Monday, May 24, 2010

Meatless Monday

Last week I uploaded episodes 1 and 2 in the Culinary Gardening series I'm hosting.

Filmed in collaboration with Boulder Valley Channel 22 and Eric Skokan, the owner of Black Cat Farm, this past Saturday I visited the Black Cat's stand at our local farmer's market.

I wanted to purchase some of the delicate greens Eric talks about in episode two and prepare them for a Meatless Monday meal.

That's Eric in the pic below, at the farm's market stand, bagging handfuls of arugula.

I bought some of his wild arugula, which is in the tub next to the one Eric is handling.

The wild variety has a peppery kick, whereas the broad-leaf arugula is slightly nutty and mild in flavor.

In addition to wild arugula, I chose chervil, for its anise flavor, Bordeaux spinach, a hybrid red spinach, Tatsoi, a varietal of Chinese cabbage, and rapini flowers -- they're the delicate yellow flowers arranged at the edge of the plate in the pic above.

Without a doubt, Eric had the most unusual varieties of greens at the market.

In past years, I've visited a Hmong family's stand especially for their unusual Asian greens; however, Eric's greens are now surpassing their selection in interest and flavor.

I paid $5 for just over a pound of green, red, and yellow spring leafy-greens and flowers and once home, I washed and drained my purchases, allowing them to dry before I stored them in paper-towel lined Tupperware bowls.

Because the flavors of each of my purchases is distinct, for today's meatless Monday dish, I chose to use the wild arugula for its peppery wow-factor, the rapini flowers for their beauty as a garnish, and the chervil to add anise flavor to bland, spaghetti squash.

I chose not to cook the greens at this meal, knowing that cooking would compromise their flavor, texture and color. Instead, I simply stirred chopped chervil into the cooked spaghetti squash, and used the arugula and rapini flowers as a side garnish to the squash.

Because spaghetti squash and chervil are subtle flavors, as an additional side, I poached leeks and pear, an equally subtle and delicate combination, and one that I knew would compliment, rather than compete with the center vegetable.

Chervil Spaghetti Squash with Poached Leek & Pears & Wild Arugula
1) Cut a spaghetti squash into pieces. Gently simmer for about 20 mins or until the flesh begins to come away from the skin in spaghetti-like strands.
2) Using a fork, scrape the squash from the skin into a pan. Top with some grated Romano or Parmesan, and a dob of butter. Gently heat, stirring until the cheese melts.
3) Meanwhile, slice and wash of grit, half a leek. Wash and chop a pear, one of the hard-flesh varieties. Pop the leeks and the pear into a saucepan with a little water and gently simmer with the lid on for about 10 mins.
4) Roughly chop a handful of fresh chervil and stir into the spaghetti squash. Season to taste.

To Serve: Spoon a portion of the spaghetti squash into a large bowl. Garnish with a sprig of chervil. To the side, add a spoonful of poached leek and pears. To the other side, line the squash with arugula topped with rapini flowers, drizzle with an oil such as avocado, almond or walnut oil, and squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the raw greens.

Tomorrow, I'll be at Eric's, Black Cat Farm Table Bistro hosting the culinary gardening series from his kitchen, while he prepares several dishes with some of his spring harvest.

This week I'll blog about those dishes, and the tips and tricks Eric employs as Boulder's only authentic, organic farm-to-table chef.

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