Monday, June 4, 2012

The best spinach you'll ever eat

A few years ago a stumbled upon the best spinach variety I've ever had - anywhere. The variety is called "Catalina" and I get it from Renee's Garden seed company. It's not only delicious, but also a reliable grower.

I hate it when raw spinach makes my mouth feel funny, or more specifically my teeth feel funny. Do you know what I'm talking about? Well this variety doesn't do that! Amazing right? It's tender and sweet, and even a bit soft. Like other spinach varieties it grows best in spring, and then bolts (goes to flower) once the temperatures pick up in early summer. At that point all spinach varieties need to be pulled up and replanted for fall harvest latter on in the summer (in Seattle that means mid July).
Spinach like this can't be cooked. I mean, how could you? Lately we've been eating classic spinach salads with hardboiled egg, white mushrooms, crispy bacon, and balsamic vinaigrette. Yumm.

Simple balsamic vinaigrette
3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
5 Tbs best quality olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt

Whisk until smooth and emulsified. Taste and adjust for personal preference - everyone likes a slightly different oil to vinegar ratio, so adjust until it's perfect for you. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Green salad with feta, mint, peas, and cucumber

When the days are warm but not hot, and the nights are cool but not cold, it is prime lettuce season. Now is the time of year when Jacob and I eat big meal salads every day. Despite our constant picking, the lettuce keeps on coming. It grows so lush, it looks like we never harvest at all. Amazing. I grow a 'cut and come again' mix from Renee's Garden This means that I usually harvest the outer leaves from the plants, and they just keep growing. I find this WAY more efficient than harvesting an entire head of lettuce, and having to replant each time.

Lettuce growing like gangbusters in our backyard
garden  as of this afternoon (June 3rd).

To some a meal salad sounds too light to be satisfying, but this shouldn't be the case if you pack it with all kinds of delicious (and not so light) items like chicken and cheese. Such is the case as with this salad, which is an iteration of a Patricia Wells recipe.

This salad is delicious, simple, and oh so fresh tasting. Paired with a glass of wine and some crusty bread, it's perfect for a late spring dinner in the back yard. Here's how I make it:

Green salad with feta, mint, peas, and cucumber
A couple handfuls of fresh salad greens (about 2-3 cups)
1/4 cup diced cucumber
1 Tbs chopped mint leaves
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup shredded chicken
1/3 cup chopped raw sugar snap peas, still in pods

Toss salad with the juice of half a lemon, a drizzle of your best olive oil, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Other items that sound good, but I didn't have on hand today: avocado, sliced radish, salty sunflower seeds, chives.