Tag Archives: vegetables

For Your Picnic: Tuscan Feta Salad Sandwich


Tuscan Feta Salad Sandwich

Tuscan Feta Salad Sandwich

If you’re going to the beach, on a hike, for a bike ride, or on a road trip, the Tuscan Feta Salad Sandwich is a good companion for a picnic lunch. And now is the perfect time to buy its ingredients in season at the Holland Farmers’ Market.

You can buy everything there (except for olives). Seriously. Even the feta cheese and the bread. And if you need oil and vinegar to make the vinaigrette, just run up the street to Fustini’s.

What I love about this recipe is that it begs for improvisation. Don’t like tomatoes? Try fresh Bell peppers instead. Not a fan of olives? Leave them off and add some capers. Substitute chevre for feta cheese. Numerous combinations are possible!

I was headed to Pereddies’ restaurant and deli in Washington Square to buy kalamata olives for the sandwich, so I decided to try their olive oil bread instead of a big round loaf of sourdough like the recipe suggests. It’s the perfect vehicle for this sandwich!

Below is the original recipe from Southern Living, along with a slideshow of the ingredients and process. It serves 4-6 people.

Tuscan Feta Salad Sandwich

Ingredients

2/3 cup vinaigrette

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 (8-inch) round sourdough bread loaf (about 16 ounces)

2 cups shredded romaine lettuce

1 large tomato, sliced

1 (4-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese

1 medium cucumber, sliced

1/2 medium-size purple onion, sliced

1/4 cup sliced ripe olives

Whisk first 4 ingredients. Cut bread in half horizontally. Scoop out inside of bread halves, leaving 2-inch shells; brush inside with 3 tablespoons vinaigrette mixture. Layer lettuce and tomato in bottom half of bread, brushing tomato with remaining vinaigrette mixture. Layer cheese and next 3 ingredients over tomato. Cover with plastic wrap; chill 2 hours. (Place a large plate on top of sandwich, weighting it down with cans, if necessary, to compress sandwich.) Cut into wedges.

Wrap it up and go!

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Asparagus Leek Soup


It began with asparagus season this year. I had learned that you can, in fact, freeze asparagus without blanching it, if you’re going to use it in something for which texture doesn’t matter. Like soup! So I spent most of June freezing bags of asparagus and decided, after eating many meals of fresh asparagus, I’d better try out a soup recipe to make sure I like it. I’ll be making plenty of asparagus soup later in the fall and winter with what I’ve got stored in the freezer.

My recipe was inspired by Jim LaPerriere’s Asparagus and Spring Garlic Vichyssoise. Jim is a local chef who participates in the Chef Series each summer at the Holland Farmers Market. I picked up this recipe from him three years ago.

Since I had missed the window for spring garlic, I decided to substitute sweet candy onion. I also used olive oil instead of butter and homemade chicken stock instead of water. (But this would make a nice vegetarian soup if water were used for the base.) Plus, I skipped the potato. And, I opted for raw milk (with fat skimmed off) rather than heavy cream.

Here’s the recipe:

Asparagus Leek Soup

2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 small leeks, chopped
1 lb. asparagus, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
4 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup lowfat milk

Rinse the asparagus and snap off the bottoms. (Jim’s recipe, as well as several others I found online, suggest saving the tips and blanching them to use as garnish when serving. Me, I’m too lazy to add another step!)

In a large saucepan, saute the onion and leeks in olive oil until tender, about six minutes.

Add the chopped asparagus and saute for one minute.

Pour the chicken stock into the saucepan and bring to a boil.

Cover pan with a lid, reduce heat, and simmer soup for about ten minutes.

Puree in batches. Season with salt and pepper, then add milk.

It’s best to make this soup a day ahead for the flavors to blend. My chicken stock was made from a Spatchcock Chicken so it was full of fresh herb flavor. You may want to consider adding a little parsley or thyme to this soup as it simmers on the stove.

I think this is a delicious summer soup because it’s so light that it doesn’t make you warm and sleepy. Although it’s not an authentic vichyssoise recipe, you could try serving this soup cold. The leeks and asparagus nicely complement each other.

Asparagus Frittata


Asparagus Frittata Recipe

Memorial Day is the traditional segue to summer. And in the Great Lakes, it’s the start of weekend gatherings–at home, at the cottage, and at the campsite. What’s a quick and easy way to enjoy breakfast together? A simple frittata with seasonal vegetables. And right now, it’s asparagus season.

Most people in Michigan can’t wait for the first asparagus to show up at farmers markets and roadside stands. I’m one of them. As soon as the Holland Farmers Market opened in May, I was there with my basket, loading up on this spring vegetable that can be prepared so many ways. Putting it in a frittata is one of my favorites. In addition to the asparagus, I buy the rest of the ingredients from our local farmers at the Holland Farmers Market: pastured eggs from Grassfields, red onions from Visser Farms, and goat cheese from Country Winds Creamery. (Another reason why I love this recipe? You can cook it over a campfire, too!)

Asparagus Frittata

Serves 4.

3 T. olive oil

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces

8 eggs, beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup Pecorino cheese,  or dollops of goat cheese

Optional: chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, tarragon, or parsley

Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil and vegetables into a large oven-proof skillet. Saute onions with asparagus on medium heat until nearly tender, about three minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove vegetables from pan. (Note: You can also leave the veggies in and pour the eggs right over them but I remove them and do the next steps first so the frittata doesn’t stick to the pan.)

Add salt and pepper to eggs, then stir. (If using herbs, add them now.) Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in skillet on medium-high heat until bubbly. When oil is very hot, pour egg mixture into pan. As edges cook, lift up with a spatula and tilt pan so uncooked egg mixture runs underneath. Continue until eggs are no longer runny. (It will still be slightly soft.)

Preheat broiler on high. Spoon vegetables evenly over egg. Sprinkle cheese or place dollops over entire pan. Put pan in oven under broiler flame and immediately reduce to low. Broil about 3 minutes, checking occasionally. Frittata is done when the edges are brown and the cheese is bubbly (or soft for goat cheese).

Remove from oven and let set about a minute. Cut into eight slices and serve.

Asparagus Frittata Recipe

Cooking over a campfire? Just place foil on over the pan to cook the top of the frittata.

The Perennial Plate: Episode 81


I skipped a couple of The Perennial Plate episodes (number 79 and 80) in my plan to cover their Real Food Road Trip from Season Two since Daniel Klein and Mirra were on a bit of a hiatus. So here’s Episode 81, which covers two of my favorite topics: growing food and New York City. And, one of my favorite places on the East Coast: Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture.

It’s a Farming State of Mind.

Fighting Food Deserts in Birmingham


Photo via GOOD.com

Photo via GOOD.com

I love win-win stories. Check out this one from GOOD that tells how small farmers in Birmingham, Alabama, benefit from a base of consumers, and a neighborhood gets good food and local jobs. What a way to build community.

The Southwest Fresh Market in Birmingham, Alabama, is a volunteer led program initiated by REV Birmingham. A nonprofit organization working with local government, business, and community partners, its focus is to find solutions to a common challenge: connecting urban, often low-income residents with small farmers looking to boost sales.

More than 40 percent of Birmingham residents live in areas defined as food deserts, since grocery stores have shut their doors and big box retailers moved to the outskirts of the city. Food deserts are a problem because they limit residents’ opportunities for finding healthy food.

Read more about the initiative on GOOD.com.

Winter Tomato Soup by Martha Rose Shulman


Photo via The New York Times

Photo via The New York Times

One of my favorite writers for The New York Times is Martha Rose Shulman, who always seems to come up with something yummy in her column Recipes for Health. Check out this week’s recipe called Winter Tomato Soup with Bulgur, a simple, Mediterranean vegetarian soup that’s quick to make. Martha tells us that you can make this a day ahead and reheat.

And I suggest—if you have a wheat allergy—try substituting quinoa for bulgur. I would add it at the same point in which the bulgur would go in, and then cook the soup for about 12 minutes, which is about how long it takes to cook quinoa.

If you try it with the quinoa, let me know how it turns out!

Winter Tomato Soup with Bulgur

Serves 4 to 6

1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes in juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional if desired for drizzling

2 medium onions, preferably red onions, finely chopped

Salt to taste

2 to 4 garlic cloves, to taste, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup coarse (#3) bulgur

5 cups water (more to taste)

Freshly ground pepper to taste

2 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

2 ounces feta, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)

Pulse the tomatoes to a coarse puree in a food processor. Heat the olive oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat and add the onion and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is very soft but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down slightly, about 10 minutes. Add the bulgur, water, and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 30 to 45 minutes, until the bulgur is soft and the soup thick and fragrant. Add pepper to taste and adjust salt.

Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with mint and feta. Drizzle on a little olive oil if desired. Serve hot.

Chez Marcita Presents: A Classic Rock Trip to the CSA


Join Bill and me as we drive across town to pick up produce from our winter CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), Lakeshore Family Farm. In this short video, we’ll explain how a CSA works and show you what we got in our half share one week in February. Special thanks to Grand Rapids radio station WLAV for providing a rockin’ soundtrack for a Wednesday afternoon road trip.

Please share this post with your friends, especially those who might want to learn more about a CSA program.