Tag Archives: Arugula

Wild Salad Sunday – Food Foraging in Huntington Botanical Garden

Standard

020214saladbowl

Another post for my Salad Project! This morning I had the opportunity to attend a Food Foraging class at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. For an avid gardener like myself, this was heaven on Sunday morning! We gathered early while there was still a chill in the air. Our teacher, Nancy Klehm, greeted us and gave us an intro on foraging. I enjoyed hearing her talk about how to treat the plants that are foraged. She doesn’t just go and rip out the plants, rather she gently takes a bit and leaves the rest for others. Just as we would never stomp through the wilderness while hiking, destroying things, we don’t want to destroy the plants that are feeding us. I agree with this outlook and respect for nature and for the plants.

We got started with a tasting of a bit of tea made with foraged dandelion root and burdock root as well as a tincture made with wild burdock root. She also brought some dried wild plums that we tasted. They reminded me of hibiscus tea. We then started our foraging as Nancy showed us several “weeds” and wild foods that are edible and/or medicinal. We learned about which foods can help the liver, kidneys and blood, how to use the plants for first aid and how to choose the best-tasting parts of the plants. The most useful take-away for me is finding out that all of these so-called weeds that we have in S. California are actually edibles. And they are high in nutritive values as well! We have a bed of radishes and carrots at our school garden that is overrun with oxalis, mallow and sow thistle (sonchus) that I will now leave in peace. The “weeds” can live in harmony with the radishes and carrots (as long as it isn’t too crowded). What a great salad it will make for our students.

At the end of our class, we feasted on some wonderful things. Each student gathered some wild greens for a community salad. Nancy brought a fruity tahini-based dressing (my favorite dressing base) that she mixed with some homemade several-fruits-vinegar, garlic and some other things. She also shared some homemade crackers with lavender seeds, fresh cheese made from raw cow’s milk, and wild current preserves. To top it off, she made a frittata with foraged oyster mushrooms, wild spinach and some other foraged greens. To wash it down, we had a tea made with wild sumac that was very tangy for lack of a better description (don’t try to make this at home as there are not-so edible types of sumac!). Thanks for a great class, Nancy!

020214hero

020214frittata

If you are going foraging, please be mindful of not eating things from sprayed areas or polluted areas. Better yet, take a class with Nancy! Here is a link to her website. Here are photos of just a few of the plants we learned about today:

Miner’s Lettuce / Claytonia perfoliata

020214minerslettuce

Oxalis (Wood Sorrel)

020214oxalis

Chickweed / Stellaria media

020214stellariamedea

Mallow / Malva neglecta 

020214mallow

Curly Dock / Rumex crispus

020214curlydock

 

Wild Salad with Foraged Foods

In a large bowl, place:

handful each of 3 or more of any of the following: wild spinach, oxalis, sow thistle, dandelion, clover, wild mustard, mallow, yarrow, mugwort, curly dock, chickweed, plaintain leaf
add a handful  or two of mint, lemon balm, Calendula leaves and / flowers, arugula, nasturtium leaves and/or flowers

Try to balance the bitter greens with the milder greens, the drier leaves with wetter leaves and add various flowers for texture and color. Mix and toss with dressing of your choice or the dressing below. Bitter greens are usually good with some type of fruit-flavored dressing.

Standard Tahini-Orange Dressing

1/4 cup of tahini
1/2 cup of orange juice
1/4 cup of water plus more as needed
1 – 2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the tahini and orange juice, stirring and adding water until it is the consistency you like. Add the minced garlic and stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes if possible to allow the garlic to infuse the dressing.

Advertisements

Roasted Golden Beets & ArugulaWalnut Pesto Salad

Standard

011414salad2

Hello! Welcome to The Salad Project! Our weather is unseasonably warm here in S. California so I’m having a burst of summer-type salads. I actually harvested a fresh red tomato from my garden today. I was not too hopeful about the taste since the texture seemed extra-firm. But what an explosion of summer flavor! It’s unexpected but appreciated!

Today I roasted some small golden beets with olive oil and salt. They came out of the oven crispy but soft – perfect for a salad! I also had a bag of arugula on hand from Trader Joe’s. I don’t often buy bagged greens but I haven’t made it to the Farmers’ Market in a few weeks. If you have never tried arugula, please do asap! It’s a slightly peppery green that is perfect in salads, cooked with pasta or made into pesto.  You can throw it into some soup at the end of cooking for a burst of pretty green color. I think it’s perfect for pesto because it is so flavorful but also holds its bright green color. I sometimes add some fresh spinach too, just to amp up the nutrients. Today I made a batch of arugula pesto that I used for my dressing. Instead of my usual sunflower seeds, I added chopped walnuts and used walnut oil in place of olive oil. The combination of walnuts and arugula is fantastic! You just have to try it! I have about 1 cup left of this yummy sauce. The rest will be used with pasta salad tomorrow or maybe on sandwiches or in lasagna…Love, love, love pesto!

Roasted Golden Beets & Arugula Walnut Pesto Salad (Serves 2-4)

For the Roasted Beets:

5 small or 3 large Golden Beets (or other beets)
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400F. Use about 1 tbsp of oil to coat a baking sheet. Set aside. Wash the beets thoroughly and trim any leaves. Cut in quarters or eighths, depending on size, and place on the baking sheet. Drizzle the remaining oil over the beets, coating all sides. Sprinkle the salt over the beets and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then if they aren’t soft enough, cover with foil and bake for 10 more minutes or until soft. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Now make the Arugula Walnut Pesto:

2 packed cups arugula leaves, washed
1 – 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 to 1 cup of walnut oil

Place arugula, garlic, salt and walnuts in a blender in that order. Pour in 1/4 cup of oil and turn on to blend. As it’s blending, slowly add more oil through the top (or stop the blender and add a bit of oil at a time) and continue to blend until the mixture flows freely and loosely in the blender. This is the best way I can think of to explain this! 🙂 The pesto will be a smooth, thick sauce (rather than the usual chunky pesto though you can leave it chunky if you like). Here’s a close up of the pesto (not the greatest shot – the sun is so low that it makes winter photography almost impossible!):

011414pesto

Assemble the salad:

1 cup of cooked quinoa
1/4 of a lemon
2 cups of arugula leaves, washed and dry
2 pinches salt
black pepper to taste
2 tbsp walnuts, chopped
1 recipe Roasted Beets
1 recipe Arugula Walnut Pesto

Squeeze the lemon over the quinoa and mix well. Divide the arugula leaves amongst your plates and top with divided quinoa. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and black pepper over each salad. Divide the beets over each salad and top with a few walnuts. Now drizzle the pesto over each salad to taste. Enjoy!

Arugula-Walnut Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms

Standard
Arugula-Walnut Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms

Hello! Welcome to This Spicy Life! Spring arrives in a few days, but I am ahead of the curve with this green pasta dish that is hearty but light. It’s a not-very-spicy recipe but you can spice it up by adding more chili flakes and/or raw garlic. If you are afraid of raw garlic, just keep this for a weekend (non-date-night) recipe!

This recipe was inspired by the wonderful spring weather as well as out of necessity. I needed to use up my bag of wild arugula and a bag of cut mushrooms I got at Trader Joe’s earlier this week.  I was also skimming the food section on Huffington Post today and saw an article with beautiful pics of spring pastas. Therefore, a variety of inspiration, boiled down into a bowl of pasta.

Feel free to substitute whatever greens you have on hand. Pesto is very forgiving when you use different seeds/nuts and greens.  My usual go-to pesto recipe is part arugula and basil with pine nuts or sunflower seeds. The arugula keeps the basil nice and green and gives it a peppery taste. Parsley and spinach are also delicious as stand-ins for part of the greens.  Normally pesto contains cheese, but this is a vegan (non-dairy) version. If you would like to add cheese, add about 1/2 cup grated cheese (usually parmesan or asiago) to the blender when making the pesto. Or simply grate it on top of the finished pasta before serving.

Spring Arugula Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms

Serves 4 – 6

  • 4 cups boiled pasta of your choice
  • 4 cups arugula or other greens, rinsed and drained
  • 8 oz mushrooms, cleaned and chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 – 2 tbsp flaked red chili
  • 2 – 4 tbsp olive oil or margarine/butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • black pepper to taste

For the pesto:

  • 2 cups arugula (or other greens), rinsed and drained
  • 2 cloves garlic (or to taste), peeled
  • 1/4 cup (or more) good quality olive oil
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, shelled
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  1. While cooking the pasta, make your pesto: place the garlic, 1/2 of the greens and 1/2 of the walnuts in a food processor or blender.
  2. Blend to a smooth paste by running the machine while adding oil a little at a time.
  3. Add the remaining walnuts, salt and greens (and cheese if using) and pulse until it becomes a chunky mixture. You may need to add additional oil. Taste for salt and set aside.
  4. Heat a pan over medium heat and add 2  tbsp olive oil.
  5. When it shimmers, add the mushrooms and flaked chili and let cook wtihout stirring for at least one minute.
  6. Stirring occasionally, let the mushrooms cook down. They will release their water and start to turn brown.
  7. Now add the arugula or greens on top of the mushrooms along with the salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  8. Allow to cook until the greens are wilted and any moisture evaporates. Turn off the heat.
  9. Add the cooked pasta to the pan, along with 1/4 cup of pesto. Mix gently to combine. Add more pesto to taste.

Serve while warm with a side salad and/or garlic bread. You can freeze left-over pesto sauce or use as a spread on sandwiches or a topping on baked potatoes… Happy Spring!