Monday, April 29, 2013

Meatless Monday: Simple Lemon Spaghetti with Kale and Spinach

I have a lot of greens coming out of the garden this time of year.  I'm always looking for new and exciting recipes to try them out in.  This recipe is a tried and true with a twist.  I love making lemon spaghetti.  Usually I use fresh herbs such as basil and parsley to kick it up.  However since those aren't in season, I decided to use some kale and spinach sauteed in garlic and olive oil for a nice twist.  The result was delicious perfection!    

Simple Lemon Spaghetti with Kale and Spinach
Serves: 4-6

1 lb. spaghetti
2/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 - 3/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
2/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
2 cloves garlic, minced
extra virgin olive oil (for sauteing)
1/2 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped into 1/2 inch ribbons
1/2 bunch spinach, torn into small pieces

1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add salt and drop pasta in the boiling water.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender but still firm (about 9 minutes).

2) While the pasta cooks, whisk olive oil, lemon juice and 2/3 c. Parmesan cheese in a medium bowl.  Set aside. 
3) Saute the garlic in some olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Add kale and spinach and saute until greens are wilted.  
4) Once the pasta is cooked, drain it.  Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.  Add the pasta to the cooked greens.  Add the lemon and olive oil sauce and toss well.  Add about 1/4 c. of pasta cooking water at a time as needed to moisten.  Season with salt and pepper.  When ready to serve, garnish with more Parmesan cheese and lemon zest.   

Harvest Monday 4/29/13

This week's harvest was filled with greens galore.  Early in the week I picked some Lacinato kale and some outer leaves of the gorgeous Merlot leaf lettuce.  The lettuce went into salads this week. 
Later in the week I picked more lettuce and some spinach leaves.  I ended up with a lot of lettuce and shared some with the neighbors.  The kale and spinach went into a quick and easy lemon pasta dish.  You can find the recipe here.  

Here I picked some Swiss chard plants that were starting to bolt.  I also decided to pull out the radicchio to make room in the raised beds.
The Castlelfranco radicchio was beautiful with speckled leaves.  It's my first success growing this as all the other years it usually bolts or the aphids get to it.  This year this volunteer was successful.  

I also picked more overwintered leeks to share with a friend.
This was a last minute harvest.  These few stems of kale went into a delicious juice.  
Happy Harvest!!

This week's harvest totals:
  - Kale = 0.49 lb
  - Spinach = 0.22 lb
  - Lettuce = 0.73 lb
  - Radicchio = 0.2 lb
  - Swiss chard = 0.33 lb
  - Leeks = 0.85 lb

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Quinoa and Steel Cut Oatmeal with Cranberries

I've seen recipes using quinoa as a breakfast porridge before and have always meant to try them out.  I happened upon this recipe in the February issue of Bon Appetit.  It sounded worth trying.  I made some modifications.  It turned out yummy and was a nice change from plain oatmeal.  I love using the quinoa for an extra kick of protein!

You can either make this on the stove (cook time 25 minutes) or start it at night and leave it on the stove to be ready to go in the morning.  

Quinoa and Steel Cut Oatmeal 
Adapted from: Bon Appetit, February 2013

1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. steel cut oatmeal
1/2 c. well rinsed quinoa
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
4 c. water
1/8 c. brown sugar

1) Bring cranberries, oatmeal, quinoa, salt, ground cinnamon, ground cardamom, brown sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan.

2) Cover and let sit off the heat overnight.  Alternatively, bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer.  Stir occasionally until grains are tender, 20-25 minutes.

3) Before serving, reheat cereal in saucepan, covered, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally and adding water or milk if needed, until warmed through, 5-8 minutes.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Meatless Monday: Swiss Chard with Leeks and Cranberries

I found this recipe while looking for ideas on how to use up more leeks and Swiss chard from the garden.  I altered the recipe a little.  The original recipe used raisins.  While I like raisins, I don't like them in my food.  I know, weird right??  You can find the original recipe here

To make this a heartier main dish, serve the greens over quinoa or cous cous.  If you're opting for a meat entree, consider frying up some bacon, pancetta or prosciutto in the beginning and adding them to the greens later.    

Swiss Chard with Leeks and Cranberries

1/3 c. dried cranberries
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. warm water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts sliced
salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large bunch of Swiss chard (about 3 cups), leaves only; deveined and cut into 1/2 inch ribbons
2 Tbsp. stone ground mustard

1) In a small bowl, combine vinegar, honey and warm water and mix well.  Add the cranberries and set aside to soak.

2) Saute the leeks in olive oil in a large pan over medium heat until they are just beginning to brown.  Salt and pepper leeks.  Add garlic and saute for another 1 minute.  

3) Add the Swiss chard to the pan and continue to cook until the leaves are wilted.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add mustard and cranberries with their liquid.  Toss until combined and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.  

Happy Earth Day 2013

In honor of Earth Day, I dusted off my juicer and juiced up a wonderful earthy drink. Cheers!! Have a Happy Earth Day!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Meatless Monday: Swiss Chard, Asparagus and Leek Frittata

I had picked 4 lbs of Swiss chard from the garden last week.  I managed to give a lot of it away to friends.  I kept about a pound of it for myself.
I had planned to make a frittata with it with eggs gifted to me from a friend's chickens.  I also remembered that I had leeks growing out in the garden.  I harvested a few of those to make my frittata.  I also used leftover asparagus and some fresh herbs from the garden.  You could easily add bacon or ham to this to make it more hearty.  I loved it the way it was.  

Swiss Chard, Asparagus and Leek Frittata
Serves: 4-6
2-3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced 
3 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1/2 bunch of asparagus, cut in 1 inch pieces
1/2 bunch of Swiss chard, ribs removed and cut into thin ribbons
6 eggs
1/2 c. shredded cheese
1/4 c. milk
2 tsp. fresh thyme
2 Tbsp. garlic chives, chopped
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2) In a large pan, heat 2-3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat.  Cook leeks for a few minutes and add garlic and asparagus.  Cook for about 3 minutes until the asparagus is softened.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the Swiss chard (in batches if your pan is small) and cook until the chard is wilted.  Turn off heat.

3) In a small mixing bowl, add eggs and scramble.  Add cheese, milk, thyme, garlic chives and nutmeg.  Mix well and add salt and pepper.  

4) Place the chard, asparagus and leek mixture into a pie or other baking dish.  Spread mixture out evenly.
5) Add the egg mixture to the top of the vegetables and spread it out evenly.  

6) Place the pie dish on a baking sheet (to catch any overflow).  Cook in the oven for 35 minutes (or until the eggs are set) at 350 degrees F.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  It can be served hot, warm or cold.

Harvest Monday 4/15/13

There hasn't been much harvests this week.  I only took what I needed which in this case were a few leeks and some thyme and garlic chives.  

I used these ingredients to make a delicious frittata.  I also used last week's Swiss chard harvest and some leftover asparagus.  You can find the recipe here.

Happy Harvest!!

This week's totals: 
  - Leeks (cleaned and tops trimmed) = 0.97 lb.
  - Garlic Chives = 0.02 lb.
  - Thyme = 0.02 lb.

**Linking up to Daphne's Harvest Monday.  Be sure to visit to see what others' around the world are harvesting from their garden**

Sunday, April 14, 2013

More Peas Please

Happy Sunday!!  I'm getting excited!  The peas plants are coming along despite the cold windy weather we have been subjected to.

Don't they look cute!  I can't wait until they're taller and producing those tender juicy pea pods!!  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Survey of the Overwintered Garden

Here are some things in my garden that have survived the winter.  It holds promise as spring fast approaches!

There are some edibles that I'm very excited about.  There are also some early spring flowers that I can't wait to bloom.

Hood Strawberries

Container Grown Marionberries

Container Grown Raspberries




Monday, April 8, 2013

Harvest Monday 4/8/13

This week brought a long awaited harvest of beautiful colorful Swiss chard from my overwintered plants.  I had been delaying my harvest due to the wind and rains.  It looks like it got away from me.  This basket was full full full!!  I had to beg friends to take some chard.
I also picked spinach that I had planted out from starters on March 12th.  Many of the spinach leaves were large - almost as big as my hand.  There was a lot of spinach leaves - a whole salad spinner basket full!

With my bountiful harvest, I used the spinach to make a delicious sandwich.  The ingredients for my sandwich included olive ciabatta bread, balsamic fig spread (made locally in Portland, OR), goat cheese crumbles, homegrown spinach and prosciutto.  

My sandwich was so good!  It sure beats any deli sandwich!
This week's harvest totals:
  - Spinach = 0.6 lb.
  - Swiss Chard = 3.87 lb.

Happy Harvest!  Join Daphne at Daphne's Dandelions to see what others' around the world have been harvesting from their gardens this week.

Meatless Monday: Halibut with Tomatoes, Artichokes and Capers

I found some halibut fillets on sale.  How to cook them?  I threw this recipe together using just things I had in the pantry and refrigerator.  I noticed the tomatoes I canned last summer and some marinated artichokes heart and capers in the refrigerator.  I also had some leftover basil from the salad I made yesterday.  Viola!  I had an idea!

This was a very quick and easy recipe.  I used the whole jar of tomatoes and its water.  There was a lot of juices in the packet at the end of cooking.  It would have been good on pasta.  I had to pour some of the juices off.  For a meal that is less soupy, consider draining the tomatoes first.

Halibut with Tomatoes, Artichokes and Capers
Serves 2

12 oz. halibut fillet, cut into 2 portions
1 can or jar diced tomatoes
1/4 c. artichoke hearts, drained and diced
3-4 Tbsp. capers, drained
3 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
black pepper

1)  Preheat oven  to 400 degrees F.

2) Add the tomatoes (drained or undrained - see above notes) to a mixing bowl.  Add diced artichoke hearts, capers and basil.  Mix well and set aside.

3) Tear off 2 large pieces of parchment paper or foil and set side by side on a baking sheet.  Fold up the sides so that the juices to not run out.  Drizzle olive oil on the center of each sheet of parchment paper or foil.  Set a piece of halibut in the center of the olive oil.  Drizzle the halibut with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

4) Top each piece of halibut with 1/2 of the tomato mixture.  Fold up the parchment or foil like a package.  Make sure the seam is at the top, to seal in the ingredients and tuck up the ends.  

5) Bake on a baking sheet at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.  Be careful when opening the steaming packets.  

Serve halibut with rice or pasta and/or crusty bread to sop up the juices.  Yummy!!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Bite-Sized Caprese Salad

Times likes these, when it's windy and rainy outside, I really miss my summer cherry tomatoes.  I usually do not buy any tomatoes in the off-season.  I can't bear the pretty, shiny but tasteless tomatoes that are in the stores.  It just makes me sad.  However, once in a while I'll break down.  Today was one of those days!  
I used the cherry tomatoes to make a delicious bite-sized caprese salad.  It sure hit the spot.  It woulda been better with home grown tomatoes but during early spring, beggars can't be choosers.  But a girl can dream, right??

Bite-Sized Caprese Salad
Serves 2-3

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 tsp. sugar
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
8 oz. fresh baby mozzarella cheese, drained well and halved
1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped

1) Place the halved tomatoes in a mixing bowl.  Sprinkle with sugar, salt and pepper.  Toss well.  

2) Add mozzarella cheese and basil.  Add balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil to taste.  Toss ingredients well.  

3) Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to chill.  Mix well before serving.    

Lazy Sunday Morning

The cold is back this weekend. A storm blew in overnight. We had big gusts of wind starting just after midnight. I have to go outside to see if my hoop house is still standing. More rain is expected today with chances of thunderstorms.

In the meantime my cat is oblivious to all the elements as she and I snuggle on the couch.  Ahh.. nothing like a lazy Sunday morning!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Plum Tree Blooms

My plum tree is in full bloom right now.  It's gorgeous!!  It's loving all the nice weather we've been having.  I haven't seen very many bees though and that worries me.  

I'm a little worried the flowers won't get pollinated.  Last year it was still wet and rainy when it bloomed and again, there were no bees to be seen.  Last year I got out the Qtip to pollinate the flowers myself.  I only got 3 plums.  Grrr!   
I know the tree is still very young.  Maybe I'm just impatient.  Haha!  This year I refrained from the Qtips, but have been sure to give the limbs a little shake as I walked by.  I'm late but I also applied some fertilizer to the base of the tree yesterday.  Crossing my fingers for more than 3 plums this year!! 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sowing Spring Greens

Today I sowed some greens in my recycled trays from work and using Jiffy pellets.  I realize this isn't economical but I like to use them when I'm feeling lazy.  I set them out on the back porch on a rack and basically let mother nature do it's thing.  Except for watering, they require little care.  I don't have room inside the house right now with my tomatoes, peppers and eggplant seedlings still needing TLC.  The weather is mild enough now that the greens will be fine unprotected.  

Seeds that were sown:
- 1A: Lettuce-Super Jericho Organic (2012 Nichols Garden Nursery)
- 1B: Lettuce-Rouge D'Hiver Organic (2010 Lawn & Garden)
- 2A: Lettuce-Little Gem (2011 Burpee)
- 2B: Lettuce-Prizehead (2010 Ed Hume)
- 3A/B: Bok Choy-Green Delight Baby Bok Choy (2010 New Dimension Seed)
- 4A/B: Spinach-Tyee (2009 Lily Miller) 
- 5A: Mustard Greens-Osaka Purple (2010 Johnny's Selected Seeds)
- 5B: Mustard Greens-Kyona Mizuna (2010 Johnny's Selected Seeds)
- 6A: Mustard Greens-Misome (2012 Nichols Garden Nursery)
- 6B: Arugula-Rocket Astro (2009 Ed Hume)