Friday, October 28, 2011

Overcoming Arugala Phobia

Friday, October 28, 2011
5:30 p.m.

Steam is rising from my stove top, the food processor has been whirling, my hands smell like garlic, and there is green "stuff" in every dish I'm making tonight. Everyone that comes to see what is for supper tonight has made unpleasing sounds...what's up?

If you ask my boys at market what our favorite way to use arugula or rocket they say something like, "We like to compost it best." This has actually happened several times! They don't like the smell in the field...packing shed...or my kitchen. Honestly, it rarely makes it to the kitchen. We're tickled so many of ya'll like it so well, as it is a very forgiving crop.

Well, tonight I've decided that we are going to overcome our arugula we haven't given this green a fair shake yet. I did some research and chose three recipes to try. We're baking up about 30 potatoes to fill the gap IF we decide we were right all along. I kind of have it figured that we have some room to a small child that doesn't like carrots at first sight. If you try the same vegetable again in a few weeks they don't spit it in your face, but delight in the sweetness. I thought I'd share the results with you along with the recipes (and of course my tweaks) in this post.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The dust has settled on the long curving driveway away from the farm...Adam and Isaac are in the grand city of Knoxville at the downtown Market Square Farmer's Market, Caleb and Noah are also in the metropolis of Farragut selling produce and delivering shares at the Dixie Lee Farmer's Market, then delivering to the West Knoxville drop off at a sweet family's home where over a dozen folks pick up, and Farmer Steve and Titus have made their drop off in Dayton...they alllllllllll survived the Great Arugula Challenge! I'm proud of the contestants! Everyone ate well, almost heartily. :) Here are the results:

The top rated dish was Pasta with Tuna, Arugula, and Hot Peppers. In our family, almost anything hot and spicy will go over well, so I thought this would be "the spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down. In the most delightful way".
It scored an average of 9 out of 10. I plan on trying this recipe with some of the mixed greens I've frozen this winter. You can control how spicy your meal is by how much pepper you add. I used dried peppers you've gotten in your shares all season. I encouraged you to dry them...I ground up 2 and used the entire amount for a delightfully spicy, but not overpowering dish. We usually don't like tuna casseroles...but the boys said they didn't even know tuna was in it! The garlic and peppers hid the fishy taste remarkably. This is a good recipe to sneak fish into your diets. :)

Pasta with Tuna, Arugula, and Hot Pepper

1 lb. dried fettuccine, spaghetti or linguine
1/2 C. extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic , or more to taste, finely minced
GENEROUS pinch hot red pepper flakes
1-6 oz. can tuna packed in water or olive oil, drained
sea salt
1/2 to 3/4 lb. baby arugula

1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and boil until al dente.

2. While pasta cooks, heat olive olive oil in a large skillet on medium-low heat. Ad the garlic and hot pepper flakes and cook until garlic is fragrant and sizzling. Add tuna and shred it into fine flakes with a fork. Season with salt. Keep warm over low heat.

3. Just before the pasta is ready, set aside 1 cup of boiling pasta water. Drain pasta and return to the warm pot set over moderate heat. Depending on the size of your post and skillet, either add the arugula nd the tuna mixture to the pasta in the pasta pot, or add the drained pasta to the skillet with the tuna mixture and add the arugula. Toss vigorously with tongs, moistening with some of the reserved pasta water. The arugula will wilt in the heat of the pasta. Salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Coming in second was Arugula Pesto. Since we finally got over our mind block on pesto, (yes, we have a couple of food "hangups"...thankfully the eggplant crop failed! I have a winter to prepare for the "Overcoming Eggplant Phobia" blog!) and have 6 pints in the freezer for the winter I thought Arugula Pesto would be another good recipe to try. I baked about 30 red potatoes to test it on...the worst thing that could happen is that we ate buttered potatoes, right? Well, the pesto was another hit. I don't have a number for it, but our new found pesto lovers liked the garlic taste without the bite of basil. (I like basil pesto better.) The real test came today at lunch when I was serving leftovers to Farmer Steve. He asked for the green stuff on his potatoes. :)

Arugula Pesto
2 cups of packed arugula leaves, stems removed
1/2 cup shelled walnuts
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 clove garlic peeled and minced (not roasted)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I used more.)

1. Brown 6 cloves of garlic with their peels on in a skillet over medium high heat until the garlic is lightly browned in places, about 10 minutes. Remove the garlic from the pan, cool, and remove the skins.

2. Toast the nuts in the same pan over medium heat until lightly brown, or heat in a microwave on high heat for a minute or two until you get the roasted flavor.

3a. Food processor method (the fast way): Combine the arugula, salt, walnuts, roasted and raw garlic into a food processor. Pulse while drizzling the olive oil into the processor. Remove the mixture from the processor and put it into a bowl. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

3b. Mortar and pestle method: Combine the nuts, salt and garlic in a mortar. With the pestle grind until smooth. Add the cheese and olive oil, grind again until smooth,. Finely chop the arugula and add it to the mortar. Grind up the other ingredients until smooth.

Because the pesto is so dependent on the individual ingredients, and the strength of the ingredients depends on the season or variety, test it and add more of the ingredients to taste.

My favorite dish came in last...I like the fresh vegetable taste of the Stuffed Tomato recipe I found. Maybe I am appreciating the tomatoes more lately as I know their days are numbered. We had a freeze this morning, so there is no more picking for this season. Right now I have about 15 bushels left as I am in canning mode, and I took a few of them to enjoy this recipe. Our family doesn't like mushy vegetables even a little as for the stuffed pepper recipe I baked them only long enough to get the filling warm and keep the tomato al dente. I tweeked this recipe after reading the reviews. One reviewer mentioned how the original recipe needed some body as it was like eating a tomato with dip stuffing. So I added whatever I was craving by that point in the bacon, mushrooms, and onions were included in Val's version. By adding the bacon and mushrooms it turned this side dish into a main dish. Of course it will probably be just as good vegetarian style by just dicing up some of the tomato pulp to give the filling some body. I give it an 8, and enjoyed the leftover tomato for lunch today. :)

The Farmer's Wife's
Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

1, 15 oz. can garbanzo beans
4 ounces trimmed arugula
1 T. minced garlic
1/4 C. cottage or ricotta cheese
5 T. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 C. olive oil
6 slices bacon, browned and crumbled, optional
1 small onion, chopped and sauteed in bacon drippings, optional
1/2 small can mushrooms, finely chopped and sauteed with the above two ingredients (I used Portabella.) optional
4 medium to large tomatoes, pulp removed

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In a blender or food processor, blend the garbanzo beans, arugula garlic, cottage or ricotta cheese, 4 T. Parmesan cheese, and olive oil until smooth.

3. Stir in the sauteed ingredients, reserving bacon drippings for future seasoning.

3. Place tomatoes in an 8X8 inch baking dish. Stuff the tomatoes with the garbanzo bean mixture. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake until stuffing is warm and tomato is still strong.

So, the great Arugula challenge is over...another season is ending. We pray we've been a blessing to each of you. I'll be switching back to writing monthly, unless the Spirit directs otherwise. During this time of prayerfully slower days, I'd love to hear from you! I could use some feedback on how to improve this blog. I'll soon be loosing my rookie status, and want to do all I do to the "glory of God".

Striving to Please my Saviour,
The Farmer's Wife