I’m back… with a big sigh of relief.
Lots of things have been happening and will be happening for me during the next few weeks. I was in Boulder, Colorado a couple of weeks ago teaching two food styling and photography courses at The Makerie. I really had a wonderful time and loved sharing stories with both students and teachers. I left emotional and inspired.
Two days after I returned home from Colorado, I packed my bags and took Jon and Miren to Vermont with me. We stayed on the hill with my dear Nadia (thank you Nadia!). Remember our trips last summer and autumn?
The kids were so excited to see her. “I want you” Miren said to Nadia many times. Jon loves feeding the animals and collecting eggs, rocks, and sticks. Ryan Marshall joined us at the farm and he shot a short video for my upcoming book. I have admired his work for a long time and was super thrilled when he accepted my offer.
Nadia also took some beautiful shots of us working so I cannot wait to share some of her photos and mine.
I have been wanting to write about all the greens that have been available at our farmers’ market. Some old favorites, but also many new ones, like a bunch of purslane I brought home from Jodi a few weeks ago.
Have you ever eaten or cooked with purslane? I had not and what a revelation it was.
I learned that purslane it is one of the most nutrient-packed greens. Contains more omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid) than any other leafy vegetable plant. The leaves, flowers, and stems are all edible and it can be eaten raw in salads and also cooked.
I was intrigued.
Back at home, I cooked a batch of black quinoa. I made a salad with all the farmers’ market finds. Blanched English peas, shaved radishes, diced avocado, and purslane leaves. All dressed with a lemon and grainy mustard dressing. It was wonderful.
There were also pea shoots that I turned into a pesto with almonds and lemon. Tossed quinoa pasta with some of the pea shoot pesto and served it with soft-cooked eggs.
On those mornings that I have to run out the door by 2pm to get Jon and Miren from school, I ate lots of raw pea shoot salads with radishes and also soft-cooked eggs. My new favorite.
And lastly, asparagus, fennel, and purslane soup served with blanched asparagus tips, onion chive blossoms, chervil, and a bit of yogurt.
I will be back soon with more behind-the-scenes images from our Vermont shoot and also some book news.
So much going on.
And this Friday, I leave for New York City where I will be attending the James Beard Awards. I am a nominee, did you know? And I am exhilarated. Of course, I am.
Black quinoa, English pea, avocado, radish, and purslane salad
serves 4 to 6
1 cup black quinoa
2 cups water
8 ounces (225 g) shelled English peas
2 ounces (60 g) fennel, very thinly sliced
1 avocado, peeled, pit removed, and diced
4 French radishes, thinly sliced
1 cup purslane, washed
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp grainy mustard
In a medium sauce pan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the black quinoa and pinch of salt. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes until quinoa is tender (it will be slightly crunchier than ivory quinoa). Cool completely.
In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and the peas. Cook for 5 minutes or until tender but still have a bite. Drain them and submerge them in ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain well.
In a large bowl, combine the black quinoa, peas, fennel, avocado, radishes, and purslane. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and pepper. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
Asparagus and Purslane Soup
serves 4 to 6
1 pound (450 g) green asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium fennel bulb, diced
A few springs thyme
A few stems chervil (optional)
2 cups water
4 ounces (110 g) purslane, tough stems removed
Whole milk yogurt, optional
Chive blossoms, optional
Cut the tender tips of the asparagus. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Season with a bit of salt and add the asparagus tips. Cook for 1 minute or until tender but still have a bite. Drain them and immediately submerge them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain them well and set aside.
Dice the rest of the asparagus stems.
Heat a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil, onion, garlic, and fennel. Add a pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes or until tender but not browned. Add the thyme, chervil, and diced asparagus stems. Cook for 1 minute. Add the water and bring liquid to a boil. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes or until asparagus are tender. Add the purslane and cook for 2 more minutes.
Transfer to a blender and puree the soup. Adjust seasoning and liquid if needed.
Serve warm topped with asparagus tips, yogurt, chervil and chive blossoms.