Monday, September 27, 2010

(Purple) Bean and Fennel Salad with Toasted Walnuts

Salads are a great food, full of bright colors and crunchy vegetables. However, being vegan, we have had so many salads over the years: often it's our only choice at restaurants or meat-eater's houses. So, while a side of raw greens with some kind of sauce often ends up beside our main course, traditional salads aren't particularly exciting to us. That said, vegetables certainly are. Especially vegetables that we have grown in our own garden! Often, these vegetables are given minimal treatment and then served as-is, with a flavorful sauce on top. We call that sauce dressing and we call the dish salad.This dish is made from Royalty Purple Pod Beans, an heirloom variety of bush beans that looks like any slender green beans you could find at the market: except they have a rich purple color. The funny thingabout them is that they change color when the cook, and they end up looking a lot like green beans. They are delicious anyway: bright and fresh-tasting, and the small tinges of purple on the edges make them fit for a king.
Of course, anyone who wants to make this recipe will probably end up using green beans, and nobody will be the wiser. This recipe combines warm sauteed pod beans with raw marinated fennel, a tangy mustard-citrus
dressing and the rich crunch of toasted walnuts. It is perfect for this transitional time between summer and fall, crisp and bright, but with a hearty savoriness perfect for the cooler months ahead. Bon App├ętit!

(Purple) Bean and Fennel Salad with Toasted Walnuts
20-30 minutes, Serves 3-4
about 3 cups purple pod beans (or green beans), sliced in half
1 tsp. salt
2 tbs. oil
1 tsp. maple syrup
juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large or 2 medium fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
1 tbs. whole-grain mustard
salt, to taste
1 tsp. oil
1 tsp. maple syrup
2 tbs. fresh oregano, coarsely chopped
2 tbs. fennel fronds, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup raw walnuts

1) Combine all ingredients in first column (beans through lime juice), leaving garlic aside.
2) Heat a skillet or frying pan to medium heat, add beans and spread in a single layer. Do not stir. Let beans cook for about 5 minutes, then add garlic and stir once to combine. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until crisp-tender.
3) While the beans cook, combine all ingredients in second column (fennel bulb through fennel frond). Allow to marinate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes. (Or prepare this mixture in advance and marinate as long as you want)
4) Toast the walnuts: Either for 3 minutes in a toasted oven, or constantly stirring over medium heat on the stove top. Allow to cool briefly, then chop.
5) Combine the warm beans with the fennel and its marinade. Top with chopped walnuts and garnish with a lime wedge, if desired.

Becky Mae thinks it looks good enough to eat!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sweet Summer Salsa

One of our favorite foods in the world is salsa. When we first met, we quickly realized that we could easily finish off a 13 oz container of salsa in one sitting, no problem. So one of the best things about our early August garden is that we have all the main ingredients for this simply delicious mexican dip. The tomatoes are plump and hanging heavily on the vine, the garlic was recently dug up by a Ms. Becky Mae Dominguez, the peppers are bright and perfectly curled and the cilantro is bursting with flowers.

Salsa comes in all different colors, textures and spice levels and we encourage you to explore with different types of salsas so you can figure out what your taste buds like best. The following salsa is a sweet and tangy garden salsa; bright in color and flavor.
We perfected this salsa recipe about two and a half years ago when we were living in Paris and salsa was no where to be found. We would spend 30 euros at Tang Freres (an amazing Asian grocery store in the 13th arrondissement) and make huge bowls of fresh California-inspired salsa and eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Now that we're back in Brooklyn, salsa is still a staple in our diet and can always be found at any party we throw. We've also included a recipe for a smokey black bean dip that pairs nicely with our garden salsa.

Sweet Summer Salsa
About 20 minutes

3.5 cups freshly chopped tomatoes (about 4 medium tomatoes)
1/2 red onion (finely diced)
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 tbs agave nectar
1 tbs rice vinegar
1/2 chile pepper (very finely chopped)
Juice from 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1/2 of a chopped mango or one chopped peach for a sweeter salsa.

Method: This dish is very simple to prepare but requires a lot of prep work, so I recommend putting on your favorite album and enjoying the meditative act of chopping. Chop tomatoes, onions, cilantro and long pepper. Combine in a large bowl. Add garlic, agave, rice vinegar, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Chill for at least 30 minutes and serve!

Smokey Black Bean Dip
About 15 minutes

1 can organic black beans (drained and rinsed)
1/2 red onion (chopped into a few large pieces)
3 tbs tahini
1 tbs freshly chopped oregano (1 tsp if using dried)
Juice from 1/2 lime
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 green onion
salt and pepper to taste

Method: Combine all ingredients (except for 1 tsp of paprika and the green onion) in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Empty bean dip into serving bowl. Chop green onion, white and green parts, for garnish. Sprinkle smoked paprika and chill for at least 30 minutes. Serve with salsa and organic tortilla chips and let the party begin!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Summer Squash Ghanouj

We love dips. We have an abundance of fresh summer squash in our garden. So we made a dip out of summer squash. Inspired by the smoky mashed eggplant dish
baba ghanouj, we roasted a combination of yellow summer squash and zucchini from our garden with smoked paprika and za'atar. Za'atar is a blend of dried Middle Eastern herbs and sesame seeds that lends an earthy, herbaceous aroma to the finished dip. We also added one green chile (Taiwan long hot pepper, because our garden offered us one when we knocked into the pepper plant) along with the squash to add a mild heat and chile flavor. The seasoned, roasted squash is then mashed with familiar ingredients to anyone who has ever made hummus. The only unusual ingredient is citric acid, a very tart powder also known as lemon salt that is available in spice markets or specialty stores. Honestly, we probably would have used lemon juice if we'd had a lemon, but this substitute worked beautifully. It imparts a powerful tartness without the lemon flavor or added liquid, and since squash is such a watery vegetable, no extra liquid was needed. Of course, lemon juice is a perfect substitute. Also, we like the rustic texture of this dip mashed with a fork, but it would also be delicious as a smooth dip pureed in a blender or food processor. The choice is yours. We learned today that baba means father and ghanouj means "soft or coquettish," so baba ghanouj refers to how spoiled someone will feel after eating this dish made from eggplant, the king vegetable of Middle Eastern cuisine. We guess. This is a soft and coquettish way to eat summer squash, so we stole the name.
The rest of our garden is maturing quickly, and we are now harvesting handfuls of heirloom tomatoes and greens. More recipes are to follow soon, my friends.

Summer Squash Ghanouj
About 30 minutes.
2 large summer squash, sliced
lengthwise about 1/2 inch thick
1 green chile (optional)
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. za'atar
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

2 tbs. tahini
1 tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. citric acid, or
the juice of 1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1) Oil a skillet or baking dish with olive oil. Lay the slices squash in a single layer with the whole green chile. Sprinkle with salt, za'atar and smoked paprika.
2) Roast about 20 minutes, until squash is lightly browned, but still soft.
3) Allow to cool until it can be handled easily, and transfer all squash and any pan juices into a bowl.
4) Add remaining ingredients and mash until it looks like dip. Garnish with a sprinkle of za'atar. Serve with your favorite bread or crudites, it's all good.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Garden Pea Risotto with Braised Summer Squash

Sometimes it is so hard to decide what to make for dinner. The great thing about having a garden is that it can choose for you! With dozens of pods full of crisp, sweet peas hanging on the vines, we knew that a celebration of the vibrant flavors of spring was coming to our table. Our gargantuan zucchini plant is also working overtime lately, and with the recent rain in Brooklyn, the fruits practically doubled in size overnight. We wanted to prepare the squash simply, so we marinated it with fresh basil and lemon and then braised it, blossoms intact. To make our meal stick to our ribs a little more, we paired it with one of our favorite comfort foods - risotto.
A lot of people are scared of making risotto, but aside from patience, it doesn't require any more skill than making oatmeal. The basic risotto recipe we use is full of savory, hearty flavors. Usually we use browned onions for the flavor base of our risotto, but for this bright spring meal we decided to let the peas be the dominant flavor, supported by fresh garden herbs and a squeeze of lemon. To round out the meal, we served the risotto on a bed of Swiss chard from the garden, sauteed simply with a splash each of soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. The resulting meal is hearty and satisfying while still retaining a fresh springtime feel. It left us thanking our garden for its help. Becky Mae thanks the garden too, and we have the remnants of pea pods to prove it!
Garden Pea Risotto
Serves 2 hungry people
Cooks in 30 minutes
1 tbs vegan margarine or oil
1 tsp asafoetida (see note)
1 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 cup arborio rice
3/4 cup sake or white wine
3 -4 cups water
3 tbs light miso, in 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup fresh garden peas
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
fresh chopped oregano, to taste (or use dried)

1) Heat vegan margarine or oil over medium heat. Add
asafoetida and fennel seeds, and stir to toast, about 1
2) Add rice and stir to coat with oil. Allow to toast for
about 2 minutes, until some rice is golden brown.
3) Add 1/2 cup of the wine. Once the wine has mostly
evaporated and appears somewhat milky, add 1/2 cup
of water.
4) Keeping pot uncovered, continue adding water 1/2 cup
at a time. If you can cross the spoon along the bottom of
your pot and there is no liquid, it is time to add more
water. Once you have added 3 cups (this should take
about 15 minutes), taste the rice. If it is still hard,
continue adding water. Once the rice is chewy and al
dente, add the peas.
5) Add peas along with 1/2 cup more water and allow
liquid to cook off. Peas should turn an even brighter
green within a few minutes.
If rice tastes done, allow most excess liquid to evaporate.
6) Add remaining 1/4 cup wine and stir. Cook for about a minute.
7) Turn off heat and add dissolved miso, lemon juice,
nutritional yeast and chopped oregano. Allow to stand
for 5 minutes. The mixture will thicken slightly. Taste
and adjust seasoning, adding more lemon, herbs, yeast
or salt, if desired.
8) Garnish with fresh oregano and serve.

Note: Asafoetida is a potent, savory tasting spice with a
very strong and unique aroma. It is available at Indian
grocery stores and spice markets. The flavor is very
unique and we have come to love its taste in risotto.
If you don't have it, you can just leave it out, or
substitute onion powder, or for a different flavor,
some fresh chopped onion or garlic.
It's your dinner!

Braised Summer Squash
Serves 2
Cooks in 10-15 minutes
For marinade:
1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp salt
2 tbs sake or white wine
1 tbs grapeseed oil
pinch crushed red chile

4 medium summer squash (I used 3 large homegrown zucchini, with blossoms intact), quartered lengthwise

1) Whisk all marinade ingredients together in bowl.
2) Cover sliced squash in marinade, and let sit for a minimum of 10 minutes, or as long as you want.
3) Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove slices of squash from marinade and place in the ungreased skillet. Allow to brown for about 3 minutes on each side, watching to keep from burning.
4) After squash is browned on all sides, add remaining marinade liquid. Allow to evaporate briefly.
5) Turn off heat and serve, garnished with fresh basil and a squeeze of lemon, if desired.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Welcome to Our Garden!

Our Garden, March 2010

After a long, cold winter, we transformed this barren landscape into...

Our Garden, June 2010

Welcome to It's From the Garden, a place where everything grows in the dirt and ends up on our plates. We are so excited to begin this journey with you and show you how fun and delicious life in the garden can be. We, by the way, are Kyle and Ashley, Californians to the bone who migrated to New York City 4 years ago and ended up bringing a slice of the Golden State to our backyard in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. We have never had a garden before, but we have eaten many, many things that come from gardens and we wanted to give it a try. So here we are, with our rescued pup, Becky Mae Dominguez, inviting you to come over and spend some time in our garden.

We want to share our gardening adventures with you and show you how scrumptious it is to eat vibrant meals from organic and (very) local produce. The food from our garden is good for us, the animals and our big beautiful planet. In addition to our meals, we try to take the same approach to life, doing the best we can to minimize our impact on the giant garden we call earth.

"Hope to see you in the garden soon!"
-Becky Mae Dominguez