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FUN FACTS AND OTHER TIPS WITH ASPARAGUS
Asparagus is one of the most nutritionally well balanced vegetables. It is an excellent source of folic acid, a 5.3 oz serving provides 60% of the recommended daily allowance for folacin, which is necessary for blood cell formation, growth and prevention of liver disease. Asparagus is also low in calories. It has only 20 calories per 5.3 oz serving, zero fat, zero cholesterol and is very low in sodium. Asparagus is a good source of fiber, 3 grams per 5.3 oz serving, and potassium, folacin, thiamin and vitamin B6. Furthermore, asparagus is a good source for Glutathione (GSH), a potent anticarcinogen and antioxidant. • Asparagus is a member of the Lily family. • The name asparagus comes from the Persian word asparag which means “sprout.” • Under ideal conditions, asparagus spears can grow 10 inches in a 24 hour period. • Check the stalks to be sure that they are rigid and smooth, without too many scales, and the tips are firmly attached. The stalks should be fresh and have a healthy luster. You should be able to press a fingernail gently through the outer skin of the edible part. • If you snap off the end of a stalk, the break should be clean and stalk should not be dry. • Much asparagus is cultivated in Chile year round. Yet the general growing season for the eastern U.S. is March through June.
• White asparagus is traditionally kept covered with soil and harvested while it is still under the soil level. The plants never see sunlight. Due to this process, much of the white asparagus crops tend to develop a woody stalk and it becomes necessary to peel them prior to cooking. • Keep fresh asparagus clean, cold and covered and use within 2-3 days for best quality. • Asparagus could be eaten raw, preferably shaved thin and marinated in some sort of acid, vinegar or lemon juice. • Asparagus is best steamed in an upright position. To do this, tie the stalks together with string, making sure size is consistent. Cook until just tender to retain color and texture. • Use salted rapidly boiling water. If serving immediately, cook until just tender and serve. • If blanching, cook to al dente and immerse into ice water. • Asparagus can be grilled directly if they are thin. Thick asparagus should be blanched prior to grilling. • Use a hot pan and hot oil for cooking. Keeping pieces uniform in size to ensure proper cooking.
10 WAYS WITH
ASPARAGUS 1. Shaved Asparagus Salad
6. Asparagus Omelet or Frittata
Shave the stems and refresh in ice water to make them curl up. Scatter over spinach leaves, shaved ricotta salata (or parmesan for a sharper taste), sunblush tomatoes and dress with a few drops of balsamic vinegar.
Pair asparagus and cheddar or creamy havarti in a rich and satisfying omelet or frittata with your choice of fresh herbs.
2. Roasted Asparagus Line a baking tray with foil and line up the asparagus. Pour over some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, season well, then roll the asparagus around until coated. Roast in a hot oven for 5 – 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the stems.
3. Asparagus Lemon Risotto Make a risotto. Add thinly sliced asparagus (disks) when you stir in the butter and cheese at the end. The heat of the rice will cook the asparagus. Grate over lemon zest and squeeze in some lemon juice to freshen up the flavor. Scatter a generous amount of chopped mint and parsley on top.
4. Asparagus Lemon Penne Cook the penne until 2 minutes before it’s supposed to be done according to the box. Add asparagus chopped into 1 inch sticks and cook for another minute. Drain (not too well, the water helps the sauce) and return to the pan. Add the juice of a lemon, 4 tbsp of cream and a handful of grated parmesan. Season well.
7. Grilled Spiced Asparagus Take the cleaned asparagus, drizzle lightly with olive oil and dust with cumin. Grill for 5-10 minutes until nicely charred and fork tender, turning them every few minutes so that they brown relatively evenly.
8. Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus Tightly wrap cleaned asparagus with prosciutto and grill until fork tender and prosciutto is fully cooked. Serve with a light balsamic dressing.
9. Classic Grilled Asparagus with Hollandaise Build your classic hollandaise sauce and serve aside fresh steamed or sautéed asparagus.
10. White Asparagus with a Light Lemon Sauce Peel and simmer white asparagus until tender. Remove form water and sauté quickly with the juice of 2 lemons, a dash of salt and 3 tablespoons of butter.
5. Sauté Asparagus with a Light Dijon Dressing Cut 1 bunch asparagus into 1cm pieces, steam or sauté and toss with a light dressing of dijon mustard, extra-virgin olive oil, red or white wine vinegar, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with flat-leaf parsley, mint or basil.
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A serving of broccoli is a good source of vitamin C and vitamin K. One half cup of raw or cooked broccoli counts as one serving of vegetables and contains just 15 calories. Broccoli contains carotenoids, flavonoids and phytochemicals that fight to protect you health. • Broccoli heads are actually buds that are almost ready to flower; each group of buds is called a floret. • The name broccoli comes from the Latin work brachium which means “arm” or “branch”. • The broccoli is a member of the Brassicaceae family of plants, which also includes cauliflower, kale, cabbage, collards, turnips, rutabagas, Brussels sprouts and Chinese cabbage. • Broccoli has been around for more than 2000 years. STEAM Broccoli and other vegetables in this family are also great steamed. To do this, trim fresh broccoli, cauliflower or brussel sprouts and place in a steamer. Cook until just tender to retain color and texture, season lightly and use as a side. RAW Fresh is the best way to enjoy the natural and nutritious value of broccoli and cauliflower. After trimming and washing the vegetable, dip the florets into hummus, salsa or a low-fat dip. BOIL In boiling water, submerge florets and serve immediately or blanch off into ice water to hold. The florets can then be used at a topping on pizza, salads or omelets. SAUTÉ/STIR FRY Use a hot pan and hot oil for cooking. Slice cabbage keeping pieces uniform in size to ensure even cooking.
TYPES OF BROCCOLI: Italian Green (most common in the USA) Broccoli rabe Broccolini Turnips
Chinese Brussels Collards Kale
PACKAGING AND TRANSPORTATION It is very important to reduce the field heat in broccoli as quickly after harvesting so that the broccoli stays crisp and fresh. Broccoli is transported to cooling facilities within three hours of being harvested. To prevent spoilage, boxes of broccoli are filled with ice as soon as they reach the cooling facility. Entire pallets of boxed broccoli can be iced at one time by a “clam shell” iceinjecting machine that sprays crushed ice into the sides and tops of boxes. Fresh broccoli is shipped in refrigerated trucks 24-36 hours after it is harvested. AVAILABILITY Fresh broccoli is available year-round in supermarkets throughout the United States. California is broccoli country – more than 90 percent of the nation’s broccoli crop grows there in the Salinas Valley and Santa Maria Valley from March through December. Also, broccoli is grown in the Yuma Valley of Arizona from November to March. Other states that produce broccoli include Arizona, Washington, Maine, Wisconsin, Ohio, Colorado, Oregon, Texas and Florida. HOW TO SELECT AND STORE Broccoli and cauliflower florets can be bought trimmed, washed and ready-to-eat. Fresh broccoli should be green or white in color with firm stalks and florrets. Cabbages and greens should be free of damaged leaves and hard stmes and should be rinsed well to remove any dirt.
10 WAYS WITH
1. Broccoli Salad
Toss cooled steamed broccoli with chickpeas, halved grape tomatoes, crumbled Feta, olive oil and red wine vinegar.
2. Broccoli Soup Sauté chopped onion in olive oil. Add broccoli and enough chicken broth to cover and cook until tender. Puree until smooth.
3. Broccoli Frittata Sauté chopped garlic and steamed broccoli in olive oil in an ovenproof skillet. Add beaten eggs to cover, sprinkle with grated Gruyere and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until puffed and set.
4. Broccoli Dip Puree steamed broccoli with sour cream and grated Parmesan. Serve with pretzels and raw vegetables.
5. Mashed Cauliflower Steam cauliflower until tender and blend with low-fat milk, yogurt or sour cream and a bit of butter. Add salt and pepper then whip until smooth. Pour into a baking dish, add paprika and bake until bubbly.
7. Asian Noodles
Add chopped kale to soba, fettuccine or rice noodles when pasta is near being done (last 5 minutes). When drained season with a small amount of sesame oil sesame seeds and salt.
8. Kale Salad Toss sliced beets with cooked fresh kale, 1-2 chopped scallions and a grated carrot. Top with low-fat balsamic vinaigrette.
9. Brussels Sprouts with Mustard Seeds Melt 3 tbsp of butter in a skillet. Add to it 1.5 tbsp lemon juice and 1.5 tsp of mustard seeds. Toss in steamed al dente Brussels sprouts to coat for 2-3 minutes.
10. Honey Caramelized Pancetta Wrapped Brussels Sprouts with Almonds Trim bottoms of Brussels sprouts and wrap in pancetta. In a fire proof glass dish melt butter, 2 tablespoons of honey and thyme over Brussels sprouts. Sprinkle with almonds and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until bacon is crispy.
6. One-Pot Meal Braise kale in chicken or vegetable stock. Add garlic that has been sautéed in olive oil before adding stock and kale. Add cooked or canned cannelloni beans.
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Darker green lettuce leaves are more nutritional than lighter green leaves. • Lettuce is a member of the Sunflower family. • Americans eat about 30 pounds of lettuce every year. • In the United States, lettuce is the second most popular fresh vegetable and the oldest know vegetable believed to be native to the Mediterranean area. • Iceberg lettuce was called “Crisphead” until the 1920s. It was renamed when California began transporting large quantities of lettuce underneath mounds of ice to keep them cool. This is how iceberg lettuce got its name. • Romaine lettuce was named by the Romans who believed it had healthful properties. In fact, the Emperor Caesar Augusts put up a statue praising lettuce because he believed it cured him from an illness. PACKAGING AND TRANSPORTATION Lettuce is picked by hand and cut with a very sharp knife near the base of the head. Damaged leaves are then removed, the base is wiped and is either packed directly into a box or wrapped in plastic on sight. It then goes through a cooling process called “vacuum-cooling” were it chills to 32-34 degrees Fahrenheit within 30 minutes!
AVAILABILITY Because of improvements in harvesting and refrigeration, it is now possible to supply all U.S. markets year-round. Lettuce is grown and harvested mainly in California and Arizona. However, the peak harvest season is September through May. Lettuce is harvested when it is mature, it does not “ripen” like other vegetables. The stage at which the plant produces many flower heads is called bolting. Before this process occurs the plant is harvested. HOW TO SELECT AND STORE Look for healthy, darker green outer leaves. Iceberg and other head lettuces should be compact, firm and symmetrical in shape. Avoid very hard heads of lettuce because they may not be as sweet. At home, store lettuce in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper. Iceberg lettuce will last for up to two weeks, romaine lettuce will last for about 10 days and butterhead and leaf lettuce will last for up to one week.
13 MAIN TYPES OF CULTIVARS: Butterhead
ARUGULA 1. Summer Arugula Pasties
6. Sweet Arugula Salad
Mix flaked poached salmon with lemon juice and zest, crushed jersey royal potatoes and a handful of arugula leaves, and season. Use the mix to fill rounds of shortcrust pastry and then bring the sides together, crimp, glaze with egg and bake until golden.
On a place, combine a torn ball of fresh buffalo mozzarella with raspberries and rocket leaves. Then drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar.
2. Arugula Pecan Pesto Follow a pesto recipe, but replace the basil with arugula and the pine nuts with toasted pecans. Use to dress pasta or as a crust for fish.
3. Spiced Arugula Rub Blend together dry-roasted cumin seeds, a handful of arugula leaves, a deseeded, finely chopped red chili, a splash of olive or rapeseed oil, a garlic clove and a pinch each of sea salt and brown sugar. Use as a marinade for steak, or a rub for inside the belly of fish.
4. Arugula Royals Pair boiled and well buttered jersey royal potatoes with whole arugula leaves. Toss in a handful of toasted pine nuts and dress in a lemony vinaigrette. Serve with fish or grilled steak.
5. Wild Arugula Eggs Fold whole or lightly torn arugula through a batch of scrambled eggs just as you are taking the pan off the heat. Add a heap of freshly grated Parmesan then pile the eggs on bread and top with slices of tomato fried in olive oil.
7. Arugula Oil Blend two large handfuls of fresh arugula leaves with 150ml extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of sea salt for 30 seconds in a food processor. Set aside for an hour in a cool place. Bring the mixture to room temperature and push through a fine sieve into a bowl. Use it to dress tomatoes, potatoes, pasta or fish.
8. Lemon Arugula Hummus Add finely chopped arugula, lemon zest and lemon juice to homemade or bought hummus. Serve with pita bread and cruditĂŠs.
9. Arugula-tied Parcels Finely chop a handful of arugula then mix with fresh ricotta, toasted pine nuts and the zest and juice of an orange, and season. Drop 1-2 tsp of the mix in the center of slices of parma or Serrano ham. Fold the sides in to make square parcels and secure each with a long arugula leaf.
10. Wild Arugula Burgers Finely chop a handful of arugula and whip into 100g softened, salted butter. Make up burger patties using raw mince, spices and breadcrumbs and slip 1 tsp arugula butter into the center of each one. As the burgers cook, the butter will baste them from the inside out.
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Herbs can be used fresh, dried or preserved by freezing them. Herbs have a variety of uses internally and externally within the body.
• Fresh herbs contain more antioxidants, substances that fight cancer and heart disease, than some fruit and vegetables. • Rosemary is rich in antioxidants which help to maintain vitality and slow the aging process. • Growing a pot of basil in the kitchen may smell good to us but it does not to nuisance flies and mosquitoes who are repelled by the aroma. • Parsley and mint is a natural breath freshener, particularly in combating the potency of garlic. • Aromatherapy owes its existence to fresh, organic herbs. • Herbal seeds have been found in pre-historic cave dwellings and tombs of superiors. • Medical history began as a leap into herbal remedies by Egyptians, Romans and the Chinese. PACKAGING AND TRANSPORTATION Herbs should be gently handled at harvest and stored in breathable containers to immediately be consumed at their peak of flavor.
AVAILABILITY When to harvest is really dependent on the herb grown and the plant part intended to be used. Some herbs you use the flowers, seeds or roots. Many flowering herbs, like lavender, borage and chamomile, should be harvested before they are fully opened. Harvest herbs grown for their seeds, like dill, fennel, coriander and caraway, as the seed pods begin changing color. Root crops, like ginseng and goldenseal, should be dug at the end of the summer or early fall.
6 TYPES OF HERBS: Cilantro
As a general rule, herbs grown for their leaves should be harvested before they flower. After they flower, most herbs tend to lose their flavor or become bitter. As a home gardener, the best time to pick is early in the morning just as the dew evaporates, but before the heat of the day. Annual herbs can be harvested right up until frost and perennial herbs should not be snipped past August. HOW TO SELECT AND STORE The best way to select herbs is by picking leaves and stems that are tender and vibrant. This is when the herbs contain the highest amount of oil, which supplies taste and fragrance. Almost always, herbs taste best when used fresh. Long stemmed herbs, like basil, cilantro and parsley can be stored in a glass of water similar to cut flowers. Fresh herbs, like chives and thyme, can be stored a week or longer in your refrigerators’ vegetable bin. Wrap them in a damp paper towel and the place them in an open or perforated plastic bag. Do not rinse the herbs you are storing until just before they are to be used.
FRESH HERBS 1. Salsa Verde
7. Tangy Salt Rub
In a food processor, pulse 2 garlic cloves, 3 anchovy filets, 1 Tbsp capers, and a handful each of mint, flat-leaf parsley and basil. Add 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar and a glug of extra virgin olive oil. This sharp sauce is a perfect complement to roast meats or griddled fish.
Chop rosemary, oregano, lemon thyme or sage and pound in a pestle and mortar with double the amount of rock salt to herbs. This is a great seasoning for meat, fish or poultry.
2. Flavored Butter Mix half a block of softened butter with a bunch of tarragon and the grated zest of a lemon. Season and toss into steamed mussels or over roasted, pancetta-wrapped chicken breasts. Also try with dill, 1 Tbsp capers and 1 garlic clove spread on grilled ciabatta and top with sardines.
8. Soothing Herb Broth Simmer 1 liter chicken stock for 10 minutes with 1 lemon grass stalk, 1 sliced garlic clove and 2 slices of ginger. Add a handful each of mint and coriander and remove from the heat. Strain, add prawns, scallops, mange touts and shredded carrots, and cook for 2 minutes. Serve with more herbs and a squeeze of lime.
9. Infused Oils
Combine the grated zest of 1 lemon with a handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley, 1 crushed garlic clove and a little salt. Use to add a fresh tone to stews and grilled meats.
Wash and pat dry herb sprigs before pushing into a sterilized glass bottle and topping up with extra virgin olive oil. Seal and store in a dark cool place for up to 6 months. Drizzle over salads and pasta or use in marinades.
4. Frazzled Herbs
10. Aromatic Meats
Heat vegetable oil 2 cm deep. Add sage, parsley or basil sprigs, frying for 3-4 seconds until crisp. Use to garnish salads, soups and pasta.
Line a baking tray with lemon thyme and bay leaves for chicken; sage and rosemary for pork; or oregano for beef. Sit the meat directly on the herbs and roast. Leave the herbs in the tin as you make your gravy.
5. Bouquet Garni Tie 2 thyme sprigs, a few parsley stalks, a bay leaf and a piece of celery together with string. Slip into a stew or soup and fish out just before serving. Herbs such as rosemary, sage and tarragon can also be used.
6. Zesty Cream Cheese Stir chopped herbs such as basil, parsley, tarragon, dill or chives into cream cheese and season with salt and ground black pepper. Spread under chicken skin before roasting.
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Unique phytonutrients in green peas provide a key antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Also, a daily consumption of green peas, along with other legumes, lower the risk of stomach cancer. Furthermore, One cup of green peas contains at least 10 milligrams of coumestrol, a reliable source of omega-3 fats, sizable amounts of beta-carotene and small amounts of vitamin E. • Peas are botanically a fruit, since they contain seeds developed from the ovary of a flower. However, peas are considered to be a vegetable when cooking. • The modern-day garden pea is thought to have originated from the field pea that was native to central Asia and the Middle East. • Canada is the largest world producer and exporter of peas. • Green peas are environmentally friendly food providing the soil with benefits from taking nitrogen and converting it into more complex and usable forms. Also it can help prevent erosion of the soil due to its relatively shallow roots. Also having a rotation of peas with your other crops can lower the risk of pest problems. PREPARE Before removing the peas from the pod, rinse them briefly under running water. To easily shell them, snap off the top and bottom of the pod and then gently pull off the “thread” that lines the seam of most peapods. For those that do not have “threads”, carefully cut through the seam, making sure not to cut into the peas. Gently open the pods to remove the peas, which do not need to be washed. RAW Snow peas and snap peas can be eaten raw, although the cooking process will cause them to become sweeter. CLASSIC Line a pan with bibb lettuce and place the garden peas on top. You can add herbs and spices if you desire and cover the peas with more lettuce leaves. Add two tablespoons of water; cover and cook for about 15 minutes. SAUTÉ/STIR FRY Use hot pan and hot oil for cooking.
AVAILABILITY Garden Peas are generally available from spring through the beginning of winter. Snow peas can usually be found throughout the year in Asian markets and from spring through the beginning of winter in supermarkets. Snap peas are more limited in their availability. They are generally available from late spring through early summer. HOW TO SELECT AND STORE When purchasing fresh peas, look for ones whose pods are firm, velvety and smooth. Their color should be a lively medium green. Do not choose pods that are light or dark, yellow, speckled, puffy, water soaked or have mildew residue. The pods should contain peas of sufficient number and size with little room in the pod. Snow peas should give the shape of each individual pea in the pod through the non-opaque shiny pod. The smaller snow peas tend to be sweeter. Snap peas should be crisp, bright green in color and feel plump. Fresh peas should be refrigerated as quickly as possible. Unwashed, unshelled peas stored in the refrigerator in a bag or unsealed container; this will keep for several days. Only about 5 % of the peas grown are sold fresh; the rest are either frozen or canned. Frozen peas are better at retaining their color, texture and flavor than canned peas. Neither frozen nor canned peas have an unlimited shelf life. However, it is recommended to consume frozen peas within 6-12 months of the packing date.
MAIN TYPES OF PEAS: Garden Peas: Firm round pods are fibrous are not palatable, sweet seeds are shelled. Snap Peas: Pod with the texture of a snap bean. Snow Peas: Translucent, tender pod with tiny visible seeds.
10 WAYS WITH
GREEN PEAS 1. French
Mix shredded bibb lettuce into hot cooked peas with chopped fresh dried tarragon and toasted hazelnuts.
Cook chopped bacon strips until crisp. Add cooked peas, shredded cabbage and a sprinkle of caraway seeds. Stir-fry until cabbage is wilted.
2. Asian Give hot cooked peas a generous coating of soy sauce, a dab of hot chili-garlic sauce and grated fresh ginger. Toss in sprigs of cilantro.
Crumble blue cheese over hot cooked peas. Scatter with toasted walnuts or almond slivers.
4. Curried SautĂŠ onions in butter, then dab with a little curry paste or sprinkle of curry powder. Stir two minutes. Add hot cooked peas and stir a few minutes to develop flavor. Scatter with chopped cilantro.
8. Mexican When rice is almost cooked, mix in uncooked peas along with finely chopped jalapeno peppers and sweet red pepper, plus a big pinch of ground cumin.
9. Light and Creamy Toss hot cooked peas with just enough plain yogurt to coat them and lots of chopped fresh mint.
10. Italian Add a spoonful or two of pesto and slivers of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes to cooked peas and mix in.
5. Mediterranean Fry garlic in olive oil. Add hot cooked peas. Mix in prosciutto strips and grated Parmesan.
6. Japanese Drizzle hot cooked peas with teriyaki sauce and a few drops of sesame oil. Then stir in chopped pickled ginger, red onion and sesame seeds.
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Instilling responsible food practices serve as the basis to help create a better Earth for future generations.
Earth Table: Local. Seasonal. Fresh. This is a booktlet with tips on cooking fresh adn local