The Fever

Ashley and Arugula
Ashley and Arugula

Sure, there’s a column to be written. But it’s gorgeous Sunday. And Plants on Deck would waaaay rather garden than write about gardening. [Yet here I am, writing about gardening but not writing about the gardening I’m supposed to be writing about. Hmmm.]

Rasishes_MayBesides, it’s time for a reseeding update asĀ  the fruits of the earliest labors are already being harvested! Last night’s dinner featured a salad composed entirely of Ashley lettuce, arugula, winter cress, and a variety of random radishes saved from last year’s supply (all planted around March 13). And a couple weeks earlier, the wonderful husband made his last-meal roast chicken and mashed potatoes with healthy doses of POD-grown thyme, rosemary, and chives. herbal harvest(This umami-tastic miracle meal is surely what this eater would choose should she have only one meal left on this earth. Preferably with a healthy side of More Vetri than Chang Brussels Sprouts. Hence, the “last meal” business).

While the peas aren’t sprouting nearly as quickly as hoped for, they’re not getting yanked. So, committing long-term to them, Scarlet Nantes carrots have joined the Maestro on deck to maximize the container’s use and the Prussian Blues can do what they do out front.

Bartram's Winter Cress
Bartram's Winter Cress

Strangely, for the second year running, the Baker Creek pepper cress failed to emerge (thankfully, the Bartram’s Winter Cress is doing just fine) so that widow box has been reseeded with a second round of radishes and tennis ball lettuce.

And, finally, a brave tarragon that spent most of the winter hibernating in an office window sill, joined the chives, thyme, and oregano in the well-used herb planter recently relocated from the little blue deck, to the plants out front.

Because you know you want it:

More Vetri Than Chang Brussels Sprouts
20ish small Brussels sprouts
1-2 cloves garlic, sliced into thirds lengthwise
1 tbs grape seed oil
3 thick-slice pieces of bacon, cut into lardon-sized pieces
1 tsp sherry vinegar
2 tbs butter
salt and pepper

1) Trim the root end of each sprout, and cut in half lengthwise. Rub the flat side of each half with the cut sides of the garlic clove.

2) Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add the sprouts and shake the pan to coat them with oil. Turn the sprouts cut side down and scatter the pancetta in the pan. Cook undisturbed for 6-8 minutes, or until the sprouts are deeply browned (almost black) on the cut sides.

3) Add the vinegar and butter, tossing to coat the sprouts. Season with salt and pepper.

4) Oh my.

Arugula and Spinach Gnocchi

arugula spinach gnocchiBetween last week’s spinach and this week’s arugula, courtesy of the Greensgrow CSA, a half pound of Champ’s tomatoes (Gold Nugget), and some POD oregano, a pretty wonderful gnocchi landed on the table this week.

You’ll want to blanch the spinach and arugula the night before you plan on making this meal. Gnocchi inspired by Marc Vetri, courtesy of il viaggio di vetri.

Arugula and Spinach Gnocchi with Marinated Tomatoes, serves 2

Ingredients for Gnocchi:
1/2 lb. spinach
1/2 lb. arugula
1/2 egg (be creative, strain off half the whites and half the yolk and you’re good to go)
1/4 c. flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
1/4 c. bread crumbs
pepper to taste

  1. The night before serving, bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add the spinach and blanch for 2 minutes. Add the arugula to the pot and blanch for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  2. Drain the spinach and arugula and dump it into an ice water bath. The shocking will preserve the super green color.
  3. Once the greens have cooled, drain them again and then process them in a food processor or blender for 3-4 minutes until very, very smooth. You can add a couple tablespoons of the blanching liquid if you need to. The consistency should be pretty mushy — like a wet batter.
  4. Place the spinach and gnocchi puree in a strainer and set over a bowl. Refrigerate overnight to drain off the excess moisture. This step is annoying, but critical — if you don’t you’ll have heavy spinach and arugula bombs rather than pillowy gnocchi.
  5. The next day, when you’re ready to make the gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  6. Place the spinach and arugula batter in large bowl and add the egg, flour, breadcrumbs, cheese, and pepper. Mix well, your hands are your best tool.
  7. Scoop the mixture into a sandwich bag, seal, and snip off a bottom corner edge of the bag. (Unless, of course, you have a pastry bag handy).
  8. Squeeze out little gnocchi-to-bes that are about 3/4″ in diameter onto a well-floured surface. Gently roll the balls around the flour until they’re evenly dusted.
  9. Drop the balls into the boiling water and cook for about 2 minutes.
  10. Scoop them out and cover with the marinated tomatoes (see below).

Ingredients for Tomatoes:
8 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
a generous splash of balsamic vinegar
1 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. chopped fresh oregano
pepper to taste

  1. Combine ingredients and allow to marinate for 3-6 hours.
  2. Top gnocchi with tomato mixture.
  3. Pour a glass of wine. Eat.