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

Let’s Prime the Pumps

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m doing the Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge this month, and it’s going really well! I’ve cooked more in three days than I usually do in a week and everything’s been healthy and delicious, not to mention economical with all of the leftovers. And while I didn’t do this to lose weight, I’ve already dropped a little Christmas padding from my midsection, so I’m excited to continue after seeing such fast results.

Why are you doing this challenge, anyway?

My diet is pretty good overall, but what started as an occasional treat (a little dessert here, some pizza or a slice of bread there) became the rule rather than the exception. Knowing that wheat does a number on me and that my weekly burger and fries weren’t doing me any favors either, I decided plunging headfirst into an eating plan that eliminated the bad stuff and encouraged more good stuff was the way to go. (YMMV, of course.) Making it easier was just how crappy I felt after all of my Christmas indulgences.

Without getting too preachy or going into too much detail — you can find all the information you need and then some here — I’m concentrating on the following:

  • Eliminating grains, legumes, vegetable oils and refined sugars. (This is the most important part for me, though I’ll add legumes back in small quantities after the 21-day mark.)
  • Loading my meals with lots of fresh or frozen vegetables.
  • Eating quality fish and pastured/grass-fed meats and eggs.
  • Eating good, satiating fats — grass-fed animal fats, coconut oil, olive oil and avocado oil are doing me right right now. 

And that’s basically it.

Our meals so far

I decided against a daily post because I’m cooking enough to make leftovers, so there isn’t always something new to share, plus we’re still eating out once a week. 

Primal Beef Shank Braise | Amy Roth Photo

Meal 1 – Braised Beef Shin

My decision to make this braise was made for me when I discovered the door to our big freezer open and this shin partially thawed. It’s from Snoep Winkel Farm, where all of the beef they sell is grass-fed and pigs and chickens are pastured. I also love them because Basia & Gary keep me supplied with beef tongue, organ meats and chicken feet whenever they’re available. Yum!

Braising is one of my favorite cooking techniques because you can be pretty imprecise and still turn out an excellent meal. Just remember a few simple steps:

  • brown your meat to create a fond in the pan
  • deglaze the pan with whatever liquid you like
  • don’t completely cover the meat with liquid, but leave a little sticking out from the top
  • braise covered in a 300°F oven for about 3 hours

I used the vegetables available to me — onions, celery, garlic, carrots and mushrooms — plus about 1/2 box of Pomi chopped tomatoes and served it over spaghetti squash and topped it with a sharp, garlicky gremolata. It was a rich, satisfying dish and the perfect way to kick off this new eating plan. If you’re not familiar with braising and you’d like a basic recipe to follow, try this recipe for short rib ragu and adapt it any way you like.

Primal Beef Shank Braise with Spaghetti Squash | Amy Roth Photo


 

Primal Chicken Vegetable Soup | Amy Roth Photo

Meal 2 – Chicken & Vegetable Soup

This meal took advantage of a leftover roasted chicken half plus made liberal use of our vegetable crisper drawer and freezer. When tomatoes and cilantro are in market, I make batches upon batches of Daisy Martinez’s sofrito and freeze them in 1/2-cup portions to use throughout the winter when I need to add a little zing to my meals. (It also makes the task of cooking a full meal much less onerous if all you have to do is sauté frozen seasonings instead of chopping onions, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, etc. before you even turn on the stove.)

I chopped the chicken and put it aside as the bones simmered in 1 quart chicken stock plus 1 quart water. I chopped up a few celery stalks, a few carrots and broke half a head of cauliflower into small florets. In a pan with olive oil set over medium heat, I cooked the frozen sofrito until it had released its water and softened, then I added the carrots and celery to cook for a few minutes and added a big pinch of kosher salt. I fished out the bones from the stock and added the sofrito mixture with the chopped Pomi tomatoes I didn’t use in the braise. I let it simmer over medium-low heat until the carrots were nearly softened, then added the cauliflower and chicken to the pot along with a package of frozen peas (I LOVE peas in my vegetable soup) and half a package of French-cut green beans. Once the veggies were softened and seasonings adjusted, we were ready to eat. And we’re still eating it, two days later! Gotta love soup.

Of course, there are all sorts of ways you can dress this up: Add a parmesan rind to the broth early on for extra savoriness, add a little pesto to each bowl of soup, add other vegetables as your heart desires, top with sesame oil and/or Sriracha…you get the point. It’s soup! How hard can it be?


 

Gluten-Free, Primal Za'atar Crackers Side | Amy Roth Photo

A Snack — Almond Crackers with Za’atar

Snacks are the big downfall of healthy eating plans for a lot of people. You want something quick and satisfying, but not necessarily a piece of fruit or the old standby, carrot sticks and hummus. Well, these primal-friendly crackers from Elana’s Pantry are just perfect. She has several cracker recipes on her website, but I chose to adapt the recipe for salt and pepper crackers by eliminating the pepper and halving the salt, brushing the rolled-out dough with olive oil and dusting it liberally with za’atar and crunchy finishing salt before cutting and baking.

All of Elana’s recipes use finely ground almond flour, so Bob’s Red Mill is out, unfortunately. It’s great for recipes that need something more coarsely ground like meal, but doesn’t work with the recipes on her website. I’ve had luck with Honeyville, Wellbee’s, and JK Gourmet brands.

You know how much I love za’atar, right? It’s a generic name for popular Middle Eastern blends of dried herbs and spices. There are all sorts of varieties out there, but my favorite ones tend to be heavy on sumac and sesame. The blend I bought at Penzey’s (where it’s called “zatar”) is delicious, but I’ve been just as happy with all of the varieties I’ve found at Kalustyan’s over the years. I’m sure any number of other spice shops would have it, too, so explore and enjoy!


A Word About Fats

I’ve been obsessed with coconut ghee for the past week; it’s replaced any other oil I used to use for sautéeing. You can buy it online, but it’s easy to make and lasts a while at room temperature, so there’s really no need to spend extra for it. All you do is add coconut oil to grass-fed clarified butter and you have a delicious, healthy fat with a high smoke point. I loaded up on a high-quality coconut oil from Tropical Traditions* the last time they had a sale — which they do often, so sign up for email reminders — and use it a lot, but it does taste fairly coconutty, so cutting it with clarified butter eliminates that flavor while retaining all of the benefits of coconut oil. If you’d like to use just coconut oil, they have a wonderful, neutral-tasting expeller-pressed oil, but I like the coconut ghee so much, I don’t think I’ll ever need to go back to it.

What About Breakfast and What Do You Drink?

Oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, grits and toast are out, which seems like a big deal until you realize you can have all of the pastured eggs and bacon you want. Actually, I don’t often want to start my day with a big meal, so I’ve been sticking with my green shakes. I’ve never enjoyed sweet smoothies, so what I have is more like a salad in a glass than the fruit-heavy shakes you might be thinking of. I know that’s a hard sell, but if that sort of thing appeals to you, I posted a general recipe here. These days, I add kefir and ginger and don’t really bother with the apple or cucumber, but as with so much of what I make, it changes depending on what’s at hand.

And as for drinks, I cut out all soda long ago, so that’s been easy. I drink water, seltzer, coffee and tea, plus the occasional glass of red wine, which is beneficial to both health and outlook!

*If you order by clicking on any of my Tropical Traditions links and have never ordered from them in the past, you’ll receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I’ll receive a discount coupon for referring you. Same goes for Amazon, minus the coconut oil book.

Chive Blossom Vinegar

Eight years ago, Gil and I were newlyweds enjoying our first summer together in this house. We started decorating and renovating — projects that continue to this day — and I tried my hand at gardening, not realizing in that rush of excitement over having a yard that we barely get enough sunlight for grass, let alone tomatoes. But I have managed to grow many pots of herbs on our second-floor bedroom deck over the years. They require almost no maintenance beyond a good dousing during dry spells, but the lowest maintenance herb of them all (and thus, the closest to my heart) is my chive plant, which still returns every Spring and still delights me when it does.

Chive Blossoms, Jar | Amy Roth Photo

That first summer, I learned that chive blossoms are edible, and sprinkled them liberally over green salads, potato salads and omelettes for a hint of onion flavor and a dash of color, but never thought to do anything more than garnish with them until just last month. I follow David Leite of Leite’s Culinaria on Facebook, where he posted a link to his chive blossom vinegar just as my blossoms were coming in, so that became my latest project.

Chive Blossoms in Jar | Amy Roth Photo

Though my single plant produces more chives than we can consume in a season, the amount of blossoms it yielded was only enough for a tiny jar of vinegar. Still, three weeks later, I can assure you that the volume is sufficient and should last a while. The vinegar is the pink of a deep rosé and has a pungent, savory-sweet aroma that can really get your juices flowing, culinarily-speaking.

Chive Blossom Vinegar | Minimally Invasive

I’ll try it in a vinaigrette the next time I make a salad, but today, I used it to perfume and season a kale and spinach pesto, which I tossed with zucchini noodles for a Paleo take on pasta.

Zucchini Noodles with Kale Pesto | Minimally Invasive

There’s no recipe for this dish since my pesto changes each time I make it; I just throw things into my food processor and adjust the seasonings before tossing it with my base of choice. Today, I broke out my spiral vegetable slicer on the first zucchini of the season (thanks, Bialas Farms!), simply salting the noodles lightly and letting them drain in a colander until it was time to dress them. For the pesto, I tossed a little of this and a bit of that into my food processor: a handful of spinach and two handfuls of dinosaur kale, some chopped, toasted almonds, grated Parmesan cheese, a few chives, a hit of basil-infused olive oil (a delicious indulgence from Olive That in Montclair), extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of sugar to balance the kale’s earthiness, a pinch of salt, lemon juice and a splash of the chive blossom vinegar. It sounds like a lot of cooking when the ingredients are listed that way, but it really wasn’t. It took all of 10 minutes to throw everything together and sit down to a really satisfying lunch.

Of course, you can make this without the chive blossom vinegar this summer because it’s probably too late for you to indulge, but please give it a try next year. This vinegar is a wonderful way to enjoy those spring blossoms for an extended season.

Field to Feast: Spiralized Zucchini

Spiralizer with Zucchini | Minimally Invasive

Gluten-free pastas just don’t do it for me. If the taste is good, the texture is all wrong, and when the texture is passable, the flavor is blaaaaahhhhh. There are a few I’ll use in a pinch, but I usually skip them entirely in favor of spaghetti squash, which, of course, has its own problems (chief among them being its flavorlessness). So when I started seeing this spiralizer business everywhere from Bon Appétit to Fresh Tart, I placed an order within the week. I figured a bumper crop of zucchini was the perfect test for the machine and even with the shame of its single-use gadgetry hanging over my head, I’ll admit that I love it!

Zucchini Twirl | Minimally Invasive

I softened thick spirals of zucchini and summer squash with a hefty pinch of salt while I threw together a simple, punchy dressing for it, since the stuff isn’t exactly a flavor powerhouse. I fried thinly sliced garlic in olive oil until the slices were browned and crunchy, then drained the chips on some paper towels. In a small bowl, I mixed together some of the garlic oil, minced sun-dried tomatoes, fresh herbs and lemon zest, then topped the dish with wisps of Parmesan, garlic chips, Maldon sea salt and freshly grated black pepper. I was surprised to find the dish so filling but loved that it didn’t weigh me down, even with an oil-based dressing.

Zucchini Pasta Top View | Minimally Invasive

The view from above.

Zucchini Ribbons | Minimally Invasive

I knew that the angel-hair setting would render zucchini into mush, so I tried the ribbons for the next dish. The dressing was even lighter than before, using oven-roasted cherry tomatoes and garlic with fresh herbs as the base with a few dollops of Edgwick Farm chevre tossed in for contrast. Salt & pepper naturally followed and I gobbled it up. There was only one problem: many of the tomatoes were lost to quality assurance testing before the dish was assembled.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Herbs | Minimally Invasive

But you really can’t blame me.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes | Minimally Invasive

The spiral slicer is nice for anyone on the Paleo bandwagon, but if you’re just interested in reducing processed carbs, you should consider giving this a try. I love that I can rejigger a dish and make it healthier with a big serving of vegetables added to my meal. I’ll be trying it out with lots of other seasonal produce from Bialas Farms, so stay tuned.

I bought the Paderno World Cuisine spiral slicer from Amazon; it was recommended by Bon Appétit and I liked that it offered three different settings for roughly the same price as other models. Cleanup was easy and I managed not to cut myself on the blades, so I give it two (unmarred) thumbs up!

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And if you’re still awash in tomatoes, dive right in to Kasha’s Cherry Tomato and Brie Galette. It looks spectacular! The things this woman cooks on the fly just amaze me.

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

Field to Feast: Spinach

Kasha and I are back with more Field to Feast posts this week! Head over to The FarmGirl Cooks for more ideas on what to do with what’s in season.

Spinach never was something I ate as a child, so I’m not sure when or where I developed my love for it, but love it I do. And after hardneck garlic, it’s my favorite thing to buy from Bialas Farms at the market. We see it a couple times a year — first in Spring, when I gobble it up after a long winter of the industrial, bagged stuff. Then, after I’ve eaten my weight in summer-ripe tomatoes and corn and think another zucchini might be the death of me, it crops up again when the weather cools down. So by June, I’ve waited the better part of a year for spinach to come back to market and what happens? I’ll tell you what happens. A sinus infection happens! A disgusting sinus infection that sapped my energy and kept me shuffling between the bed (for naps) and sofa (for marathons of Doc Martin and Wallander) for a full week. (Side note: My ass is tired of all the sitting, which seems ridiculous, because aren’t asses made for that very thing? My body craves movement and walking for more than 20 feet at a stretch. When I’m able to do a downward dog again, I have a feeling the angels will sing.)

So that’s why this post is so slim. My nasal passages apologize for the interruption, but promise that next week’s post will be a doozy, so be sure to tune in.

My busy schedule of TV marathons and napping notwithstanding, I DID manage to work up a new spinach recipe this week. I wanted to make gluten-free spanakopita for you, but let’s get real. There’s NO WAY I’d attempt to make my own phyllo dough (gf or otherwise), so I thought spinach turnovers would be an acceptable substitute.

Spinach Turnovers at Minimally Invasive

And they were entirely delicious, if not the same texture as flaky spanakopita. For the pastry, I used the pie crust recipe at Cup4Cup minus the sugar, then adapted the filling from Vegetarian Times. I rolled out the dough to about 1/8″ thickness, then cut out individual turnovers with a 4″ round cutter, which made a nicely-sized turnover to be eaten in a few bites. You could size these up or down without too much of a problem, as long as you adjusted the amount of filling in each. Believe me, what looks like a paltry amount of filling can become a big mess when folding and crimping if you’re not careful. Just a word of warning.

Spinach Turnovers Recipe at Minimally Invasive
Click on the picture to embiggen.

Spinach Turnover at Minimally Invasive

And since everyone (me included) seems to be on a green shake kick lately, I’ve included the one I make for myself nearly every morning. It’s a good baseline to use and produces a very pretty shake. You can always add other fruits or vegetables to it. Just know that strawberries and blueberries, while delicious additions, mean you’ll be drinking a shake the color of a bruise. As long as visuals aren’t that important to you, carry on!

Green Shake Recipe at Minimally Invasive

Click on the picture to embiggen.

This post brought to you by Cefuroxime Axetil, Nasonex and DayQuil.

Recipes below, if you want to copy and paste text instead of referring to an image.

Spinach Turnovers adapted from Cup4Cup and Vegetarian Times

Your favorite double-pie crust recipe (I used this one, minus the sugar.)
8 cups spinach leaves
1 tablespoon garlic confit, or 2 teaspoons olive oil + 1 large garlic clove, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/3 cup feta cheese, finely crumbled1 egg, beaten
Maldon sea salt

Rinse and drain spinach and, with water still clinging to leaves, transfer to large skillet. Cover, and cook over medium-high heat until wilted. Rinse with cold water in a colander, squeeze out liquid, and coarsely chop.

Heat garlic confit (or garlic and olive oil) in a large skillet over medium-low heat. When it starts to sizzle, add onion and cook until softened. Add spinach; cook 2 minutes more. Transfer to bowl and cool.

Stir ricotta and feta cheeses into spinach mixture. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Preheat oven to 350˚F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll dough to 1/8″ thickness and, using a 4″ round biscuit cutter, cut out as many circles as you can. Remove extra dough and place back in bowl. Put one tablespoon of spinach mixture in the center of dough rounds and wet edges of dough with water. Carefully fold dough in half, pressing out air, and crimp the edges with a fork. Poke holes in the top of the turnovers for air to escape during cooking. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.

Brush tops of turnovers with beaten egg and sprinkle with Maldon sea salt.

Bake 30 minutes, or until turnovers are golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Green Shake

1/2 cup water
1/3 head romaine
1 handful spinach
2 tablespoons parsley
1 stalk celery
1/2 granny smith apple
1/2 lemon, peeled
1/2 cucumber, seeded
1/2 cup yogurt or 1/2 avocado

In a high-speed blender, combine the first four ingredients(water through parsley). Blend on high speed for 30 seconds. Add remaining fruits and vegetables and blend until combined. Add yogurt, if using, and blend for just a couple of seconds.

Delicious additions:

1/2 frozen banana
strawberries
blueberries
kiwi (if you like a tart shake)
pineapple
1 kale leaf
1 tablespoon chia seeds or flax seed