don’t need to make pork chops to enjoy this salad, you just might want to.  When I first made this, I used my cast iron skillet to cook the pork chops, then used the same skillet—without cleaning it—to cook the apples and onions.  If you want only the salad without the chops, you could use a little bacon fat along with the olive oil to get some pork flavor.

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First, fill four individual bowls or plates with one cup (for a side salad) or two cups (for a main dish) of salad greens and/or baby spinach.  Set aside.

If you’ve made the pork chops, your skillet should be hot and ready to go.  If not, heat it up over medium-high heat and work on your food prep.

Start by coring and slicing two cooking apples; I used Jonathan.  Next, slice a small red onion (or half of a medium-large onion), and mince two cloves of garlic

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Once your skillet’s hot, add a tablespoon of olive oil and wait for it to sizzle.  Add your apples, onions, and garlic to the skillet and cook for just a couple minutes, stirring every now and then.

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Add a quarter cup of apple juice or cider, and cook for 4-5 minutes, until almost all the liquid has evaporated and the apples are just beginning to soften.  

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While the apples are cooking, mix 1/3 cup whipping cream, one tablespoon of maple syrup, and two teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme (about 5 sprigs).

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Pour this mixture over the apples in the skillet and cook for a couple minutes, until the sauce is heated through and starting to thicken.

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Spoon about a quarter cup of apple mixture over each bowl of greens, then top the salads with a sprinkling of toasted almonds.  Enjoy!

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Note: If you’re making this topping for both pork chops and salad for four, I recommend doubling the recipe.

Scroll down for the printable, and let me know how your salad experience turned out! 

Photos and Food Styling: Anne Kingma

 

Greens with Maple Apples and Onions
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Ingredients
  1. 4-8 cups salad greens or baby spinach
  2. 1 Tbsp olive oil and/or bacon fat
  3. 2 cooking apples, cored and thinly sliced
  4. 1 small red onion, sliced
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. ÂĽ cup apple juice
  7. 1/3 cup heavy cream
  8. 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  9. 2 tsp snipped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
  10. ½ cup toasted almonds
Instructions
  1. Fill four individual bowls or plates with 1-2 cups of salad greens and/or baby spinach. Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil or bacon fat in skillet. Once fat is sizzling, add apples, onion and garlic to skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add apple juice and cook for 4-5 minutes, until almost all the liquid has evaporated and the apples are just beginning to soften.
  4. While apples are cooking, stir together cream, syrup, and thyme. Pour over apples and onions in skillet. Cook and stir for 2 minutes, until the sauce is heated through and beginning to thicken.
  5. Spoon about a ÂĽ cup apple mixture over each plate of greens. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. If you’re making this topping for both pork chops and salad for four, I recommend doubling the recipe.
Adapted from Pork Chops with Maple Apples
Perkins' Good Earth Farm http://perkinsgoodearthfarm.com/

Recipe: Strawberry Rhubarb Spinach Side Salad

I’m going to conclude this spring salad series with a tart twist on the classic spinach strawberry salad by adding strawberry’s favorite foil: rhubarb.

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Growing up, my main experience with rhubarb involved eating my mom’s super-yummy, super-sweet strawberry-rhubarb jam.  In other words, my experience equaled an encounter with serious sugar, to the point where if I hadn’t seen my mom add rhubarb to the jam, I never would’ve known it was in there.

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Now, I’m not criticizing my mom’s methods.  Personally, I’m a big fan of incredibly sweetened rhubarb.  But I know that others are not.  My mother-in-law, for instance, is a purist, preferring her rhubarb in its sharp, natural form.  And the other day, Payten Sikma, the nine-year-old daughter of one of our customers, bit into a raw stalk of rhubarb with such relish that later I tried it myself.  I followed the same rule we have for our kids—three bites before you decide—and by the third bite, I have to say I still prefer my rhubarb tamed by the sugar bowl.

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Payten enjoying raw rhubarb

 

This salad is a bit of in between the two extremes.  The strawberry’s natural sweetness balances the rhubarb’s bite, the spinach provides a relatively neutral backdrop, and the dressing pulls everything together for a refreshing spring side salad.

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Begin by trimming and slicing the rhubarb, then placing it in a medium saucepan.  Add your sugar—not too much, just a quarter cup—and pour in just enough water to cover the rhubarb.  Stir the sugar in and bring the whole mixture to a gentle simmer.

The next part is very important—do not overcook the rhubarb!  The first time I tried this I ended up with rhubarb mush, perfect for an ice cream topping but not so much for a salad.  Simmer for about 1 minute, test it, and if you think it needs a little more time, give it a minute more.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the rhubarb and set it aside to cool.

Next, add white wine vinegar to the remaining rhubarb liquid and cook for about 20 minutes until the liquid’s been reduced to about 1 cup.  (Note: This dressing does require a bit more time than most, but it’s worth it!) Set the liquid aside to cool.

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While you’re waiting, place about a cup of baby spinach on each salad plate.  Top each bed of greens with sliced strawberries and the cooled rhubarb.

Return to your rhubarb liquid (aka dressing base).  Pour ÂĽ cup of the liquid into a jar, then add vegetable oil, a few tablespoons of finely diced onion, a few tablespoons chopped fresh mint, and a little bit of salt.  Shake vigorously, then drizzle a little bit on each salad.  You can leave this salad as is at this point, or garnish with fresh mint leaves.

I recommend pairing this salad with soup and a crusty bread for a complete meal, or serve it as a precursor to a late spring entrĂ©e straight from the grill: chicken, fish, pork chops, or burgers.  And you may as well add a few stalks of raw rhubarb to the mix–just in case someone at the table is a true culinary adventurer. 

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 What’s your favorite way to eat rhubarb?

Photographs and Food Styling: Anne Kingma

Strawberry Rhubarb Spinach Side Salad
Serves 4
A refreshing spring side salad.
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Ingredients
  1. 4 cups baby spinach or baby salad mix
  2. 2 cups fresh strawberries, de-stemmed and sliced
  3. 1 pound trimmed rhubarb stalks, cut diagonally into ½ slices
  4. 2 cups water
  5. ÂĽ cup sugar
  6. ÂĽ cup white wine vinegar
  7. ½ cup vegetable oil
  8. 3 Tbsp onion, finely diced
  9. 3 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  10. ÂĽ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Place the rhubarb in a saucepan and cover with the water and sugar.
  2. Simmer gently for 1-2 minutes, stirring until sugar is dissolved and rhubarb is tender. Do not overcook, or your rhubarb will turn to mush.
  3. Use slotted spoon to remove rhubarb and place on a plate to cool.
  4. Stir the vinegar into the remaining liquid in the saucepan and cook over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, until the liquid has been reduced to about 1 cup.
  5. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  6. Meanwhile, divide the spinach among 4 plates. Top greens with strawberries and rhubarb.
  7. Return to rhubarb liquid. Pour ÂĽ cup of this liquid into a jar, then add vegetable oil, onion, and salt. Drizzle dressing on each salad.
  8. Garnish with fresh mint if desired.
  9. Enjoy!
Adapted from Simply in Season
Adapted from Simply in Season
Perkins' Good Earth Farm http://perkinsgoodearthfarm.com/

Recipe: Breakfast Salad with Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus and Spinach

Nothing says spring like asparagus, those tender tips somehow staying intact as they push themselves up and out of the soil, growing tall into supple purple or green spears, noble and strong, almost too beautiful to eat.

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And yet eat them we do.  Last year our oldest son (5 years old at the time) begged me to buy asparagus during the winter from the grocery store aisle, and I refused, saying he’d have to wait until spring.  When spring finally arrived, he ate asparagus for three meals a day, three days straight, until he was so sick of asparagus he wouldn’t eat another bite no matter how I prepared it. 

This year, he’s pacing himself.  We’re eating asparagus every other day, mostly for dinner.  However, when you wrap that asparagus in bacon and top it with over-easy eggs, you have yourself a pretty good breakfast dish.  And this next part should come as no surprise.  Here at the Perkins’ household, we serve our bacon-wrapped asparagus and eggs on what?  You guessed it.  A bed of greens.

Start by getting your hands on some good asparagus.  We have a small patch here at our farm, but not enough to sell.  I recommend purchasing your asparagus from local growers Butch and Carol Zandstra if you live in Northwest Indiana.  You can find their asparagus at Tysens or Kal-Bro in DeMotte.

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Next, choose how you want to cook your asparagus: oven, skillet, or grill, Since it’s spring and gorgeous outside, I’m choosing the grill for this time around, so I’m going to start by firing up my quaint little charcoal grill.

 

 

You’re going to want to thoroughly wash the asparagus to make sure all the grains of sand are removed from the tips.  Then trim the spears, both to remove the woody ends and to create a uniform length.  Separate the spears into groups two or three.

After that, mince some garlic and mix it into a little olive oil, then brush this onto the asparagus spears.

Now for the bacon—yum!  Grab a slice of bacon (I got mine from Yesteryears Meat Market in DeMotte) and wrap it around the asparagus spears, starting at the bottom of the spears and working your way to just below the tips.  If you want to make sure the bacon stays wrapped around the asparagus, you can secure it with toothpicks.

Assuming the grill’s ready to go, let’s get those bacon-wrapped spears cooking!  On my charcoal grill, this happens pretty quickly.  You may need place tinfoil over the grate to make sure the bacon has enough time to cook all the way through–it all depends on your grill–and you’ll need to flip the bacon-wrapped asparagus once during the grilling process.

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Meanwhile, get your greens ready by placing about 2 cups of trimmed baby spinach on each plate. 

Then, when the asparagus has about 5 minutes left on the grill, heat up your skillet or griddle.  (If you have an electric griddle, you can probably cook all the eggs at once, depending on how many people you’re serving.)  Cook the eggs over-easy—the runny yolks serves as the “dressing” for this salad.

Top each bed of greens with two bacon-wrapped asparagus bundles, and two over-easy eggs over the asparagus.  Sprinkle with freshly-ground black pepper, and eat immediately while it’s hot!

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Photos and Food Styling: Anne Kingma

Breakfast Salad with Spinach and Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus
Serves 4
A protein and nutrient-rich salad to start your day.
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Ingredients
  1. 8 slices bacon (about half a pound)
  2. 20-24 asparagus spears (about Âľ-1 pound)
  3. 2 Tbsp olive oil
  4. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  5. 8 cups baby spinach, stems trimmed
  6. 8 eggs
  7. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Wash asparagus. Trim asparagus spears to make uniform length.
  2. Combine olive oil and garlic. Brush asparagus spears with oil/garlic mixture.
  3. Sprinkle asparagus with freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Wrap one slice of bacon around 2-3 asparagus spears, starting at the bottom and working your way to just below the asparagus tips.
  5. Place bacon-wrapped asparagus spears on the grill, and cook until bacon is done, turning once.
  6. Meanwhile, place about 2 cups of trimmed baby spinach on each plate.
  7. When the bacon-wrapped asparagus has about 5 minutes cooking time remaining, preheat your skillet. Once hot, cook 8 eggs over-easy. Lightly salt the eggs.
  8. For each salad, place 2 bacon-wrapped asparagus on top of the greens, and 2 eggs on top of the asparagus. Sprinkle eggs with freshly ground black pepper.
  9. Enjoy!
Perkins' Good Earth Farm http://perkinsgoodearthfarm.com/

Recipe: Chopped Salad with Asian Greens

This spring we’re growing some new-to-us greens from the Asian Greens section of the seed catalog—Tat Soi, White-Stemmed Pac Choy, and Vitamin Green—along with a new-to-us mustard green, Garnet Giant Mustard.  Full-size, these greens are most often used in cooking, but now in early spring, in their tender baby size, the Asian Greens are perfect raw and fresh.

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I’ll admit these Asian and mustard greens take some getting used to.  I’ll also admit I haven’t had a great deal of success in getting my boys—ages 4 and 6—to fully embrace these flavorful greens, at least at the dinner table.  But the other day, I was working in the hoop house while discussing Bakugans with my 4-year-old Asher, and I nonchalantly offered him a few Vitamin Green leaves, which he popped in his mouth and ate without comment.  Okay, okay, he was distracted—I mean, we were talking about Bakugans!—but still he ate some and that’s a start.

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Our hope is that you too will give these a try.  So at this point in the season, instead of selling varieties individually, we’ve decided to toss them together into in Asian Greens Salad Mix and offer you what is essentially a nutrient powerhouse.  When eating all four of these greens together, you’ll get a great source of calcium, beta carotenes, vitamins A, C, and K, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.  Deborah Madison, cook and author of Vegetable Literacy, says of mustard greens’ health benefits—and this holds true for the Asian greens too—“These plants are such dynamos that we would do well to find ways to enjoy them.”

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One way I’ve enjoyed these greens this past week is in a chopped salad with a gingery, garlicky dressing.

For this recipe, you’re going to start the night before by making the dressing, which doubles as a chicken marinade.  Mix together rice vinegar, soy sauce, minced fresh ginger, minced garlic, peanut oil, and olive oil, and shake vigorously in your jar (or, if you’ve had a Grolsch since my first post this spring, use the bottle!).

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Thinly slice ½ pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts if you prefer white meat) into 1-inch pieces.  For local folks looking for semi-locally raised chicken, try Miller Amish Poultry from Tysens Grocery in DeMotte. Place the chicken in a bowl, pour about half the dressing over it, and marinate overnight, or at least 8 hours.

Fast forward to salad time.  First step, heat up that trusty skillet because it’s time to sautĂ© the marinated chicken, cooking about 4 minutes on each side.  When it’s finished cooking, set the chicken aside to cool.

Meanwhile, gather up the rest of your ingredients in a large bowl, starting with about 8 cups of the Asian Green Salad Mix, then adding a half cup of each of these:

  • fresh pineapple chunks
  • fresh Clementine wedges
  • sliced radishes
  • sliced green onions
  • peanuts
  • chicken strips

Toss all this goodness together, then dump everything out on your cutting board and—hence the salad’s name—get chopping!  I like this chopping advice from First We Feast:

Arrange your greens in a rough rectangle, then use your largest, sharpest knife to cut all the way down to the board. Lift the knife, and cut again in a parallel line about an inch from the first. Repeat until you reach the end of the rectangle. Rotate the board 90 degrees, then do again. That might be enough chopping, but if you want a finer mince, toss the ingredients to redistribute, then chop in a grid once more. 

Once you have the consistency you’re looking for, return everything to your large bowl and add a couple tablespoons of that dressing you made the night before.  Gently toss the salad, then place the whole mix in a serving dish.  At this point, you can leave the salad as is, or decorate by lining up about ½ cup of each ingredient on top of the salad.

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One last note about this salad.  I’m a big fan of using local, seasonal ingredients whenever possible.  Obviously, pineapple and clementines don’t really fit the bill here, but considering the only “fruit” I have growing in my garden right now is rhubarb, I decided to branch out.  If that’s not your style, you’re welcome to try the rhubarb—just make sure to tell me how it tasted!

Photography and Food Styling: Anne Kingma

Chopped Salad with Asian Greens
A refreshing chopped salad with Asian Greens, marinated chicken, spring veggies, and fresh fruit.
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For the dressing
  1. 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  2. 2 T soy sauce
  3. 2 tsp brown sugar
  4. 1 T grated ginger
  5. 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  6. ÂĽ cup peanut oil
  7. ÂĽ cup olive oil
For the salad
  1. 8 cups Asian Greens Salad Mix
  2. 1 cup pineapple chunks
  3. 1 cup Clementine segments
  4. 1 cup peanuts
  5. 1 cup radishes, sliced
  6. 1 cup green onions, sliced
  7. 1 cup sliced, marinated and sautéed chicken thighs
For the dressing
  1. Mix together dressing ingredients in a jar: rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, minced ginger, minced garlic, peanut oil, and olive oil. Set aside.
For the salad
  1. Thinly slice ½ pound chicken thighs. Place in a shallow dish and pour about half of the dressing over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate over night or at least 8 hours.
  2. When the chicken is ready, sauté the strips for about 4 minutes on each side until the chicken is done. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, combine salad mix, and ½ cup of each: pineapple, Clementine segments, peanuts, radishes, green onions, and chicken. Toss together, then pour out on a large cutting board. Chop the ingredients into small pieces.
  4. Return the chopped salad to the large bowl.
  5. Drizzle about 2 Tbsp of the remaining dressing onto the salad. Gently toss.
  6. Place the salad into a serving dish. Line or sprinkle the remaining pineapple, Clementine, peanuts, radishes, green onions, and chicken on top of the salad, and serve.
Perkins' Good Earth Farm http://perkinsgoodearthfarm.com/

Recipe: Baby Beet Greens with Caramelized Onions, Pears, and Goat Cheese

Flowers of spring

Nearly every Friday at the Perkins’ household, we have Family Movie Night together. The evening basically involves eating pizza on the couch, sipping root beer, and watching a kid-appropriate movie, then dealing with two over-excited boys who would rather battle whatever villain we just encountered in the movie than go to bed.

My boys prefer plain cheese pizza. Dan and I, however, like our pizza topped with caramelized onions, thin slices of pear, mozzarella, parmesan, and goat cheese. So every Friday afternoon around three, I heat a few pats of butter and a little olive oil in the cast iron skillet, slice a couple onions, and, slowly, our home fills with the aroma of onions cooking down into savory-sweetness.

Pizza with carmelized onions and goat cheese

 What does all this have to do with a salad? Well, one time, a while back, I got a little carried away with the toppings prep, and I ended up with more than we could put on a pizza. At our house, leftovers have a tendency to end up on a bed of greens. The onions/pears/goat cheese combo was no exception—and we discovered it was just as good as a salad as it was on a pizza.

Carmelized onions and pear salad

You’ll want to start this recipe by caramelizing the onions, as this process takes a little while. I begin by heating my cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, I add the fats—butter and olive oil—and wait for them to sizzle. Meanwhile, thinly slice (about 1/8”) two large yellow onions, then toss them in the skillet, stir them around to coat with the butter and oil, and turn the heat to low. Now you’re going to let them cook down for 45-60 minutes, stirring them every 10 minutes or so. The key to caramelizing onions is allowing them to cook slowly (for more details, check out this site), so now is a good time to prep your other ingredients.

Thinly slice three small pears—I use d’Anjou here—and set aside. Trim the stems from your baby beet greens, and place in a salad bowl for a family-style meal or on small plates for individual servings. A quick note here on the greens. I’m using beet greens in this recipe because their firm texture holds up well under the heated onions and pears which will eventually top them, and because I like their subtle, earthy beet flavor. They’re also incredibly good for you, including nutrients such as choline and folate. If you don’t have beet greens, try spinach or a salad mix.

Now it’s time to go back to those onions. Once they’re finished cooking, you’re ready to deglaze and scrape up the little bits of flavor on the bottom of the skillet. I used ¼ cup cooking sherry today, but sometimes I use balsamic vinegar if I’m in the mood for a little kick. If you don’t have either of those in the house, try wine or even water for this step.

Leaving the onions in the skillet and the heat on low, add your sliced pears to the skillet and gently stir, combining them with the onions. Cook the onion and pears together for about five minutes, just enough to soften the pears but not so much that they start falling apart. Add salt and ground pepper to taste.

Your salad’s almost ready! Spoon the hot onion/pear mix onto your bed of greens. Sprinkle goat cheese and freshly grated parmesan over the top—the goat cheese should melt just a little as it makes contact with the pears and onions.

Now go ahead and enjoy your salad. And you never know. You might even have enough toppings left over to make a pizza. 

Salad with pears and pizza

 

Photography and Food Styling: Anne Kingma

Recipe: First of Spring Salad

In the winter I tend to cook hot dishes—chili with frozen peppers and tomatoes from our summer garden; stir fry with overwintered carrots, spinach, and green onions; hot soup with potatoes, kale, and garlic.  But in the spring, when I can see tiny little lettuce and carrot and spinach and beet leaves pushing their way out of the soil, I want to eat directly and immediately out of the earth. 

Lettuce MixCarrots 2spinach with first true leaves

 Beets

So we’re going to start this spring with a series of salad recipes, ways to eat your produce fresh and raw.  We’re going to try to keep it simple.  We’re busy, like you are, but we never want to be too busy to share and enjoy a good meal.

Club Style Salad (Resized)

Start by mixing together 4 cups of greens–baby salad mix, baby spinach, baby beet greens, Asian greens–whatever you prefer.  Put the greens in your favorite salad serving dish, and set aside.

Next, get those toppings ready.  Trim and chop a green onion or two, slice an avocado, and grab one handful of cashews, another handful dried lo mein noodles.  Evenly sprinkle these over your greens.

Before you dig in, don’t forget the dressing!  Almost any dressing works with this versatile salad, but I like to use a recipe for Oriental Dressing, given to me by Sarah Oudman.  Mix together rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, vegetable oil, and a touch of sesame oil in a jar (or, in my case, a recycled Grolsch beer bottle) and shake well. This dressing is delicious but strong—advice from Farmer Dan: Dress lightly to enjoy the full flavors of the greens!

This salad works great as a side, but you can easily make into your main dish by adding more protein like sliced fried eggs, bleu cheese, grilled chicken, or chickpeas.

Salad with Grolsch (resized)

 What’s your favorite salad recipe?  What kind of salads would you like to see featured on the blog?

Photographs and Food Styling: Anne Kingma

First of Spring Salad
Serves 4
A fresh, raw salad to kick off the start of spring.
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 cups greens (baby spinach, baby salad mix, baby beet greens, etc)
  2. 1-2 chopped green onions, trimmed and chopped
  3. 1 avocado, sliced into 1” pieces
  4. ÂĽ cup cashews
  5. ÂĽ cup dried lo mein noodles
  6. ÂĽ cup rice vinegar
  7. 1 Tbsp sugar
  8. 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  9. 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  10. 1 tsp sesame oil
Instructions
  1. Mix greens and place in salad serving dish.
  2. Evenly sprinkle green onions, avocado pieces, cashews, and noodles over the greens.
  3. Pour rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, vegetable oil, and sesame oil in a jar. Shake well.
  4. Right before eating, lightly dress the salad.
Notes
  1. To make this dish your main meal, add more protein, such as sliced fried eggs, bleu cheese, grilled chicken, or chickpeas.
Perkins' Good Earth Farm http://perkinsgoodearthfarm.com/

Recipe: Thanksgiving Salad with Apples, Beets, Brie and Candied Pecans

Believe it or not, we’ve arrived at our final week of fall share distribution! Week Seven of sweet spinach and buttery salad greens, candy carrots and sturdy beets, savory green onions and crisp radishes.

BeetsHead Lettuce 1Gardenjust the carrots166daikon in the ground before harvestIMG_1079cropped-200.jpg

As we approach Thanksgiving, I’d like to share how thankful I am for you, our farm members.  I appreciate your willingness to try new foods (like beets and green smoothies!), for your feedback on recipes, for remembering our goats with sweet treats, for chilly-afternoon conversations, for jars of homemade goodies. It’s truly a pleasure to grow for you.

Farm Member MontageI’d also like to leave you with a recipe you can use as part of your Thanksgiving meal.   We make a variation of this salad for pretty much all of our fall/winter get-togethers, be it an annual friend get-together known locally as Friendsgiving,  a church potluck, or the big Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

This salad packs a punch when it comes to vitamins, fiber, and texture. Let’s dig in and get started with the beets.  (For those of you who still are on the fence about beets, this salad can survive without them!)  We’re going to do the same thing we did in the very first recipe of this series—thinly slice and gently steam the beets.  A few of you have asked about peeling the beets–good question!  I rarely peel mine, but you’re welcome to if you have a texture preference. When the beets are finished steaming, set them aside to cool.

Meanwhile, melt a little butter over medium-high heat in your cast iron skillet or frying pan.  Toss in your pecans, add a little brown sugar, and stir until your pecans are caramelized, about 5 minutes.  Set the pecans on a sheet of wax paper to cool. When you sample one right out of the skillet, try not to burn your mouth (ahem, not that I’ve ever done that before).  If you don’t have time to caramelize your own pecans, you can always substitute a store-bought variety.

Pecans 2

Next, make your dressing.  I made a variation of cider vinaigrette from this Taste of Home salad recipe.  Whisk together apple cider, apple cider vinegar, honey, mustard, and oil with a little salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Dressing

Slice the brie into 1/2″ pieces and place in a microwaveable dish. I chose the PrĂ©sident brand for its mild taste and smooth texture. You’re welcome to leave on or cut off the rind according to your preference.

Brie

The prep is almost done! Chop up the apple of your choice–I prefer Honeycrisp or Gala for something sweet or Granny Smith for tartness. Find a bowl appropriate to the size of your gathering, and fill it with a combination of baby spinach, baby salad greens, and/or torn head lettuce.  (If you’re feeling daring, throw in a little mesclun too!)

Right before serving, gently warm the brie in the microwave so it’s just beginning to melt.  Then place about two-thirds of each salad topping–including the warmed brie–on the greens, and toss everything together. The idea is to make sure the last guest to be served still gets the goodies! Lightly drizzle a few tablespoons of dressing over the salad.  Then sprinkle on the remaining toppings and make your salad sparkle with a little more dressing.

You can feel the satisfaction of serving a delicious and nutritious dish to complement your holiday feast.

Plated 3 (From Top)

A few notes:

1) A lot of the salad prep can be completed ahead of time, like the beets, pecans, and dressing.  You can even chop up the apples the day before—just make sure you toss them with lemon juice to keep them from browning.

2) Pour the remaining dressing into a small pitcher or serving dish and place on the holiday table for those who prefer even more flavor.

3) This salad is ripe for variations.  Don’t like brie?  Use gorgonzola, camembert, or a good cheddar.  Instead of apples or beets, try dates or pears.  Choose toppings that make your mouth water!

Leave a comment and let me know about your experience with the Thanksgiving salad!

Photographs and Food Styling: Anne Kingma

Thanksgiving Salad with Apples, Beets, Brie, and Candied Pecans
Serves 6
A delicious and nutritious holiday salad.
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Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 8 cups baby spinach, baby salad greens, head lettuce, and/or mesclun (stems removed, torn into bite-size pieces)
  2. 2 medium size beets, sliced and steamed
  3. 1 apple, chopped
  4. 1 cup candied pecans, homemade or storebought
  5. 4 oz brie, sliced into 1/2” pieces
  6. Âľ cup apple cider
  7. 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  8. 2 tsp honey
  9. 1 tsp mustard
  10. ÂĽ tsp salt
  11. ÂĽ tsp pepper
  12. ÂĽ cup canola oil
Instructions
  1. Place greens into salad bowl.
  2. Gently warm brie slices in the microwave, about 10 seconds or until the brie is just beginning to melt.
  3. Top with two-thirds of the cooled beets, apples, pecans, and warmed brie. Toss toppings into salad.
  4. Pour part of the dressing onto the salad. Toss again.
  5. Top salad with remaining beets, apples, pecans, and brie.
  6. Lightly drizzle a small amount of dressing over the top of the salad.
  7. Serve and enjoy!
Notes
  1. A lot of the salad prep can be done ahead of time, like the beets, pecans, and dressing. You can even chop up the apples ahead of time—just make sure you toss them with lemon juice to keep from browning.
  2. Also, consider placing extra dressing on the table for those who prefer more flavor on their salad.
Adapted from Dressing adapted from Taste of Home
Perkins' Good Earth Farm http://perkinsgoodearthfarm.com/
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