Beetroot and carrot salad with tahini miso dressing

This gorgeous image is © Janie Pirie 2012. Used with permission

Growing up in the tropics there wasn’t a lot of fresh beetroot around and I’ve enjoyed the abundance of this vegetable during my time in Canada, creating many delicious salads and experimenting with lacto-fermentation (not a huge fan, I prefer fermented carrots) and dishes such as borscht.

This recipe is super simple and can be made ahead of time; in fact I think it tastes better of the flavours have some time to meld before serving.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups beetroot (about 2 smallish beets)
  • 1.5 cups carrot (about 2 medium carrots)
  • 1/3 cup red onion (about 1/4 of an onion)
  • 1.5 tbsp miso paste
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3-4 tbsp toasted sunflower seeds (optional)

Directions

  1. Grate beetroot and carrot.
  2. Finely chop the fresh coriander and red onion.
  3. Mix the vegetables together in your serving bowl.
  4. In a smaller bowl measure the miso paste and add a couple of tablespoons of the warm water; mix until evenly blended.
  5. Add the tahini and stir well before adding the rest of the water and stirring until the dressing has an even consistency.
  6. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and coriander and mix until well combined.
  7. Stir the sesame oil through.
  8. Let the salad sit for at least 20 minutes and sprinkle with toasted sunflower seeds before serving.

 

Buckwheat Hummus

BuckwheatWe didn’t have any chickpeas in the house the other day so after a quick search of the internet and the assurance that it wouldn’t be a complete disaster I thought I’d try a buckwheat hummus instead.

Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) isn’t actually a grain (i.e. a grass) at all but actually a fruit/nut. It’s easy to grow and supposedly fairly simple to harvest on a small scale although last year it didn’t feel that easy and in the end if fell off the to do list but perhaps that was the variety we were growing. It’s packed full of protein with up to a 74% protein absorption rate and has a good balance of amino acids. All this in addition to its versatility in the kitchen (I’ve used it in muesli, cooked up with vegies, added to soups and now hummus) means it’s definitely something that should be in the pantry.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup soaked/sprouted buckwheat
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Soak the buckwheat for a day/overnight then rinse and drain in a colander. If you have time then let it sit in the colander for another day or so rinsing a couple of times. This gives the kernels a little more time to sprout.
  2. Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Add some water if you find the consistency is too thick.

It turned out surprisingly well. I omitted the cumin I normally include in chickpea hummus and it was still tasty but of course I’d love to know of any particular spice combinations that work with buckwheat.

This is adapted from a recipe at Get RaWcous!

Wild grape leaves

Recently I was excited to discover a grape vine hanging along the northern fence line of the farm only to realise that wild grapes are common in North America and there are at least a dozen such plants in various spots around the Hendrick Farm development site.

I’m still stoked to have discovered another wild harvest and although the grapes are months away, late spring and early summer is apparently the time to pick and preserve grape leaves so they can be stuffed and turned into delicious dolmades. A little internet research turned up a myriad of ways to prepare them:

After picking about 200 leaves I tossed some into the freezer raw and canned a mason jar full with plans to harvest again and set a couple of jars fermenting in the coming weeks. Bring on the dolmas!

Illustration from Vintage Printable at Swivelchair Media

It’s all about the weeds

More commonly known as Lamb’s Quarters, Chenopodium Album, is yet another common weed found at the farm and now that the dandelions are no longer flowering and the nettle is past its most tender stage, I’ve noticed it coming up in abundance.

It can be used as a salad green or in place of spinach if you want it cooked. Young plants are the best to use and it keeps pretty well in the fridge in a plastic bag. I’ve been making bread on a weekly basis so it was logical to create a spread; the recipe below was adapted from Mariquita Farm who based that on a recipe from The Wild Vegan Cookbook and is similar to a pesto.
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Lamb’s Quarter Spread

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups lamb’s-quarters leaves
1 small ripe avocado
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
2 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
1 tsp maple syrup
Dash olive oil

Directions
Blend all ingredients in a food processor until well mixed. Eat any way you please – on sandwiches, as a dip, topping for sautéed portobello mushrooms; use your imagination.

Nettle in the kettle

Stinging nettle is another weed that grows at the farm and patches of it can be found in shady spots here and there. I’ve been drinking it in tea, once the leaves have wilted in the hot water they no longer sting, but haven’t actually cooked with this magnificent plant before. I know that nettle soup is a well-known use or it but there are also recipes for pesto, lasagne and many more to be found.

We have a surplus of solanum tuberosum since we culled the seed potatoes prior to planting and nettle can be used as a spinach substitute  so after checking out this article on everything gnocchi I made a nettle version using the simplest  recipe I could find. Gnocchi also freeze very well – just roll each uncooked piece in a little flour before popping into the freezer. When you feel like a quick meal just throw them into boiling water, cook until they float and voilà, Bob’s your uncle.