Sunshine Soup and Lettuce Wraps

I recall that on May 1st last year there was snow on my lawn.  This year spring seems to have started in earnest, the trees are almost in leaf and my allergies are going crazy.  No regrets.  Mayday, or Beltane, or whatever name you choose too give this date, is one of my favorite celebrations.  It’s time for one of my sunshine soups, and this year, in honor of the wonderful weather I’m making Summer Sun Soup and juicy, crunchy lettuce wraps.   Summer Sun Soup is one of my favorite spring/summer soups because you can eat it warm, or you can enjoy it cold.  You’ll love the color, the velvety texture and the slightly spicy, deliciously tangy flavors.

Summer Sun Soup

Photo by E. Broughton

Photo by E. Broughton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs yellow summer squash (about 3-4 medium)
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch dried orange peel
  • Pinch dried lemon peel
  • Pinch dried celery
  • 1 cup yogurt (plain)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Cut the squash in half and then into 1/2-inch dice (about 8 cups); cut the bell pepper into 1/2-inch dice (about 1 1/2 cups); cut the carrots in 1/2-inch dice (about 1 1/4 cup); cut the potatoes in 1/2 inch dice (scant 1 cup).

Yellow Squash           Yellow Pepper        Carrots        018

Medium chop the onion (about 1 cup).

Onions

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low; add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion has softened.  Add the squash, pepper, carrots and potatoes to the saucepan along with the vegetable or chicken stock; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer partially covered until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, 10 minutes.
Sunshine Soup

Add the lemon juice and zest.  Add in the turmeric, ginger. dried orange peel, dried lemon peel, dried celery powder or celery salt and salt and pepper to taste.  Use a food processor or blender to puree the soup.

Sunshine Soup 3

Reheat or serve cold with a swirl of plain yogurt.

Lettuce Wraps

  • 6 leaves of butter lettuce
  • Cole slaw with diced granny smith apple

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Photo by E. Broughton

Photos by E. Broughton

Happy May 1st and Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Winter Salads

Shortly after Thanksgiving I stop buying fresh salad greens.  Yes, we really do have greenhouses in the northern tier, but eating seasonally means using what is available (for a reasonable price), buying locally or using whatever you put by from the garden.  However, this doesn’t mean giving up salads.  Crunchy goodness isn’t synonymous with romaine lettuce.  Salad like soup can be made from almost any vegetable (because that’s what I mostly eat).   One of the things that is readily available in the markets here is butternut squash.  Now, there are endless ways to prepare squash, but almost all of them involve cooking in one form or another and I had never heard of eating butternut squash raw.  So, I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across a recipe by Mark Bittman (The Minimalist) of the New York Times using raw butternut squash.  This is my adaptation of his recipe using ingredients from my kitchen.

Raw Butternut Squash with Dried Fruit and Walnuts

Ingredients:

Raw Butternut Squash Salad 003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  •  1 smallish butternut squash, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup of dried fruit (I used a combination of dried cherries and golden raisins but you could use cranberries or almost any dried fruit – go ahead, live dangerously)
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped pickled ginger (the original recipe calls for fresh, but I made pickled ginger this year so I used that and it was GOOOD)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 4 tablespoons of sherry vinegar.  (I substituted half balsamic vinegar and half tawny port)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cut off the ball part of the squash and save it for another recipe.

Raw Butternut Squash Salad 007

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peel and slice the neck portion and grate.

Raw Butternut Squash Salad 010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a bowl, combine the grated butternut squash, the dried fruit, walnuts, salt and pepper.  In a small jar, combine the olive oil and the vinegar/port mixture.  Shake well and toss with the squash mixture.

Raw Butternut Squash Salad 017

 Serve immediately, or put in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

Mixed Pickle Relish

It’s time to start using up those little treats from the garden.  Remember the pickles I made last fall: green beans, carrots, cucumbers?  No, well here they are, and this is going to be one of the easiest side dishes ever.  Serve it like a salad with some rich like curry, or serve it like relish.  It’s even good on sandwiches.

Pickled Carrots, beans and Cucumbers

Pickled Carrots, beans and Cucumbers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1/2 cup pickled carrots (cubed)

1/2 cup pickled green beans (chopped)

1/2 cup pickled cucumbers (bread and butter variety)

1/2 cup pickled red onions (chopped)

Mixed Pickle Salad

Mixed Pickle Salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Combine in a pretty bowl.  That’s it.  Summer crunchy in the middle of winter.

Enjoy!

 

Fresh Bread and First Fruits

Well, summer did finally arrive and in the garden the squash vines have stopped shivering and the eggplants are growing almost as fast as the weeds.  It’s been a while since I posted mostly because we’ve been trying to focus on the garden.

August

This week we harvested some of the first vegetables: turnips, zucchini, some beans, and one fat little cucumber.  The collards and chard are ready for the first picking and there are a few blushing little tomatoes.  It’s the first gathering, lughnasa (or lammas if you prefer).

Photo by E. Broughton

Photo by E. Broughton

In honor of that tradition I’m baking a special ancient grain bread using spelt and quinoa.  I’ve been experimenting with spelt because it’s higher in protein than modern wheat and lower in gluten, for those of you who have a problem with gluten sensitivity.  It’s also very tasty with a warm nuttiness but not too dense.  I used my basic recipe as follows:

Easiest Bread in the World

In a large bowl start your yeast.

  • 1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
  • ½ cup applesauce (you could use strained prunes in a pinch or honey)
  • 1 tablespoon yeast (or just throw in the whole package – I hate leftovers)

Mix and let stand for 10 minutes.  Then add:

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2  cups spelt flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour

Stir together.  In the same bowl you mixed it in, knead well (8-10 minutes), add all purpose flour if needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Put the dough in a greased loaf pan, cover with a sheet of oiled plastic wrap and let rise to double in size.  Brush with milk or half and half, sprinkle quinoa over the top and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

 

Photo by E. Broughton

Photo by E. Broughton

No messy floured boards, no extra rising time, and I’ve never had it turn out less than perfect.  I know you’re going to hold me to that.

While the bread is baking, it’s time for first fruits.  The little zucchini is just perfectly creamy so I’m making a mixed salad with vinaigrette.

Zucchini, Apple and Green Pepper Salad

Photo by E. Broughton

Photo by E. Broughton

Chop about 4 small zucchini, add 1 chopped apples, a small green pepper, chopped, and a handful of diced red onion.  The secret with red onion is to drop the diced pieces into a bowl of ice water and let it soak for about 10 minutes before you add it to the salad.  The vinaigrette is very simple:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar or honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped basil (dried works too).
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine in a glass jar and shake well.  Pour over the salad, toss and refrigerate.

But, there more bounty to enjoy.  The turnips were great and came early even with the rain.  I planted a variety called White Lady and they are beautiful.

Creamed Turnips with Dill

Peel and cube the turnips and in a saucepan in just enough water to cover.  Simmer until the turnips are just fork tender (don’t overcook).   Drain.  Add enough vegetable stock to cover and add teaspoon chopped fresh dill and a tablespoon of butter.  Stir a tablespoon of flour into a cup of cold milk until smooth.  Add to the stock and turnips and simmer until well blended and creamy.   Yum.

Photo by E. Broughton

Photo by E. Broughton

 

 

More Adventures with Zucchini!

It’s the peak of zucchini season and I wanted to find some yummy new ways to use zucchini that don’t involve turning on the oven.  These long, hot days make salad an appealing way to not heat up the kitchen.  This deliciously crunchy zucchini salad is a new favorite of mine, easy to prepare and keeps in the fridge for snacks and lunches.  No zucchini should go to waste, so get chopping.

Zucchini Salad

 Ingredients

2 cups of sliced zucchini julienned or whatever style you like (unpeeled please)

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup thinly sliced red onion

½ teaspoon minced garlic

4 teaspoons rice wine vinegar (it will be enough)

Freshly ground black pepper

Salt (optional)

½ cup chopped parsley and/or cilantro (my personal favorite)

Directions

Add all of the ingredients in a serving bowl and put in the fridge to chill.   It doesn’t get much easier than this.  Makes about 3-4 servings, so if you have more hungry mouths to feed, just make the quantities larger.   For a 1 cup serving it’s about 55 calories and less than a gram of total fat.