Recipes and Cooking Tips: Organized by Crop
The Planting Team wanted to provide background information about how to use some of the more unusual fruits and vegetables in our garden. If you would like cooking tips about other crops please let us know.
.This is a member of the chicory family. Harvest the whole head and discard the outer leaves as they are bitter. The heart (yellow or white leaves) is the best part. Curly endive, also known as “frisée”, makes a great salad when tossed with lardons, and a warm sherry vinaigrette. It can also be grilled or sautéed and has an affinity with blue cheese, goat cheese and Parmesan. It also works well with garlic, shallots and many types of citrus (rind and/or juice). Try tossing the tender inner yellow or white leaves with mint, scallions, toasted pine nuts, grated orange rind and pomegranate arils. Other tasty combinations are: Frisée, bacon and poached egg Frisée, anchovies, garlic and Parmesan, Frisée, Roquefort cheese, garlic/shallots with sherry vinaigrette.
While fresh fava beans are relatively new in the United States, they have been treasured in China, Europe and the Middle East for centuries. Their season is early spring to early summer. They are also great in the garden because they fix nitrogen and enrich the fertility of our soil. They grow well in our garden. Fava beans, also known as broad beans or horse beans, have a natural flavor affinity with sheep's milk cheese, artichokes, spring onions, olive oil, parsley, savory (and other mediterranean herbs), lemon juice, garlic, fish and lamb.
The earliest, youngest pods can be cooked whole (yes, in their pods). There will be a more intense fava flavor. The leaves and flowers can be used in a pesto (see recipe below), in a salad (with citrus, feta and walnuts) or in a sauce. The tenderest ends can be sauteed in some olive oil.
When small, when the pods are pale green and rather smooth, they can be eaten raw (look for pods that are 2-3 inches long). If you want to cook them, they will cook in a flash and they don't need to be peeled. They can also be thrown on the grill. As the beans mature, they will get longer, the pods will turn yellowish-green and the beans inside will be clearly evident. At this point, the beans will need to be peeled (once removed from their pod). The skin of the bean has a bitter taste that increases as the beans mature. To peel the beans, drop them into boiling water for about a minute. This will loosen their skins. Plunge them into cold water afterwards to stop them from cooking further. Then use your thumbnail to break open the skin and remove the bean from its shell. The bean should pop right out and will be bright green in color. Later on, as the pods turn more yellow, they are best left on the vine to dry. Fava beans can be used in a puree, added to risotto and made into a soup. There are a ton of recipes for this lovely bean.
It is important to note that some people (of Mediterranean, Asian or African descent) may have a genetic predisposition ("favism") which is a serious and potentially fatal reaction to fava beans. Be alert for allergic reactions, particularly if you eat them raw or undercooked. The risk is much less (but not altogether eliminated) if you only occasionally eat them or if they have been peeled and cooked.
Fava Bean Leaf and Meyer Lemon Pesto
Sheana Davis, The Epicurean Connection Makes 2 cups
1 1/2 cups fava leaves, stems removed
1/4 cup juice from a meyer lemon
1/4 cup fresh garlic, minced
1 cup olive oil Salt and pepper to taste
*as an option, you can add 1/2 cup chervil to expand the flavor
Put all ingredients in a food process and blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks or freeze for up to three months.
Serve over pasta (chilled or warm), roasted vegetables, grilled seafood or chicken or add to mashed potatoes.
Greens: New Zealand Green Spinach
New Zealand spinach is also known as Botany Bay greens or Warrigal greens. It is an heirloom vegetable that isn’t actually part of the spinach family but the young leaves can be used in the same manner. It is highly nutritious and can be used in stir fries, steamed over rice, stuffed in squash, and to add some healthy veggies to a soup or pasta. Larger leaves should be blanched or steamed before eating, but smaller young leaves are great eaten raw. It can be substituted in any recipe that uses spinach, chard or asian greens – the sturdy leaves handle heat well.
Kale: Tree Kale
In the kitchen, tree kale (tree collards) offer as good, if not better, culinary traits than any other brassica vegetable. Lacking any of the oxalic acid that makes most brassicas slightly bitter, tree collards taste slightly sweet and nutty, even when raw, and their tender stems don’t get stringy when you chew them. They compare to baby kale as a salad vegetable, but you can use the mature leaves, which grow up to 10 inches in length. Substitute them in any recipe that calls for kale or collards.
-Tree Kale, also known as Tree Collards, can grow up to 10 feet or more, but they’re easily maintained as a 4-foot “shrub.” That’s not to say they look particularly shrub-like. They typically grow on a single spindly stalk with a crown of large collard-esque leaves that cascade from the top like a little pom-pom. Purple shades the foliage and the new stems.
Pears ripen from the inside out so it can be difficult to know when it's ready. A pear is ripe when it gives slightly when you press it at the stem end. Eat or use it within a day or two. Pears can be baked, deep-fried (as in chips), grilled, poached, roasted, sauteed, stewed... or just eaten raw. They have an affinity for almonds (or almond paste), blue cheese, caramel, chocolate, cinnamon, cloves, honey, lemon, mascarpone, orange, vanilla, vinegar, walnuts and wine. You can infuse them to make a liquor or muddle them into a cocktail. Clearly, there are a million uses. Classic flavor combinations are: roasted pear with Roquefort cheese in a salad; pears, pecorino cheese and balsamic; pears, bacon, bitter greens and goat cheese; or pears, honey, lime and vanilla.
Pear, Ginger and Olive Oil Cake
from Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer's "Golden" cookbook
Makes a (2 lb) 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf 2-3 pears, peeled and diced (about 350g)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
zest of l lemon
200g granulated sugar 150g olive oil
50g crystallized ginger, finely chopped
350g all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pear, skin-on and cut into wedges or slices 1 tbsp demerara sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 or 325 if using convection. Butter an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan and line the base and long sides with parchment, leaving a little overhang at the sides. (This will make it easier to remove it later.)
Mix the diced pears in a bowl with the lemon juice and zest and set aside. Place the sugar and oil in a large bowl (or use a mixer with a whisk attachment) and whisk together until combined. Whisk in the eggs one at a time and keep whisking until you have a lovely thick texture. Add the pear-lemon mixture, and, using a spatula or spoon, stir to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and fold until combined. Try not to overwork the mixture. It's okay to have a few lumps.
Transfer the batter to the lined loaf tin. Top with the pear wedges/slices and the sugar. Bake in the center of the oven for 40 minutes. Turn the tin around for an even bake and then cook for another 25 minutes. As this is a very fruit-heavy cake, it can be hard to be sure it is cooked through. The best way is to slide a knife tip into the midpoint of the loaf. If there is wet batter on it when you pull it out, leave the cake to bake for another 10 minutes. Make sure it is uncooked batter and not simply moisture from the fruit.
Leave it to cool in the tin. The cake is best stored in the fridge and will keep for 5-6 days. Allow it to come to room temperature before eating.
Edythe’s Pear Pie**
Beat together and pour into an unbaked pastry shell:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter (salted)
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
Peel, core, and halve five or six ripe pears and place in the batter, cut side up. (To make this fancier, each pear could be thinly sliced horizontally and fanned upside down in the pastry shell.)
Bake for 40-45 minutes at 325.
** from Roberta: "My sisters and I don't know who Edythe was but this recipe has been a standard in the family for decades"
Radicchio is a member of the chicory family. The radicchio we grow has white and red/purple inner leaves. A few are speckled with those colors. Harvest the whole head and discard the outer leaves as they are bitter. The heart (yellow or white leaves) is the best part. It can be grilled or sautéed and has an affinity with blue cheese, goat cheese and Parmesan. It also works well with garlic, shallots and many types of citrus (rind and/or juice).
Sorrel has a tangy/sour flavor that can be used raw (in salads) or as a puree. It works well with eggs and seafood. Because it is related to rhubarb, it does contain oaxalic acid so it should be eaten in moderation. It's best to remove the stems before using. When cooked, it behaves much like spinach, shrinking in size. It can turn a drab olive color if you cook it too long so if you're adding it to a soup, add it at the last minute. Sorrel has an afinity with cheese, cream, eggs, fish, soups and spinach. It can be added to potatos when making a gratin (about 24 large leaves). Particularly nice combinations are sorrel, leeks and potatoes or sorrel, nutmeg and ricotta cheese. To make a puree, simmer the leaves in a tiny bit of water for a few minutes or stir them into a pan of butter or cream. The puree will add zest to a root vegetable gratin, scrambled eggs or an omelet or a creamy bean dish (add feta as well).
Leek and Sorrel Custard
Makes 4 1/2 cup custards
4 to 6 thin leeks or scallions
2 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/4 cup water or white wine
4 ozs sorrel
1 teas. sea salt
1 cup half-and-half or whole milk 3 eggs
1 ozs. fresh goat cheese
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Thinly slice and then chop the white parts of the leeks, going into the pale part a short way. You should have about one cup. Rinse them well. Melt the butter in an 8-inch skillet. Use some of the butter to brush four 1/2-cup ramekins. Add the leeks to the skillet. Add 1/4 cup water (or white wine) and cook over medium-low heat until softened, about 12 minutes.
Strip the sorrel leaves off the stems and finely chop them. Add them to the pan with the leeks and sprinkle with salt. Cook until wilted, about two minutes. Add the half- and-half and heat until warm (not boiling.) Beat the eggs well, then stir in the sorrel/leek mixture. Season with pepper and crumble in the cheese.
If you want a smooth custard, puree the sorrel/leek mixture but don't overmix it or the custard will be too foamy at the top.
Divide among the ramekins and place in a baking pan. Add hot water to the baking pan to reach half-way up the ramekins.
Bake until the custards are set and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.
Set the ramekins on small plates and serve with buttered toast.
4 small, firm zucchini, about 6 inches
4 long, narrow plum tomatoes
4 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon each dried basil, oregano, and thyme
dash of rosemary (optional)
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 400 F
Squash: Zucchini Blossoms
Baby Zucchini Sauteed with Squash Blossoms
Makes 6 servings
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 pound baby zucchini, halved lengthwise, each half cut lengthwise into 3 wedges
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh lemon basil or regular basil
Fleur de sel (fine French sea salt)
18 zucchini squash blossoms
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini; sauté until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in basil. Season with fleur de sel. Transfer to plate. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in skillet. Add squash blossoms and cook until barely wilted and still bright orange, about 2 seconds per side. Arrange atop zucchini and serve.
Squash: Zucchino "Rampicante Tromboncino "
Rampicante is an Italian heirloom variety of squash that is considered both a summer and a winter squash. It can be harvested at any time. It is slightly sweet and slightly nutty, similar in flavor to zucchini. When young, cook them as you would zuchini, sauteed or roasted. You can also cut them into chips, toss with olive oil and salt and roast them at 400 or 450 until crisp. As it ages, the skin gets tougher and the color changes to "buff" (similar to butternut squash). It can be stored like a winter squash but peel it before using. The seeds will be larger so they will need to be scooped out. It's great with thyme, basil, oregano, lemon (rind or juice) and either pecorino or parmesan cheeses. When young, it will weep when cut. It will last about a week in the refrigerator.
Tomatoes: Cherry (a good way to prepare split cherry tomatoes)
*may be used for larger tomatoes
Cherry Tomato Confit
Confit is delicious on bread or crackers, especially good with cheese; serve on pasta or over zucchini; as a pizza sauce, or a topping for pesto pizza, or served with potatoes or eggs.
For about 3-4 cups of cherry tomatoes (this recipe is great for using windfall and split tomatoes, the riper the better)
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees (300 if using convection).
Using a metal baking sheet works well as it helps tomatoes to brown; OK to use glass or ceramic; choose a size that will allow all tomatoes to be spread out in a single layer.
Pour 2-3 Tablespoon olive oil on pan. Choose ripe tomatoes; wash and pat dry.
Cut out any damaged parts and remove stem ends.
Cut each cherry tomato in half, set in a single layer on baking sheet and sprinkle with flaked salt to taste (1/2 - 1 teaspoon).
Bake on middle rack for about 30 minutes, check at 15 min. intervals and stir. Bake another 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 275 degrees.
Peel and mince 3-4 cloves of garlic, sprinkle over tomatoes and stir to coat.
Bake another 15-20 minutes, until tomatoes are jammy, and sightly dried at the edges. Confit can be cooked more or less as preferred: allow to get slightly charred edges if desired (for a richer flavor).
Allow to cool, or serve immediately. It will store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days (glass jars are best); or may be frozen for about 30 days.
** NOTE: Recipe may be used for any kind of tomato, cut into 1" pieces if using larger tomatoes, and squeeze to remove most of the juice and seeds before cooking.
Tomatoes: Cherry or larger tomatoes
Raw Summer Tomato Sauce for Pasta
makes 3 to 4 cups for 1 lb of pasta
2 pounds ripe home-grown, heirloom or cherry tomatoes at room temperature
2 to 3 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp salt
6 large basil leaves
1/4 tsp crushed red paper flakes, or to taste 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup or more freshly grated Grana Padano or cubed fresh mozzarella (optional)
Working over a big mixing bowl to catch all the juices, cut the tomatoes -regular in 1-inch chunks, cherry tomatoes in half- and drop them into the bowl.
Smash the garlic cloves with a chef's knife, peel, and chop into a fine paste or cut up very fine. Scatter the garlic and salt over tomatoes, stir gently. Pile up the basil leaves and cut them into thin strips, add to tomatoes, sprinkle in the crushed red pepper flakes, pour in the oil; stir and fold to coat the tomato mixture and distribute the seasonings.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the sauce marinate at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. Toss the marinated sauce with freshly cooked and drained pasta. Serve as is, or toss in the cheese for exra richness.
Tomatillos is translated to "little tomato" in Spanish but their flavor is very different. Also called "husk tomato, these little fruits are native to and largely grown in Mexico. They look like green, unripe tomatoes with a dry, leafy husk that wraps around the outside. The color of the fruit is a beautiful bright green, which fades a bit once you cook them. Tomatillos have a tangy, slightly more acidic, slightly less sweet flavor than a tomato. Overall, the flavor is more vegetal, and the interior texture is denser and less watery. Prepping a tomatillo is straight forward. The husks can be easily removed and discarded. There is a sticky film on the surface, which will come off with a rinse under warm water. Roasted or raw tomatillo salsa is great and is how it is most often used but tomatillos are good when pureed into creamy sauces or curries, or added to a vinaigrette for more acid. They can also substituted for a tomato when sliced thinly, layered over some ricotta, drizzled with olive oil, and eaten on toast. They can be grilled with onions, or incorporated into a bean-heavy chili or posole, or braised with chicken for a saucy stew.
Spicy Zucchini Relish
Prep Time: 35 min
Cook Time: prep: 35 min. + marinating cook: 40 min. + chilling Servings: 3 cups
5 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup grated onion
4-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1-1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon celery seed
3/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper
4-1/2 teaspoons chopped seeded jalapeno pepper
1-1/4 teaspoons chopped seeded habanero pepper
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the zucchini, onion and salt. Seal bag and turn to coat: refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Rinse with water; drain. , In a large saucepan, combine the cornstarch, mustard, turmeric, celery seed and pepper. Gradually whisk in vinegar until blended. Stir in peppers and zucchini mixture. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Cool. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.
Calories: 5 calories
Carbohydrate: 1g carbohydrate (0 sugars)