Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Going Green...Eating Green

I have been separating paper and plastic from my disposables for years. Then a few seasons back I started culling my compostibles and schlepping it down to the farmer’s market two to three times a week. The gratification is that my actual throw-aways has been substantially reduced to where I tend to visit the garbage bin once, maybe twice a week. And earlier this season I needed to re-pot my one and only house plant, and I was excited to buy soil from the collection spot for my compost and nestle that palm into earth I may have had a hand in making. The warm scent of loamy earth is as appealing to me as the spicy release of an Oriental Lily.

Now, that the earth has re-awoken from its barren winter slumber I am once again relishing the perfume rising from my backyard. This year it has taken an even more intimate concern for me, as I am spending a considerable amount of time in the environs of Atlanta and the burgeoning pleasures right out the backdoor. I am now not just a fanatic, supporter of seasonal pleasure but a dirt-under-the-nails purveyor of my daily feed. I am being taught patience as I wait for Mother Nature to allow life to unfold and mature. I toss and turn during evening thunderstorms hoping the pellets of water don’t land to aggressively, yet grateful for the quenching relief it is giving. The asparagus in the lower garden is only in its second year and I must wait at least one more year even though I was desperate to snap a tender stalk or two. Fortunately, the lettuces, arugula and Tuscan kale have taken to being offered up rather quickly. I have joyously headed down to the garden, scissors in hand, planning dinner on my return to the house.

But still I am impatient. Biting at the bit for when all but the protein I will be using comes from the yard, or when in New York, the farmer’s market using the seasons as my shopping list. I will keep busy until then, and upon my return to my garden I am planning to build a three-sided compost container for the will be plenty of plants requiring soil next year.

Whole Wheat Panzella Salad – yields 6 servings
3 cups of cubed whole wheat bread
1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes – halved
1 pint red cherry tomatoes - halved
1 hot house cucumber - 3/4” diced
1 small red onion - sliced thinly
3 celery stalks - 3/4” diced
5 scallions - diced
2 bunch arugula - washed and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves – crushed to a pasted
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
2 tablespoons pine nuts - toasted

Spread the bread cubes on a baking tray and dry out in a 250-degree for 5 to 10 minutes. Do not allow the bread cubes to develop too much color.
Toss all ingredients together along with 1-1/2 cups Green Goddess Dressing (recipe follows) making sure to distribute the dressing thoroughly. Serve within a half hour. If you want you can assemble the components of the salad up to 24 hours in advance. Keep the bread and dressing separate until you are ready to serve.

Green Goddess Dressing – yields approx. 3 cups
1-pound silken tofu
2-tablespoons olive oil
1-teaspoon lime zest
1/4-cup fresh limejuice
2-tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
1-tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
1-tablespoon Italian parsley leaves – roughly chopped
1/4-cup chopped chives
1 clove garlic – roughly chopped
1/8-cup fresh chervil leaves
1-packed cup sorrel leaves – center rib removed
2-teaspoons salt
1/4-teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne
Place the tofu in a sieve sitting in a bowl, and let the tofu drain out its excessive water in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. Discard the water that the tofu has released.

Into the blender or food processor place all the ingredients, and blend until completely smooth.

Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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