Tag: baby spinach

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: 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 ¼ 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 entrée 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

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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

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