Since the farm is on cenral time and is about 45 minutes outside of Chattanooga, I was getting home pretty late eastern time. Most days I would get back at 7:30 hungry and ready for supper that wasn't ready for me. So I've been cooking real fast food meals. Now is the time of salads and greens. I could eat them every day (and do) but it is nice to have some amount of variety in the way they are prepared. A key with the salads is to prewash a whole lot of lettuce and make a big jar of dressing. Those are the most time consuming parts. And for some reason they are also some of my least favorite kitchen chores. Especially washing lettuce.
Now, I know I'll go on and on about local food, but anyone who was attending Vandnana Shiva talk should know that maybe all local isn't the only way to go. Sometimes you have to rely on your further-away neighbors to grow organic quinoa, lentils, or other grains and legumes. An organic label is important since we can't waltz onto these people's farms like we can in TN and check out their growing practices. Local grits are good and I eat my fair share of them but sometimes you need some brown rice too. I try to have some protein (usually non-meat), some cooked veggies, some raw veggies, and some kind of carb. Sometimes it's all mixed up in one big bowl. I like that because there are less dishes to wash.
Five Super Fast and Also Nutritious Meals for Workin' Folk
Quinoa and Lentils
for four people (or two with leftovers):
- 3/4 cup quinoa
- 3/4 cup lentils (I like 'em all and have a large variety on hand. I think I actually used mung beans for the photo)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- herbs, garlic scapes, carrots, kale or whatever you like, chopped
- Salt to taste- chili powder is also nice too
Combine everything and bring to a boil. Turn down and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, or til the beans are soft and the water is absorbed. Put together a big green salad with lots of raw veggies. Hakuri turnips are amazing, as are snap peas, carrots, and thinly kale, collards, or chard. Serve warm with relish, salsa, grated cheese, or just plain. I made some delicious eggplant-tomato relish last year that tastes super yummy on this.
Noodles with Beans and Greens
I fall back on this one often. The beans are a new addition since I happened to have leftover beans from the night before. They were actually frozen fresh beans from last summer so they took about 20 minutes to cook themselves. Beans take some thinking ahead to make. If you soak and cook a huge batch of them and then freeze them in portions you can always have some on hand. Just like canned beans but cheaper and yummier.
- 2 bundles soba noodles
- 1 bunch kale or collards
- 1 cup cooked beans
- 1/4 cup tamari
- splash of rice wine vinegar
- drizzle of sorghum
- a touch of hot water
- whatever else grabs your fancy
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and toss in the noodles. Cook til just tender- about 10 minutes. In the meantime, lightly steam the greens. Toss noodles with beans, greens and everything else. Serve with steamed asparagus if you can still find some. I topped mine with a little Sequatchie Coppinger. And don't forget the big green salad.
Cheese Grits and Lentils
for the lentils:
- 1 1/2 cup lentils (red, green, black, yellow...)
- a few carrots, diced
- 1 hakuri turnip, diced
- 1 bunch greens, chopped
- 3 cups water
- 1 t turmeric
- dash of asafoetida
- 1/2 t mustard seeds
- 1 T minced ginger
Saute the ginger and mustard seeds til fragrant in a pot with a touch of oil. Throw everything else in the pot and bring to a boil. Turn to a simmer and cook til lentils are soft- about 20 minutes. In the meantime be working on ....
- 1 cup heirloom stone-ground grits
- 1/2 cup Sequatchie Cove Creamery's cheese (they're both good)
- 4 cups water
- handful chopped herbs- cilantro is awesome if you can still find some that's not bolted
Bring water to a boil. Stir the grits in quickly, whisking all the while. Turn down to a simmer. Cook, stirring every now and then, for about 15-20 minutes or until thickly bubbling. Add the cheese and herbs and taste for salt. You may or may not need some, depending on your taste and how salty the cheese was. Don't burn your tongue! I always forget how hot grits get and burn my tongue almost every time I taste them for salt. And then I can't taste a durn thing.
Serve warm with the lentils (they can be either room temp, cool, or warm) and a big green salad.
Grits and Mushrooms with Greens and Things
Noticing a trend?
Turnip and mustard greens do better when they are cooked longer with a little bit of sorghum, vinegar, and some Link 41 bacon. So don't be scared of the William's Island farmers when they beg you to take their turnip greens. Buy them up and cook 'em like your granny used to- for as long as you can take it.
Cook the grits as above. Chicken or beef broth are delicious instead of water and you don't always have to use cheese. I like to cook sliced oyster or shiitake mushrooms in a skillet with a tiny amount of oil until they are shriveled and dry. They have an amazing flavor and a delicious and chewy texture.
Serve with a big green salad or bowls of fresh veggies.
Focaccia with Greens and Andouilli
This one does take a little preparing ahead but it can be the day before. Any kind of sausage will do so if the Link 41 doesn't have this one, just try another. I call this focaccia because it is less involved than pizza, but really it's a hybrid. There's no tomato sauce and no cheese. Just throw whatever you like on it, but sparingly. All greens are good but tend to dry out. I used arugula here which is, of course, delicious. If you use thicker greens wilt them a bit before adding them. The extra moisture will help.
for the dough:
- 2 cups all purpose or whole wheat bread flour
- 1 1/2 ish cups Sonrisa (if you still have some) whole wheat flour
- 1 1/3 cups lukewarm water
- 1 t yeast
- 2 t salt
If using active, but not instant, yeast let it sit in 1/3 cup warmish water about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the water and start adding the flours and salt. When the dough is too stiff to stir, but still soft, turn out onto a floured surface and knead as long as you can stand- 20 minutes is nice but hard work. You don't have to knead much if you don't want to- the longer you knead the chewier and more developed your crust will be but we aren't being master bakers here. Add flour as needed but don't overdo it. The dough should be a little moist but not tacky. The longer you knead the less flour you think you need- it's like a big complicated riddle that has a lot to do with gluten.
Put in a greased bowl, turn once to coat in oil, cover it, and stick it in the fridge til the next day.
The next day, take it out and roll it out to fit a baking sheet. Let it sit about 15 minutes while you chop and prepare the toppings allow the oven to preheat to 400 degrees. If you use sausage just throw it on raw. Focaccia is usually cooked with a certain amount of oil on top but you don't need it if you're adding the sausage. Dimple the dough with your fingertips, add your toppings, and cook for about 20-25 minutes. Serve with a big green salad.
Big Green Salad Dressing
Salad dressing is super easy and there is absolutely no reason anyone should ever buy it. If you want variety add a teeny bit of very finely minced garlic or more mustard and honey. Or use a different vinegar or substitute lemon juice for vinegar. My friend Candice adds mints to her green salads, which you should try even if you think you don't like mint. It is very refreshing. The formula for salad dressing is: 1 part acid (lemon or vinegar) to 3 parts oil (I always use olive but you don't have to I s'pose). I add a little bit of local honey for sweetness and a touch of mustard for taste and as an emulsifier. So....if you were to make a large batch of dressing the recipe would look something like this:
- 1/4 cup vinegar or lemon juice, or combination
- 3/4 cup oil
- 1 T prepared mustard of your choice
- a drizzle of honey (I don't like to measure honey as it is far too messy)
Shake it all up and drizzle very sparingly on the salad. A little goes a long way and we want to taste the wonderful freshness of our local greens and veggies! Store in the fridge. If the oil solidifies just let it sit at room temp while you prepare the rest of supper.