Month: April 2015

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. ¼ cup cashews
  5. ¼ cup dried lo mein noodles
  6. ¼ 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/

Goodbye to Winter

Such is the name of the piano song my 6-year-old Harper just finished playing, and he couldn’t have done so at a better time.  Goodbye, Winter!  Hello, Spring!  And hello to all these gorgeous little babies growing in the hoop house.

  IMG_3753 IMG_3737 IMG_3745

Yet, growing up in the Midwest, I do have a soft spot in my heart for the wintertime, especially when working on a vegetable farm.  When daylight drops below 10 hours, and the temperature plummets into the negatives, we take a break from growing and harvesting and instead reflect on the past season and plan for the future.

So as the snow fell and the gray skies took over, Dan and I thought about how we could make Perkins’ Good Earth Farm better.  We read books—Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison, Restoration Agriculture by Mark Shephard–listened to podcasts like those in Chris Blanchard’s Farmer to Farmer series, rethought what it means to host a Community Supported Agriculture, and discussed biochar and agricultural practices with other farmers.  We dreamed, drew up plans, crunched numbers, and dreamed some more.

And, thanks to many of your votes for my recipe in the Dannon Everyday Chefs Better With Yogurt contest, we’re going to be turning a few of these dreams into a reality!  Our first big project will be winterizing the milkhouse.  (This past fall, the temperatures dropped below freezing just as the Fall CSA ended, which was cutting it a little too close for comfort as refrigerators do a great job keeping greens cool but not so great at keeping them “warm”, aka unfrozen!)  We’ll also be purchasing several tools and tractor implements that will make planting and harvesting more efficient.  

But for now, the big news is that spring sales are about to begin! Starting next week on April 23, we’ll be selling produce through weekly online sales, with sales opening on Thursdays at 5 pm and closing on Fridays at 5 pm.  Pick-up will be Monday from 3-6 here at the farm, or in Rensselaer from 11-2, depending on your preference.  Click here to check out our spring produce.  We’re so looking forward to seeing you all again!

 

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