Sweet crisp, eat like an apple, red onions are the harbingers of spring. Day length sensitive their expanding bulbs push out to form the onion revered in this county for over hundred years. The story goes that Ernie Vogliotti’s father acquired seed in the late 1800’s and over the next one hundred years they grew this onion on their ranch, selling first to the miners and then to the town folk. We acquired the seed by luck from Josephine (Ernie’s sister) in her 90’s. She was proud of the onion as an enduring accompaniment to her life of eating the foods they grew. It was around 1996 that we stepped down into her cellar with instructions to look for the “jar on the top shelf”. Less than 30% germinated and the first year we grew a small stand of onions and instead of eating them we replanted them in the fall, nursed them all winter and harvested thousands of seeds from their pompom flower heads in the spring. Today we only grow this variety, knowing how proud Josephine would be to know that we continued the legacy of the onion.
Dear all, we have a promising season of abundance ahead of us. The spring rains have quenched the soil’s thirst for moisture and the garden is well under way with young plants eager to nourish. We harvested our first salad greens this week and they are so tender they practically melt in your mouth. Next week French breakfast radishes with their red and white exteriors will be plucked and bunched for market.
Asparagus has had it’s usual spring glory and now that is fading out and Fava beans are coming in. It’s hard to resist is the Fava bean – the Italians make a hoo-ha about this vegetable, celebrating their spring arrival with a holiday and festival. The bean is also called a horse bean by the English and in other colonial countries. Simply shuck the pod to reveal a large bright green kidney shaped bean. This activity can be done while sipping wine. In their tender early stage they can simply be steamed and served with a little butter. Later in the season they are steamed and their tougher outer skins pop off, with a pinch, to reveal a bright tender green heart that can be pureed and made into a delicious dip. May 1st is the date the Italians celebrate the fava and Eric tells me that he was there in 1976 when he was ten. It wasn’t until another ten years later that he encountered the fava bean at a roadside stand grown by an Hispanic family. We grow a small amount of this crop every year. It has the unique ability as with all legumes to fix nitrogen to root nodules and acts as a natural fertilizer for plantings that come after their harvest.
Our farmstand is open in Douglas Flat on Thursdays from 11 am to 6pm. Soon to be open more!
Easter is almost upon us and asparagus season is in full swing. Catch our Easter Brunch and celebrate with your family and friends. Reservations recommended by calling 209/728-1164 or emailing: OuterAisleFoods@gmail.com
All ingredients need to be at room temp or the sauce just won’t set up. Classic aioli employs 100% olive oil but I prefer to mix it with grapeseed oil, especially if I don’t have a high quality olive oil on hand. The flavor is more subtle—but try it both ways and decide for yourself. Making aioli by hand is easy, and I think faster than in a food processor. If you haven’t made it before, don’t feel daunted by the directions below. You’ll get the swing of it in no time and soon it will be a regular sauce for your fish, lamb or veggies. Make your aioli before roasting the asparagus and keep it in the refrigerator (up to 2 days) until you’re ready to use it.
1 pastured egg yolks (left at room temp for at least an hour)
1 cloves of the freshest garlic you can find, minced
1/4 cup fruity extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grapeseed oil or other neutral tasting oil.
1t finely grated lemon zest
1T lemon juice
1 t salt
With a large whisk or electric food processor begin to beat the yolk until even consistency, continue beating and have someone else drizzle in the oil. The mixture will emulsify before your eyes as you fast-beat and continue to drizzle in the last of the oil. Add the zest and lemon juice and salt to taste!
We have Easter Brunch Buffet this weekend …join us and book your table now!
- 1-2 bunches asparagus
- 2 Cups Cous Cous (uncooked) Pearled
- ½ Cup kalamata olives ( pitted, sliced)
- ½ Cup feta
- ½ toasted pine nuts ( optional)
- Handful fresh mint, tarragon or Italian parsley
- Zest from one lemon
- ⅓ C olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons whole grain mustard
- 2 Tablespoon Red wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 350 F oven.
- Trim the tough ends of the asparagus off. Lay them on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1-2 T olive oil, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and cracked pepper, and half of the lemon zest. Roast in the oven until just tender, about 20-25 minutes. Cut into bite size pieces. (Alternatively, for faster preparation, blanch bite size pieces of asparagus, along with the cous cous, during the last 2 minutes of the cous cous’s cooking time.)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add 2 cups Israeli Cous Cous, and cook until al dente.
- While cous cous is cooking, make the dressing. In a small bowl, stir all ingredients together.
- Drain cous cous, and place in a large bowl. Toss it with the dressing, olives, asparagus, feta, pine nuts, fresh herbs and lemon zest. Serve warm, or chill and serve as a salad.
ERIC’S SKILLET EGGPLANT PARMESAN
Takes 10 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to cook. Ideal warm or cold in a sandwich.
1 Globe Eggplant
1 Brandywine Tomato
2 cloves garlic
½ bunch of lemon/lime basil
cheese – Mozzarella, Swiss, parmesan
Slice eggplant lengthwise, ½ inch thickness. Cook in skillet with olive oil until browned. Flip eggplant over and place a slice of tomato, squeeze of garlic, slice of cheese and leaves of basil. Place a lid on the skillet. Cook 10 minutes until underside is browned.
ASIAN EGGPLANT AND CHERRY TOMATO PASTA DISH
4-5 Asian eggplants
1 basket of cherry tomatoes
1 bunch basil
4 cloves garlic
Pasta of your choice
Slice eggplants diagonally and saute on stove top until browned on both sides. Slice cherry tomatoes in half and marinate with olive oil, garlic and chopped basil. Combine eggplants and cherry tomato into pasta, with Parmesan.
Peel, halve, and slice into half-moons:
1 medium cucumber
Toss in a medium-size bowl with:
A pinch of salt
Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Drain off any liquid that has collected. Stir in:
3/4 cup whole-milk yogurt
1 small garlic clove, pounded to a puree
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 bunch lime basil or 2 mint springs, leaves only, cut in chiffonade
2 pounds summer squash (such as zucchini, pattypan squash, yellow crookneck squash)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon flaked salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the stem ends and slice the squash cross-wise in 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Toss with the olive oil.
In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Arrange the squash rounds in a 9-x12-inch rectangular baking dish, or 10-inch pie plate. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over.
Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another five minutes until the top is bubbling and crispy
FAVA BEANS SUGGESTIONS:
There’s a short window for these famed vegetables. The first pick is usually quite tender and there’s no need to peel the outer skin of the bean. However, as the season for fava’s (two weeks) comes to a close the outer skin toughens and is a little bitter and popping is recommended. To do this shuck the bean, steam the beans until soft, the outer skin should pucker slightly. There’s a couple of ways to do this: serve the bean and have your guests do the popping themselves, nipping into the outer layer and squeezing the bright green goodness into their mouths. (They are an aphrodisiac!). Or nip them with your nail and squeeze them into a bowl for combining with other ingredients.
4 cups sliced fennel bulb
3 Tbls. olive oil, divided
¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided
½ tsp. salt, divided
¼ tsp. ground red pepper (cayenne)
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbls. grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
2 (15.8 oz) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups fresh baby spinach (any greens will do, I used beets tops and chard)
- Preheat oven to 450°
- Combine fennel, 1 Tbls. oil, ½ tsp. black pepper, ¼ tsp. salt, red pepper, and garlic in a large bowl; toss to coat fennel. Arrange fennel mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes or until fennel begins to brown. Stir; sprinkle cheese evenly over fennel mixture. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until golden brown.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add beans; cook 2 minutes or until heated. Add fennel mixture, spinach, the remaining ¼ tsp. black pepper, and remaining ¼ tsp. salt. Cook 2 minutes or until greens are cooked; serve immediately.
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- 1 large onion, minced
- 1 large carrot, minced
- 1 celery stalk, minced
- 4 Fresno chiles or jalapeños, thinly sliced into rounds, seeded
- Kosher salt
- 3 pounds Romanesco or regular cauliflower (about 2 medium heads), cut into florets
- 4 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup torn fresh mint leaves
Heat 1/2 cup oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, and chiles; season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very soft but not brown, 12–15 minutes. Let soffritto cool.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of Romanesco and cook, undisturbed, until deeply browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a roasting pan; repeat with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and remaining Romanesco. Add soffritto, anchovies, and wine to roasting pan; season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
Roast, tossing halfway through, until Romanesco is soft and liquid is mostly evaporated, 25–30 minutes; season with salt and pepper and top with mint.