Thursday, May 1, 2014

Fields of Greens

For years I have purchased bunches of lamb's quarters otherwise known as, wild spinach or pigweed, in the farmer’s market, $4.50 a bunch. I loved its more intense spinach flavor, and its tannic feel on the tongue when eaten raw. When I was a denizen of a more cemented over environment almost very plant was a wonder – I understood more innately feed a calf, it will grow up to be a steak. But the nurturing of a seed to dinner was further away for me as a concept, even though I loved to read gardening books and articles.

Now, having been able to augment my jaunts to farmer’s markets with culling from my own efforts I have a greater appreciation how a 5-degree dip in the temperature can change the course of your growing season. Though I have to say, that wild spinach is hearty. It took me awhile to risk eating this perceived garden weed. At first, I was in disbelief that I was truly recognizing it for what is and that was truly wild. I took a sample to the farmer’s market on a Saturday last year, and asked the vendor at the wild edibles table if I was really correct – and I was. I enjoyed harvesting leaves all summer long and as some of the plants started to go to seed I decided to expand my patch. I sprinkled them in a few bald patches, and spring has shown their heartiness. They have erupted in almost reckless abandon, and the late frost did nothing to those nascent seedlings. A few weeks hence, and I am eating wild spinach again. Though is year I might not play Johnny Appleseed with them for it does not look like they needed my help.

Meatballs in Peanut Sauce - yields 4 servings
1-pound ground pork
1-tablespoon ground coriander
1-teaspoon ground cumin
1-teaspoon ground anise seed
2-teaspoons ground turmeric
½-teaspoon ground black pepper
¼-teaspoon salt
2-tablespoons chopped loveage leaves
6 minced curry leaves
2-garlic cloves – minced
3-celery stalk – chopped
2-carrots – chopped
1-large onion – chopped
1-½ tablespoons tomato paste

¾-cup beef stock
2-cup wild spinach
2-tablespoons smooth peanut butter

In a work bowl mix together the ground pork, coriander, cumin, anise seed, turmeric, black pepper, salt, loveage, curry leaves and garlic to thoroughly combine. Refrigerate the mix for a few hours to 24.

Form the ground meat into 12 golf ball sized meatballs.

Heat a cast iron skillet over a high heat until very hot. Brown the meatballs, turning them in order to brown all around. Remove the meatballs and hold. Add the celery, carrots and onions cooking until they start to loose their raw look. Add in the tomato paste and cook for a few minutes longer. Add the meatballs back into the skillet along with the stock. Reduce the heat to low, and cover. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes, if it starts to look dry add some water or additional stock.

Swirl in the peanut butter and wild spinach. Season the dish with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes longer. Serve.

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