Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things...and a Recipe!

This week marked our third pick up as part of our farm share from Red Fire Farm.  And, while I knew I would enjoy the weekly bounty of local, organic produce, I had no idea just how much fun it would be.  Every week we receive into our kitchen a plethora of tasty veggies, and there are always a few that I've never tried before.  From field greens, to beets, to garlic scapes, the summer is off to a glorious start.  Below are a few of the most enjoyable discoveries I've made thus far.

Sauteed spinach, garlic scapes, and pine nuts tossed with whole wheat pasta.  Cooked on the same day it was picked, the sweet, green flavors of the spinach were perfect with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a glass of red.

This bowl contains a couple of unlikely new favorites.  The red leaf lettuce is joined by slices of raw Hakurei turnip, those little white rectangles you see here.  I was as as skeptical as you are about eating raw turnip, but after trying a sample offered by the lovely ladies from Red Fire, I am hooked.  The flavor is both sweet and sharp...almost like a marriage between a radish and a carrot.  Speaking of which, I did join a few carrots with some raw beets to make a brilliantly colored simple slaw.  Dressed with a simple vinaigrette of olive oil and white balsamic vinegar, the resulting sweet and tangy crunch made the perfect salad topper.  (If you think you don't like beets, it's worth grabbing a couple fresh from a farm stand--wrap them individually in tin foil and roast them at 400 till soft. Peel and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  I'd wager you'll find yourself among the ranks of the converted!)

My most cherished revelation thus far:  the garlic scape.  When the bud of the garlic flower emerges from the garlic plant, the result is these surprising, elegant scapes, which must be picked to allow the garlic bulb to grow to full size.  They can be used in any recipe where you might normally use garlic or onion.  I'm also told they can be eaten raw, tossed with salads and such, but I have yet to give this a try.  Sauteed in your favorite recipe, they will impart a mild, garlicky flavor, and a smooth but firm texture, much like asparagus that's been cooked just right.

Below is a recipe for a garlic scape frittata that I modified from the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.  I made it for some afternoon festivities last weekend, and it was gone in a flash.  

6 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 T olive oil
2-4 garlic scapes, chopped (the number will vary depending on their size and your love of scapes)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk together the eggs, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.  Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet (this is important, as the frittata will finish cooking in the oven).  Add the garlic scapes and cook until just beginning to soften, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the eggs and stir gently until the eggs on the bottom are set firm, about a minute. Gently pull the cooked eggs away from the edges of the pan and tilt the pan so that the uncooked egg runs into the cleared edge of the pan.  Continue with this process all around the pan until most of the egg is set, 1-2 minutes.  (The top will not be cooked, but that is where the oven comes in).  Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for about 3-4 minutes, until the top is dry to the touch.  Loosen the frittata with a spatula and flip it onto a serving plate.  Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.  Fast, simple, and delicious--buen provecho! 

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