Green Goodness

POD LettuceOh, summer. Oh, salads.

What you see here is merely the foundation for a delightful early summer salad with asparagus, peas, and prosciutto.

It was over 90 degrees up there on the roof this weekend. The lettuce got moved into the shade and dosed with daily helpings of cool water and somehow it (and some POD mint) managed to survive long enough to be put to a good and noble use.

Serves 2 hungry people. Adapted from Serious Eats.

Salad

¼ lb fresh sugar snap peas
½ lb fresh asparagus
4 cups spring greens
4 slices prosciutto
2 tbs chopped mint
Grated Parmesan cheese

Dressing
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, very finely minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Scant ¼ c. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Bring a small pot of water to boil. Add some salt.
  2. Remove the ends and strings of the peas.
  3. Chop the heads off the asparagus.
  4. Lay the body of the asparagus on a flat surface and using a vegetable peeler, shave strips lengthwise down the stalk. You’ll be left with about an inch of unshaved stalk where you’re hanging on to the thing. Toss that into the pile of asparagus heads.
  5. At this point, you should make some croutons if you want them.
  6. Fill a medium bowl with cold water, add a bunch of ice. Like 10 cubes.
  7. Toss the peas, and asparagus heads and tails into the boiling water. Let them boil. Oh so briefly. Like 3-4 minutes, maybe.
  8. Drain the vegetables in a colander and dump them into the icy water immediately. This will shock them, stopping them from cooking further and preserving that gorgeous green.
  9. Whisk the lemon juice, garlic, and mustard in a salad bowl. Whisk in the oil in a slow stream to emulsify into a dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  10. Toss the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. If you were feeling adventurous, and made croutons,  add them. Pour on the dressing and toss. Top with prosciutto and sprinkle with Parmesan. Devour.
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Totally Cheating

broccoli salad
Mikey Likes It!

Generally, when you see a recipe on this blog, something came from a plant on deck.  Full disclosure: not this time.

We consider ourselves devoted omnivores, but there are a few vegetables that we both ban. Beets, for example, and winter squash. Lately, though, our horizons have been expanding and several previous disliked (by one of us) vegetables have entered into regular rotation.

Until last night, broccoli belonged in that banned category. Some of us have long-loved the cancer-fighting little green trees, others, not so much. As in, it’s never been prepared in the kitchen below the deck.

And then it appeared in our Greensgrow CSA share. Woo hoo! We simply had to do something with it.

And we did.

And it was liked by all.

Broccoli Salad (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Broccoli Slaw
1 head of broccoli
½ c. sliced almonds, toasted
1/3 c. dried cherries, chopped into raisin-sized pieces
2 spring onions, finely sliced

Buttermilk Dressing
¼ c. buttermilk
2 tbs. light mayo
1 tbs. cider vinegar
2 tbs. spring onion, finely sliced
salt and lots of black pepper

If you’re looking for the original recipe, seriously, got to Smitten Kitchen. If you’re looking for a recipe that made use of what happened to be in our kitchen (cherries from Traverse City, MI and spring onions from Philadelphia, PA), this was pretty freaking amazing.

Trim the broccoli into large chunks. Very thinly slice (as thin as you possibly can) the little heads, use as much of the stalk as you’re comfortable with. Mix in the sliced almonds, cherries, and onions.

In another bowl, mix the dressing together. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture. Taste for salt and pepper. Enjoy.

Cucumber Obsessions

Female True Lemon Cucumber
Lady Lemon

May and early June are the happiest weeks on deck. Everything looks hale and hearty and the diseases, fungi, and mildew have yet to descend. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts.

These Happy Cat true lemon cucumbers are full of blossoms and in years past, POD simply trusted bees to do their pollinating thing. Alas, that didn’t work out so well last year. We had a few cucumbers, but not nearly enough. Cucumbers that aren’t pollinated properly will not mature or will develop into misshapen, malformed fruits.

Male True Lemon Cucumber
Hey, Handsome

To produce healthy cucumbers, the pollen from the male blossom needs to make its way to the female flower. Sounds easy, but when your city garden lacks the required bee presence, you’ll need to lend a hand. Many gardeners use the paint brush trick, but after trying out both methods, POD’s found that applying the male blossom directly to the female appears to be more productive and efficient. Male True Lemon Cucumber Pollen

Simply pluck the male flower from the vine and gently pull the petals back, exposing the pollen-y center. Carefully touch the center of the male flower to the center of your female flower.

Await the cucumber. Hand Pollinating True Lemon CucumberHand Pollinating True Lemon Cucumber

Mystery Melon

Charentais, maybe.
Charentais, maybe.

So, last year Plants On Deck fell in love with a certain farmer’s Charentais melons. In a fit of exuberance, seeds were saved and joined the rest of the crew on the little blue deck.

Since then, much research was conducted about saving seeds. And stuff was learned. Like, um, melons cross-pollinate in the fields quite easily. Yeah, bees. Forgot about that. We also know our farmer guy grows lots of delicious varieties. Which means, my mystery melon (let’s just assume the late bloomer was the Charentais) may be a mutt of sorts. Which means there’s a decent chance it’s not going to produce Charentais melons. Or much at all.

So, I guess there’s still some mystery lingering around, after all.