Mixed Greens Salad with Peas, Pistachios & Pecorino

Photo: Unsplash

Ingredients:

Salad:

About 8 cups salad greens (arugula*, frisee, red/green leaf, butter, etc.)

6-8 oz. sugar snap peas

¾ cup frozen peas or fresh shelled peas

¼ of a small red onion, or 1 small spring onion, thinly sliced

1-2 T. chopped mint

1-2 T. chopped parsley

½ cup shelled pistachios

3-4 oz. Pecorino cheese, shaved (Parmesan may be substituted)

Vinaigrette (makes ½ cup):

½ t. minced shallot

4 T. fresh lemon juice

1 T. champagne vinegar (optional)

1/8 t. honey (or a pinch of brown sugar)

4-6 T. olive oil, or to taste

Salt & pepper, to taste

If using fresh peas, remove the shells then “blanch & shock” them: plunge into boiling water for a few minutes, then transfer to a bowl of ice water. Drain and set aside.

Slice sugar snap peas crosswise into thin slices and set aside. Shave the Pecorino using a vegetable peeler.

Prepare vinaigrette: add shallots, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper to a small, deep bowl. Whisk to combine and dissolve the honey. While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil slowly until combined. (This vinaigrette won’t emulsify, so you’ll need to re-whisk before tossing it with the salad.)

When ready to serve, put greens, both kinds of peas, red onion and herbs into a large bowl. Drizzle vinaigrette on top and toss. Plate/platter up the greens and peas mixture, and top with pistachios and shaved cheese.  Add a little more ground black pepper on top and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

*Chef’s Notes:

  • If using arugula, feta cheese is a good companion to counteract the arugula’s peppery flavor.
  • If making for a party, the greens, peas and onion and cheese can be prepped ahead of time and kept separate. Right before service, toss in vinaigrette and add toppings (don’t dress the salad too early – the vinaigrette will turn peas an ugly “pea green.”

Download a printable version of the recipe here.

Asparagus Salad with Sesame-Tangerine Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

Salad:
2 lbs. asparagus, rough bottoms trimmed
1 – 2 t. extra virgin olive oil (optional, see below)
2-3 large tangerines or small oranges, peeled and segmented
1 large head of lettuce: red leaf, green leaf, butter, etc. for the base

Vinaigrette:
1/3 c. fresh tangerine juice or orange juice
2 t. rice vinegar
1 ½ t. sesame oil
1 ½ t. grated tangerine or orange zest
1 large garlic clove, pressed or minced
1 t. minced fresh ginger
salt & pepper to taste

Garnishes:
2 – 3 T. finely chopped green onions / Spring onions
2 – 3 T. finely chopped dry-roasted peanuts
1 – 2 T. toasted sesame seeds (black or white)

Trim tough ends from asparagus by snapping off bottom portion and cook by roasting or blanching/shocking:

If roasting asparagus…
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread trimmed asparagus on a sheet pan. Drizzle with oil (something neutral like avocado oil would work best) and mix to coat. Roast asparagus until crisp-tender, turning/shaking once during cooking, about 7 minutes. Cool, then cut into 2” lengths on the bias if desired.

If blanching/shocking asparagus…
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and cook until just bright green and fork tender, about 3-5 minutes. Immediately plunge asparagus into ice water to cool. Drain, cut into 2” lengths if desired and set aside.

Prepare vinaigrette: Whisk the tangerine juice, vinegar, tangerine zest, garlic and ginger in a medium bowl to blend. Slowly drizzle in the sesame oil, whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss asparagus in vinaigrette. Place lettuce on salad plates and top with asparagus, then tangerine segments. Drizzle remaining dressing over the salads. Sprinkle with green onions, peanuts and sesame seeds, and serve.

Chef’s Notes: You may make the vinaigrette ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until ready to serve. Don’t dress the salad until right before service, so the veggies stay bright green.

Download a printable version of the recipe here.

Businesses Partner to Provide Plants

By Harmony Organics

There has never has been a time quite like this where much of what we hold dear has changed and over which we have little control, at least for now. It’s definitely a time for nurturing ourselves and those dear to us. For many, home gardens can be a place where we find tranquility, healing and a place revitalize and reenergize — all things that can help us in unsettling times.

With that in mind, Harmony Organics would like to bring a little sunshine into your homes and gardens. As a local supplier of premium organic soil blends and amendments, we can help nurture your gardens and help them thrive, especially now as we are all spending more time in our homes.

And as a commitment to our motto, “Grow Together,” we have teamed with Biota Gardens Nursery to provide the highest quality seed starts for your spring/summer grows. We are fortunate to have been the soil provider for Biota Gardens the past few years and are excited to give everyone the opportunity purchase their plants locally. We will still have our soil and amendments available so that you can pair our soil with wonderful organic heirloom seed starts.

About the Blog

Harmony Organics, located in Benicia, shares how they are partnering with Biota Gardens Nursery as a distribution site for plants.

Many local nurseries have changed their hours and how they are doing business to remain open during this time. See what your local nursery is doing here and check directly with the nursery for the latest information.

We’re always looking for insight from our locally owned small businesses. Want to share what you’re doing? Contact us at allison@sustainablesolano.org

Biota Gardens offers 1 Quart Organic Starts for $4.50/plant with discounts based on the number of plants purchased. As of the first week in April, they will have available a wide variety of tomatoes, peppers, squash and cucumbers with select varieties of eggplants, melons, herbs and flowers. To meet our customers’ needs, we will be practicing the social distancing mandates that are in place to help minimize the spread the COVID-19 so that everyone remains safe and healthy. All plants that are ordered will be available for pickup at our office/warehouse at 4271 Park Road in Benicia (curbside drop off may be available as well based on location).

Please visit biotagardens.com to view the available plants to help jump start your garden this spring. You will be able to place an order directly with Biota Gardens and make sure to mention Harmony Organics in the Questions/Special Instructions section. If you need assistance ordering plants or need other soil/amendments please call us at 707-747-5051 or email info@harmony-organics.com

During these strange and difficult times, we want us all to be able to find joy in playing in the dirt, seeing our work bloom and eating homegrown veggies and fruits. Labor of love or just garden fun. Remember, gardening is for everyone! Hope everyone is safe and enjoying the fruits of their labor!

What Would Love Do?

By Nicole Newell, Sustainable Landscaping Program Manager

March 12 was the first day that the collective unease of the coronavirus was on everyone’s mind. I arrived at the Heart Based Leadership workshop and was greeted by a Be Love sign, which made me smile. This daylong intensive workshop for women on personal growth and development wasn’t cancelled. About 25 women were gathered and most of us were strangers. The first hour of the morning was spent eating roasted pecans, farm treats and drinking coffee with raw milk. At first we were a bit uncomfortable as nobody new how to greet each other. The arm bump wasn’t popular yet and we were still allowed to be closer than 6 feet apart. At this point the question was, do we shake hands? Settling down in this farm home was relatively easy as it was extraordinarily beautiful, like out of a storybook, with comforting cream-colored walls, windows overlooking the farm, olive trees, and the scent of fresh baked coconut cookies.

Heart-based leadership on the surface seems light-hearted — rainbows and unicorns. These workshops always end up being much deeper than expected. Terces from Be Love Farm and Chrissy from Eco-Chic were the facilitators. They created a safe, comfortable place for us all to be. They reminded us of the importance of taking care of ourselves but also inviting us to get curious and do what is unfamiliar. The day was filled with deep questions.

Where do you not experience abundance in your life? Where are you stuck in your life? This was the first set of questions asked of the group. Tears filled the room from the women sharing their personal stories. Some cried because of their experiences and others out of compassion. The space and those stories were so sacred that I stopped taking notes and just held space for these women and myself.

We all seemed to share the caregiver archetype and it was mentioned that we experience being overextended when we give from our own resources. What are the specific things that you do to renew your resources? Chrissy shared that she read the 5 AM Club book by Robin Sharma and practices this morning routine. Every day she wakes up at 5 am and spends 20 minutes in prayer, 20 minutes exercising and 20 minutes learning. My first reaction was to judge the club as something that a shallow morning show would promote and I was repelled by the thought. I became more interested when I learned that 5 am is a time when our minds are their most serene and that it is a time when the deep and quiet energy of our hearts are able to softly emerge and also a time when we are receptive to hearing it. One question the group asked Chrissy: Does it matter if it is at 5 am? There are different views on this. Robin Sharma believes it should be 5 am. I read a bit more online and 5-8 am is when there is the least amount of interruptions. The main point is to set time aside to renew for the day ahead. This can be a time to get clear on your vision for your life and then begin investing in that dream prior to it being a reality. This can be a time to listen and hear the calling that is already within. Now is a crucial time to begin our day getting grounded because we are all being called now to live as our highest self.

Much of what I learned that day is coming into practice now while getting adjusted to this new reality we are all living in. Terces spoke about how we judge each other; this is a human trait that we all share. I think about how I am judging the toilet paper hoarders. Fight, flight, freeze is the fear response that most of us are familiar with. The people that are hoarding toilet paper I think of as fighters. Its funny, I haven’t spoken to a toilet paper hoarder yet. When in fear, I freeze and judge. Which brings me back to the next question of the workshop: How do we shift our view about people struggling? When I think deeply about this I realize that they are just in fear. They are expressing fear. I express fear differently, not in a better way. Does it bring out the best in others to greet people’s fear with judgment and self-righteousness? So how do we reframe the experience of the TP hoarders with conscious language? Honestly I don’t know. Yet I know when my boys were little and they were afraid the only thing I felt was compassion and my response was to comfort.

People need to feel safe to be able to share. “I am here for you” is enough. We can listen and be present for each other.

Terces discussed listening skills that help people solve their own problems:

  • Listen
  • Repeat what they said back to them
  • Then get curious and ask them questions like “How do you feel? What do you plan to do about that?” Sometimes we get attached to our diagnosis, to our problem, to our label rather than how we experience the problem. When you ask someone how they are feeling, it helps them move from their head into their heart.

Listen to people and ask more questions rather than making statements. Ask about feeling. Ask about what they love about their life. Listening is the highest form of loving; listen more. Then thank them for sharing. Just listen and empower with conscious language. Call out love in each other. When someone is struggling and in process, speak to who people are becoming by calling forth their highest self and living in the highest expectations of others.

The next set of questions was around betrayal and victim stories. The first step is to recognize that we felt betrayed because we cared about them. Then communicate the feelings that you have for that person instead of condemning them for the betrayal. Forgiveness is to give as before. Here are some questions to ask yourself when you are working on forgiving: Who are you blaming in your life? Where are you a victim? What could you take responsibility for in that situation? Terces challenged us to retell our stories with conscious language that helps us evolve, to write our stories without victimizing anyone. She invited us to see all our sad stories as a gift and to look for the lesson within. Then there are times when we are the one that needs forgiving. Heart-based leaders apologize first and often. Shift the environment, adjust the tool of acknowledgement and call out the best in someone. When you acknowledge devotion in a person, devotion shows up. Devotion can be replaced with any word: love, respect, kindness, generosity …

You have a Voice. What are you not saying? What are you afraid to say? Tell your truth and face your fears, and live a transparent life. Be bold and make requests of people and ask for help without attachment. Make a request and be OK with no. We need to look at our environment and ask ourselves what is needed to bring our unique expression of love to this world.

We can make powerful choices on the thoughts we choose to think and the simple choices that we make. Terces brought out two jars of water and she challenged us to spend a day and when we have a negative thought about ourselves to stop and put a pinch of salt into one jar — to let the thought dissolve and not let it attach, to not feed it. In another jar of water, put a pinch of glitter in the jar every time you have a positive thought. We observed the beauty of the jar with glitter as opposed to the cloudy salt water. When we have cravings and make choices in our lives a simple question to ask is: Does it serve you? Choose what you want that serves you vs. what you crave. What choices would you make if you knew you were fully loved? Live in that truth.

Servant Leadership is a philosophy where the goal as a leader is to serve. One way to serve others is to ask questions. Check in with the people that you are leading and ask: What is one thing I can help you with this week? How am I doing? What are you missing that would make you feel safe?
In addition to asking questions, Terces highlighted the importance of making generous assumptions:

3 Generous Assumptions as a Leader:

  1. I may not have trained this person well
  2. I may not have given them the tools needed
  3. They may discover a better way

The main goal is to provide tools to people to empower them so they self-manage.

Really this workshop was about how to live a heart-based life and in a deep way we are all leaders. With all of this time alone I am getting the opportunity to practice these tools on myself. When I go out into the world and feel the fear all around, my tendency is to judge. Instead I have been practicing radical kindness by making choices that are larger than me. In the past I would look at my phone or pick up a People magazine while waiting in line at the grocery store, now I pray for inspiration and then I talk with the people around me and ask questions. I look for where I have abundance and then pass it on. I am breathing life into that person and calling forth my highest self.

Being more generous and radically kind moves you towards the person that you really are.

One of the simple takeaways for me was to take a deep breath, slow down and ask: What would love do?

Stocking Your Pantry for Uncertain Times

By Lisa Núñez-Hancock, Culinary Arts Instructor

Whether it is fire season, an earthquake, a pandemic, the busy pace of life, or unexpected guests, it is always a good idea to have a well-stocked pantry of healthy, nonperishable items on hand. Eating healthy foods, maintaining a good gut microbiome, getting enough sleep, and minimizing stress are all important to optimum health.

Having nutritious staples in your pantry will steer you in the direction of eating better and staying healthy. Beans, legumes, whole grains, dried pastas, brown rice and rolled oats are all foods with a long shelf life and can be a base for soups, stews, salads and grain bowls. Combined with fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits, eggs and sides of meat, if desired, the variation of nutritious meals you can create with basic staple foods is endless.

In no way am I implying that you should be stockpiling or hoarding food. That is ultimately wasteful and not neighborly. I also recommend practicality and economy when furnishing your pantry. Purchasing local products whenever possible supports local farmers and food crafters, and benefits both the local economy and our immediate communities.

There is a culinary pleasure and satisfaction in throwing open a well-socked cupboard and being able to create a meal on the fly. Of course, there is Google and you could get someone else’s recipes, but there is a lot to be said for being creative, inventive and spontaneous, in life in general, and especially in the kitchen.

Beans and legumes have a good shelf life and are a healthy source of essential vitamins and minerals. They are an important plant-based protein and a good source of fiber. They are easy to prepare and versatile in recipes. Rancho Gordo, a company specializing in heirloom beans and located in Napa, stocks a selection of glamorous beans in a rainbow of colors and flavors. In my pantry right now, I have Marcella white, Midnight black, a beautiful purple bean called Aycote Morado, and a quirky heirloom called Vaquero (I love them — they are spotted black and white and remind me of miniature cows). All beans are wonderful and make delicious one-pot soups and stews.

Grains! If any of you have attended my cooking workshops, you know I am all about the grain bowl, a bit of a fanatic in fact. Ancient grains like quinoa, millet, farro, bulgar and amaranth, to name just a few, are healthy for you, and full of important nutrients, minerals and essential fiber. Although not local, I have been having a long-distance relationship with Bob’s Red Mill for many years and his grains makes me happy and healthy more than I can tell you!

Dried pastas are always good to have on hand, especially if you have children and picky eaters in your home. Combined with a variety of innovative herb and nut pesto sauces or tomato-based sauces that you can make from your garden’s yield or CSA box. Add shelf-stable olives, capers and marinated artichokes to create pasta dishes that are easy and quick to make, and a filling meal for one or a group. Locally produced Baia Pasta in Oakland is a good source.

Which brings me to the subject of canning and preserving. If you are growing your own vegetables, a member of a community garden, get CSA boxes, or frequent your farmers market, you should know how to can and preserve your produce, so as not to waste a bit of nature’s beautiful bounty. Your homemade canned products will be a “lush” addition to your pantry of staples, as well as a source of pleasure when cooking with them. I can’t tell you the satisfaction of cultivating a plant, harvesting it, and “putting it up” (on your pantry shelf or in your “root cellar”). Knowing where your food comes from, how it was prepared and that you created canned tomatoes from your summer crop or your own delicious pickles and jams is truly a heightened experience.

Although not necessarily shelf stable, don’t forget an important realm of crafted foods — probiotics like sauerkraut, pickles and fermented vegetables. They must contain lactobacillus acidophilus, which is essential for good gut health and proper immune functioning.

And especially, don’t forget the spices! Think of your spice drawer as a medicine cabinet. Spices not only make food taste better, they are medicinal, have healing properties that will boost your immune system, add much needed spice to life, and keep you healthy.

A short caveat: I have listed local food sources, but I understand that not everyone can afford these items. The basic staple list can be adapted to fit your budget with an eye to supporting our local food producers when possible.

Suggested Items for Stocking Your Pantry

Below are some items as well as local sources. You can find locally sourced staples at some of these retail shops and restaurants.

Beans

  • Rancho Gordo

Grains

  • Bob’s Red Mill, Community Grains

Pastas

  • Baia Pasta, Community Grains

Rice & Noodles

  • Lotus Foods

Olive Oil

  • Il Fiorello, De Vero, Katz & Company, Soul Food Farm, Sepay Groves

Vinegar

  • Il Fiorello, Sepay Groves, Katz & Company

Local Honey

  • Be Love Farm, E.G. Lewellen’s, (check your CSA box add-ons)

Nuts

  • Nut-N-Other Farms, Sierra Orchard, Cal Yee Farm

Dried Fruit

  • Cal Yee Farm, Frog Hollow Farms

Sauerkraut

  • Salt & Savor

 Pickles

  • The Cultured Pickle Shop

 Tea & Coffee

  • Numi (tea)/ Moschetti, Ritual (coffee)

Jam

  • Erickson Ranch, Bridgeway Farms, Inna, Frog Hollow Farm

Hot Sauces and Salsas

  • The Salsa Chick

Granola

  • Nana Joes, Tom’s ‘Best Ever’, Frog Hollow Farms

Spices

  • Whole Spice, Savory Spice Shop, Lhasa Karnak, Bazaar

Mustard

  • Mendocino Mustard

Canned Fish

  • Katy’s Smokehouse

Basic Baking Ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, yeast

Note: Have a local source for some of these items we should add? Let us know at allison@sustainablesolano.org 

Access Food Resources Here

Discover recipes with seasonal ingredients

Learn more about Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) — boxes of produce from local farms

Learn what’s in season now

Find out more on our Local Food page

Explore our Community Resilience Resources for more food resources