Let The Gardening Begin!

We pulled up all the stalks from last year and added them to the new compost pile.

Remember back in…April, or was it March?  When spring seemed to have arrived, at least for a week?  We excitedly got to work in the garden, clearing out the old and making a new plan for this season.

Scallion survivors, they’ll be blooming any day now!

A new layout this year to avoid washouts during rain storms. This first section is our lettuce and herb bed.

Then it got cold again, of course.  And we got busy, really really busy with Fire Cider and the New Amsterdam Market. We went on vacation for a week, and to Springfield and NYC and came back to this….

Um, I think we have a weed problem. At least the lettuce survived!

Dana and the weed whacker vs over a month of unattended garden growth, guess we know the soil is healthy!

Dana’s starts survived our vacation and are going into the ground today, if we can carve a new bed out of all that weedy growth!

Watering our little starts and seeds in the new bed: red sail lettuce, chamomile, paprika peppers, Habanero, nasturtiums, holy basil, tomatoes and more basil.

Our reward was a box full of lettuce and some volunteer dandelion greens. Hooray for the first salad of the season!

Simple Garden Salad

In your salad bowl mix the juice from half a lemon with olive oil and salt.

Toss the rinsed (yeah, maybe I should have picked it before weed whacking?) lettuce in the dressing and top with

Toasted pepitas

This Sunday at 10 am I am giving a talk, ‘How to Make the Healthiest Use of Your Food Dollar‘ at the Unitarian Church, 175 Wendell Ave. Pittsfield.  I will be publishing the talk in Berkshire’s Best June 1st and here on my blog in case you miss it!

Shaved Fennel Salad

Fennel Bulbs: crunchy, slightly sweet and packed with Vitamin C!

I wasn’t sure how I felt about fennel, apparently thin sliced is the way to go.  The combination of these few, simple ingredients is pretty amazing.  A refreshing summer salad that you can make ahead of time, and it has feta in it, what’s not to love?!

1 medium-large zucchini, sliced into paper thin coins

2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and shaved paper-thin (you can use a knife to carefully slice the veggies but a mandolin works best and fastest.  Also, you maybe able to use an attachment on your food processor if you have one that slices thin!)

2/3 cup   loosely chopped fresh dill

1/3 cup  fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed

fine grain sea salt

4 or 5 generous handfuls arugula

Honey, if needed

1/2 cup  pine nuts, toasted (I used almonds)

1/3 cup   feta cheese, crumbled

Combine the zucchini, fennel and dill in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice, olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside and marinate for 20 minutes, or up to an hour.

Thanks for a great shot of this salad, Heidi! Image from 101 Cookbooks

When you are ready to serve the salad, put the arugula in a large bowl. Scoop all of the zucchini and fennel onto the arugula, and pour most of the lemon juice dressing on top of that. Toss gently but thoroughly. Taste and adjust with more of the dressing, olive oil, lemon juice, or salt if needed. If the lemons were particularly tart, you may need to counter the pucker-factor by adding a tiny drizzle of honey into the salad at this point. Let your taste buds guide you. Serve topped with pine nuts and feta.

Serves 4 to 6.

Prep time: 10 min

Another great recipe from 101 Cookbooks, here’s her original recipe!