I love how easy it is to eat salad this time of year. All the greens and veggies are so tasty, and so easy to grow in your own garden or to find at farmer’s markets. And patios and warm weather are made for healthy food like salads and fish…no need for warm soups or pastas baked with a blanket of cheese right now.
I made this salad with some leftover cedar plank salmon that we cooked on the BBQ. Cedar plank cooking was popular a few years ago and I feel like it dropped off the radar too quickly. It’s still trendy at our house…so delicious and so easy.
In baby-land, we have just started on solid foods. We are trying the baby-led weaning approach to food, which basically means that little ones get to eat what the grown-ups are having without too much interference (no pureeing, etc). It is still mostly mucking about instead of real eating, but it is a lot of fun watching him try different tastes and textures. It’s hard to believe that there are three of us at the dinner table now – babies grow up so fast. Avocado, salmon and cucumber have been a big hit so far, so this salad is perfect for sharing.
Salmon soba super salad
2 salmon fillets, grilled or poached
6 cups spinach or mixed greens
1 avocado, sliced
1/2 large cucumber, diced or cut into long chunks for baby
1 carrot, grated
1 bundle of soba noodles
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablepoons fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons water
Assemble salmon, greens and veggies in individual bowls or plates. Cook soba noodles in a pot of boiling water – be careful not to over cook as they only take a few more minutes. Drain the noodles and add to the salad.
To make the dressing, saute garlic and ginger in sesame oil on medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes and stir in remaining ingredients. Pour warm dressing over salad and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Healthy yum! Any extra dressing can be saved in a jar for another salad.
Lots of herbs – chives, sage, thyme, parsley, oregano and the most delicious smelling mint that is calling out to be made into mojitos. The mint and sage are growing into the grass and every time we mow the lawn it’s like heaven. I can’t wait until tomatoes and basil start coming. They are just in the flower and seedling stage right now, but our back deck is smoking hot so hopefully it won’t be too long. I also planted cucumbers and a couple of varieties of hot peppers. I haven’t grown either before, so I am hoping for the best. The greens are all doing well. I wish I’d planted spinach earlier as it is already going to seed from the heat, but baby chard and beet greens work just as well for salads, pasta, etc.
My parents have been amazing at helping me carve out some space for edibles in our overgrown perennial beds. We’ve cleared out lots of invasive stuff – buttercups, Queen Anne’s lace, bergamot – to make room for blueberries, strawberries, beets, carrots, and a raspberry patch along the back fence. I had my first raspberry today, in fact, when I was out watering while the baby napped. Then I felt guilty since it is supposed to be his raspberry patch. He is 6 months old tomorrow, which means starting on solid foods, so he can actually eat raspberries now. Or at least mush them around. How time flies.
Lovely market tomatoes meet backyard greens. This is a super-fast meal. I made it tonight with the thought “I need to get this kid in the bath in 20 minutes” running through my head. Made it and ate it in less time than that!
Put the pasta water on to boil and go out to the garden to gather greens if you have them growing. There is really nothing like it – cooking with just-picked veggies is pure summer.
I have spinach, chard, beet greens and pac choi growing and I used a mix of all of them here. Also, try to find good local tomatoes. Yes, they are more expensive than the supermarket kind, but only a little and it is just a different food. I spent $6 a pint on mine this morning at the farmers market and they were worth every penny.
There is no need to cook the tomatoes in this dish. The heat of the pasta softens them a bit, and at this time of year cooking fresh tomatoes is a sin. They are too delicious just the way they are.
Ricotta pasta with greens and tomatoes
Serves 2 (generously!)
1/2 package of spaghetti
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
3-4 cups greens (spinach, chard, etc), chopped
1 cup ricotta
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon each salt, cayenne pepper and paprika
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
Olive oil and fresh cracked pepper to finish
Slice the tomatoes and chop greens while the pasta is cooking. When pasta is al dente, add greens to cooking water, stir and then drain the pasta and greens (this gives your greens a quick wilt). Put pasta and greens back in the pot and stir in ricotta, spices, salt and lemon rind. Dish out the pasta and put the raw tomatoes on top along with a big drizzle of your best olive oil and lots of coarsely ground pepper.
Our crazy, beautiful garden is in full bloom right now. It is wild and overgrown in parts, and badly in need of weeding everywhere. Life with a baby only allows for so much tending – 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there. Still, for all its jungle-like qualities, it’s gorgeous. We have lavender bushes lining our driveway and the walkway up to the house and the flowers are at their peak right now. It is such a treat to go out and cut a bunch for inside the house – a perfect 10 minute sojourn, with or without baby in tow.
I was making scones yesterday for strawberry shortcake. Usually they are just lemon scones, but the lavender has such a delicious scent I had to add some in. Cooking with flowers, and eating with flowers, always seems magical to me, and I feel so fortunate to have such abundance in my own front yard.
Lemon and lavender scones
Makes 8 scones
1-1/2 cups flour*
1/2 cup whole wheat flour*
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup cold butter
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lavender flowers
1 cup plain yogurt
Combine flour, baking powder and soda, salt and sugar. Add butter to flour mixture, cutting in with a pastry blender or knife until the butter is distributed through the mixture in small crumbs. Stir in the lemon rind and lavender, and fold in the yogurt. Knead gently just until the dough comes together. Line a round glass pie plate with parchment paper and pat the dough into place evenly. Cut the dough pizza-style so there are 8 trianges. Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Be careful not to overcook. I find most scones too try, so I try to take them out of the oven when they are still slightly moist in the centre.
*For gluten-free, substitute 2 cups of spelt flour for the wheat flours
Our neighbourhood farmer’s market is open for the season again. My parents were here for dinner the other night and while we were eating gorgeous yellow cherry tomatoes from the market somehow the conversation drifted over to rhubarb.
From all of that talking, and from the stalks of rhubarb and sliced strawberries I put in my freezer a couple of weeks ago, came this yummy, gooey mess. I also used a shrivelled old orange I had in the fridge to add flavour along with baking spices.
I made my crisp “deep dish” style in a beautiful baby blue Le Creuset pot my husband gave me a few years ago – it’s about 8 inches wide and half as deep. You could also use a bigger, shallow dish.
Rhubarb and strawberry crisp
4 cups sliced rhubarb
4 cups sliced strawberries
Juice and grated rind of one orange
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon of each: ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter (or coconut oil)
1/4 candied ginger, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Combine rhubarb, strawberries, orange juice and rind, spices and cornstarch in a baking dish. Mix together flour, oats, sugar, oil/butter, candied ginger and walnuts. Sprinkle on top of rhubarb and strawberry mixture. Bake covered at 350F for 30-40 minutes and then remove cover and bake for another 15 minutes until crisp is lightly browned. Don’t forget the ice cream!
The stars of our garden these past two weeks. Sadly, they are starting to fade, but aren’t they gorgeous? The first year with a new garden is so fun – watching what grows, planning for the future, deciding what to change and, like these beauties, what should stay exactly the same.
It has been such a gorgeous spring so far. Already we’ve had a handful of days that feel like summer – warm, bright, full of early morning chirping birds.
I’ve been sneaking out to the garden for half an hour (even an hour once!) when there is a baby minder near. So far I’ve planted a row of peas behind the raspberry canes my mom planted earlier this spring and I’ve planted a few pots with herbs and seeds for salad greens. And tomato and basil seedlings have sprouted inside. There are about a million more things I’d like to do, but baby calls loudly and often! I’m really looking forward to him being a little bit bigger and the weather a little bit warmer so we can spend more time together outside. And yes, I know, savour these moments…he’ll be grown up soon enough!
Here are a few photos of what’s already growing. Here’s hoping I have some pictures to post soon after all my work with the seeds.