Tuesday, May 18, 2010
A quick look at my herb patch under the apple tree reveals that it must be high time for some summer herbs--they've doubled in size in the last couple weeks. In the Bay Area, fresh culinary herbs are available year round, but many reach their peak now through summer. And what nutritional powerhouses they are! Culinary herbs and spices are where food and medicine really come together.
Take parsley for an example. The plant is member of the umbelliferea family, along with the culinary aromatic superstars carrots, celery and fennel and its close cousin, cilantro. Parlsey is a very good source of vitamin C, folic acid, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium and zinc, not to mention chlorophyll carotenes and various cancer-fighting phytochemicals. It's so easy to put parsley into almost any dish, adding fresh flavor, color and nutritional punch. Some of the plant's compounds, such as the polyacetlyenes, (also present in oregano and marjoram) appear to be able to neutralize the cancer-causing benzopyrenes present in cigarette smoke, charcoal grill smoke and fried foods. So marinating your lamb chops with olive oil, cumin, lemon zest and juice, and chopped parsley can neutralize any ill effects from grilling it at your next camp/cookout. Or just serve the chops with a big dollop of parsley pesto.
I've been making pesto with everything lately. What a fun way to eat more leafy herbs and/or greens. The strong tasting herbs, like sage, cilantro, marjoram, etc, do better when mixed half and half with something milder, like parsley or spinach. I usually skip the cheese and use different nuts along with the herbs or greens, and maybe some olives or capers for some bite. Green garlic is in the markets now and adds green power as well as that essential flavor. Finish with sea salt, of course, and extra-virgin olive oil plus somtimes a splash of flax or walnut oil for extra omega 3's. I eat it on soup, meat, as a dip for veggies, as a side with scrambled eggs, on top of beans...you name it. For those of you who like recipes:
1/2 bunch Lacinato (Dinosaur) kale
1/2 cup walnuts or pumpkin seeds, preferably soaked overnight
1 cup parsley (stems OK)
2 stalks green garlic (white and pale green parts only)
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste
Strip the center ribs and stems from the kale (I like to juice these later). Bring a large pot with an inch of water in the bottom to a boil, add the kale and cover. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until tender. Drain (drink the water with a touch of lemon for the cook's extra vitamins). Drain the walnuts and add these to a food processor. Grind fine. Add the kale, parsley and olives and pulse until ground. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil until a paste forms. Taste for salt and season. Add lemon if desired for taste or texture. Serve with anything except pasta (too trite).
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
I'm going to be teaching a class on basic vegetable fermentation through the wonderful Biofuel Oasis on June 20th. This link will give you all the details: http://www.biofueloasis.com/?page_id=7#urban_farm_class. Everyone will go home with a jar of kraut, curtido or kimchi and be inspired to do it yourself the next time! In the morning, Novella Carpenter, local personality and author of Farm City, will be teaching Urban Goats 101, assisted by one of her very own goats. Visit her blog at: http://ghosttownfarm.wordpress.com/.