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appetizer

Spring Greens & Herb Fritters

TIME: 30 MINUTES, SERVES: 6+
Adapted from Market Cooking by David Tanis

David Tanis’s original recipe calls for fennel fronds and spinach, which are also seasonal Spring veggies, and delicious in fritter-form. For this gluten-free version, I had an excess of pea shoots after our weekend farmers’ markets, and a bunch of dill and parsley. Truly, any combination of herbs and greens is delicious mixed with sharp cheese, egg, and then lightly fried. These are made with almond flour, but feel free to substitute equal amounts of bread crumbs.

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. mixed herbs and greens (I used pea shoots, dill, & parsley)
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup packed Parmesan, Pecorino, or other sharp cheese
1 cup almond flour
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. sumac (opt.)
1 tsp. lemon zest
Salt & fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Avocado oil, or other high-heat oil for frying

METHOD

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

  2. Add the herbs and greens and blanch for a minute to wilt. Transfer to a colander and rinse under cold water. Squeeze dry and finely chop. You should have about 1 cup of packed greens.

  3. Transfer chopped greens to a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients, minus the frying oil. Form into 2-inch diameter patties. If you don’t intend to serve all of them at once, save the mixture in the fridge for future frying.

  4. Pour the oil in a large, heavy-bottom pan to coat. Working in batches, fry the patties, turning once until golden, about 3 minutes on each side.

  5. Remove from heat and place on a paper towel. Serve warm alongside a mixture of crème fraîche, lemon zest and salt.

Pumpkin Seed-Herb Sauce

TIME: 15 MINUTES; SERVES: 1 PINT

This sauce was born from having an excess of wilting cilantro in my fridge. I was going to make zhoug, a spicy cilantro sauce that’s made with fresh jalapenos and garlic, but I wanted to beef it up to serve alongside salmon. I was looking through my assortment of seeds and nuts for pesto inspiration, and thought the toasted flavor and color of pumpkin seeds would be perfect. With further research, I discovered a traditional sauce from the Yucatan region called Sikil P’ak, taken from the Mayan words for pumpkin seed and tomatoes.

This adaptation swaps tomatoes for rehydrated, smoky chipotle peppers. I added half an avocado for extra creaminess as well. Now it’s a staple in my fridge—I eat it alongside fish, roast chicken, or slathered on veggies. It’s delicious stirred into crème fraîche for a rich accompaniment to soups or stews.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup cilantro, stems and leaves
1 cup parsley, stems and leaves
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for serving
2 tbls. sherry vinegar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbls. capers, drained
1/4 tsp. each ground coriander, cardamom, and cumin
1/2 avocado (opt.)
2 dried chipotle peppers, or 1 whole jalapeno pepper, seeded (opt.)
1/2 tsp. salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. Pour 1/2 cup boiling water over the chipotle peppers and let sit for about 10 minutes to re-hydrate. Remove from the water, (but reserve water for thinning the sauce), cut in half and discard the stems and seeds. Roughly chop.

  2. While the peppers are re-hydrating, spread the pumpkin seeds evenly in a pan over medium-low heat. Toast until they start to sizzle and pop, stirring often to avoid burning. Remove from heat.

  3. Place all ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. Adjust seasonings. Thin with the chipotle water if necessary.

  4. Spoon into a jar and drizzle olive oil on top. Will keep for 1 week in the fridge.

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Pickled Okra

TIME: 20 MINUTES (not including canning time); SERVES: 4 PINTS
Adapted from Linda Ziedrich’s, The Joy of Pickling

Okra is one of my favorite veggies that we grow (it is our logo, after all). I love okra in all different forms: grilled, roasted, raw, and of course, pickled!

These are fun to pull out at a dinner party in the middle of winter, or give as gifts throughout the season. Most people know okra for its mucilaginous qualities—careful not to cut past the stem and into the pod (where the goo lives), or else the brine will thicken and become very unappetizing. It’s also important to use fresh, smaller okra. Large okra can be tough and fibrous—another unpleasant surprise when chomping on a pickle. It’s best to buy okra at a farmers market, or grow your own! Okra doesn’t keep for more than a few days, so stray away from okra with black or brown spots and soft stems. You want green, crisp pods for the best pickles.

INGREDIENTS

4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
4 small dried or fresh hot peppers (red and yellow varieties are pretty)
4 lemon slices
4 tsp. pickling spice, or a mix of: dill seed, mustard seed, bay leaves (crushed), coriander seed, black peppercorns, allspice, cloves
1 quart water
1 quart apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
1/4 cup kosher salt (non-iodized)

METHOD

  1. Divide the garlic, lemon, peppers, and spices evenly between 4 sterilized pint jars.

  2. Trim the stems from the okra, but do not cut into the pod itself. Stuff the okra into the jars.

  3. Mix the water, vinegar, and salt together in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

  4. Ladle the hot brine into the jars, leaving about 1/4 inch headspace. If you are not canning them, let the jars cool, then transfer to the fridge. Wait 2 - 3 weeks before eating.

  5. If you are canning, process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes. Store for at least 3 weeks before eating.

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Turmeric-Brined Eggs with Star Anise & Cinnamon

TIME: 15 MINUTES (not including boiling eggs and overnight brining); SERVES: 1 QUART (~8 eggs)

Living in Pennsylvania, I’ve become very familiar with the classic PA Dutch dish, “Beet Pickled Eggs”. The fuchsia hue is gorgeous, and got me thinking of other ingredients I could use to color boiled eggs, which of course brought me to: turmeric!

Adding a small cinnamon stick and star anise pod kicks up this brine’s game. I love to serve these sprinkled with “everything seasoning” for a fun appetizer, or make pickled-deviled eggs with turmeric mayo.

INGREDIENTS

~8 “9 minute” boiled eggs (or however many you can squish in a jar comfortably)
1 cup distilled white vinegar
2 cups filtered water
2 tbls. kosher salt
2 tbls. black peppercorns
1 small cinnamon stick
2 star anise pods
1 tsp. ground turmeric or 1 tbls. peeled, fresh grated turmeric

METHOD

  1. Peel the boiled eggs and set aside.

  2. Mix remaining ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

  3. Place eggs in a quart jar, and cover with the brine. Let sit in the fridge overnight, shaking every so often.

  4. After you serve the eggs, you can use the brine again to pickle veggies or another batch of eggs.


Recycled brine for Daikon radish, carrot & celery pickles.

Recycled brine for Daikon radish, carrot & celery pickles.