Whole30 Week 3: Vegan and Not-So Vegan

Asparagus & Fennel Soup by Amy Roth Photo

This week’s post is dedicated to Kenji Lopez-Alt, that test kitchen god (and managing culinary director at Serious Eats) whose recipes formed the backbone of the best meals I made this week. Only minor tweaks were necessary to make them Whole30-compliant; though I’m really starting to hate the word compliant, the adjustments seem to be coming to me naturally now. I’m still constantly hungry despite eating all the time and adding even more fat to my diet, but the cheese cravings aren’t constant, so I’m headed in the right direction. No tiger blood, either, but I always thought that was a long shot, anyway.

Lunch today was a fan-freaking-tastic soup of asparagus and fennel, found on Lopez-Alt’s Instagram feed. I took the basics and tweaked them a bit with what I had in the house and fell head over heels. I sautéed 1/2 large chopped onion with a small thinly sliced bulb of fennel and a finely chopped stalk of celery in olive oil until they were soft, then added one bunch of chopped asparagus (minus the tips, which I steamed) and half of a sliced russet potato and cooked them together for a few minutes. One quart of chicken stock, salt to taste and some simmering later, I blitzed the soup in my Vitamix and lunch was served. I love simple, seasonal recipes, don’t you? I may try to accentuate the fennel flavor next time with a splash of Herbsaint, but honestly found the soup to be perfectly balanced this way. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Cast Iron Steak & Vegan Creamed Spinach by Amy Roth Photo

A more substantial meal came in the form of a stovetop-cooked ribeye and vegan creamed spinach, which may sound like an odd combination, but hear me out. When you’re eating so much meat in one sitting (though not that much — Gil and I split the steak), there’s no need to go overboard with real creamed spinach. It’s just too much. And honestly, I found the flavors of this vegan dish much more pleasing and less muted than I do with the standard recipe. Blended cauliflower and almond milk form the base of the “cream” and are just brilliant at that job. I did add a little nutritional yeast for a cheesy tang, but otherwise cooked it according to the recipe.

The steak followed the Serious Eats recipe I use exclusively during winter, when the thought of standing at my grill would be enough to keep me from eating steak at all if not for this method of indoor cooking. I did use ghee instead of butter and could definitely taste a difference, but the steak was excellent anyway, so no complaints there.

I did have a couple of small cheats this week. When I couldn’t stand the thought of preparing one more meal, Gil whisked me away to a BBQ joint where I had smoked beef with a side of mashed potatoes that might have (probably) had milk and/or butter in them. I felt fine after, so no worries for me! Then, at a meeting I attended Tuesday, I had one Terra Chip which was The Best Thing I’ve Ever Tasted In My Life. I can’t even lie. Fried potatoes (though this was taro, I believe) are absolutely my trigger food and that chip was like a drug that left me wanting more. I don’t know where I got this self-control, but am very happy for it, because otherwise I’d be sitting on my living room floor covered in grease and crumbs.

Then again, Benny would probably take care of the crumbs situation. I haven’t really shared about it here, but we lost both Ru and Otis over the last two years, which was just heartbreaking. Ru left us only in December of last year, so we waited as long as we could, but finally adopted another greyhound just three weeks ago! He’s the sweetest little guy with a funny bark and a much bigger brain than Ru and Otis put together — it’s a little scary to watch him figuring things out. He’s still a little camera-shy, so no decent photos yet, but if you’d like to follow him on Instagram, he’s precocious and has his own account. And while you’re there, follow me, too! I try to post everyday, so there’s always something delicious to see.

I’m planning to end Whole30 a few days early next Thursday, when I’m going out to lunch with friends. We’re planning for dim sum and I don’t want to miss out on everything but steamed vegetables. But I’ll behave. Mostly. See you next week!

Lo Mein Noodles

Remember that love fest of a get together I mentioned in my last post? Well, Darcie has started blogging her recipes in anticipation of Chinese New Year, so I’d like to share her first post with you today. This one features stir fried noodles and vegetables, perfect for the new year, since long noodles symbolize life and prosperity.

Read all about it at Gourmet Creative.  And don’t forget to check out Robin and Sue, the wonderful food photographer and stylist duo who were such fun to play with for this shoot! Girl power!

Be sure to follow everyone on Instagram for daily food inspiration: @darcie_hunter, @robinmc, @smrags and @amyrothphoto.

Lo Mein | Amy Roth Photo

Mushroom Miso Soup

What a momentous weekend! I’m so inspired after seeing my sisters from around the globe march in unity, demonstrating that women’s rights are human rights. It’s the beginning and much work still needs to be done by all of us, but I’m ready to hit the ground running.

I spent Friday with three amazing women, having a food photo shoot/play date. Darcie, my collaborator last month on the 2016 Advent Calendar, headed up the project with delicious Chinese recipes inspired by her years in Shanghai. We’ll be sharing those in a future post, so check back with us for the Chinese New Year. Joining us were Robin & Sue, a talented food photographer/stylist team who live close enough that we can do this sort of thing with a nice frequency. I’ve worked in places where you always had to watch your back and it was just exhausting (and frankly, no way to live), so what a relief it is to have made a career where we can hang out and talk shop, build each other up, and collaborate rather than compete.

Instead of putting away all of my props and backgrounds after the shoot like a normal, tidier, person would, I kept them out to play a bit more over the weekend. It started with a couple of setups that didn’t quiiiite work out, but then I chose to photograph David Tanis’s Mushroom Miso Soup from the NY Times Cooking newsletter on Sunday, mainly because it sounded light and delicious and I wanted it for lunch.

It did not disappoint. I added shredded savoy cabbage and mustard greens to the pot to boost the nutrients and add a little bulk, and it made for a very satisfying meal. The broth was flavorful, but very subtle after three days of eating foods with a pungent punch. Next time, I’ll mellow out my diet a bit before indulging.

Grain-Free Tabbouleh Salad

Things have been moving a little slow at the junction this weekend, though not from any laziness on my part. See, my ass is broken. Not broke — though the money situation could always be better — but brokEN. I had the bright idea of taking a 5 1/2-mile hike with Gil and the boys last Friday morning to take advantage of the wonderful hiking trails and lakes we have around here. And it was a perfect day, honestly; a cool breeze was blowing, the sky was clear and blue and we only passed a few people and their dogs in the two hours we were out. Otis was a very good boy throughout, barely paying attention to the first three dogs we passed, but then (dunh, dunh, DUNNNNHHH!) along came number four. We’d just passed him without incident and I was praising Otis for being such a gooood boooy, when the other dog barked and Otis just lost it, as he tends to do when that happens. Being a big, slinky greyhound, he managed to trip me and I came down hard on my back and bruised my tailbone in the process. Ouch. So now I have a preview of what it’ll be like in 40 years when I’m puttering around the house and groaning whenever I bend over or get up from a seated position. Oh, the indignity!

He’s SO lucky he’s cute.

Otis B. Driftwood | Amy Roth Photo

Ru was fine, being a pretty chill dog until someone approaches our house or thunder/fireworks disturb him.

Rufus T. Firefly | Amy Roth Photo

But back to food. I’m sure you can imagine that I haven’t really felt like cooking much all weekend. But I do have this new weekly posting schedule and a variation of tabbouleh salad has been worming its way into my mind lately, so I decided to suck it up and do some chopping!

Gluten-Free Tabbouleh | Minimally Invasive

We’ve gotten tabbouleh so wrong for so long here in the U.S. that it may seem odd when you proportion things correctly. It’s supposed to be a parsley salad with a little bit of bulgur wheat instead of the other way around. And even though the bulgur wheat is barely there, it’s still wheat, so I started brainstorming gluten-free substitutions. Quinoa was the first thing to come to mind, but I knew it wouldn’t have the right texture, so I let my mind roam and came up with the idea of using chopped, roasted chickpeas. They’re one of my favorite snacks — crunchy yet chewy, and I figured they’d hold up pretty well, even sitting overnight in leftovers.

While I won’t know how the leftovers held up until tomorrow, I have to tell you that it was so good for dinner tonight, I’m surprised there was anything to pack into the refrigerator.

Gluten-Free Tabbouleh Salad

Dietary Diabetic, Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Main Dish, Salad
Misc Serve Cold
Roasted chickpeas make a delicious substitute for bulgur wheat in this gluten-free version of tabbouleh salad.

Ingredients

Roasted Chickpeas

  • 1 can chickpeas (drained, rinsed and patted dry with dish towel)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoon sumac
  • 1-2 teaspoon aleppo pepper
  • 2 pinches kosher salt

Tabbouleh

  • 1/4 cup roasted chickpeas (finely chopped)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes (quartered lengthwise and chopped into small dice)
  • 1 Medium cucumber (peeled, seeded and chopped into small dice)
  • 5 green onions or scallions (trimmed and very thinly sliced)
  • 3 bunches flat leaf parsley (large stems removed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (toasted, then ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (finely ground)
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt (to taste)
  • sumac (to taste)
  • aleppo pepper (to taste)

Note

Adapted from Anissa Helou's recipe at David Lebovitz.com and Paula Wolfert's Mediterranean Grains and Greens.

Sumac is a spice with a tart flavor that can be used in place of lemon. It goes well with meat, fish, and hummus, so don't be shy about picking up a big bag. If you have trouble finding it locally, you can order from Kalustyan's or World Spice Merchants.

Directions

ROASTED CHICKPEAS
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a small baking pan, combine chickpeas, olive oil and seasonings, and toss to combine.
Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
Cool to room temperature, then finely chop 1/4 cup of the chickpeas for the salad. Reserve the rest for another use.
TABBOULEH
Put diced tomatoes and cucumbers in a mesh strainer set over a bowl to drain away some of the excess liquid.
Gather as much parsley as you can in your hand, and slice it into thin ribbons with a very sharp knife. Place sliced parsley in a large bowl.
Add sliced green onion, drained tomatoes and cucumbers, and chopped roasted chickpeas to the sliced parsley. Season with cumin and black pepper and drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Toss gently until well mixed.
Taste the salad and adjust seasonings by adding more sumac, aleppo pepper, salt and/or pepper, if you like.

Field to Feast: Homemade Tomato Paste

Happy Friday, everyone! Has this week felt terribly long to you? Maybe you just want to put your feet up this weekend, relax and enjoy some sun, and who could blame you if you do? But if you’re looking for a project, something that sounds impressive yet requires minimal effort — the best kind of project for lazy summer weekends — here’s a great one: homemade tomato paste. You may be wondering exactly why you should bother when little cans of the stuff are already so very, very cheap and so very, very convenient, but you’ll just have to believe me when I tell you that homemade is so much better than canned that it’s like a completely different animal. Or fruit. (You know what I mean. Don’t make me turn this car around.) It has a bright, zingy, concentrated (duh) tomato flavor without any of that tinny aftertaste we’ve all grown accustomed to after years of eating the canned variety. It’s a treat anytime you use it, but in midwinter when hot sun and bountiful produce couldn’t be farther away, it’s damn near a revelation.

But before you start, fortify yourself with a light salad because the kitchen will get hot while the paste is cooking and you won’t want to spend much time in there. And while you’re up to your elbows in tomatoes anyway, why not make them into your meal? I reworked the Roman Summer Salad with more of an emphasis on fresh tomatoes while they’re as perfect as possible. I started with a base layer of assorted, sliced tomatoes from Bialas Farms and drizzled them with olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Sliced Tomatoes | Minimally Invasive

Then I mashed together some anchovies and garlic in a mortar and pestle to make a paste. I scattered the paste across the tomatoes along with chopped capers, black olives, basil, parsley and goat’s milk ricotta, and devoured half the salad in one sitting.

Roman Salad Reprise | Minimally Invasive

But let’s get moving; you’re here for tomato paste! It’s a time-consuming process, but really very easy. You cook the tomatoes briefly, use a food mill to get rid of skins and seeds, then leave a sheet pan filled with the tomato purée in the oven until the water has evaporated and you’re left with a pan of brick-red loveliness. Just freeze the cooled paste in a thin layer in a Ziploc bag until you need a hit of summer.

I used bacon fat on the sheet pans instead of olive oil to give my tomato paste a smokey flavor, but it really isn’t necessary, just indulgent.

Tomato Paste | Minimally Invasive

I hope to get at least a couple more batches of paste put up for the winter. Rationing my one bag from last summer got me through April, but I’d like to put away enough this year to keep me going until next year’s tomatoes are in market.

Get the recipe for homemade tomato paste at Saveur. And have a great weekend!

Field to Feast: Tomatoes & Zucchini

After a full week of eating tomatoes everyday, I needed a little break to let my poor mouth heal. Sorry about that. The few tomatoes I hadn’t used by the end of the week weren’t going to last much longer, so I turned them into tomato water. Which of course you’ve heard of because everyone’s making it, but with good reason: It’s addictive. Imagine the purest tomato essence in liquid form, perfectly delicious on its own, but also strong enough to stand up to, say, vodka. If I were able to get fresh horseradish anytime other than Passover, you’d better believe I’d be drinking Bloodies with infused vodka right now.

Generally, recipes suggest straining blended tomatoes through a cheesecloth or t-shirt-lined colander (without pressing on solids so the liquid stays clear), but I really hate dealing with the soaked cloth, so I tried something different. Behold, the Chemex strainer!

Chemex Tomato Water | Minimally Invasive

My husband, as previously discussed, is a huge coffee snob. Brewing coffee is the only thing he does in the kitchen, but he does it exceptionally well with the help of his Chemex. Sometime last year, he decided to try out the pourover filter to get more of the coffee oils in us and to keep all of that filter paper out of the landfill. It worked so well that I figured it couldn’t hurt to try with tomatoes. You can see in the picture that it did let a small amount of pulp through, but the clear tomato water was easily poured out, leaving the pulp behind in the Chemex. The size of the filter doesn’t allow you to make the tomato water in one go, but I’d certainly recommend this method if you don’t mind doing it in multiple batches.

The gazpacho was inspired by the knockout meal we had at Bent Restaurant during May’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which we’ve attended since 2009, save for one year. It’s the only comics festival I truly love, partly because of the airy feeling of the natural light-infused reference library, but mostly because I’m interested in a greater proportion of the artists there than at other festivals. (I discovered Nina Bunjevac‘s exquisite Heartless this year, nearly vomited with laughter over Lisa Hanawalt‘s My Dirty Dumb Eyes, met Michael Kupperman, whose work I’ve loved for years, and briefly hung out with Jaime Hernandez, who needs no introduction from the likes of me. And that’s just off the top of my head. So I encourage you to look into the 2014 show, and if you want to read a much smarter take on this year’s TCAF than I’m capable of writing, check out Tom Spurgeon’s thoughts on the subject.)

But back to food. Our past few trips to Toronto have involved dining at one or another of Susur Lee’s restaurants, but Bent might be my favorite yet. Everything served was fresh and exciting, with flavor combinations I hadn’t really experienced before. It’s impossible to apply the label “best” to a single item in the bento box Gil and I shared, but the one my thoughts return to most often is the oyster shooter, which I suspected was tomato water-based. Because I needed to know how Chef Lee works his magic, I ordered his two-volume memoir/cookbook and immediately looked up the dish. And yes, tomato water was the base! Yay for my working tongue! Newly inspired, I worked up a little gazpacho for lunch today.

Tomato Water Gazpacho inspired by/adapted from Chef Susur Lee

Mustard oil is only sold for external use in the US; evidently it makes a great massage oil. I found my bottle at Kalustyan’s, but any well-stocked Indian or Bangladeshi grocery should have the oil; it just won’t be shelved with the rest of the foodstuff. This is a good basic soup, but feel free to play with ingredients. I’m not a big fan of onion in my gazpacho, but thinly sliced green onion or diced shallot would play well here, as would celery, other colors of bell pepper, or even more tomatoes. Because you never can have too much of a good thing.

1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 cucumber, finely diced
1-2 hot chile peppers, finely diced
1 yellow summer squash, finely diced
1 zucchini, finely diced
1 1/2 cups tomato water
2 tablespoons mustard oil
Salt, to taste
Sherry vinegar, to taste

For four appetizer servings, put one to two tablespoons of each of the diced vegetables (perhaps less of the hot pepper if you don’t want it too spicy) into four small bowls. Whisk together tomato water and mustard oil and pour over vegetables. Add salt and sherry vinegar to individual servings to taste.

 

Field to Feast: More Carrots

We have Dorie Greenspan to thank for this recipe dish idea. See, as I was flipping through her brilliant cookbook Around My French Table, the recipe that opens the salads chapter caught my eye. It was so minimal as to be more of a suggestion than a recipe, so I decided it must be perfect. It’s nothing more than avocado halves with lemon juice, pistachio oil to fill and fleur de sel. You know my obsession with avocados, so it shouldn’t be too shocking to learn that I tried it within the day, fell head over heels and have indulged with abandon since then. While it’s well worth investing in a bottle of pistachio oil for this one use alone, I have another for you. It hit me when I was faced with another bunch of carrots and no desire to make more soup, that pistachios could just be the perfect answer again.

The carrot preparation is slightly more involved than the that of the avocados, but still easy enough to serve in well under an hour. All you have to do is to toss whole carrots (well-scrubbed and peeled, if you like) with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, then roast them in a single layer at 400° F for about 30 minutes — more time for larger carrots, less for smaller ones. You want to roast them until they’re tender enough to offer little resistance to a knife. Fresh out of the oven, drizzle the carrots with pistachio oil and toss them around on the baking sheet to coat them well, then sprinkle with a little lemon juice. Transfer the carrots to a serving platter and top with ground pistachios and finishing salt, and you’re done. Perfection.

Pistachio Carrot | Minimally Invasive

Field to Feast: Carrots

Every Saturday morning at the Ringwood Farmers’ Market, Kasha and I have essentially the same conversation:

“So, what should we post about this week?”
“I don’t know, what would you like to do?”
“Hmmm, let me think.”

The sides change, but that’s pretty much how it goes every week. So I can honestly say that I just strolled around until I saw a pile of gorgeous carrots and knew I’d found our topic. Sometimes it isn’t about having a great recipe ready to go (though sometimes it is), but about inspiration and beauty.

As I’ve been doing for about a month now, I chopped off the carrot tops and put them in a vase on the table to serve as a makeshift centerpiece. The only time I ever cook with carrot greens is when I use them in a gumbo z’herbes, so this is a good way to use what I buy and decorate at the same time. And I just love the Sideshow Bob look of them.

Carrot greens on display | Minimally Invasive

I jotted down a few ideas for carrot recipes over the weekend, but nothing came of it until today, when I felt like gazpacho. I love spicy, savory carrot dishes and since it’s just a small step from Spain to Morocco, I added some Moroccan influences to my soup with harissa-spiked oil, preserved lemon and chopped cilantro. Many gazpacho recipes call for bread to lend the correct texture, but this was out for me from the very beginning for obvious reasons, so I substituted almond flour instead. It’s appropriate with the other flavors and so many classic gazpacho recipes use almonds that it seemed like the solution was always there, staring me in the face.

Moroccan-Inspired Carrot Gazpacho | Minimally Invasive

Instead of building the recipe from the ground-up, I based this gazpacho on a Martha Rose Shulman recipe from The New York Times, but changed it around quite a bit to suit my purposes. The harissa oil starts out very spicy, but mellows as the soup sits in the refrigerator, so don’t be too scared if you taste it right away and your tongue turns inside-out. Of course, I can’t guarantee it won’t turn blazingly hot after it sits overnight, but promise to let you know if it does.

Update: The flavors blended beautifully after an overnight stay in the refrigerator, but the gazpacho isn’t spicy at all. I’ll probably stir in a bit of the reserved paste to add a little heat. If you want it spicier without the added texture from the paste (which isn’t very smooth), just double the harissa recipe.

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This morning I woke up with an idea to offer free shipping on everything in my Etsy shop until 6pm ET tomorrow. (This offer ends 8/7/13, if you’re reading this post sometime in the future.)  I opened the shop a few months ago, but haven’t really pushed it beyond sticking a link in the top navigation of this blog and hoping you’d notice. So take a look around and let me know what you think. 8×10 is the standard offering, but I’m happy to go larger or smaller or to print photos from the blog that you like but don’t see in the shop. Just send me an email and we’ll work something out! (To get free standard shipping in the US only, apply code FREESHIPSUMMER in the cart at checkout.)

Moroccan-Inspired Carrot Gazpacho adapted from Martha Rose Shulman/The New York Times

1 1/2 oz. sliced onion
3/4 pound cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 lbs. ripe tomatoes, quartered
4 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped,  about 3/4 lb.
2 sticks celery, coarsely chopped
2 large red bell peppers, coarsely chopped, about 3/4 lb.
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons harissa oil, recipe follows
1 tablespoon preserved lemon peel, chopped
1/4 cup finely ground almond flour
Salt to taste
1 cup ice water
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

1. Put the onion slices in a bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside for 5 minutes while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Drain and rinse.

2. Working in 2 batches, blend all of the ingredients except cilantro in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and chill for a couple of hours before serving. Garnish each portion with chopped cilantro (and if you’re brave, a little of the leftover harissa paste) before eating.

Harissa Oil
2 teaspoons dried chili flakes
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until garlic and spices are fragrant. Set aside to cool. Once cool, strain oil through fine mesh strainer into a cup, pushing on solids to release as much oil as possible. You should have two tablespoons of oil. Grind solids to a paste in a small food processor or in a mortar and pestle and reserve for another recipe.

Field to Feast: Basil

As some of you know, I’ve had a hate-hate relationship with my kitchen for years. The minuscule corner butterfly sink, the cooktop with only two functional burners, and the narrow wall ovens that only operated one at a time were excellent clues that it was designed by someone who didn’t do much cooking. Since the cooktop and wall ovens were 25 years old, it wasn’t much of a shock when the ovens gave up the ghost a few weeks ago. In fact, I did a happy dance and promptly ordered the range I’d had my eye on! Unfortunately, one of the igniters clicks constantly when the stove is plugged in, so I’ve been lighting it manually until a service technician can make it out here next week. Not a big deal, and lord knows I don’t want to bake in the summer, so I’m ok with it for a few more days. Details to come if I’m pleased with the service (more so if I’m not). We’re working toward a full renovation in the future, so my kitchen looks a hot mess right now and will for some time to come, but it’s mostly functional now!

This is all to say that I’ve been doing a lot of grilling this week while things are getting settled in the kitchen. For this week’s Field to Feast basil post, I went with a classic summertime dish — grilled eggplant and tomato slices topped with basil pesto. Instead of traditional pesto, I worked on a to-be vegan version that had a savory element to it even without the Parmesan. Nutritional yeast is a popular cheese alternative, but I’m not a big fan of the flavor, so I went the miso route again. Since some pesto recipes call for adding a little butter for richness, I added the leftover roasted garlic-miso butter from last weekend to puréed basil, ground pine nuts, olive oil and salt to enrich it. There’s no recipe because I just tasted as I went along until I was pleased with the results. Now obviously, butter nixes the vegan objective, but it’s easily made vegan by using Earth Balance or something similar in place of the butter. The richness of the pesto offset the acidity of the tomatoes beautifully and with the roasted garlic, it was delicate enough not to overpower anything. Not too bad for cooking in a fraction of a kitchen!

Kasha turned out a beautiful pesto this week using chevre from Edgwick Farm tossed with fresh corn pasta. Brilliant idea and her photos are TDF!

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A few weeks ago, Bialas Farms had an open house, so we got to see where all of these glorious vegetables originate. Groups of us took tractor rides to get up close with the black dirt and do a little harvesting of our own. I just wanted to share a few of my favorite photos from the day with you below. Have a great weekend and be sure to share any spectacular dishes you create with me; I’d love to hear about them!

Greenhouse | Minimally Invasive

Bialas Farms | Minimally Invasive

Rear view | Minimally Invasive

Bialas Farms cornfield | Minimally Invasive

Doris | Minimally Invasive

Pallets | Minimally Invasive

Bialas Farms storage | Minimally Invasive

Bialas Farms board | Minimally Invasive

Bialas Farms Market | Minimally Invasive

Field to Feast: Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are another spring-into-summer crop I crave all year long. I tried the ubiquitous garlic scape pesto a few years ago when it was all the rage, but it was really overpowering to me, so ever since I’ve just grilled them whenever I had a few and the grill was already going. They get a little blackened and a little smoky, and just seem to be the perfect accompaniment to a big, juicy steak.

Garlic Scapes | Minimally Invasive

But times change and we aren’t eating as much meat anymore, and with the rain we’ve had all spring, grilling hasn’t been something at the top of my to-do list, so the scapes have been languishing in the refrigerator. It’d be a shame for them to go bad, so I started thinking about another way to feature them in a garlic scape-forward dish. They can take a bit of abuse and mellow out a lot as they cook, so I thought dry-frying them like green beans would be a perfect treatment. And it was, if you’re a fan of the tingly tongue!

Instead of the traditional preparation which involves deep frying and a sweet sauce, I went with a Szechuan-style stir fry for less oil and more pepper. I found the recipe, as I so often do, at Simply Recipes and subbed garlic scapes for the long beans. It came together in a matter of minutes, though clean-up took a few minutes more because wow, this was one messy dish! I’ll admit that could have been due to my overly-aggressive wok technique, which launched rogue peppercorns and scapes across the counter and, yes, floor, but it didn’t matter. I’d happily make this again, and just accept the clean-up as the cost of doing business.

Szechuan Garlic Scapes | Minimally Invasive