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Posts tagged ‘kale’

Green Bean and Apricot Salad with Mint

Fruits + veggies = awesome salad. I think Pythagoras came up with that.

Green Bean and Apricot Salad with Mint

I’ve loved green beans (sometimes called string beans) since I was a little kid, especially raw green beans. Some of my happiest memories involve munching on raw green beans while Mom wheeled me around the Stop and Shop in the grocery cart. Canned, salty green beans have their place, but nothing tops the crisp, sweet freshness of a raw green bean. My grandma, however, used to flip out when I ate raw green beans, because apparently someone started a rumor that raw green beans were terrible for you. My aunt informed me that the rumor when she was growing up was that raw green beans gave you worms, and a quick Google search led me to other rumors such as toxicity. Well, I’ve eaten tons of raw green beans in my lifetime and lived to tell the tale; so unless I’m some kind of mutant, I’m thinking this is just a rumor (maybe one started by the Jolly Green Giant company).

Because raw green beans are sweet, I figured they would go great in a salad with fruit, mint, and a sweet dressing. In further pondering, I decided to pair them with raw apricots. Raw apricots, unlike their dried counterparts, have a bit of a sweet/tart flavor, which complements sweet green beans very well.

To start, I chopped up some green beans into small matchstick pieces, as shown below. I also removed the tops and bottoms, which are generally  pointy, stringy, and/or stem-y (stem-y is an adjective now) – characteristics I don’t necessarily want in a salad.

I then sliced up two apricots. I used one standard orange apricot, and one red velvet apricot (sometimes called black apricots). The latter is a deep red and tastes kind of like a plum. If you see them at the store, give them a try! I sliced both into large coins and added them to the green beans, along with a carrot, slivered almonds, and spearmint. I happened to have spearmint lying around so that’s what I used; but I’m sure any mint will do. I then whisked together some olive oil and agave nectar to create a light dressing, poured it over the vegetables, and tossed. While allowing this mixture to sit, I tore up some kale and placed it on my plate. I then added the properly-dressed veggies and fruits, seasoned with pink peppercorns, and voila! A refreshing summer salad that’s made with several seasonal ingredients. Enjoy!

Green Bean and Apricot Salad with Mint (Serves 1)

1 cup chopped raw green beans

2 apricots, thinly sliced into coins

1 carrot, cut into coins

2 TB slivered almonds

1-2 TB minced fresh spearmint

1 TB olive oil

1 tsp agave nectar

2 cups torn kale

Pink pepper, to taste

Combine the green beans, apricots, carrot, almonds, and mint in a small bowl. Whisk together the oil and agave until well-blended, then drizzle over the fruits and vegetables, tossing to coat. Allow to sit for a few minutes. Place the torn kale on a plate, then top with the green bean/apricot mixture. Top with fresh pink pepper and extra mint leaves, if desired.

Welcome Back, Farmer’s Market!

Spring is almost over, and summer’s just around the corner. And in these parts, that means that the Farmer’s Market is back! *throws confetti*

Well, truth be told, the farmer’s market that I frequent is technically open year-round; but they spend the winter selling breads, cakes, tea, and pickles. While yummy, this doesn’t exactly constitute a well-balanced diet. So once the ground thaws and the plants start growing, I’m back at the Farmer’s Market faster than you can say “sweet potato.”

While sweet potatoes were not to be found at the market this week, I did find an amazing bounty. Anyone concerned that Farmer’s Markets won’t have everything you need produce-wise, look around. Today alone I purchased cauliflower, asparagus, broccoli, spring onions, zucchini, yellow zucchini, kale, and miniature cucumbers. The market also had carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, potatoes, yellow onions, basil … you get my drift. It’s well-stocked.

Not only are these markets well-stocked, but the produce is fresh and looks amazing! For instance, I found a head of cauliflower that was bigger than my own noggin. Check it out:

Attack of the 50 Ft Cauliflower!

Speaking of colossal, check out these spring onions. I’m just gonna laugh at the ones they keep in the store now, shipped in all the way from California. Hey CA, keep your minis – VA’s got the big guns!

What I’m most intrigued by, though, are the yellow zucchini. I’ve never had this variety of zucchini before, and while I have an iffy relationship with summer squashes (they sometimes make me nauseous), I couldn’t resist their pretty yellow color and the following description: “buttery taste.” I’m looking forward to trying some new recipes with these guys, and of course sharing my results!

Don't confuse yellow zucchini with yellow squash!

In short, my first 2011 foray to the Farmer’s Market was a success, and I look forward to getting local produce again through Autumn. To fresh and local eating!

Adventures in Urban Gardening: The Tote Bag Garden

As I’ve discussed before, having a garden is a small dream of mine. I’d love to have a small backyard with a modest plot to grow greens, tomatoes, winter squashes, and the like for my culinary use. But living in an apartment (that doesn’t have a shared gardening space) can make this difficult. So far I’ve managed to keep Marvin the living basil plant alive for about three weeks. He’s grown taller and is still growing leaves, which makes him the most successful produce I’ve ever maintained on my own. Which makes me wonder, what else can I grow inside an apartment?

Enter the tote bag garden!

I got the idea specifically from this month’s Birds and Blooms, which suggested creating a portable garden by planting seeds within reusable tote bags. The light bulb sparked and refused to go off. Tote bags are cheap, big, and don’t take up a lot of space – why couldn’t I grow produce? And furthermore, why hadn’t I thought of this before?

So after deliberating about it for awhile (all of a week), I bought some seeds, reusable totes (made from recycled plastic), potting soil, a big plastic tub to hold the bags, and a watering can. In sum I paid about $43 for everything, including the watering can and the plastic tub; so your own costs may be less if you already have these materials available. The dirt only came to about halfway up the bag, so I cut off the tops for easy watering and maintenance. In lieu of proper garden markers from labels or popsicle sticks, I labeled my produce with some plastic forks I had lying around. Recycling!

I then planted my seeds: two different greens, kale and arugula, in one bag; brandywine tomatoes in another, and yellow pear tomatoes in the third. They’re hanging out in front of my window now in the living room, in the apartment below Marvin, if you will.

I am hoping this turns out at least moderately successful because it’d be a great and convenient way to grow produce that I tend to go through quickly and thus spend a lot of money on. I will of course be tracking my plants’ progress on the blog, so stay tuned! And hopefully I’ll have some recipes featuring homegrown tomatoes and greens later this summer!