Thursday, August 8, 2013

Summertime succotash

I've become obsessed with succotash. Until a week ago I didn't even know what succotash was and now I've made this dish three times. Essentially succotash is a dish that includes corn and any shell bean or lima bean. I use Dirty Girl Produce Cranberry shelling beans, Romano beans, and Cipollini onions plus garlic and a few ears of corn. Succotash is perfect for summer, and it's exactly the kind of dish I love because it's tasty, inexpensive, and endlessly adaptable. It's even vegan (unless you don't want it to be since it's great with crispy pieces of bacon too).

Shell bean helpers

According to, "Succotash is a basic American Indian dish. Among the Indian nations of the Northeast, succotash was kept simmering at all times so that any hungry visitor or family member could be fed." Succotash was also popular during the Great Depression when it was topped with a pastry crust. In my opinion nothing's better than a dish with a track record of feeding hungry visitors and nourishing to people during hard times.

While great by itself it also makes a great side dish. We've had it with local salmon and also alongside BLTs (using, of course, DGP Early Girl dry-farmed tomatoes and lettuce).

Summertime succotash with corn, Cranberry beans, Romano beans, and Cipollini onions

2 pounds Cranberry beans, shelled (a rule of thumb about beans: 1 lb fresh shelling beans = 1 cup cooked beans)
1 pound Romano beans, trimmed and cut into bite sized peices on a diagonal
3 medium Cipollini onions, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 ears fresh corn, sliced off the cob
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper
Fresh parsley or basil, chopped

1) Shell cranberry beans and put in a medium pot. Cover with water, about 2 inches above beans. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Add a couple large pinches of salt and a big glug of olive oil.  Let simmer 30 to 40 until beans are cooked all the way through but not falling apart. Do not undercook. They should taste creamy. Sample a few of them. For a lot more on cooking fresh shelling beans see this post: Make your Own Pot of Fresh Shelling Beans. When the beans are cooked, pour all of the bean broth into a resealable container and refrigerate or freeze for use in soup. Keep cooked beans for the succotash.

2) Meanwhile bring another pot of water to boil. Add a big pinch of salt and add in the Romano beans for about 3 to 4 minutes until crisp-tender. Remove Romano beans and let them cool on a cookie sheet.

3) In a large skillet warm a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add onions with a pinch of salt and saute on medium heat until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add corn and more salt and black pepper and cook a few more minutes. Turn off heat until Cranberry and Romano beans are ready.

4) When both the Cranberry beans and Romano beans are ready add to skillet with onions, garlic and corn and toss to combine. Let ingredients cook together for a few minutes. Season well with salt and pepper. Top with chopped parsley or basil. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*You could do each of these recipe steps a day in advance and then combine Cranberry beans, Romano beans and onion/corn mixture and cook it all together for a few minutes to reheat and blend flavors before serving.

*There are many regional variations to succotash, which include peppers, tomatoes, cream, bacon, or summer squash for example.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Crunchy little radish salad for kids (and adults)

We are in love with radishes at the moment. Yes, the Dirty Girl strawberries are AMAZING. And, yes, the Dirty Girl asparagus is delicious and looks otherworldly with it's beautiful green-purple color. But radishes are what we've been eating most this week.

Until now I've under-appreciated and under-used these happy, peppery little root vegetables. Inspired by a snack at the wonderful new restaurant Bantam in Santa Cruz, I've been making a just-radish salad almost daily. It's perfect alongside almost any sandwich or enjoyed by itself.

before - french breakfast and cherryette radishes and italian parsley

after - crunchy little radish salad

My kids love this radish salad. And I'm not saying this to brag that my kids are "good-eaters." It's just that the salad is really simple, tasty, and colorful. It's kid-friendly. Also, when my kids are eating something that's good for them I never make a big deal about it. I react to their eating a salad, or roasted cauliflower, or a fresh tomato in the same way I would react to an adult eating something that looks delicious. I might say, "Yum, that looks good." But I don't say "GOOD for you! I'm so PROUD of you!" That would be weird to say to my husband and so I show my kids the same respect when they're eating.

They also like this salad because they can make it with me and when they've been involved in creating a dish they usually enjoy it more, or will at least try a bite. Don't worry, the "recipe" pretty much cannot be messed up. Because my kids are little I am the slicer/chopper and they are the mixer/tasters. If your kids like eating the final product, awesome. If not, more for you!

We sell French Breakfast and Cherryette radishes year-round at the farmers market but they are especially great in the spring because they germinate in cold (winter/early spring) soil, grow quickly, and can be harvested before many other vegetables, like carrots and turnips, are ready.

Here's the quote-unquote recipe for the Crunchy little radish salad for kids (and adults):

1. clean one or two bunches of radishes by chopping off the thin roots at the bottom and the stems at the top and washing the radishes well
2. thinly slice radishes using a knife or mandolin
3. roughly chop a small handful of cilantro or parsley (really, either one is good)
4. make a vinaigrette with olive oil and vinegar (balsamic, red wine, or even apple cider vinegar)
5. toss radishes, herbs, and vinaigrette together
6. add salt to taste


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Take good care of yourself: make soup!

Even though Santa Cruz is sunny today there are still many weeks to go before Spring's asparagus and strawberries fill our farm and farmers market stalls and in the meantime I am happily making vegetable and bean soup. This soup is by far my favorite meal to cook for my family. It's inexpensive, nourishing and delicious.

This soup uses some of the less "flashy" items we grow: dried beans, canned tomatoes, chard, onions, garlic, carrots, and parsley. The vegetables that get us through our (yes, very mild) winters and the ones that can be kept sitting for a while in your fridge or pantry ready for you when you've got time for soup making.

I love the process of making this soup. It takes a bit of time - washing, peeling, chopping, stirring the vegetables - but it can be such a relaxing way to spend a couple hours. Make it a nice experience. Listen to music, set out all the ingredients, have your kids peel the carrots, enjoy the smells as the soup cooks.

If the instructions below seem lengthy don't be intimidated! You can get almost all of the ingredients at the Dirty Girl Produce farmers market stall and the recipe doesn't require any fancy kitchen techniques, just a little time for each step.

I often make this recipe for friends with new babies since it travels well. I've also served it to dinner guests. It makes a delicious, homey meal - served with good bread and a simple green salad - and allows you to relax with your guests rather than hovering by the stove. It can easily be modified for vegetarian and/or gluten-free diets. There's always extra left over for lunches and it gets even better overnight as the flavors come together.

Vegetable and Bean Soup (also known as Minestrone or Pasta e Fagioli)

One cup dried beans, Cannellini or Cranberry
Olive oil
One large onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
3 large or 6 small carrots, peeled and finely chopped (about 1 cup)
3 celery stalks, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 or 2 jars Dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes (peels removed)
6-8 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, bean stock or water
1 bunch chard or kale leaves, chopped into bite sized pieces
Roughly 3 cups cooked brown rice, quinoa or bite sized pasta

Prepare the dried beans: The night before you make the soup put one cup of dried beans (any kind, but I usually use our Cannellini beans) into a pot and cover by 2 inches or so with water. Let sit overnight. If you don't do this step an alternative is to bring a pot of beans and water to a boil, then turn off the heat and let the pot sit for one hour. Either way, then pour out the water the beans have been soaking in and refill the pot with water, again covering the beans with about 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add a big glug of olive oil and salt. Start checking the beans for doneness after about 40 min. but it may take a while longer for them to be fully cooked. Do not undercook the beans. While the beans are simmering prepare the other elements of the soup.

Prepare the tomatoes: Pour tomatoes into a separate bowl and pull out and discard tomato peels. Use your fingers so that you separate the peel from the tomato flesh.
Make the soffritto (or mirepoix): This is the flavor base of the dish and consists of celery, onion and carrots. If, for example, you don't have large yellow onions, use Cippolini onions or leeks. That's fine. Heat a large soup pot and add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add onion, carrots, and celery. Cook for 15 minutes or so on medium heat stirring occasionally. Vegetables should begin to soften. Reduce heat if onions begin to brown.

Add garlic to soup pot and cook for a few minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes or so. Add a bit of salt.

Add 6-8 cups stock (chicken stock, vegetable stock, bean broth or water). This is an element where there's a lot of flexibility. I like to make my own chicken stock using the leftovers from whole roasted chickens so I use a combo of chicken stock and bean broth for this soup. If the beans you've been cooking are done then scoop out the bean broth to add to your soup. Or if you have good chicken or vegetable stock then add that. Water even works if you don't have enough of the other stocks. The only warning I'd give is that canned/boxed chicken stocks tend to be very salty so add half the amount, taste and add water for remaining amount if needed.

Bring soup to a boil, add chard or kale, and then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or so.

Add cooked beans. Start by adding a cup or two and see if you like the amount per spoonful. You can make the soup more bean-rich or not depending on what you like. My kids really like beans so I tend to add a lot. 

Add cooked brown rice, quinoa or bite sized pasta. Again, use what you like and/or what you have on hand already. The amount you add to the soup should be based on how thin or thick you like your soup to be. If you add pasta it will swell up and absorb the broth as the soup sits. This doesn't bother me and I like the "swollen" pasta noodles but if you don't like this then add the pasta right before eating rather than in advance.

Taste and add salt and black pepper as needed. Top with roughly chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley (it adds freshness and bright color) and grated Parmesan cheese.

Once you've made the soup and gotten the hang of it feel free to swap or add ingredients based on what's in season or what you already have. For example, I often replace the chard with french or Romano beans in the summertime. Or I've included roasted cauliflower simply because I had extra in the fridge.

Let me know if you make it and how it comes out!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Daniel Patterson's Grilled Beets with Dandelion-Potato Puree, New Olive Oil, Chicories and Raw Turnip

Chef Daniel Patterson has been described by Food and Wine magazine as one of the "world's best chefs." His restaurant, Coi, earned 2 Michelin stars and 4 stars from the SF Chronicle. As a restauranteur Daniel is behind Plum and Haven, both in Oakland. He is also an occasional contributor to New York Times Magazine, Food & Wine Magazine, and San Francisco Magazine. Somehow Daniel manages all of this work while still making time to shop with his two adorable kids at the Dirty Girl Produce stall at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturdays. And not only that -- he took time to write a recipe for this blog using our beets, dandelion, and turnips. Thank you, Daniel!

For the dandelion-potato puree, cook 1 bunch of dandelion greens in salted water until tender, then drain and rinse under cold water to cool. Squeeze all the water out and coarsely chop. Peel and quarter one medium size yukon or carola potato, simmer in salted water until tender, and cool. Blend the dandelion greens and potato with lemon juice, pure olive oil and a splash of vegetable stock or water to make a smooth, green puree. It should be bright and balanced, but not acidic. Season with salt. One bunch of greens makes enough for at least 10 servings.

Cook one medium beet per person in salted water until tender, cool and peel. Cut in half, or in big shapes, season with pure olive oil, salt and pepper, and grill over charcoal or wood until charred/smoky and delicious. Cut in chunks.

To serve, spoon some dandelion-potato puree on the plate. Put grilled beets on top, and then drizzle with just-pressed green olive oil (we use mcevoy; sylverleaf is great as well). Toss some chicories cut in small pieces with aged red wine vinegar and new olive oil. Sprinkle over the beets, and add some pieces of raw, shaved tokyo turnip.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Fall in love with roasted radicchio

Roasting radicchio is an easy way to impress your friends and family. Radicchio's bitter flavor mellows and sweetens in the oven producing a flavorful, beautiful, uncommon dish. At the Dirty Girl Produce stall people often see the piles of radicchio and say "How pretty! But what do you do with it?" Uncooked radicchio can be good in salads - see Sarah Henkin's recipe --  but roasting is so appropriate when the weather is cool, and you need nothing more than a few heads of radicchio, olive oil, salt and (if you like) balsamic vinegar and Parmesan cheese.

Roasted Radicchio

Here's what I do:

Preheat oven to 400F.  (I often make this when I have just roasted a chicken and the oven is already hot.)

Take two or three heads of radicchio and quarter them lengthwise so that the stem is still holding the leaves together at the bottom of each quarter. If the heads are especially large I will halve them and then slice the halves into thirds so the wedges are smaller. I do not wash the radicchio first. I simply remove a couple of the outer leaves. If you do wash them make sure to dry them very well otherwise the radicchio will come out of the oven mushy.

Place radicchio in a baking dish and coat each wedge with olive oil. I use a pastry brush so that they're lightly, but completely, covered. Sprinkle with salt.

Place in the oven for 10-20 minutes depending on the size of the radicchio heads. The leaves should wilt and slightly char and the core should soften quite a bit.

Remove from the oven and drizzle with good quality balsamic vinegar. Grated Parmesan and fresh black pepper are also tasty.

Sauteed radicchio is also super easy and good. Slice head into thin strips and saute with olive oil in a medium hot pan until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Great on brown rice or - even better - polenta.

Grilled radicchio is delicious too. Quarter radicchio and toss with olive oil. Grill for 15 minutes or so until tender and slightly charred, turning every few minutes. Toss with salt, a garlicy vinaigrette, and croutons.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Jacob Pilarski's Early Autumn Three Bean Salad

Joe and I went to an awesome pop-up dinner at Happy Girl Kitchen Co. last week in Pacific Grove featuring vegetables from our farm. The chef for the meal was Jacob Pilarski who worked at Manresa Restaurant for the past 4 years and is currently the Chef de Cuisine at Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn. He made a delicious three bean salad that he's agreed to share with us. We will still have fresh shelling beans, green beans and yellow wax beans at the markets for the next couple weeks so it is a great way to enjoy them while they last!

Jacob at Happy Girl Kitchen Co.

Romano beans, haricot verts and yellow wax beans

Early Autumn Three Bean Salad

1 lb. Green beans
1 lb. Yellow wax beans
1 spoonful Chevre
1 spoonful Basil pesto
1/2 lb. Tongue of Fire shelling beans, fresh
2-3 Tomatoes, very ripe
Olive oil
Red wine vinegar

Soak Tongue of Fire beans for 2 hours in water prior to cooking. After two hours, drain and rinse. Place beans in cooking vessel and cover with cold water by 2" (veggie stock or 1/2 veggie-1/2 water is even better). Add aromatics to beans, such as a whole peeled onion, a few garlic cloves, a few pinches of nutritional yeast, a stick of kombu, and/or herbs. Simmer beans for around an hour and a half, making sure beans remained covered by liquid (add water to cover, if needed). Salt the beans 3/4 of the way through cooking period. Check on beans periodically... if they're done earlier, great. If they need a little more time keep checking every ten minutes or so (time varies based on amount of heat applied). Adjust seasoning when beans are tender and let beans cool in pot at room temperature.

Pare stems off of fresh beans. Saute bean types separately (green and yellow might be "cooked" at different times) over medium high heat with a little olive oil. Salt pole beans just before taking them off the heat. Add finished beans to mixing bowl with chevre and pesto, tossing to coat. When all pole beans are added, adjust seasoning.

To finish: Cut tomatoes in half. Using a box grater, grate the tomatoes (cut side applied to the grater) into the shelling beans, stopping when you reach the skin. Adjust seasoning and add vinegar to taste- this is now the dressing for the pole beans. Spoon Tongue of Fire beans and some liquid over the pole beans. Drizzle a little more olive oil over top.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sarah Henkin's Radicchio with Butternut Squash, Walnuts, Mozzarella, and Herby Vinaigrette

Sarah Henkin has been a friend of our farm for several years. She's a regular chef/shopper at the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and she's the market's former Market Chef in charge of coordinating programs and events. These days Sarah works at Square Meals, a restaurant-shop which specializes in wholesome prepared meals for eat-in, take-home or delivery, using ingredients from local farms, ranches and artisans. Sarah's delicious radicchio salad recipe is so perfect for early fall, and we have lots of beautiful radicchio at the DGP stall right now.

Joe and Sarah at the Dirty Girl Produce stall on Saturday

Radicchio with Butternut Squash, Walnuts, Mozzarella, and Herby Vinaigrette

Dirty Girl Produce radicchio, leaves separated and torn in half, washed and dried
1 small butternut squash, peeled with a vegetable peeler
1/2 cup plus more extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper
Handful walnuts
Handful fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro & chives, coarsely chopped
A tablespoon or so Sherry vinegar
High quality walnut oil if you have it, otherwise olive oil is great
1 ball best Mozzarella cheese you can find, torn into pieces

1.  Butternut Squash: Preheat oven to 400°. Slice in half and scoop out seeds.  Dice squash into large cubes and toss in a bowl with a good glug olive oil and salt and pepper.  Toss well to coat all the cubes and place in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake for 15-20 min. or so until squash is tender and edges are starting to brown. Remove and set aside.

2.  Walnuts: turn oven down to 350°. Put walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 10 or so minutes, until walnuts are toasted, being very careful not to burn. Remove, coarsely chop and set aside.

3.  Dressing: Add chopped herbs to a bowl with Sherry vinegar.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper and whisk to combine.  Drizzle in a scant tablespoon walnut oil if you are using it and whisk vigorously.  Drizzle in olive oil (probably about 1/2 cup or a little more- you'll have dressing left over), whisking continuously until you have desired consistency.  Taste and add more olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper as needed.  Set aside. 

4.  Assemble: Add radicchio leaves to a salad bowl.  Toss with butternut squash, walnuts, and mozzarella.  Add just enough dressing to coat all the ingredients, toss well, taste for salt and pepper and serve.

Chioggia radicchio