Monday, March 30, 2009

Seeds to Plant

It has been over 50 years since we used any part of the eighteen acres that encompasses the White House’s footprint for the foods served at our national table. Now, after too many generations reared on manipulated, processed, and artificially seasoned foods we have a first family actually interested in fresh, seasonal and vibrant culinary offerings. Michelle Obama’s groundbreaking last week on an edible garden that is meant to supply the first family with tender greens in spring; saccharine sugar snap peas come summer, and hard-skinned squashes through the first frosts is a wonderful reminder to all of us of the opportunity and vitality of the seasonal plate. I do not live on 18 acres in the middle of a girded jungle and hence have little ability to shovel some earth and sow my own seeds.

It would be satisfactory, for me, if I had but a small parcel of worm rich earth to encourage some of my epicurean fancies to take root. Fortunately, on the outskirts of my fair metropolis there are denizens of the land who come to market, and share the largess of their loamy toil. It is not that I am complaining rather it is gardener’s envy poking out and I am grateful for the farmers I know who share my interest in the new, the re-discovered all for the chance of a play-date. So, while the White House staff is tending our national vegetable garden I will still be frequenting my local growers making sure regardless of the administration they know the importance of their work.

Wilted Escarole scented with Garlic - yields 4 servings
1/4 cup sliced,Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
pinch of red chili flakes
1 pound Escarole
3 garlic cloves - sliced paper thin
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Trim the root base from the escarole and wash well. Drain in a colander to allow some of the water to drip off.

Heat a 10-inch sauté pan, and add the oil. Sauté the olives, almonds and chili flakes for a few minutes. Then add in the escarole adding a quarter of the escarole at a time. Half way through the addition of the escarole, toss in the garlic and continue to add the remaining escarole. Cook the escarole just until it’s wilted. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

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