About Lopez Island Kitchen Gardens

Over the five years that I’ve written the Islands’ Weekly Green Living column about Lopez Island farms and farmers, I’ve occasionally used my kitchen garden as a topic. The pleasure of writing these personal columns has finally tempted me away from the monthly Green Living column and to a blog where I can write regularly about kitchen gardens, my own and the many others on Lopez Island. I think of kitchen gardens as gardens where people who love to garden and to cook grow vegetables, fruit and herbs for their kitchens. Join me as I explore this new media and the possibilities it offers for sharing ideas about growing and cooking vegetables.

Seeding the winter kitchen garden now

It’s been a very busy April and May, but the spring and summer vegetables are finally in the ground and growing. I’m ready to take a break from planting the kitchen garden, but not before I finish one more task. It seems odd to be doing this during these sweet days of late spring and early summer, but it’s time to start seeds of fall and winter vegetables.  With days-to-maturity requirements of 100 to over 200 days, many of my winter favorites, like celery root, leeks, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, winter cabbage, overwintering cauliflowers and broccolis, need to be seeded now or in the next week or two so that they’ll be mature by the time days become shorter and temperatures drop.  At that point, they’ll be ready to hold in the garden, heavily mulched against cold and sometimes covered against the wind, for harvest throughout the winter.

I look at my list and translate the days into months and realize that a hundred days from now is mid-September, the autumn equinox. Time to start planting!

Celery root: 100-110 days

Leeks: 90-110 days

Parsnips: 110 days

Brussels sprouts: 99-200 days

Winter cabbage: 160-220 days

Overwintering cauliflower: 200+ days

Purple sprouting broccoli: 220 days

With the exception of parsnips, which I’ll plant outdoors soon, I’ll start all of these seeds indoors.  I’ve already seeded celery root and leeks and their small, green shoots are rising above the potting soil.  I used to start celery root indoors in late March and set out plants in mid-May, but in the past few years, I’ve found that the plants grow better when the weather is warmer, so I start them in early May, May 9th this year, and set them out in late June.  I also used to direct seed leeks in late May, but a few years ago, I experimented with starting seeds indoor in pots, where I got much better germination, and then setting out the contents of the pots in mid-to-late June where the leeks grew well into pencil-sized plants for final transplant into rows.

Celery root starts 5:31

Leek starts 2 5:31

Next week, I’ll start the brassicas: Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. By mid-July, the brassicas will be sturdy plants in 4-inch pots, ready to harden off and set out in winter beds.

In mid-July, I’ll plant more winter crops, those with shorter days-to-maturity, like carrots, beets, turnips, rutabaga, kale.  But mid-July is six weeks away, and between now and then there will be time to take a break from planting the kitchen garden.

Advertisements

Overwintering Brassicas

My friend Carol has given me lots of great fruit and vegetable ideas over the years: grafting tips and ground cherrybean and tomato varieties.  Her latest suggestion was overwintering brassicas.  I’d always counted on flower buds from kale and other overwintered brassicas to give me a sweet broccoli taste in early spring, but this past summer, Carol encouraged me to grow purple sprouting broccoli as well as overwintering cauliflowers. She even gave me some plants. “You’ll be glad you grew them,” she said.   For the past month, as we’ve enjoyed sweet cauliflower and purple sprouting broccoli, we have been glad.  Thanks to Carol, I’ve ordered my own seeds for overwintering brassicas and will plant them this summer for next spring.

Carol gave me starts for “All the Year Round” and Purple Cape cauliflower and for Purple Sprouting Broccoli.   Uprising Organics offers “All the Year Round” cauliflower, shown here in my kitchen garden.

Cauliflower ATYR in garden

Adaptive Seeds offers Purple Cape cauliflower, a bit blown in this photo because I didn’t realize it was cauliflower so picked after it had burst from its head.  It was still delicious. Adaptive also offers Prestige Cauliflower, another white overwintering cauliflower.

Cauliflower purple cape

A variety of Purple Sprouting Broccoli called Red Arrow is usually available from Adaptive Seeds but is sold out this year. Territorial Seeds also offers several different varieties of Purple Sprouting Broccoli, all tempting.  I’m not sure which variety from Carol’s starts is here in these photos.

Broccoli PSB closeup

Broccoli PSB plants in bed

This past winter was a good test for overwintering brassicas.  We had many nights with temperatures in the teens, days with relentless northeast and northwest winds, and snow.  The cauliflower and broccoli plants I’d set out in late July were robust, nearly three-foot tall towers of dark green leaves by late October. From November to February, with each hit of winter weather, the plants looked more and more cold and wind damaged, less and less likely to rebound.  I was about to write them off as a failed experiment when in late February I noticed new growth emerging.  First, small purple buds appeared near the ends of broccoli stems, then leaves on the cauliflowers multiplied, looking like they were starting to enclose growing heads.  Once again, Carol was right.  We were soon harvesting tasty purple broccoli florets and large, sweet heads of cauliflower.

I’ve prepared them as I do summer and fall season broccoli and cauliflower, mainly roasting them and serving them as side dishes or added to pasta, beans or grains for a main dish.

Broccoli PSB roastedPurple sprouting broccoli roasted and topped with some roasted kale leaves and flower buds

Cauliflower ATYR pasta in bowlAll the Year Round Cauliflower roasted with shallots, topped with toasted almonds and parsley

Broccoli PSB roasted with soissons verteRoasted Purple Cape Cauliflower and Soissons Verte beans with sautéed red mustard

I have plants of summer broccoli and cauliflower already growing in this year’s kitchen garden and am looking forward to harvesting them on sunny, warm days of summer, but I’m also anticipating next winter and early spring and the chance to welcome overwintering brassicas again.

 

 

 

An Italian Recipe for Overwintered Greens

Greens winter in basket

Kale, chard and red mustard are three hardy greens that overwinter in my kitchen garden and are now putting out fresh, new leaves.  The plants are on their way to producing flower buds; in fact, some buds are already forming on the kale and mustard, but it’s their leaves that interest me in the kitchen right now.

Any of these leaves singly or in combination is delicious wilted slightly and then sautéed in olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. They are great as a side dish or as part of the main course on pasta or white beans.

Though I could eat greens prepared this way every night this time of year, I recently remembered a recipe I made years ago. It takes little more time and a few more ingredients but is definitely worth the effort.  It’s from Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s The Splendid Table (1992) and titled Spiced Spinach with Almonds.  In the note introducing the recipe, Kasper writes: “Far more interesting than Italy’s usual sauté of spinach and onion is Emilia-Romagna’s 17thcentury version of the recipe.  In it, spinach cooks with spices, nuts, currants, and cheeses.  Serve the dish just as they did centuries ago as a side dish,or use it as a topping on warm flat bread “and serve it as an antipasto or with drinks.”

Greens winter on island

Greens winter nuts prep

When I first made this recipe years ago, I followed another of Kasper’s suggestions and layered it with slices of polenta, alternating three layers of polenta with two layers of filling, baking at 350 until it was heated through and serving it as a main course.  It’s this combination of sautéed greens and sliced polenta that I repeated a few weeks ago.

The filling was even better than I remembered, perhaps because I used red mustard leaves instead of spinach.  Spinach was good, but spicy red mustard is even better.  I also made two other substitutions to the recipe, using shallots instead of onion and yellow raisins instead of currants, both good.  I’ll make the polenta dish again soon, but in the meantime, we’ll continue to enjoy the side dish for dinner with leftovers for lunch.

In a final note at the end of the recipe Kasper adds: “Swiss chard, turnip greens, broccoli rape, beet greens, romaine, escarole, curly endive and young dandelion greens are all excellent prepared this way.” To her list, I’ll add red mustard and kale, both of which blend wonderfully with the spices, almonds, creamy ricotta and the nutty Parmesan, and both of which, along with chard, are in good supply in my kitchen garden.

Greens winter saute in skillet

Spiced Spinach with Almonds

Serves 4-6 as a side dish

 2 pounds fresh spinach, trimmed

3 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup minced onion

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Generous pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

5 tablespoons blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons currants

½ cup fresh ricotta cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

 Cooking the Spinach: Rinse the spinach in a sink full of cold water. Lift the leaves right from the water into an 8-quartpot, without shaking off any of the water clinging to them. Set the pot over medium heat, cover, and cook 5 minutes, or until the leaves are wilted but still a bright dark green.  Immediately turn the spinach into a colander.  Briefly run cold water over the spinach to cool it down and stop its cooking. Then squeeze out the excess moisture and coarsely chop.

 Finishing and Serving:  Have a serving bowl warming in a low oven.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté 8 minutes over medium to medium-high heat, or until golden brown.  Stir in the garlic and cook another minute.  Add the spinach, cinnamon, nutmeg, almonds, and currants. Stir while sautéing over medium heat 2 minutes, or until heated through and aromatic.  Stir in the ricotta and heat a few seconds.  Season with salt and pepper.  Turn the spinach mixture into the serving bowl and toss with the Parmesan.  Serve hot.

Winter Shakshuka

I’ve been a fan of shakshuka since discovering it in Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks Plenty (2010) and Jerusalem (2012) and in one of Melissa Clark’s New York Times Wednesday columns in 2013.  In Clark’s words, shakshuka is “a one-skillet recipe of eggs baked in a tomato-red pepper sauce spiced with cumin, paprika and cayenne.” She continues, “First you make that sauce, which comes together fairly quickly on top of the stove, then you gently crack each of the eggs into the pan, nestling them into the sauce…Shakshuka originated in North Africa, and like many great dishes there are as many versions as there are cooks who have embraced it.”

I make shakshuka in summer from fresh peppers and tomatoes, and it’s delicious, but this winter I started making it with roasted and frozen peppers and tomatoes.  It’s just as good.  In fact, the flavors of the already-roasted peppers and tomatoes are even richer than the flavors of the fresh versions.

The shakshuka recipe I most often follow is from Ottolenghi’s Plenty (2010).

Shakshuka red set up½ tsp cumin seeds
190ml light olive oil or vegetable oil
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
2 red and 2 yellow peppers, cored and cut into 2cm strips
4 tsp muscovado sugar
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs thyme, picked and chopped
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
½ tsp saffron strands
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
Up to 250ml water
8 free-range eggs

 In a large saucepan, dry-roast the cumin on high heat for two minutes. Add the oil and sauté the onions for two minutes. Add the peppers, sugar, bay leaves, thyme, parsley and two tablespoons of coriander, and cook on high heat to get a nice color. Add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes, adding enough water to keep it the consistency of a pasta sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning. It should be potent and flavorful. You can prepare this mix in advance.

Place four saucepans on medium heat and divide the mixture between them. Break two eggs into each pan, pouring into gaps in the mixture. Sprinkle with salt, cover and cook very gently for 10-12 minutes, until the egg just sets. Sprinkle with coriander and serve with chunky white bread.

Shakshuka red skillet

I especially like the instruction to toast the cumin seeds briefly before adding the oil because the cumin flavor permeates the dish through the oil. I leave out the sugar because the onions, peppers and tomatoes from my garden are already very sweet.  In the summer, using fresh vegetables, I follow the recipe cooking sequence.  In the winter, using already-roasted peppers and tomatoes, I sauté the onions until they are very soft before adding the peppers, tomatoes and other spices and cooking them until the flavors blend.  Sometimes I’ll also add feta or goat cheese when I add the eggs, as Melissa Clark suggests.  Finally, a half-batch of this recipe is perfect for two, and rather than using individual skillets, I usually use one skillet that will hold four eggs.

Tomato and pepper based shakshuka is the more traditional version, but this winter I’ve also been making what many call green shakshuka. The technique is the same, but instead of onions, peppers and tomatoes, the vegetable base for the eggs is a sauté of leeks or onions and greens like spinach, chard, collards or kale or a combination of these hardy greens.  Green is as delicious as red and, in keeping with the season, it’s another great way to use the leeks and hardy greens in the winter kitchen garden.

In his latest cookbook, SIMPLE (2018), Ottolenghi has a recipe he calls Braised Eggs with Leeks and Za’atar that is essentially green shakshuka. I’ve made it several times and it’s delicious.

Shakshuka green set up

Braised Eggs with Leeks and Za’atar

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp olive oil

2 large leeks (or 4 smaller), trimmed and cut into ½cm slices (6 cups/530g)

1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed

2 small preserved lemons, pips discarded, skin and flesh finely chopped (2 ½ Tbsp/30g)

1 ¼ cup/300ml vegetable stock

7 oz/200g baby spinach leaves

6 large eggs

3 ¼ oz/90g feta, broken into 2cm pieces

1 tbsp za’atar

salt and black pepper

  1.    Put the butter and 1 tablespoon of oil into a large sauté pan, for which you have a lid, and place on a medium high heat. Once the butter starts to foam, add the leeks, ½ teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper. Fry for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the leeks are soft. Add the cumin, lemon and vegetable stock and boil rapidly for 4–5 minutes, until most of the stock has evaporated. Fold in the spinach and cook for a minute, until wilted, then reduce the heat to medium.2.    Use a large spoon to make 6 indentations in the mixture and break one egg into each space. Sprinkle the eggs with a pinch of salt, dot the feta around the eggs, then cover the pan. Simmer for 4–5 minutes, until the egg whites are cooked but the yolks are still runny.

    3.    Mix the za’atar with the remaining tablespoon of oil and brush over the eggs. Serve at once, straight from the pan.

Shakshuka green skillet

I’ve substituted kale and collards for the spinach in this Ottolenghi recipe and also used goat cheese instead of feta, and all are tasty.

Chard is a good another green in shakshuka as Sarah Copeland suggests in this New York Times recipe. The touch of heavy cream in this version also works wonderfully to blend together the vegetable flavors.

3 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 large bunch/1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, stems and leaves separated and chopped (about 9 cups)

½ teaspoon salt, plus more as needed

 cup half-and-half or heavy cream

8 large eggs

¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus more as needed

3 ounces cotija cheese or queso fresco, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)

1 avocado, sliced, for serving

1 small jalapeño, thinly sliced, for serving

Chopped cilantro, for serving

Smoked hot sauce, for serving

Corn tortillas, toasted, for serving

1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving

Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until softening, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 5 minutes more.

Raise the heat to medium-high, add the chard stems, and cook to release some liquid, 5 minutes. Add the chard leaves, in batches, adding more as they wilt, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until completely wilted, 3 to 5 minutes more. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, pour in the half-and-half and stir loosely together.

Make eight small hollows in the cooked chard with the back of a spoon. Gently crack an egg into each hollow. Cover with a lid or foil and cook on medium-low until the eggs are just set, but still soft, about 7 to 9 minutes. Remove the lid, sprinkle with salt, pepper, cotija, avocado, jalapeño and cilantro. Serve with smoked hot sauce, toasted tortillas and lime wedges.

Shakshuka is a popular breakfast, brunch or lunch dish, but I serve it most often for dinner.  During our recent cold and snowy weather, it’s been a comforting winter supper with the added bonus of flavors that hold promises of summer.

Winter Slaw with Farro

An “I-could-make-this-tonight” recipe appeared on my Food52 daily email this week, Deb Perelman’s Winter Slaw with Farro. I made it for dinner the other night, and its flavors and textures are both delicious.  The crisp, sweet cabbage contrasts perfectly with the soft, vinegar marinated dried fruit, the nuts add crunch and richness, the cheese adds a nice bit of saltiness and the nutty farro adds chewiness.    I served it with Turnips Anna, an elegant but earthy dish that, with the slaw, made a perfect winter meal.

cabbage farro slaw in bowl w:servers

turnips-anna-finished

Part of the appeal of the slaw recipe was that I had the main ingredients at hand: January King cabbage in the winter kitchen garden, Bluebird Grain Farm emmer farro in the pantry and Parmesan in the fridge. I didn’t have dried apricots or roasted almonds, but the author’s notes encourage swapping other dried fruits for apricots and other nuts for almonds.  I used a combination of our home-dried apples and pears and toasted hazelnuts because I had both in the pantry.

Another appeal is that the recipe fell into easy steps.  After setting the farro to boil, I diced the dried apples and pears and put them in a small bowl with the white wine vinegar.  After harvesting, halving and coring the cabbage, I sliced it on a mandolin, though the food processor or a sharp knife would have worked too.  After chopping the hazelnuts, shaving the Parmesan, and draining the farro, all the ingredients were ready to combine, just as the directions suggest.

cabbage farro slaw still life

I made a half-batch for the two of us and had plenty left over for a delicious lunch slaw the next day. A few nights later, I made another half-batch for dinner.  This time, in addition to the generous amounts of salt and pepper Perelman recommends, I made a white wine vinegar and mustard vinaigrette to add more acid flavor to the marinated dried fruit.  That was a tasty addition.  Another time I might add pickled red onions.  While there are still January King Cabbages in the kitchen garden, I’ll keep making this slaw.

Deb Perelman’s Winter Slaw with Farro

 Author Notes: Deb Perelman had yearned for a grain salad with an inverted proportion of grains to vegetables for some time before tasting the inspiration for this one at the West Village restaurant Via Carota. Finally, she felt more confident to make her own. Since then, she’s seen scant proportions of grains peek through in other restaurant salads (often fried freekah for toasty, popcorn-like crunch) and made all sorts of variations herself. She loves switching in walnuts and “diced pillowy bits of Taleggio or Robiola instead of Parmesan cheese.” You can also swap any dried fruit for the apricot.
Adapted very slightly from Smitten Kitchen Every Day (Knopf, 2017).

Ingredients

  • 1/2cup (100g) finely diced dried apricots
  • 1/4cup (60ml) white wine vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 1 small-medium (2 pounds or a bit less than 1kg) head green cabbage
  • 1 1/3 cups (145g) cooked farro, cooled (from about 3/4 cup uncooked)
  • 1/3 cup (45g) roughly chopped roasted almonds
  • 2 ounces (55g) Parmesan, thinly shaved on a grater with a vegetable peeler
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) olive oil, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper, more to taste

 Directions

Place the apricots in a small bowl with the vinegar, and set aside while preparing the other ingredients.

Cut the cabbage in half, and remove the core (and eat the core as a crunchy snack); then cut the halves again so you have quarters. With a mandolin or a knife, slice the cabbage into very thin ribbons. You’ll have about 12 cups total, which will seem ridiculous, but it will wilt down with dressing on it. Pile it into your largest bowl.

 Add to the bowl the apricots and their vinegar, the farro, almonds, and most of the Parmesan, plus the olive oil, salt, and a good helping of freshly ground pepper. Toss to combine, and try to give it 15 minutes to let the ingredients settle a little before making seasoning adjustments; then add more vinegar, Parmesan, oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Perelman emphasizes this: “With so few ingredients and most of them fairly mildly flavored, you cannot skimp on seasoning or texture; I hope everyone toasts their almonds well and uses salt and pepper until all the flavors are lifted/present.” 

Heap the slaw on plates in piles, and top with remaining Parmesan. The slaw’s textures are best for serving to company at this point, but this will keep for up to 1 week in the fridge for great take-to-work lunches. 

What I’m planting in 2019

Last January, I published a blog post titled “What I’m planting in 2018.”  Using a table format, I listed all the seeds I planned to plant in 2018, some brief comments about why I’d chosen these vegetables and these varieties, and links to posts I’d written about many of the vegetables over the years of this Lopez Island Kitchen Garden blog.  For 2019, I’m republishing this table with updates on what I especially liked in 2018, what didn’t work so well and new varieties I’m going to try this year.  These updates are in bold face below.  As I wrote last year: I hope this list will be a useful resource and, more important, that anyone who has other vegetables and vegetable varieties they like will share them in return.

Seed What I’ll plant in 2019 Comments
A = Adaptive Seeds

F= Fedco Seeds

J = Johnny’s Selected Seeds

TSC = Territorial Seed Co.

UP = Uprising Seeds

Arugula Arugula OG F  

I plant in August as a fall and winter green.

Basil Genovese F

Sweet F

Round Midnight F

 

Genovese and Sweet are both good green basil.  Round Midnight is purple and a lovely accent color.
Beans, Bush green Maxibel F Maxibel is my favorite bush green bean.

This year, thanks to a reader, I’m going to try
Beurre de Rocquencourt, a yellow bush bean from Adaptive Seeds 

 

 

Beans, Pole fresh Fortex UP

Golden Gate F

Northeaster OG J

Rattlesnake F

I like the mixture of colors and shapes of these pole beans.

 

Beans, Pole shell, dry Aunt Jean

Good Mother Stallard

Soissons Verte

Tarbais

Seeds for all of these I’ve saved over the years or gotten from friends

Beans that don’t dry on the vine make great shell beans.

 

 

Beans, Bush shell and dry Cranberry

Drabo

Black Turtle

Seeds for all of these I’ve saved over the years or gotten from friends

Cranberry I like best as a shell bean.  Drabo and Black Turtle I like as a dry bean.

 

Beets Avalanche TSC

Kestrel OG F

Touchstone Gold OG F

I like to grow red, yellow and white beets. TSC used to carry Kestrel then dropped it. I’m glad F brought it back.  I was happy to order it this year.

 

Kestrel is as good as I remembered.  I’ll grow it again this year.

Broccoli DiCicco JSS

Piracicaba Fedco

Umpqua F

I grew Piracicaba last year and liked its constant side shoot production.

I’ll keep growing Piracicaba and also Umpqua, but I may drop DiCicco so I’m not buried in broccoli.

Brussels Sprouts Diablo F

Gustus F

Hestia TSC

Igor TSC

Nautic TSC

Gustus was my favorite for flavor and hardiness in 2017.  I’ll grow more Gustus relative to the others this year.

 

Gustus was great again this year though so were the others.  For 2019, I’ll grow lots of Gustus but one each of the others for variety.

Cabbage January King AD I continue to like January King best for winter cabbage.

And I still do.

 

Cantaloupe Prescott Fond Blanc OG F After a few years off, I’m going to try cantaloupe again.

 

I started seeds too late this year (end of June) but set plants in the cold frame anyway where they grew well but the melons didn’t mature.  This year, I’ll start them earlier and use the cold frame again

 

Cauliflower Fioretto 60 F

Snow Crown F

 

Purple of Sicily TSC

Flame Star F

Fioretto with its side-shoot growth habit seems worth a try. I’ll grow Snow Crown cauliflower as a back-up.

 

Fioretto was a disappointment, both in flavor and production, so I won’t grow it in 2019.  I will, however, grow lots of Purple of Sicily cauliflower. I may even skip snow crown! And I plan to try an orange cauliflower, Flame Star

Carrots Mokum F

Purple Haze F

Red Cored Chantenay F

White Satin F

Yellowstone F

In addition to orange Mokum and Chantenay, Purple Haze, White Statin and Yellowstone offer beautiful colors as well as sweet, crisp flavor. Purple Haze is my favorite for flavor and beauty of these three colorful, non-orange carrots.

 

Celeriac Brilliant F

Tellus AD

Both celery root varieties  have great flavor but Tellus is a tiny bit sweeter.

 

Chard Argentata F

Fordhook F

Rainbow F

Rainbow chard is so pretty.

Fordhook is winter hardy in the garden and tender on the plate.  I’m trying Argentata this year for its thicker stems.

 

I won’t grow Argentata this year.  I didn’t use the stems as much as I’d anticipated.  For a different chard, I’m going to try an all red chard this year, Red Rhubarb, described by Fedco as very hardy and a 19th century heirloom from Europe.

Collards Cascade Glaze F

Flash TSC

Despite its rough appearance, collards are very tender when sautéed. It’s a great winter green alone or mixed with cabbage.

 

Both collards did really well this year.  I especially liked Cascade Glaze both for its shiny, yellow-green leaves and its flavor.  Its sweet, tender leaves were even good raw mixed into kale salads.

Corn Café F

Candy Mountain AD

Café matured early in 2017 and was very sweet.  I’m trying Candy Mountain for comparison this year

 

Candy Mountain was a disappointment. Very starchy and not at all sweet.  I’ll stay with Café this year.

Cucumber Marketmore F I’ve grown Poona Kheera off and on over the years and liked it, but this year, on the recommendation of my friend Anne, I will try the classic Marketmore just to have a green slicing cuke.
Eggplant Diamond F

Galine F

Rosa Bianca F

These three eggplant produce reliably in my kitchen garden when grown in a cloche.

 

Galine was my favorite in 2018 for earliness, productivity and smoky sweet flavor.  I’m tempted to grow only Galine in 2019.

Escarole/Endive/

Radicchio

Borca A

Pan di Zucchero F

 

Indigo F

Fiero F

Radicchio de Treviso F

Variegata de Chioggia A

Borca and Pan di Zucchero, both sugarloaf chicories, have become one of our favorite winter greens.

The red versions are great too.

 

Both the sugarloaf and Treviso radicchios were great this year, but the biggest treat was the red, pink and white striped variety, Variegata de Chioggia from Adaptive Seeds.  I’ll definitely grow more of this variety this year. It was beautiful as well as sweet and crunchy in winter salads.

Fava Windsor F I always grow favas and like Windsor for its size and rich flavor.
Fennel Mantovano AD

Preludio JSS

These two fennel varieties have been very bolt resistant in my garden, planted in early spring and again in late summer.

 

Ground Cherry Ambrosia Husk Cherry F After a few years off, I’m growing ground cherries  again this year.

 

Actually, I didn’t get to these in 2018; I’ll try again in 2019.

Kale Lacinato F

Lacinato, Dazzling Blue AD

Red Russian F

Redbor TSC

White Russian F

Winterbor TSC

If I could grow only one vegetable, it would be kale. Search my blog for the many entries on growing kale, kale puree, kale flower buds and kale salad

 

Leeks Bleu de Solaize F

Lancelot F

These two leek varieties seem most winter hardy, most rust resistant and sweetest.

 

Lettuce Super Gourmet Blend TSC I like lettuce mixes.  They are a good way to get variety without buying a lot of different seed packets.

 

Mache Granon AD

Vit TSC

I can’t imagine not having mache in the winter garden.
Mustard Red Giant F Sautéed red mustard is a favorite winter side dish.
Onions Newburg AD

Patterson F

Redwing F

Purplette J

I miss Copra! Newburg and Patterson are OK substitutes but not as sweet as Copra.

Redwing is a great storage red onion.

Purplette is a spring favorite.

Pac Choi Shuko F I’ve never grown Pac Choi so this will be an adventure.

 

I didn’t get to pac choi in 2018.  Maybe in 2019!

Parsley Gigante d’Italia F My favorite parsley.  Very winter hardy.
Parsnip Gladiator TSC What would winter meals be without sweet parsnips?
Peas, Snap Sugarsnap OG F I continue to plant this original sugar snap pea despite the off-types that still appear and the lack of disease resistance.   I like the flavor better than any other sugar snap pea.
Peppers Red sweet:

Carmen F

King of the North F

Lady Bell F

Revolution F

Orange sweet:

Etudia AD

Gourmet F

Yellow sweet:

Flavorburst F

Poblano spicy:

Ancho Magnifico TSC

Tiburon F

Like eggplant, peppers produce reliably in my kitchen garden when grown in a cloche.

Peppers produce reliably in my kitchen garden when grown in a cloche.

I grow red, orange and yellow sweet peppers for their flavor and colors and roast and freeze any that are left.

Poblanos are mainly a winter treat, roasted and frozen in summer/fall and used thawed for sauces and mixed with mashed squash or potatoes in winter.

 

Etudia, a sweet orange pepper from Adaptive Seeds that I grew for the first time in 2018, was flavorful and productive.  I’ll grow it again this year. I may drop Gourmet.

 

I won’t grow Tiburon again because Ancho Magnifico is so productive and its flavor is just the right balance of sweet and spicy. 

 

Potato Daisy Gold MT

German Butterball MT

At the recommendation of Will Bonsall, I grew Daisy Gold last year, really liked it and will grow it again.

German Butterball is an old favorite.   Both store well.

Raab Sorrento TSC Though kale and other brassicas provide delicous raab-like flower buds in the spring, I like to grow a little raab in the fall.
Radish Champion F

Cheriette F

I grow radishes in the cool of spring and enjoy them alone and with new lettuce.  These two varieties make pretty, mildly spicy red globes.
Rutabaga, Turnip Joan TSC Earthy, sweet rutabaga is the perfect winter root.  Search my blog for many root vegetable recipes.
Shallot Ed’s Red My friend Dave Sabold gives me seed of Ed’s Red.  Shallots are another winter treat.
Spinach Abundant Bloomsdale AD Some years I plant spinach in late fall and let it winter over and begin growing early in the spring.  It’s always welcome in salads and wilted in butter.
Squash, Summer Costata Romanesca F Costata Romanesca is my favorite zucchini, flavorful and not watery.
Squash, Winter Burpees Butterbush F

Hunter TSC

Candystick Dessert Delicata A

Honeyboat Delicata A

Blue Kuri A

Potimarron A

Tetsukabuto PT

Burgess Buttercup TSC

While I like big winter squash like Buttercup and Blue Kuri for pies, mashes and soups, I’ve also grown to like smaller, one-meal squash like Honeyboat Delicata for roasting. And for the past few years I’ve also liked Butternut squashes for both roasting and stews.

 

 

Tomato Amish paste F

Brandywine, Pink F

Cherokee Carbon TSC

Cherokee Purple TSC

Darby Red & Yellow A

Dester SSE

Fiachetto de Manduria UP

GenuwineTSC

Golden Jubilee (aka Golden Sunray) F

Hillbilly TSC

Jasper Cherry F

Jaune de Flamme F

Momotaro F

Mortgage Lifter TSC

Orange Paruche TSC

Prudens Purple F

Speckled Roman F

Sunchocola Cherry TSC

Weavers Black BrandywineF

Aosta Valley F

Flaming Burst F

Sungreen Garden TSC

 

Each year, I grow old favorites, return to some I’ve grown and liked in the past (underlined), and try some new (italics) that look intriguing. I was especially pleased this year to find in the Fedco description of Golden Jubilee that this tomato used to be offered under the name Golden Sunray, an old favorite of mine.  Search my blog for many post about drying tomatoesroasting tomatoes, training tomatoes and growing tomatoes.

 

Golden Sunray was as sweetly spicy as I remembered.  The Fedco catalog also describes it as smooth-textured and I agree that it’s one of the creamiest tomatoes I grow.  If there are any left when nights get cold at the end of the season, they ripen beautifully in a paper bag, keeping their flavor and texture better than any other bag-ripened tomato I grow.

 

Darby Red and Yellow was a good as I remembered.  “2-4 oz, red fruit with yellow tiger stripes.” 

 

Genuwine was good but not outstanding.  I will probably grow it this year to give it another chance.

 

Hillbilly was a pretty and very tasty “golden-orange” tomato with “red streaked flesh and skin.” It looks especially pretty sliced and layered with red tomatoes on a serving platter. I’ll grow it again this year.

 

Jasper Cherry was OK didn’t develop deep, sweet flavor until late in the season.  I may go back to Sweet Million, an old favorite.

 

Weavers Black Brandywine was OK.  I may give it one more year or stop.

 

Aosta Valley: my friend Carol gave me seeds of this Fedco variety.  Like Fiachetto de Manduria, it’s excellent for roasting and freezing but it’s also sweeter and richer flavored than Fiachetto.  I will definitely grow it again this year and it may eventually replace Fiachetto de Manduria.

 

I like serving big bowls of mixed-color cherry tomatoes. To the red, orange and purple cherries I grow now, I’d like to add a yellow and a green.  I’m thinking of Flaming Burst yellow cherry from Fedco and Sungreen Garden green cherry from Territorial.

Turnip Gold Ball F

Oasis F

Gilfeather F

Spring turnips are an amazing treat. Try them!

Gilfeather winter turnip is just as great a treat.  Try them too!

 

Winter Kitchen Garden Food and Beauty

Food is the main reason I grow a winter kitchen garden, but the beauty of these hardy vegetables is a close second.

Leeks, Parsnips, B Sprouts 12:18Blue-green leek spears share a bed with yellow-green parsnip leaves, and lighter green Brussels sprouts, their small, hard globes arranged like miniature cabbages along tall stalks, fill the next bed.

Kales 12:18

Collard Flash 12:18White outlines the tips and veins of Winterbor and White Russian Kale and Flash Collards.

Cabbage JK 12:18

Rutabaga 12:18Purple tints the flattened globes of January King cabbage and wraps around the rutabaga.

Other roots, carrots, beets, turnips and celery root are hidden, buried in mulch to keep the soil around them from freezing, but when I dig and wash them, their bright colors shine.

Over the next few months, I’ll harvest these winter vegetables as I need them.  When the forecast is for temperatures in the low 20s, teens or lower, I’ll pile on more mulch onto the layers already there and perhaps add some tarps, but for most of our temperate marine northwest winter, these vegetables will hold well in the natural cooler of winter.  They’ll be there for favorite meals as well as for new discoveries.

One wonderful new discovery, an easy and very delicious cabbage recipe, is in Yotam Ottolenghi’s newest cookbook, SIMPLE (2018).  I’ve made it twice already this week and will definitely make it again.

Roast cabbage with tarragon and pecorino

Serve this at room temperature, so the pecorino keeps its texture and flavor. It’s lovely as a side for roast chicken or sausages, or with a selection of cooked veg. Serves four.

 ½ cup olive oil
2 lemons – finely grate the zest, to get 2 tbsp, then juice, to get 2 tbsp
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Salt and black pepper
2 Napa cabbages (aka pointed cabbage), outer leaves discarded, then cut lengthways into eight wedges each (12 cups/1 kg)
½ cup/10g tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
1oz/30g pecorino shaved (use a vegetable peeler)

Heat the oven to 450 F.

In a small bowl, whisk the oil, lemon zest, garlic, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, then transfer two tablespoons to a second bowl.

Put the cabbage wedges in a large bowl and season with an eighth of a teaspoon of salt. Pour the larger portion of oil mixture over the cabbage and toss to coat. Arrange the cabbage on two oven trays lined with baking paper.

Cabbage raw sliced 12:18

Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the edges are crisp and golden brown (swap the trays around halfway through, so both get time near the higher heat at the top of the oven).

Cabbage cooked sliced 12:18

Transfer the cabbage to a platter, then leave to rest and cool for five to 10 minutes.

Mix the lemon juice into the remaining oil mixture, then drizzle evenly over the cabbage wedges. Scatter the tarragon and pecorino on top, finish with a good grind of black pepper and serve.

Cabbage brown plate 12:18

I used a savoy cabbage, January King, and its sweetness was a perfect match for the lemon dressing.  The shaved Pecorino gives just the right salty touch and the tarragon provides a slight but tasty hint of licorice.  I used dried tarragon because I didn’t have any fresh and, mixed into the oil mixture with the lemon juice, it worked well.

In his introduction to this new cookbook, Ottolenghi characterizes the approach of the book by assigning a word to each of the letters in simple.

S:   Short on time

I:    Ingredients, ten or fewer

M:  Make ahead

P:   Pantry-led

L:   Lazy-day dishes

E:   Easier than you think.

“Easier than you think,” will speak to cooks who have found his earlier books too complex.  I’m a fan of all of his work, especially Jerusalem and Plenty More, and I’m happy that SIMPLE is as exciting as his others.

There are more recipes from SIMPLE that I want to try with the winter vegetables in the kitchen garden.

Leeks: Braised Eggs with Leek and Za’atar

Brussels Sprouts: Brussels Sprouts with Browned Butter and Black Garlic

Celery Root: Whole-roasted Celery Root with Coriander Seed Oil

Beef Meatballs with Lemon and Celery Root

Parsnips: Smoked Fish and parsnip cakes

Carrots: Roasted Carrots with Yogurt and Cinnamon

Beets: Roasted Beets with Yogurt and Preserved Lemon

And then there are some wonderful-sounding recipes for winter storage vegetables, especially squash.  New cookbooks are so inspiring. If you’re looking for a cookbook for your Christmas list, SIMPLE could be the one.