Monday, 18 June 2018

Radishes with Lime Juice, Chile, & Mint

Well I've given you the title, which is also basically the recipe, if we want to call this a recipe, and since I have nothing else on the go today, we do. At least I do.

I was surprised at what a nice little salad this was. I've been trying hard to keep the radishes watered and it seems to be paying off. They are not the best radishes ever, but not bad either considering some of the temperatures we have had, not to mention the lack of rain. They are French Breakfast radishes, which we have not grown for a few years. I am thinking they need to return to the regular rotation.

Keep each serving fairly small; the flavours are intense. It's almost more of a relish than a salad.  I left the leaves on because they were so nice and fresh and untouched by bugs - I can count on an infestation of flea beetles hatching even as I say this - and because they made a pretty presentation and a nice handle for that insouciant eating with the hands thing. We didn't eat the leaves though, as we consider them a bit too tough and hairy to eat raw.

per serving
5 to 10 minutes, possibly including pulling the radishes

Radishes with Lime Juice, Chile, & Mint

1 or 2 lettuce leaves
2 or 3 radishes
lime juice
fine red chile flakes, maybe Aleppo pepper
2 or 3 leaves fresh mint

Wash the lettuce and dry it, and arrange it on a small plate. Wash and trim the radishes, and cut them into quarters. Arrange them over the lettuce.

Squeeze enough lime juice onto the radishes to moisten them well, then sprinkle them with red chile flakes and salt to taste.

Wash and dry the mint leaves. They will be easier to mince very finely if they are well dried, and that's what you want to do. Mince them very finely, and scatter them over the radishes.

And that's it! We're done here. Other than sitting down and eating them.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Strawberry Cucumber Salad

One of my earliest recipes on this blog was for a salad with strawberries and cucumbers. This take is a little lighter and simpler; a side salad rather than a meal in itself. Still, although I have omitted a great deal of cheese and replaced it with a sprinkling of toasted pumpkin seeds, I was surprised to take a look back and see how similar my thought about strawberry-cucumber salad are still, eleven years later. Some things are classics for a reason, I guess.

We are picking massive quantities of strawberries at the moment, as well as haskaps. We came home from 2 days away to discover that we got 7 millimetres of rain while we were gone, and it went a long way towards reviving the garden and gave the fruit a final push into ripeness. I expect to be very busy over the weekend dealing with it all. 

4 servings
20 minutes prep time

Strawberry Cucumber Salad

Make the Dressing:
1 tablespoon honey
the juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoon olive or sunflower oil

Whisk or mix the above ingredients in a small bowl or jam jar.

Make the Salad:
3 to 4 small greenhouse cucumbers
6 medium-large leaves of lettuce
1 cup sliced strawberries
2 to 4 tablespoons toasted and salted pumpkin seeds

Wash the cucumbers and cut them into very thin slices; I used a vegetable peeler and was happy with how that turned out. Salt them and put them in a strainer. Let them drain as you prepare the other ingredients.

Wash and dry the lettuce, and arrange it in a salad bowl. I cut off the top thirds and arranged them around the edge of the bowl, then chopped the remainder into bite-sized pieces and spread them over the bottom of the bowl. It did make the salad a little easier to eat.

Wash and drain the strawberries. Hull them and slice them.

Rinse the cucumbers and pat them dry with a towel. Strew them in layers over the lettuce with the strawberries and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with the dressing. 

Last year at this time it was Blogaversary week. Guess that means the blog is now eleven years old!

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Strawberry Oat Bars

It seems to me I now have a series of recipes which consist of classic recipes calling for some other type of fruit than strawberries, in which I have replaced that classic fruit with strawberries, the results then being something better than the original. Strawberry Cream Pie (bye, bananas) and Strawberry Upside Down Cake (adios, pineapple) being the others so far. This one ditches dried dates for fresh strawberries, and wow! So good. I want these again already.

I would be more than willing to try other berries as well, and I know for a fact that frozen strawberries work quite well in this.

20 - 24 bars
1 hour - 20 minutes prep time

Strawberry Oat Bars

Make the Base:
1 1/2 cups soft whole wheat flour
2 cups quick-cook rolled oats
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
the finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix the flour, oats, sugar, salt, lemon zest, cinnamon, and ginger well in a mixing bowl.

Cut the butter into chunks and rub it into the dry mixture until none of it appears white and powdery. It will form some clumps, and it is fine is pea-sized bits of butter still remain. Mix in the eggs until the mixture forms clumps throughout and is fairly evenly moist. It is easiest to do both of these actions using your very clean hands.

Make the Filling & Finish:
2 cups sliced strawberries (or other berries, rinsed)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch

Line 9" x 13" pan with parchment paper. Put in 2/3 of the base; press down into a firm, flat layer. Mix the berries with the sugar and starch and spread over the base. Sprinkle the remaining base mixture evenly over the top. Bake at 350°F. for 40 to 45 minutes.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Early Summer Garden Update

How dry I am! Well not me, personally, but the garden. We need some rain so desperately. As usual, I watch the radar map showing torrential downpours to the north-west and south-east; we get nothing. We are already watering on drought rations. Very bad at this stage in the proceedings.

Above are some strawberry plants in one of our established beds. They are blossoming profusely, but the berries are small and are coming out a little odd due to the lack of water. We have picked a few though, and hopefully many more to come.

This is a strawberry plant that showed up as a seedling next to some blueberries. I recognized it as not a wild strawberry, so we have been letting it grow. Last year it sent out runners all over, but no berries. This year it is flowering and producing quite a few nice large strawberries.

They are rather long and thin and oddly shaped, and not huge although I consider them a very decent size. They have no commercial potential in other words. However, they are very tasty and look quite productive so when the strawberries in the first photo are ripped out - which will happen after the fruit is done as it is time to renew that bed - they will be replaced at least in part with this plant.

Tomatoes are in and doing well. They are easier to water than many things and also deep rooted from nearly the beginning so they are tolerating life quite well. We are getting flowers on them already though, which is by far the earliest I have ever seen flowers. Whether that translates to earlier tomatoes or not remains to be seen.

They were planted around some leeks from last year. These were the ones that came up from overwintered outdoor seed last year, much to my surprise. There were some very nice leeks that looked really good in the spring so of course we did not eat them, we are saving them for seed. It would be excellent to have a strain of leeks that are good for spring eating.

Other things planted in between the tomatoes include some carrots and some shallots for going to seed. It turns out that the spaces between the tomatoes are good for putting things to go to seed. We'll continue to do this more, I expect.

 Another view of one of the tomato beds. It looks like it has a straw mulch, and it sort of does. This is where we grew Red Clover last summer. We are really pleased with it. It was quite weed suppressing, with the exception of a little wild clover which we obviously overlooked while weeding due to it looking too much like the Red Clover. No biggie, though - it pulls out easily now. Also the Red Clover died completely over the winter leaving a straw-like mulch and it does not appear to have self seeded. I think we will be cover cropping more beds with Red Clover in the future.

 Mr. Ferdzy has one of the bean trellises up; 2 more to go along with all the tomato and melon trellises. So far most things are not growing quickly though, due to the lack of water.

 We are still trying to germinate carrots. I think it is time to do our usual re-seeding after the partial failure of the first seeding, after which both seedings will germinate and there will be far too many carrot seedlings. There does not seem to be any other way to do it, it does not seem to matter when we plant. Grr.

Garlic in the background looks pretty good. We were unsure how it would do, given how virus-ridden it all looked last year. A few of the Tibetan did not come up but otherwise it is enjoying this years hot dry weather much more than last years cold and wet. Next to it we have some radishes just about ready to pick.

The larger plants here are selections of potatoes we have grown from seeds in the last year or two. The smaller ones on the right are from seeds planted this year, including from my really exciting (!!!) seedball from a Russet Burbank. Most of the rest are from some Latvian potatoes which I got at the potato breeding workshop we went to a while back.

Shelling peas for freezing are flowering in the 2 far beds here. There is also a row of parsnips we have left to go to seed. In the front are some peas and beans I am growing out from crosses to see how they do. Behind them are Lima beans, which is why we are still prepared to cover the beds. There have been some cool nights and the Limas won't be happy about that.

And finally, the side section is shaping up. The new asparagus is really settling and looking good - we should be able to start picking it next year, no problem. The strawberries here are in great shape and look like being quite productive this year. The old cutting-flower and herb bed that went so completely to pot over the last few years of parental upheavals needs a good weeding, but it is within the bounds of reason. The transplanted peonies are struggling a bit, between being transplanted, very dry, and having some kind of fungus problem. But there is always something. So far the drought and the peony fungus seem to be it. Plenty of time for other problems to shape up of course, but so far fairly manageable. Now all we need is for it to RAIN.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce on Ribs

The rhubarb has risen up and is at its prime, so the question also arose: what to do with it? It would go well in a barbecue sauce, I thought, and sure enough when I searched there are lots of recipes out there. Most of them suffered from my usual complaint about vegetable-flavoured sweet things: too much sweetener and not enough of, in this case, the rhubarb. Well I fixed that! There is still a lot of sweetener, by my books, but that rhubarb is awfully tart, it has to be admitted. All the better to sing and dance with the rather rich and fatty pork.

I would also give this a try with chicken. Whole legs or thighs sound like the best idea. They would need to be cooked for much less time, of course - probably not much over an hour.

4 to 6 servings
2 1/2 to3 hours - 30 minutes prep

Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce on Ribs

Make the Sauce:
2 cups finely diced rhubarb stalks
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
3 or 4 pods green cardamom

Wash, trim, and dice the rhubarb. Put it in a pot with the vinegar and salt, and bring to a boil. Simmer gently until the rhubarb disintegrates; 5 to 10 minutes. Stir frequently.

Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the ketchup, mustard, and honey. Finely grate the ginger and add it. Crush the cardamom pods and discard the husks. Grind the remaining seeds finely and mix them in.

Cook the Ribs:
1 to 1.5 kilos (2 to 3 pounds) fresh pork ribs

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

If you like, cut the ribs into sections of 2 to 4 ribs. Brush them with the sauce and lay them in a single layer in a shallow baking (lasagne) pan. Bake them for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the ribs are done to your liking. You may wish to turn the ribs and brush them with more sauce half way through the cooking time. Keep the sauce in the fridge and discard any not used, especially if you think there is any chance you have gotten any juice etc into it from the ribs.

Let the ribs rest for 10 minutes before serving.


Last year at this time I made Buttermilk Buckwheat Waffles

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Asparagus Salad with Garlicky Dried Tomato Dressing

I see lots of recipes calling for both asparagus and tomatoes, but I am never really convinced that they go together all that well. In spite of that I decided to try making a dressing that would use up some of our large store of dried tomatoes and last season's garlic. I really loved the resulting dressing, and it went well enough with the asparagus, although I think it would go just as well with many other things. That's a good thing since the recipe makes a lot more than will be needed for the salad. Use the extra on other salads, as a spread for sandwiches, or as a sauce for plain grilled meats.

This salad is mostly asparagus and home-made croutons, which seems like a fine idea to me. I tried the dressing both with and without the mayonnaise added, and we both agreed that the mayonnaise-free version was just too strong.

Both the dressing and the croutons could be made up to a day in advance, making final salad preparation quick and simple.

2 servings
45 minutes prep time

Asparagus Salad with Garlicky Dried Tomato Dressing

Make the Croutons:
2 cups cubed stale bread
2 tablespoons bacon fat OR chicken fat OR olive oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon rubbed basil

Cut the bread into bite-sized cubes. Heat the fat or oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Toss the bread cubes in it, distributing the fat as evenly over them as you can. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bread is dry and toasted. About halfway through the process, sprinkle them with the salt, pepper, and basil. When done to your liking, remove them from the heat and set them aside until wanted.

Make the Dressing:
1/4 cup dried tomatoes
1/2 cup water
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons sunflower or olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons rubbed basil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise  - light is fine

Put the tomatoes in a small pot with the water. Bring to a boil, then cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, peel and chop the garlic, and put it in the bowl of a food processor with the oil, salt, pepper, basil, and balsamic vinegar.

Add the tomatoes with the soaking liquid and process until smooth. Process in the mayonnaise. Remove to a serving container and keep refrigerated until wanted.

Finish the Salad:
500 grams (1 pound) fresh asparagus
2 to 3 cups lettuce or mixed salad greens

Wash, trim, and cut the asparagus into bite-sized pieces. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and cook the asparagus for 3 to 5 minutes, until done to your liking. Promptly drain it and rinse it in cold water to stop it from cooking further. Drain well.

Wash and tear up the lettuce or greens, and drain them very well. Arrange them on a serving platter or individual serving plates. Mix the asparagus and croutons and arrange them over the lettuce or greens. Drizzle with the salad dressing.

Last year at this time I made German Radish, Cucumber, & Apple Salad.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Lebanese Spicy Roasted Potatoes (Batata Harra)

Here's another one that we ate at a restaurant and then went home and made it for ourselves because it was so good. It's roasted potatoes (restaurants are probably just as likely to fry them) tossed in a spicy garlic-cilantro dressing with lemon, kind of like gremolata gone wild. 

I used about a quarter cup of cilantro in this because that was how much I could scrounge up out of the garden, but I'm pretty sure I would have liked twice as much. On the other hand I'm sure lots of people would say it was just right. You should put in however much seems right to you, and the same as usual with the hot pepper. 

The available potatoes are getting a bit tired but I liked this enough that I may go out and buy some more anyway, at least if it gets cool enough again that I can stand to have the oven on.

4 servings

Lebanese Spicy Roasted Potatoes (Batata Harra)

Roast the Potatoes:
1 kilogram (2 pounds) baking potatoes
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Wash and trim the potatoes - peel them if you like - and cut them into largish bite-sized chunks. Put them into a pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Drain well.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. 

Toss them in a shallow roasting pan - I used my 9" x 13" lasagne pan - with the oil, salt, paprika, and pepper.  Spread them out in a single layer. Roast for 50 to 60 minutes until lightly browned. Stir them once in the middle of the process.

Toss them with the Garlic & Herbs:
4 to 6 cloves of garlic
the finely grated zest of 1/2 a large lemon
1/4 to 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ground Aleppo pepper, or to taste
the juice of 1/2 a large lemon

About 10 minutes before the potatoes are ready, peel and finely mince the garlic. Wash and dry the lemon, and grate the zest finely. Mix it with the garlic and set aside.

Wash, dry, and  finely chop the cilantro.

A couple of minutes before the potatoes are ready heat the oil in a small skillet, over medium heat. Cook the garlic and lemon zest until just barely golden. Remove from the heat and mix in the Aleppo pepper and the lemon juice.

When the potatoes come out of the oven, immediately stir in the cilantro, mixing it in well until it is completely wilted. Mix in the garlic-lemon mixture, stirring well until the lemon juice is completely absorbed. Serve at once.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Turkey Sorrel Rolls

These were lovely. Apparently there are stuffed sorrel rolls in Turkish and Balkan cooking, but it's a slightly different variety that is probably sturdier. The French sorrel leaves which I am growing were a bit delicate. Still, they held together well enough with gentle handling. Turkey went well with the mild flavours of the vegetables.

Serve these with rice, or bread, or as part of a selection of meze/tapas dishes.

4 to 8 servings (32 small rolls)
1 hour 15 minutes - 1  hour prep time

Turkey Sorrel Rolls

500 grams (1 pound) lean ground turkey (or chicken)
the finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon cumin seed
3/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 or 3 green onions
1 medium carrot
1 large egg
32 large sorrel leaves
1/3 cup thick yogurt
2 tablespoons finely minced chives or fresh dill
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put the ground turkey or chicken in a mixing bowl; to it add the finely grated lemon zest. Grind the coriander and cumin seeds and add them, with the salt and pepper.

Trim and finely chop the green onions. Peel and finely grate the carrot. Add them to the meat, with the egg. Mix well until thoroughly combined.

Put a large shallow pot of water on to boil. Place a large shallow pot of cold water next to it. Dip a sorrel leaf into the boiling water for 5 to 10 seconds, until just wilted. Do not swish it around; it is important to not let it fold up on itself or you will have to spend time laying it out flat without breaking it. Dip it in the cold water as soon as it comes out of the boiling water, then lay it on a clean flat surface. Cut out the stem 2 or 3 inches up the leaf, leaving as much of the leaf as possible.

Put 1/32 of the meat mixture in the middle of the leaf. (I pat it down flat, cut it into eighths, then work with 1/8 of the mixture at a time, dividing that into quarters.) Wrap the sorrel leaf neatly around the meat filling, covering it completely. Set it aside on a plate while you complete dipping and filling the rest of the sorrel leaves.

Put a steamer on to boil. Meanwhile, arrange the rolls carefully over the bottom of the steamer insert in a single layer. When the water boils, steam them for 15 minutes.

Let cool to warm or room temperature. Serve them with yogurt, with the finely minced chives or dill added, and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Last year at this time I made Chervil or Other Herb Vinegar.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

White Bean & Asparagus Salad

I thought this was going to be a fancier salad, but as I was making it I kept thinking, "But it doesn't really need that", and I left it out, and lo, it didn't really need it.  Simple is good especially when it is the freshest and best-tasting simple things.

I used some nice big fat Deseronto Potato beans for this but any large white bean will do. You will need about 2/3 cup dry beans to cook up to about 2 cups cooked beans, or I promise not to tell on you if you use a tin. Go easy with the salt if you do, though.

2 to 4 servings
20 minutes prep time, not including cooking the beans

Make the Dressing:
1/4 cup finely minced fresh chives
1/4 cup olive or sunflower oil
the juice of 1/2 large lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Wash, trim and finely mince the fresh chives.

Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl, or shake together in a jam jar. Set aside.

Make the Salad:
500 grams (1 pound) asparagus
2 to 3 cups torn lettuce, spinach, OR mixed salad greens
2 cups cooked large white beans

Wash and trim the asparagus, and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Put a pot of water on to boil. Add the asparagus and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until done to your liking. Drain and rinse in cold water  until cool.

Wash and tear up or chop the lettuce, spinach, or mixed greens. Arrange them in your salad bowl. Toss the beans and asparagus with the dressing, and spread them over the greens.

Last year at this time I made Sorrel, Chive, & Mustard Salad Dressing

Monday, 28 May 2018

Haskap - Rhubarb Nectar

Haskaps aren't quite ripe yet - I made this last year. Given that they have about a two-week season though, you should be ready for them when they are ready. 

Given the proportion of rhubarb to haskap that I used, I expected this to taste much more rhubarby. It's there in the background but that mysterious unidentifiable haskap flavour predominates. Quite delicious, in fact.

I like this best mixed with club soda and drunk cold, but I mixed some with some hot tea and that was surprisingly good.

This was made with drinks in mind; it's a little thin for pouring over ice cream, yogurt, etc. but if you don't mind it being thin that would certainly be tasty.

6 x 250 ml
30 minutes initial prep
overnight to strain
about 2 hours to can

Haskap - Rhubarb Nectar with Club Soda

8 cups diced rhubarb stems
2 to 3 cups haskap berries
4 cups water
1 cup sugar

Wash and trim the rhubarb, and cut it into dice. Wash and pick over the haskap berries. Put both into a pot with the water, and bring to a boil. Simmer steadily for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Put the mixture in a jelly bag or clean old pillowcase (now in use solely as a jelly bag) and suspend it over a pot - it can sit in a strainer as long as the strainer will not touch the liquid in the pot. Strain overnight. You can squeeze the bag to get as much liquid out as possible.

Put the jars to be filled into a canner and cover with water to an inch above their tops. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. As the water approaches the boil, put the fruit liquid into a kettle and add the sugar. Bring it up to a boil and boil for about 5 minutes. You should also have the lids and rims in a pan of water, and boil them for 1 minute.

Remove the jars to a clean board, tipping half the water in them back into the canner of boiling water. Fill the jars with the hot syrup. Wipe the rims carefully with a piece of paper towel dipped in the boiling water, then put the rims and lids on and finger tighten. Place the jars back in the canner and boil for 10 minutes.

Either let the jars cool in the canner, or remove them 5 or 10 minutes after being removed from the heat and let them cool on the clean board. Check the seals. Store in a cool, dark spot. Keep refrigerated once open.

To use, mix with cold or boiling water, club soda, or tea in the proportion of 1/3 to 1/2 syrup to other liquid. Should keep, unopened and properly stored, for 1 year.

Last year at this time I made Rhubarb-Almond Crisp.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Crustless Fiddlehead or Asparagus Quiche

I had a more traditional quiche in mind, but when push came to shove there were yogurt, sour cream, and cream cheese in the fridge all clamoring to be used up.  It didn't seem right to go out and buy more dairy products. Actually, the light  tartness of the yogurt, sour cream, and cream cheese went really well with the vegetables, which are delicate spring greens after all. I used a mixture of fiddleheads and asparagus, but it could be all one or the other. I'd throw in a good handful of finely chopped spinach if I had it too.

4 to 6 servings
1 hour 20 minutes - 20 minutes prep time - plus cooling time

Crustless Fiddlehead or Asparagus Quiche

2 cups fiddleheads OR chopped asparagus OR combo
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions OR shallot greens
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon rubbed basil, savory OR thyme
250 grams (1/2 pound) cream cheese
1 teaspoon butter

If using fiddleheads, wash them well and trim off any brown bits (the stem ends will need trimming). Put a pot of water on to boil; drop them in and boil for 4 or 5 minutes. Rinse in cold water and drain well.

If using asparagus, wash and trim, then cut into half-inch pieces. Boil them as above but for only 2 minutes. If you are using a mixture of the two, drop them in when the fiddleheads have 2 minutes to go. Rinse to cool and drain well.

Preheat the oven to 375°F

Wash, trim, and finely chop the green onions or shallot greens. 

In a mixing bowl, mix the yogurt, sour cream, and green onions. Beat in the eggs. Mix in the salt, pepper, and other seasoning. Crumble or glop in by spoonfuls (depending on the texture) the cream cheese, and mix it in but leave it fairly lumpy.

Use the butter to grease a 10" pie plate. Put most to all of the prepared vegetables in and spread them about - any you don't put in are for use in garnishing the top of the quiche. Pour the yogurt mixture over the vegetables and stir very gently to mix. Arrange the reserved vegetables over the top, pressing them gently down to be level with the surface.

Bake at 375°F for 1 hour. Let cool some before serving; it can be served warm or at room temperature. If made in advance, take it from the fridge 20 minutes before eating to take the chill off.

Last year at this time I made Asparagus with Onions & Mushrooms.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Spinach & Apple Salad with Balsamic Dressing

You want the very best spinach for a salad this sweet and simple. Other than washing that spinach, this goes together very quickly. This is a side salad, not a meal salad, and I think it would go with just about anything. Apples are the last of the season; look for Red Prince or other long storage apples. I think mine were Empires, that have been sitting in the produce drawer for 2 months. Still just fine!

This is the last of the spinach from our garden. The price of getting it early is that it is finished early.  I was amused - and exasperated - to find a tiny rabbit nest in it as I pulled it out. It wasn't clear to me if the rabbits had raised their babies and moved on, or if they had started the nest and abandoned it when it became clear that this was a busier neighbourhood than they had supposed. It didn't seem all that used to me, so that might have been it. On the other hand we have a wild turkey sitting on a nest with 14 eggs just on the other side of our deer fence. She's been strutting around the yard like she owns it which she just might. Not sure how hard on a garden wild turkeys can be but I guess we are about to find out.

4 servings
30 minutes prep time

Spinach & Apple Salad with Balsamic Dressing

Make the Dressing:
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon apple butter
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoon walnut, hazelnut, or other nut oil

Whisk it all together in a small bowl or jam jar. Transfer to a serving container.

Make the Salad:
4 cups washed and picked-over fresh spinach
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, hazelnuts, or other nuts or seeds
2 medium apples

Wash and pick over the spinach, and wash it again. Drain well. Chop or tear it lightly if some of the leaves are too large. Arrange it in a salad bowl, and sprinkle the cranberries and nuts over it.

Wash, core, and chop the apples and scatter them over the spinach. Pass the salad with the dressing to be drizzled over it as it is served.

Last year at this time I made Spring Cilantro Soup, which confirms my thought that things are on the late side this year, because it is barely up at this point. Not surprising, given what April was like!