If you love a bright green, garlicky and lemony pesto as much as I do, you don’t just sit around and wait for basil season. Pestos can be made of many different greens including kale, chard, collards, cilantro, parsley or a combination of any of the aforementioned. Young, tender collard leaves as found in the high tunnel last week during the deep freeze that covered the ground of East Tennessee outside were perfect for pesto.
Happy belated Chinese New Years which fell on February 19, 2015. The Year of the Goat. The goat represents introversion, creativity, shyness and being a perfectionist. These are all traits I highly identify with. In East Tennessee we have been bearing the full brunt of winter these past few weeks. Seeing as it was Chinese New Years and I was trapped in my house due to icy hills I made egg drop soup and these delicious dumplings.
After 6 years of farming I have concluded that farming is all about excesses and failures. Lucky for us, that these excesses lead to year round abundance. I started a lot of traditional varieties of sauce tomatoes like Amish Paste and San Marzano but it was a bit too early and they did not make it out of the greenhouse this season. This is totally fine with me because a few years ago I started canning this heirloom variety of tomato called Garden Peach that falls in between a large tomato and a cherry tomato in size. The thick skin peels off easily after being blanched and I’ve enjoyed them for 2 winters now in soups, chillies, stews and braises.
Farinata (also knows at Cecina in Italy and Socca in France) is an unleavened bread very simply made of chickpea flour and water. People have been eating Farinata WAY before everything that doesn’t contain wheat was dubbed holy and labeled “gluten-free”. And it is upon principle that I refuse to call this “gluten-free pizza” which it actually kinda is. Not eating wheat for every meal doesn’t have to have a label and a special diet and make you feel special. It’s the way a lot of people have been eating for many many centuries. It’s called moderation. I love a good wood-fired sourdough pizza crust bubbling away with little black bubbles all around the outside, but sometimes I like the deep dish feel and nutty flavor of farinata as a pizza crust.
The first few meals of the season to be had from the farm or forest make me positively giddy. This here is one of them. My friend Jon once made me this nettle and potato soup at his farm, Azolla Farm, just north of Sacramento and I have been making it ever since. Stinging nettles when cooked have a creamy consistency that is unrivaled by any other green in my opinion.