Posts Tagged ‘Herbs’

East Meets West: Bok Choy and Pasta

Bok Choy often pairs with Asian stir-fry, but I think the mild flavor lends itself to other regional cuisine. Here it’s added to Mediterranean pasta, cheeses, and herbs for a quick meal. I don’t have exact measurements because this is supposed to be fast – it will take as long as the pasta to cook – so just eyeball it.

East Meets West Pasta for Two

  • 1 cup pasta (Prepare according to package instructions. I recommend Food For Life’s Ezekiel 4:9 penne because it’s quick cooking and a complete protein.)
  • olive oil (about 2 tsp)
  • large handful fresh mushrooms (I used shiitake today, but a mix or others would be great, too.)
  • 2 heads of baby bok choy, chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmigiana or Romano cheese (or use Vegan substitute)
  • 1 oz. feta cheese (omit for Vegan)
  • pinch of fresh herbs such as oregano, basil, and/or parsley

Get the water boiling for the pasta and begin to cook according to the package instructions. In a saute pan, heat to medium low, drizzle about a tsp of olive oil, and cook the mushrooms until softened and beginning to brown. You may want to cover if they are too dry. Remove cover if using and add the bok choy. Cook until just wilted. Add to mushrooms and boy choy to the pasta along with the cheese and another drizzle of olive oil.

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Almond Romano Pesto and a Nod to Pestos in General

Got herbs in your garden or CSA? Make pesto! There’s much room for creativity, it’s marvelous and versatile stuff, and stores for weeks in the refrigerator.

The Basics…

  • 1 Bunch of Leafy Herbs (Basil, Parsley, Arugula, Oregano, etc.)
  • 1 Tbsp Nuts (Pine Nuts, Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios, etc.)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup hard cheese (Parmigiana, Romano, Asiago, etc.)

Almond Romano Pesto

  • 1 bunch Parsely
  • 1 Tbsp Almonds
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/3 cups olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano Cheese

Toss it all into the food processor and process until it becomes a paste. Step back and smell the herbs. Your whole house will now smell fresh and green. Happy sigh. Add more olive oil if it’s too thick. Store in a lidded jar with a layer of olive oil, which will help it keep its bright color. Use it on pastas, in sandwiches, and on bruschetta, which is an Italian-style toast.

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When you’re ready to use, scoop out what you need, making sure the layer of olive oil is still enough to cover.

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Slow Roasted Leg of Spring Lamb with Greek-Style Garden Herbs

Memorial Day ushers in the summer season in our area, but I wanted to pause and reflect on a beautiful spring and the sacrifice of our servicemen and women. Perhaps it’s growing up in the Catholic tradition, but I thought the lamb would symbolize both at our Memorial Day party this afternoon.

The herbs came fresh from our garden.

Oregano…

Lemon Thyme…

Rosemary…

The inspiration for this recipe came from Orestis’ Kouzina: Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb.

  • 8 lbs bone in leg of lamb
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • Bunch oregano
  • Bunch lemon thyme
  • Bunch rosemary
  • Dash cinnamon
  • 1 cup red wine

Preheat the oven to 250F. Place lamb in roasting dish. Slice one clove garlic.

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With a pairing knife, puncture the lamb and insert the sliced garlic.

Combine the olive oil, salt, pepper, and half of the oregano leaves. You can hold the sprigs of oregano towards the top and strip the bottom leaves from the woody stems for this step.

 

Rub onto the lamb. If you like salty, sprinkle up to another Tbsp over the lamb.  Add a dash or two of cinnamon.  Place the remainder of the herbs and garlic into the bottom of the roasting pan. Pour in the wine.

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Cover and roast for at least 7 hours or until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender.

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Slice and serve.  Excellent when accompanied with tzatziki and pita.

Our Garden Plan… Now Almost Completely Planted

Danger of frost is not officially over in our area until later May, but the forecast predicts fair weather this week and the dogwoods are blooming, so it’s time to sow!  Here’s the plan…

We’re trying something new this year for us, but the concept originally came from the Native Americans: The Three Sisters. It’s an interplanting of corn, beans, and squash. The corn provides the poles for the beans to climb, the beans provide necessary Nitrogen for future plantings, and the squash shades out weed competition. Together they all provide balanced nutrition.

This summer we are growing a modern sweet corn and a traditional Indian corn, cranberry beans and snap peas, edible pumpkins and ornamental gourds. Corn is one of those crops that our CSA doesn’t provide and besides, for the sweetest sweet corn, you need to have the water boiling before you go out to harvest it.  Because of cross pollination of multiple varieties, we do not plan on saving our seeds this year. We’re just experimenting because I’ve heard that corn is difficult to grow without spraying.

To get started with The Three Sisters, first prepare your full sun garden beds with compost.  Depending on the soil in your area, you may want to create traditional mounds for better drainage. Because our soil is quite sandy and already well-drained, the extra irrigation for mounds would be water wasteful. Instead, we sow on level ground, but still follow the pattern needed for corn pollination and the companion planting benefits.

In the lore of the three sisters, it’s traditional to bury fish remains under the mound in which the plants are grouped. In honor of this tradition, we saved the remains of our grilled Sardines and I suppose you can guess where the leftovers are currently composting! Ick.

There seem to be two philosophies on how to proceed with planting. I’ve found that some sources recommend only planting the corn first until it has a 4″ head start or it will be overwhelmed by the beans and squash. Others recommend simultaneous planting, but keeping vigilant to make sure the corn has room by redirecting wayward bean and squash vines. We’re trying the latter option this year and we’ll let you know the outcome.  We used the little flags to help keep everything according to plan.

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Here’s the other side of the garden where our berry bushes and perennials live.  We interplanted sunflowers, chard, and arugala today.

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We also repotted out lemon tree this afternoon.  It overwinters inside and nearly dies every year, but somehow pulls through.  It’s the best (and only) way to get local citrus where we live.

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We just need to get our seedlings into the ground and we are completely planted for the Spring season.

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I hope everyone had as nice a Mother’s Day.  I’m very grateful for this beautiful and productive day with my family at home.

Sprouts!

Although it hasn’t been sunny and warm for days, we still have some active sprouts sprouting. I started seeds late this year in an effort to find that balance between starting early indoors without the poor things getting leggy and in desperate need of transplant. This year’s indoor assortment is mostly frost-phobic herbs; everything else was or will be directly sown soon.

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