I love rosemary because it is so ubiquitous. In San Francisco it grows, honestly, like a weed. It is a perennial, so you only need to plant it once and year after year it just keeps getting bigger and woodier, constantly producing fresh growth for cooking and reliably flowering with miniature blooms, some pink, some white, some a vibrant blue. It lives in my garden right between the lavender and the sage, and like the lavender, it needs no care at all - no water in our dry summers, no fertilizer in our sandy soil, no protection from our tenacious slugs.
Today my three year old son and I visited Sunset Super - arguably our city's best known asian market. We went in search of lemongrass, which Rainbow did not have last week, and curry leaves, which no place I've ever shopped routinely has had any week. I didn't find the leaves at Sunset Super, either, which is about what I expected because they are really more an indian item. I'm not sure where the best indian market is in San Francisco - maybe the Mission?
Get your chard on!
Today was a second great day for my garden - I've eaten two salads from it. For lunch, I had some mixed lettuces with a hard boiled egg and vinaigrette along with an open faced mozzarella and avocado sandwich. The kids ate peanut butter and honey roll-ups, on wheat tortillas. They sampled the salad while harvesting but weren't interested once it entered the house.
Now, for dinner, we're having my favorite arugula salad of all, along with the very last butternut squash in our kitchen. (Well, actually there is one more, but its humungous and moldy at the top and must be composted.) Its officially spring, so I think that means we'll be done with the squash. (Except for an acorn squash still hanging around on the counter). Hurray! I'm always looking for new winter squash recipes, if you happen to have a good one.
The Stewy Roasted Root Veggies is adapted from Canal House Cooking volume 3, which is my goto cookbook for this week. I'm celebrating its arrival, but promise to move on to other sources in a few days. Usually I'm not fond of cooking with wine, but thought I'd give it a try in order to rid the kitchen of any remaining winter veg. In fact, I paired it up with the arugula to bring in a little spring- but really the two do well together.
Speaking of the arugula, I planted it from seed on February 5, in one of our raised beds underneath the big cold frame I bought this year, in advisement from Nigel Slater. What a great idea - I just grew salad in six weeks. In February. With no irrigation. And there's still more - today I just thinned the plants a little bit.
Today the kids and I planted two beds of carrots - in with some onions (to keep pests away), one in the sun and one in shade that will be sunny by the time summer rolls around. I'm told that you should start carrots in cold soil and finish them in heat, so I'll see how that goes. We also started weeding and sweeping the patio - its all very exciting. And I'm trying to figure out how to trellis the kiwis - they've started leafing out, so I guess I'd better get on that one.
Stewy Roasted Root Vegetables (adapted from Canal House Cooking volume 3):
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 large shallots, peeled
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into pieces
4 carrots, peeled and cut into pieces
4 parsnips, peeled and cut into pieces
2 cups white wine
3 bay leaves
Preheat the oven to 350°. Heat half the olive oil with the onions, garlic and shallots in a large ovenproof pot over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until soft and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Scrub and cut up the other vegetables while the onions cook. For the squash - I recommend using half of a large one if you can't find a really small one. To make prepping the butternut easy, cut it in half where the neck starts to round out into the bottom, so that you have one round piece and one long thin one. slice off the top with the stem horizontally, and the bottom too. Then peel each half with a vegetable peeler.
Arrange the carrots, parsnips and squash in the pot with the onions, garlic and shallots, and stir them up. Season with salt and pepper, then pour in the wine and add the bay leaves. Add the rest of the olive oil and roast, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, around an hour or so.
While the veggies are cooking you should make the lentils.
1 cup french lentils
Put one cup french lentils into a medium pot, cover by about an inch with water. Bring the lentils to a boil, then cover partially and turn the heat down to simmer. Check the lentils in about twenty minutes. Add more water if the pot is getting dry. The lentils will be done when they are soft, but not falling apart. When they seem just about done, add a teaspoon of salt and let them simmer for five more minutes. Finish by mixing in a splash of balsamic vinegar and salt to taste.
1 bunch arugula
2 Tablespoons olive oil (or so)
3 Tablespoons pine nuts
a bit of parmesan cheese, shaved
salt and pepper
Wash the arugula and cut off all the long stems with no leaves. Spin it dry and put it in a salad bowl. In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts on medium heat. They will burn very quickly, so you should devote all your attention to the skillet while they toast. When they are brown and smell good, remove them from the heat and into a bowl. Right before you serve the salad, squeeze the lemon and toss it with the greens. pour the olive oil into the bowl, salt and pepper and toss. Sprinkle the pine nuts and cheese over the top of the salad.