Posts filed under ‘Locavore recipes’

Wild perennial pesto

ChickweedBy Dee Reid

The only crop that was ready to be harvested this week in my early spring garden was one I had nothing to do with.  When I went out to the garden to check on my sugar-snap peas (they finally germinated!), imagine my delight when I also discovered a whole bed of chickweed and dead nettle. These delicious and nutritious wild, edible, perennial and ubiquitous greens had taken over a bed of soil that I had not yet planted.

What could be better? They grew on their own, with no help from yours truly. I didn’t have to buy seeds, nurture the transplants, weed, feed or fret about this crop. It just took care of itself, and in so doing, it is taking great care of me, too.

So I thanked Mother Nature and grabbed up several fistfuls to eat and cook with. I learned about this “manna” from heaven a couple of years ago when I went for a walk with the amazing  herbalist and wild foods enthusiast Kim Calhoun, and later took a class with her at Central Carolina Community College. She showed me some of the weeds growing in our backyards that can easily be used in salads, soups and pesto.

She also told me that wild greens are packed with nutrients — or “goodiments” as she likes to say. Then she shared her recipe for Wild Greens Pesto, which also features garlic, one of the most nutritious cultivated foods we know.

I made my first batch of the season this week and it’s even more delicious than my last batch. It tastes great on sandwiches, pasta, vegetables, seafood, meats, etc. You can keep it in the refrigerator for weeks at a time (if you can manage not to gobble it all at once) and it keeps well in the freezer in individual ice cubes for easy future use.

Planty Kim’s Wild Greens Pesto

Ingredients:

3 medium garlic cloves

½ cup walnuts (or pecans, almonds, cashews, pine nuts)

3 cups firmly packed greens (any combo of seasonal wild & cultivated herbs—see list below)

¼-½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon UME plum vinegar (or sea salt to taste)

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (a dairy-free option instead of parmesan cheese)

Preparation:

1. Blend garlic and nuts in food processor until coarsely chopped.

2. Add remainder of ingredients to food processor and blend till desired smoothness. Yields approximately one cup.

3. Eat on crackers, mixed into pasta, smeared on a frittata or fried egg sandwich, spread on rolls or pizza, get creative!

4. Any leftovers will keep in the fridge for a week or more. I like to triple the recipe and freeze some Wild Green Pesto in half pint (8oz.) glass mason jars.

Wild Greens of the NC Piedmont in early Spring (to name a few): chickweed, purple dead nettle, creasy greens/cress, dandelion leaves, plantain leaves, tender yellow dock leaves, wild lettuce leaves, cleavers, wild garlic, self heal, violets,henbit…don’t forget flowers too—dandelion (remove bitter green base), henbit…

Cultivated Greens: parsley, cilantro, nettle, lemon balm, thyme, rosemary, nettle, oregano…

Before you pick something to eat, you should be sure you know what it is. Check online for color photos of these greens, or ask a friend who knows. Also be sure it’s growing in an area that is not polluted by chemical pesticides, herbicides or road runoff. Always wash the greens before consuming them, in case any of our four-legged friends “fertilized” them when we weren’t looking.

March 26, 2015 at 2:05 pm Leave a comment

Chickweed pesto

ChickweedLast Sunday at the first Wild Food and Herb Market in Carrboro I learned from the amazing Kim Calhoun that some of those weeds proliferating in my yard and garden are both delicious and nutritious. Freebies from Mother Nature. I had heard that chickweed made great pesto, but that seemed too good to be true.

During a short walk on the wild side, Kim validated the chickweed story and gave me a whole new perspective on the bounty growing all around us. She showed us the familiar chickweed, dandelion and speedwell thriving just a few steps away, confirming that chickweed and dandelion are great for salad and pesto, and speedwell has medicinal properties.

It’s important to properly identify plants before consuming them, Kim said (a magnifying glass and illustrated guide are useful tools). Avoid areas that may have been treated with pesticides or harmed by roadway run-off or other toxic substances.  And, before harvesting, be sure to thank the plant and don’t pluck more than you need.

A week later, I got down on my knees in my garden patch to thank and pluck three cups of the chickweed that had proliferated there since I harvested my sweet potatoes in the fall. A few minutes later, I was savoring the fantastic Chickweed Pesto I made from Kim’s recipe, reprinted below with her permission.

If you want to learn more about edible wild foods and herbs, I recommend that you connect with Kim and consider signing up for her March 24 “eat wild spring” workshop at the N.C. Botanical Garden, where you’ll get to forage and make wild greens pesto.

Planty Kim’s Wild Greens Pesto

Ingredients:

3 medium garlic cloves

½ cup walnuts (or pecans, almonds, cashews, pine nuts)

3 cups firmly packed greens (any combo of seasonal wild & cultivated herbs—see list below)

¼-½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon plum vinegar (or sea salt to taste)

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (a dairy-free option instead of parmesan cheese)

Preparation:

1. Blend garlic and nuts in food processor until coarsely chopped.

2. Add remainder of ingredients to food processor and blend till desired smoothness. Yields approximately one cup.

3. Eat on crackers, mixed into pasta, smeared on a frittata or fried egg sandwich, spread on rolls or pizza, get creative!

4. Any leftovers will keep in the fridge for a week or more. I like to triple the recipe and freeze some Wild Green Pesto in half pint (8oz.) glass mason jars.

Wild Greens of the NC Piedmont in early Spring (to name a few): chickweed, creasy greens/cress, dandelion leaves, plantain leaves, tender yellow dock leaves, wild lettuce leaves, cleavers, wild garlic, self heal, violets,henbit…don’t forget flowers too—dandelion (remove bitter green base), henbit…

Cultivated Greens: parsley, cilantro, nettle, lemon balm, thyme, rosemary, nettle, oregano…

March 17, 2013 at 12:52 pm 1 comment

When it’s too hot to can: slow roasted tomatoes

Reprinted July 31, 2011/ I’ve never gotten the hang of canning and, let’s face it, who wants to stand over a boiling cauldron during absurdly steamy weather anyway? But then, what to do with all of these home-grown tomatoes? About a year ago, local food artisan and writer April McGregor (The Farmer’s Daughter) published the perfect solution in her online column for Grist: Slow-roasted tomatoes. Same idea as sun-dried, except in this case you put them in the oven on low (2225-250 degrees Fahrenheit) and let them cook very slowly all day long for large tomatoes, 2 hours for cherry tomatoes. You won’t even break a sweat.

What you get are densely flavored, juicy, roasted tomatoes that can easily be kept in the fridge or freezer for a long time, or, if you insist, in a canning jar. I’ve tried this recipe with large Big Boys and tiny Juliets (small Roma style tomatoes) and the results are amazing. Now I have slow roasted tomatoes for salads, pizza, pasta, soup, quiche, bruschetta, and more. You store them in olive oil and can use the tomato-enhanced oil for salad dressing. Slow food at its tastiest.

Thanks, April! You made my summer (and winter!).

Here’s her recipe:

“Similarly to the Sicilian semi-sun-dried tomatoes, large and juicy heirloom tomatoes can be slow-roasted in a low oven to reduce excess liquid, concentrate flavor, and increase acidity. Plus, we can keep the oven at such a low temperature that it doesn’t even heat up the house. As an added bonus, this method couldn’t be easier. There’s no peeling or seeding involved. Even if you don’t can them, they will keep covered in olive oil for several months in your refrigerator, where they will serve as your secret weapon. Chop for an instant pasta sauce; add zip to beans or soups; use as the basis for roasted tomato vinaigrette; pair with fresh mozzarella & a loaf of bread for a perfect picnic. The possibilities are endless, and the flavor is unparalleled. So what are you waiting for?

Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes
If you like you can pack different varieties of tomatoes in alternating layers in your canning jar, or you can separate them by color for more distinctive tastes and hues.

Makes about 3 pint jars
10 pounds heirloom tomatoes
1 head of garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
A couple of shallots, halved, but not peeled, optional
A handful of thyme sprigs
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
Your favorite fresh herbs for tomatoes–basil, marjoram, or oregano
A few dried red chili peppers, optional

Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper or foil. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F.

Rinse your tomatoes, and slice them in half across their equator, or into thirds if they are particularly large. Line them on the baking sheet in a single layer, seed side up. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Scatter the garlic cloves, shallots, garlic, and thyme over the tomatoes. Sprinkle each tray of tomatoes with 1 teaspoon of salt.

Place the tomatoes in the oven and roast for about 6 hours (only 2 hours for small cherry tomatoes), until much of the tomato juices have evaporated, and the slices have shrunk to about ½ their original size.

Let the tomatoes cool at room temperature. Then with a spatula transfer the slices to your very clean pint jars (wide mouth canning jars will be easiest to deal with.) Layer fresh basil, or your preferred herb, between the slices of tomato, as well as the cloves of garlic and shallots that you squeeze from their hulls. Leave about 1 inch of headspace at the top of each jar.

Choose your Preserving Method

• Short-term: top with a 1 inch thick layer of olive oil and a clean lid, and they will keep in your refrigerator for 3-4 months.

• Long-term: Top the jars off with a thin layer of olive oil, leaving a good inch of head space. Date the jars and place them without lids into the freezer. Because liquid expands as it freezes, it is best to let the jars freeze without lids first to be sure that the jars to not crack. After your tomatoes are frozen, you can top with clean lids, and they will keep for up to one year. Alternately, pack the tomatoes in quart freezer bags, date them, and keep them for up to 1 year in your freezer.

• Long Term Shelf – Pack tomatoes into sterilized jars, leaving about 1 inch of head space. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or red wine vinegar to your tomatoes and top off with extra virgin olive oil, leaving a final 1/2 -inch of head space. The added lemon juice or vinegar increases the acidity of your tomatoes even further to prevent the growth toxins or bacteria. Top with sterilized lids. Line the bottom of a large pot or canning kettle with a folded dishtowel. Place your jars of tomatoes in the kettle on top of the dish towel at least ½ inch apart. Fill the pot with water until it covers the tops of the jars by at least one inch. Bring the pot of water to a low boil. Adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer and process the jars for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the jars with a jar lifter and place on a clean towel to cool completely without disturbing. Store on a cool, dry shelf for up to 1 year. ”

July 31, 2011 at 8:18 pm 6 comments

A great year for pecans

By Carol Peppe Hewitt

Arlo's pecan pie

The pecan drop this year is huge. The ground under the pecan trees that line our driveway is covered with them, and more seem to fall every day. Pecan pie (recipe below), pecan peach cobblers, toasted pecans with cinnamon, a handful of raw pecans to snack on, pecan granola, and more – so many great feasts ahead. Locally grown, fertilized by the ducks and deer who frequent the place, no pesticides, and free for the picking up.

I remember another year like this one, 1984, the year I was carrying Emma. Eight months pregnant, leaning over was out of the question. Luckily the ground was so densely covered with nuts that I could sit in one place, pick up 30 or 40 pecans and then scoot to a new spot and do it again. I managed to fill buckets that way. This year has been like that one. I have picked up about 100 pounds and there are still more on the ground.

Our driveway is part of the Old Raleigh Road, the carriage road that cut across Chatham County long before Route 64 was built. The trees are at least 100 years old.  The girth of the largest one is 12 and ½   feet.  Several years ago we were approached by the DOT. They wanted to pave the half-mile, dead end road that we live at the very end of, and the neighbors were all for the idea. So we agreed, but only with the stipulation that they stop at the top of the lane of pecan trees and leave the dirt road as it is for the last 200 yards that passes underneath them.

The fancy new paved road would have required cutting the trees down, a senseless slaughter that the DOT seemed to have no qualms about. But we did. Now the new paved road ends in a cul de sac, just short of these wonderful old trees, marked by a sign that says “State Maintenance Ends.”  Maybe I should add one that says “Pecan Preservation Begins.”

For many years I would look out the kitchen window this time of year and see somebody hunched over picking up pecans. The old timers knew about these trees and we were happy to see them filling their buckets. As I filled mine today I realized they have all stopped coming. One by one they have died off, and the next generations in the area don’t know, or don’t care, to come picking.

Instead we have a murder of happy crows, and the squirrels are keeping very busy as well. Which is fine. There is a generous plenty.

What’s next? The nuts need to dry for a while to concentrate the sugars and lose their raw flavor. Then there is the massive task of shelling them all. A few nights at the kitchen table with various styles of nutcrackers won’t get it done, and I’m open to suggestions.

With all the talk of GMOs, pesticides, food miles, and such, these are a treasure in our local foodshed, planted by our ancestors to nourish us.  Take a walk, there may be some in your neighborhood as well. And this is the moment to find them. Native pecan trees, I am told, take 15 years before they bear fruit. I am thankful for the farmer who had patience to plant these trees and wait.

And I am inspired to plant more fruit and nut bearing trees for those coming along behind me.  May they enjoy their own great years, just as we are doing with this one.

* * *

Arlo’s Fabulous Pecan Pie

Delicious Pie Crust

¼ c sugar

2 tsps freshly grated orange or lemon peel

½ c chilled butter, cut into chunks

¼ tsp salt

1 ½ c flour

1 large egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1-2 tbl  water if needed

Mix sugar and citrus peel until thoroughly blended. Add butter, salt, flour.  Rub together until mixture is crumbly, work in egg yolk until the dough is light yellow.

Sprinkle vanilla and water (if needed) over the dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Pie filling

3 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

pinch of salt

¼ cup local sorghum molasses and ¾ c maple syrup

1/3 cup melted butter

1 cup pecans

Fill crust and lay an additional ½ cup of pecans artfully on the top.

Bake for 350 degrees for 50 minutes in a 9” pie pan.

 

November 11, 2010 at 9:29 pm Leave a comment

Southern Sweets

Here’s an excerpt from a Piedmont Biofarm CSA  blog post by Elizabeth Thompson, who shares my deep affection for a certain subterranean food stock.

“Moving here from the North, there were a number of farm favorites that I lost.  Brussels sprouts so sweet you can eat them raw, rhubarb by the armload for pies and jams, and crisp greens all summer long.  But it was a trade, and some wonderful vegetables have found their way into my southern life to replace the cool northerners I lost.  Among these are okra, peppers and tomatoes out my ears and, my favorite southern crop so far, the South American native sweet potato.  I always love the thrill and satisfaction of digging up potatoes from their summer lairs and piling them by the bucketful into the basement for our winter staple.  There is something even more thrilling for me about digging up the golden gems of sweet potatoes that seem to have preserved the summer sun’s life-giving energy so perfectly within their sweet, orange flesh.

“Now my love affair with this crop cannot end with poetic statements in the setting sun.  Next, this tuber must come into my home and kitchen to nourish my family through the colder months ahead.  How do I handle and prepare this delicious gift?”

Click here for Elizabeth’s advice on how to store sweet potatoes and cook them (with recipes for Cajun Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Hot and Sweet Gratin).

November 6, 2010 at 10:50 am 1 comment

No Worry Curry

By Camille Armantrout

The other day, I pulled open my vegetable drawers and saw: two bags of greens, half an onion, garlic, a pile of sweet peppers, cilantro, basil, some sweet potatoes, a couple of eggplants, carrots, green beans and okra.  Only one word came to mind: Curry!

I had an hour until dinner, so I got right to work.  First, I pulled a container of chick peas from the freezer.  I chopped the onion and garlic and began sauteing them in olive oil in a big pot.  I started some water boiling for brown rice and turned the oven on to 350 degrees.

While the garlic and onion sizzled away, I chopped the okra into 1/4 inch rounds, tossed it with olive oil, minced garlic, and a light mixture of corn meal, onion powder, salt and pepper.  I put the okra into a 9″ x 13″ pan and set it in the oven for 45 minutes.

Next,  I went to my cupboard and got a can of coconut milk and one of tomatoes.  I cut the carrots, green beans and sweet potatoes into bite-sized pieces and added them to the curry pot.  I added the coconut milk, tomatoes and two cups of veggie broth.

I started rinsing and chopping the greens.  First, I removed the stems, chopped them and threw them into the curry pot.  Then I stacked the greens on the cutting board and sliced them into thin strips about 2 inches long and put them aside.

When the curry came to a boil, I added the peppers in big pieces, the chick peas and turned the pot down to simmer.  Then I added one tablespoon each of curry powder, cumin and cinnamon and some salt and cayenne.  I checked the okra and flipped it with a spatula.

As soon as the carrots and potatoes were fork tender, I turned off the heat, added 1/2 a cup of peanut butter, adjusted the seasoning and stirred in the greens.  I sliced the basil and cilantro into thin strips to use as garnish.  By now the the rice was done, so I opened a can of sweet peaches that we’d put up in July, pulled the crispy roasted okra from the oven and got out the peanuts.

Then we sat down to one of our favorite meals.  We scooped some rice into a bowl, sprinkled it with basil and cilantro, ladled thick, rich curry on top and garnished with okra, peaches and peanuts.

Curry is the perfect fall meal!  It feeds a lot of people so we trotted the leftovers out for a potluck later in the week.  And it freezes very well for those times when we don’t have a potluck lined up.

When you find yourself with a mish mash of fresh vegetables, don’t worry – just make curry!

October 17, 2010 at 8:29 pm 1 comment

Sustainable food fun all week-end, June 12-13

Three special events are coming up this week-end, where you can learn to cook healthy local food on a  budget, check out the amazing urban farming scene in Carrboro, and share a farm-fresh potluck supper with with Clyde Edgerton, Kickin’ Grass and local farmers and artists at the famous community college farm lab in Pittsboro.  Plan carefully and you can take it all in. Here’s the schedule:

You bought it so cook it: I love what Linda Watson is doing with her Cook for Good lessons: proving that you can eat fresh, local, sustainably grown food, even on a food-stamp budget — if you cook it yourself and use all of it wisely. She will show you how to save time and money while eating delectable fare in a way that’s good for you and the planet.   Saturday June 12, 2-3 p.m. at Chatham Marketplace in Pittsboro. $5 for CM member/owners, $10 general public. You must pre-register, call 542-2643.

Carrboro Urban Farm Tour: More than 15  backyard gardens and food enterprises will be open for inspection for the third annual urban farm tour in Carrboro, the Paris of the Piedmont. I participated last fall and loved visiting community gardens, all kinds of intensive vegetable beds, apiaries, chicken coops, and an artisanal bakery at a co-housing neighborhood.  Saturday June 12, 2-6:30 p.m., including walking and biking tours and a potluck supper at the end of the day. Pick up maps at Carrboro Raw, across from Weaver Street Market.

Potluck in the Pasture: When local artists, foodies and farmers converge, the result is pure pleasure. ChathamArts presents the 5th Annual Potluck in the Pasture, featuring local author Clyde Edgerton, music by Kickin’ Grass, and a chance to meet plenty of other local artists. Stonemason Joe Kenlan and Greek food goddess Angelina Koulizakis (Angelina’s Kitchen) will be running the wood-fired pizza oven with fresh dough from My Neighborhood School and fresh ingredients from the garden. Bring a potluck dish to share or plan to purchase fresh produce at the market on site, and enjoy getting a tour of the sustainable student farm and herb garden. Admission is $8 at the door, $5 online, kids under 10 free. Sunday June 13, 5-7 pm, Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro.

— Dee Reid

June 6, 2010 at 6:48 pm 2 comments

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