Sneezing, aching, nose-running, snot-forming, cough coming on – yep that was my life over the latter part of last week and through the weekend. I’m sure many of you can relate. Tis’ the cold and flu season. There are many nourishing whole foods, however, that we can turn our focus toward this time of year. In fact, in case you missed it, the culinary education team at 21 Acres just provided a cooking class centered around this very topic. Rebecca Sorenson, a naturopathic doctoral student at Bastyr University, provided extremely useful information on how and why whole foods can provide us with germ fighting defenses. I was impressed with the knowledge and “work-ability” of the suggestions Rebecca presented and I thought it would be worth everyone’s while if I share similar information here. I can also attest to the effectiveness of the ingredients listed below and the recipes that follow. After 2 large bowls of the ginger chicken soup and a good dose of onion syrup that Rebecca graciously shared, my cold was well on its way to being history. (more…)
Our regular customers know Jen, Meghan and I are familiar faces in the Farm Market. We work hard to source quality produce and have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to what is in season, where it was grown and how it can be the highlight of your dinner tonight. Fewer of you may know we are privileged to spend a few hours each month working alongside our farmers here at 21 Acres. During our time on the farm next to John, Mary and Pepe, we inevitably learn heaps about the seasonal challenges facing our farm, tricks of the trade to organically manage pests and humility in the face of growing food sustainably. This July all three of us ladies helped out with the copious amount of weeding taking place in the fields and refined our definition of “weeds.”
In and among the 150+ crops grown on the 21 Acres Farm grow a variety of weeds constantly in need of a pulling. However, for those who know what to look for, several of these “weeds” have long shown up on the plate at mealtime. All three of us had the chance to try or cook with one in particular: purslane.
Purslane is a common plant found widely throughout the world and is all too often classified as a weed. Having tried purslane in several different recipes, we Market gals advocate eradicating this “weed” by eating it! A member of the succulent family, purslane is crunchy, tart like a lemon and has high levels of pectin, which make it great for thickening soups and stews. (Check out Chef Asako’s soup recipe below).
Not only a delicious and versatile ingredient, purslane is a powerhouse when it comes to nutrition. It is high in vitamin E, (six times more than spinach), and a huge source of omega-3 fatty acid. Purslane is also a wonderful source of vitamin C, magnesium, riboflavin, potassium and phosphorus. Amanda Bullat, the 21 Acres Sustainable Food and Nutrition Education Coordinator, adds, “the nutrition content of wild or “weedy” greens is well above our more cultivated greens. As mentioned above, the high content of omega-3 fatty acids coupled with the vitamin E and C as anti-oxidants also make purslane a great anti-inflammatory food. Help for those who suffer from chronic join pain, muscles soreness/stiffness, skin conditions, and many autoimmune conditions.”
Have I enticed you to give purslane a try? First, check your garden. You may very well find it growing in your own yard. If you need an Organic source, stop by the 21 Acres Market. We are harvesting most days the Market is open (Wednesday-Friday, 11-6, and Saturday, 10-4).
Thanks to our staff and wonderful customers we have a starter list of recipe suggestions for purslane. Check them out and let us know if you find a favorite. Here are some beginning ideas for giving purslane a try and see the recipe below for a tasty soup:
- Toss fresh into salads for a crisp tart addition to your greens.
- For an Asian flavor, chop and sauté purslane with a bit of soy sauce.
- Pepe recommends using purslane instead of spinach in a flank steak dish he makes. Start by sautéing seasoned flank steak. Then simmer in blended pepper, tomato, garlic and onion. Roughly chop and toss in the purslane for the final 2-3 minutes.
- The high water content is great for a low fat pesto. Cut the oil in half and substitute purslane for ½ the herb in your recipe. I tried this with our 21 Acres lemon basil…my oh my!
- Toss with your morning eggs or stuff in your omelet.
- Thicken soups or stews naturally – a delicious recipe that showed up on the 21 Acres Deli menu is shared below
RECIPE: Purslane and Grain Soup – From the 21 Acres Kitchen
(Serves 3 to 4)
Purslane –1.5lbs (become about 1# after cleaning)
Onion — 1 each
Garlic — 1 clove
Tomato — 3 each (about 1 lbs)
Tomato paste (optional) 1TBS
Grain (Barley, Spelt, Rice…) (Cooked) — 1 cup
Salt — 1tsp
Red pepper flakes
Chicken/Vegetable stock 3 cups
- Clean and cut off bottom of the purslane. (Cut the harder root and stems off and use the only soft part of purslane).
- Small dice onions and garlic. Peel tomatoes by poaching and roughly chop them.
- In a soup pot, fry garlic and onions. Add purslane and fry them for a minute.
- Add tomato and tomato paste.
- Add grains, stock, and salt. Cook until it thickens a little.
- Season with salt and pepper to adjust flavor. Sprinkle with red pepper if you like spicy.
This post is all about the unique root vegetable that is known as sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes). Though their season is coming to an end, I know you can still find this wonderful root vegetable at your local farmers market!
I personally didn’t grow up eating these. They seem somewhat foreign and unknown in my vegetable vocabulary. That is why I was super stoked to try something new.
Something that I never knew about sunchokes is that they grow with a beautiful yellow daisy like flower. The sunchokes grow like any other tuber vegetable under the ground. The name has an interesting history much of it is unknown. Since they don’t originate from Jerusalem and aren’t a part of the artichoke family. Early Italian settlers to America called them “girasole” which means sunflower in Italian. And somehow that evolved into Jerusalem. The artichoke part was named because of an early French explorer who came to America and believed that the vegetable tasted like artichokes. They were renamed sunchoke in the 1960s for commercial purposes.
I went ahead and researched various ways to use them. Many recipes suggest that they are wonderful and tasty pureed as a soup, as well as roasted in the oven.
I roasted my first batch and used them as a topping to a flatbread pizza. I figured they would be great on their own but since I already planned for the flatbread for dinner I thought, “Why not put them on top!”
Later that week I decided to pick up some more sunchokes from my local farmers market to make them into a soup.
I found the flavor to be spectacular. They reminded me of a sweet flavored yukon gold potatoes. My husband agreed. He also was not very familiar with them and was wonderfully surprised by their taste. They have a similar texture to potatoes but without the same starch content.
Feel free to comment on what your favorite way to enjoy this unique vegetable is!
-Sam -21 Acres Volunteer
½ pound sunchokes scrubbed clean and sliced thin
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange sunchokes on parchment lined sheet pan. Drizzle generously to coat with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. (I used smoked sea salt ) Roast for about 15 minutes until easily pierced with a fork.
Enjoy as a delicious vegetable side dish or add as a unique topping to a flatbread or pizza.
Adapted heavily from A House in the Hills
4 cups peeled and chopped sunchokes
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 medium onion thinly sliced (I used wild leeks from my garden)
2 ½ cups vegetable broth
1 ½ -2 cups almond milk (can use regular milk as well)
Preheat oven to 400.
Lay out sunchokes on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Roast for about 10-15 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.
Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large pot. Add sliced onions and for cook about 2 minutes, until translucent. Add in garlic. Once the sunchokes are done add to the pot and go ahead and add the broth. Bring to a boil and remove from heat and add in the almond milk, just as much as you want for the desired creaminess. Puree either with a hand blender or in a stand blender (be careful with the stand blender and make sure to blend small amounts at a time to avoid the soup exploding out).
Serve with a drizzle of good olive oil. I enjoyed my soup with emmer flour focaccia .
There is supposedly a debate over if you can call a vegetarian chili, actually CHILI? I was with a group of Texans, a couple weeks ago and I thought I would ask them if a vegetarian chili could be called a chili. To them the simple answer is no.
Chili, according to some Texans, means it contains meat and no beans. Once you add beans it is no longer chili. So with this conversation under my belt I decided to name this recipe three-bean stew instead of three-bean chili.
The three beans come from Alvarez Organic Farms in Mabton, Washington in the Yakima Valley. Alvarez farms was started Don Hilario Alvarez. Back in 1981 he started farming organic on a rented 30-acre plot of land on his free time. Since then has expanded to over 125 acres.
I found an intriguing farmer case study done back in 2005 by the Northwest Direct Marketing team on the Alvarez family. In this article Don Hilario Alvarez states that, “… it gives him great pleasure to be able to provide his customers with fresh, delicious vegetables that are organically grown, with no chemicals that can harm their health.” Organic farms like the Alvarez families are what supporting and eating local is all about. Recognizing and supporting those who want to improve the future of our food and health.
I made this homemade cornbread to go with my three-bean stew. I prefer my cornbread not sweet, as it goes better with savory meals without the added sugar. But feel free to use your favorite recipe.
Make this stew while the cold nights are still around and you can still find the last of the winter squashes at your local farmers markets! It is perfect heartwarming and protein packed meal. Great flavor with great northwest grown beans!
Feel free to comment on what your favorite cold night meal is!
-Sam -21 Acres Volunteer
Rainy day Three-Bean Stew
Easily serves 8
1 cup dried Pinto beans (160g) (soaked over night)
1 cup dried Maya Coba beans (160g) (soaked over night) (aka Canary beans)
1 cup dried Red Chili Lava beans (160g) (soaked over night)
1 small winter squash cubed (most squash or even sweet potato would work)
3 carrots chopped
1 bell pepper (color your choice) chopped
2 serrano peppers finely diced
1 onion (I used yellow but any kind would do) diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 cans of diced tomatoes
4 cups veggie broth
2 tbls tomato paste
1 tbls cocoa powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 tsp coriander
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper
Additional topping options: cheese, cilantro, avocado, sour cream, tortilla strips
Heat a large pot on medium with a few tablespoons of olive oil. (I used my LeCreuset Dutch oven because of its large capacity). Add the onions and cook until translucent a couple of minutes. Add the minced garlic, carrots and butternut squash and cook with the lid on to soften the veggies about 10 min. Then add the bell pepper, Serrano peppers, diced tomatoes with their sauce and tomato paste.
At this point you can add as much of the 4 cups of broth as you want depending on the thickness you want your stew. I add it all as it tends to evaporate with the required long cooking time. Throw in your drained soaked beans and stir everything to incorporate.
Add all the dry spices and season with salt and pepper generously.
I usually cook my stew for a good 1 hour so the beans are fully cooked. Also this gives the stew time to absorb and develops more flavors.
You can check the stew at about 45 min to see if the beans for cooked fully, also along the way about more broth if the stew seems too thick.
Dress with your favorite toppings. I chose chopped cilantro and shredded cheese.
Enjoy with your favorite cornbread recipe!
Notes: This recipe makes A LOT of stew. I froze some since it’s just me and my husband but for a large family it would be plenty for a night or maybe two. Feel free to cut the measurements in half.
This time of year, the weather is inviting for staying at home and enjoying a bountiful and comforting soup. The wide variety of winter vegetables at the 21 Acres Farm Market inspired me to make a heart-warming Veggie Soup.
I had a handful of spelt berries from the market and thought they would add a yummy crunch and unique texture to the soup. I added beans as well, because they add protein, as well as another texture element.
Veggie soups are so inspiring because you can add almost anything to them and they will be satisfying. I chose to incorporate savoy cabbage, kale and parsnips, along with the traditional soup base of mirepoix.
This mixture of veggies added a wonderful variety of flavors in the soup. What I enjoyed the most was the cabbage and kale, the soft and chewy leaves were a perfect contrast to the slight crunch of the root veggies and their natural sweetness.
I also made my favorite dutch oven crusty bread to serve alongside the soup. I love baking this bread because of how easy and simple it is to make. You could, of course, buy your favorite artisan bread:
Or should I dare say… have the soup without bread…. but who would want that!
The spelt berries are from Lentz Farms. The Market at 21 Acres carries a variety of items produced by Lentz Farms. It’s important to support farms like Lentz because they are growing grains that have perhaps been forgotten over the years – faro, spelt, einkorn. The farm is located in the Columbia Plateau of eastern Washington and is working towards enhancing biodiversity in agriculture. Biodiversity is key to improving the future of our agriculture systems. Increasing biodiversity in agriculture will make the ecosystems more productive, while improving the nutrients and livelihoods. To learn more about their efforts and products visit their website.
*I precooked both the spelt berries and beans before hand* Dried beans and grains bought as bulk are much more cost effective and are easy to prepare.
The soup was warm, hearty and wholesome, making it perfect for a winter evening. Don’t forget if you don’t have the exact amount of veggies or want to substitute something the soup will turn out just fine. Veggie soup is versatile and it’s easy to make adjustments for personal preference.**
-Sam – 21 Acres Volunteer
Feel free to comment and let me know how your soup turned out and if you added or substituted anything!
Veggie Soup with Spelt Berries and White Navy Beans
1 onion diced finely
3 carrots diced finely
1 small bunch of celery diced finely
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 large parsnips diced
Half a head of savoy cabbage thinly sliced
1 bunch of kale chopped
8-10 cups of veggie broth
1 ½ of precooked spelt berries
2 cups of precooked white navy beans (or two cans)
Small amount of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil and heat. Add the mirepoix mix (onion, carrots and celery). Cook until onions are translucent and carrots have slightly softened.
Add parsnips and garlic and cook for 5-10 more minutes. Add broth, kale and cabbage and cook until leafs are softened, allow to come to a low simmer. Add spelt berries and beans. Season with pepper and taste. Add salt depending on your preference of saltiness.
Serve with your favorite fresh bread and enjoy a wholesome hearty and healthy dinner.
Serves 8-10 large bowls
*Precooking whole grains and beans is simple and makes the cook time for the soup quick.
I boiled 1 cup of spelt berries in 3 cups of water for 1 ½ hours over medium heat and they had a nice slightly crunchy texture which is how they should be, chewy but not hard.
For the beans I had about 1 ½ cups of dried white navy beans which I soaked over night to lesson the cooking time. I rinsed and drained them before cooking and picked out any funky looking beans. Cook them in about double the amount of water and check for doneness at about 30 min. Cooking time depends on how large the beans are and how long you soaked them.
**Suggestions for other ingredients:
other white beans like cannellini or great northern beans
spinach, swiss chard, butternut squash, any root veggie would work.
Hello! It’s Madeline here, 21 Acres intern.
Every fall, I get so excited for butternut squash season. Roasted alone or with pasta, its slightly sweet flavor and tender, creamy texture is so delicious. I also love it in this simple soup that comes together with almost no effort!
Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½-1 inch cubes (6 cups)
- 1 medium onion, roughly diced (2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (olive oil is okay too)
- 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth (preferably homemade)
- 3 cups water
- Salt, to taste (I use 1 teaspoon)
- Black pepper, to taste
- Organic sour cream, if desired
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet, place the squash, onion, oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the squash is easily pierced with a fork and is tender throughout.
Place the squash mixture, vegetable broth, and water into a regular blender and blend until smooth. You may need to do this in several batches, depending on the size of your blender, or you could use an immersion blender. Top with sour cream, if desired, and serve hot or cold.
Thanks for reading! -Madeline