The garden is giving us lots of green goodies right about now. Like the green garlic for instance, which is starting to bulb up. That’s a good sign, because it means the main garlic crop is sizing up too. We use the green garlic in so many things, anywhere you might use any other kind of allium in the kitchen. I planted about 40-50 cloves last fall that were starting to sprout, and that has kept us well supplied the last couple of months.
Those in the above photo wound up in a dish involving another green goodie, Cima di Rapa. I harvested a nice big cutting of the Maceratese variety last week. Unlike most kinds, this variety does not flower and make rapini. Instead it is grown for its leaves, which surely remind me of turnip leaves. As I was harvesting them I found myself thinking “this could be turnip greens”. They had a prickly feel, and the characteristic aroma of fresh turnip leaves.
I cooked them the Italian way, in a big pot of lightly salted water. They were done in less than five minutes, and I drained them and let them cool before chopping them up and using them in a dish with some big Corona beans I cooked up just for the occasion. The cooked greens were more tender and milder tasting than most turnip greens I’ve grown, and I think this variety is a real keeper, especially for a spring planting. I’ll let the plants grow and see how they fare as the weather warms up. The Quarantina variety I harvested a couple of weeks ago gave us nothing worth eating for a second cutting, so I pulled those plants. It will take me a while to figure out the planting schedule, but I think the Cima di Rapa is going to be a favorite around here.
To make the bean dish, I cooked a couple of anchovy filets in olive oil until they fell apart, then added two of the chopped up green garlics plus one thinly sliced lemon (with seeds removed). I cooked that briefly then added the chopped Cima di Rapa and a couple of cups of the cooked Corona beans, along with about a half cup of their cooking liquid. I cooked that for about 5 minutes, until the liquid was reduced to a nice consistency. Then I added about a tablespoon of fresh parsley and a bit of grated Parmigiano Reggiano. It made for a hearty and tasty dish, and my wife and I made a meal of it. I decided it needed some crusty bread to sop up the juices so I got some multigrain rolls out of the freezer. Next time I make this I think I will have some fresh baked bread ready!
And speaking of bread, earlier in the week I whipped up a batch of 40 Percent Caraway Rye bread, a recipe from Jeffrey Hamelman’s classic Bread book. This crusty bread will serve as a starting point for my future bread baking adventures over the next few months, as I search for my favorite hearth bread recipes. This bread has both natural and commercial yeast leavening, and I proofed it in a round brotform before baking it on a hot pizza stone and giving it a steam treatment. It got a tremendous oven spring, and had a little ‘blowout’ on the top of the loaf which tells me I should have let it proof a bit longer. I made a note of that for the next time.
We used the bread to make what I call a ‘Canadian Reuben’ that had Canadian bacon along with homemade cabbage sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. Of course there’s nothing really Canadian about the meat, but that’s what most Americans call it. It is a catchier name than ‘unsmoked back bacon’ which would probably be more descriptive. At any rate, the bread made a great sandwich and I look forward to more bread testing as we enter the sandwich days of summer around here. We served it up with some spinach from the garden, briefly cooked with mushrooms and more of the green garlic.
Another meal last week featured one of the Purple sweet potatoes from storage that my wife sliced up, tossed with olive oil, salt and cumin, then grilled. She was admiring the color of the sweet potato slices before cooking, which got me to grab my camera and capture the above image. These sweet potatoes are a lovely mottled purple and white color before cooking. After cooking they turn a uniform dark purple, and this batch made a great combo with salmon burgers served up on my Dark Rye Potato Buns.
On Saturday I got the first harvest of garlic scapes. These came from the early varieties of Asiatic/Turban types I planted (Xian, Uzbek, Red Janice and Shilla). There will be more scapes later as the rest of the hardneck garlics put up their flower buds. That’s another case for growing these early types, even though they aren’t good keepers. Not only do the bulbs mature earlier, but they are also the first to put up scapes! I made a quick pesto with this batch, which went on pizza we had for dinner that night. I cut a few more yesterday that went into a batch of Daphne’s Garlic Scape Salad Dressing.
The salad dressing went on a salad I made with some of the Baby Oakleaf lettuce I cut. I also pulled a few of the Helios and Plum Purple radishes for the salad. I saved the radish leaves to make a batch of radish top pesto I’ve been wanting to try. I can see that slugs have been nibbling on the skins, and one of the purple ones cracked after our rain Saturday, but mostly they look pretty clean. I also planted a watermelon type (Starburst) and a spring daikon radish (April Cross) that aren’t ready yet. I’ll plant more radishes for a fall crop.
I also want to mention we’re having a great year for asparagus. We’ve hauled in over 24 pounds of it so far, with about two more weeks left to harvest it. We generally harvest for about eight weeks, as long as the patch is producing. I roasted that you see in the below photo, which is another of the many ways I enjoy asparagus.
I kept busy with gardening activities last week. I got a lot of garden prep and planting done in the main garden, and all the tomatoes have now been planted. I normally mulch them with straw on top of newspaper. I put the newspaper down when I plant, and ‘spear’ it with the tomato cage to keep it in place. Then I come back later and add the straw. I planted some of my favorite varieties this year along with a few new ones: slicing tomatoes Sioux and Mortgage Lifter plus small-fruited Blush, Mexico Midget and Umberto. The Umberto was a freebie from Totally Tomato and is an heirloom small pink pear tomato that should be good for drying. For the determinate paste tomatoes I plant one per cage and use shorter tomato cages that fold flat for storage. That’s what you see in the below photo. All the rest are planted two per cage using my homemade remesh cages.
We currently have lots of clover blooming, and I see the honeybees working it and a few of the other flowers that are blooming. So far the bees are doing well, and we plan another inspection later today or tomorrow. It is great to see them out and about as I’m working outside.
That’s a look at what’s happening here. To see what others growing and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from HA!