Look who stopped by our stand at the Bainbridge Island Farmers’ Market last week! Governor Jay Inslee was asking for ideas on how to spruce up his leek soup recipe. We were happy to provide some inspiration! We’ve got lots of spring greens, leeks and flowers. Come visit us at the market Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Now is the time to forage (carefully!) for nettles or find them at the farmers market. Thanks to Marcia Newlands for bringing this spring recipe to our attention!
(Serves 2 as a main, 4 as an appetizer)
Blanched, nettles will keep their emerald loveliness even after a good 15 minutes of cooking, which makes this risotto visually stunning. The dish itself is pretty simple: Risotto rice, cooked nettles, butter, shallot, garlic, a little pecorino cheese and beef stock. The basic structure of this risotto holds with all sorts of variations. You could use a different grated cheese, such as parmigiano or a Greek mizithra.
Note: Depending what variety your nettles are, you will need four or five big tongs-fulls of fresh nettles to get your cup of cooked nettles. Regular nettles (urtica dioica) are more substantial than their daintier cousins, the dwarf nettle (urtica urens) and retain more of their volume when cooked. I say tongs-full because you do not want to pick up fresh nettles, as they will sting you. Thus the name.
1 cup risotto rice
1 cup cooked, drained nettles or spinach (see note above)
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2-3 tablespoons grated pecorino cheese
1 large shallot, minced
3 minced garlic cloves
4 cups chicken, vegetable, or beef stock
Get a large pot of water boiling and add a handful of salt. Add the nettles. Stir and boil for 1-2 minutes for dwarf nettles, about 5 minutes for regular nettles. When done cooking, dump them into a big bowl with ice water in it. Once they are cool, put them in a colander to drain. Put the nettles in a clean tea towel and twist to squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Chop the nettles finely (a food processor will turn them mushy). The finer you chop, the smoother your risotto will be. Remove any stray stems.
To make the risotto, heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large heavy pot set on medium-high. Wait until the butter stops frothing and add the shallot. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and rice and stir to combine. Stirring constantly, cook for a minute or so or until all the rice is well coated with butter. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and the first cup of stock. Turn the heat to high and stir in the rice. When it starts boiling strongly, turn the heat down to medium and stir often, at least every minute or so, until the rice absorbs the stock. Repeat with a second cup of stock. When the second cup is absorbed, add the nettles and the third cup of stock. Stir well to combine. Keep stirring constantly to develop the creaminess in the risotto. Taste the risotto, and add salt if needed. It may need the remaining cup of stock, as you want the dish to be loose. Add the butter and cheese and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Serve at once.
recipe by Marcia Newlands, The Savory Gourmet
Happy (last) CSA Wednesday, everybody! What a season! As the CSA wraps up this week, so does our season here at Persephone. Our last official day of work is Friday, then we’ll all move on to our next steps in the next week or so. Looking back over the past 8 months it is really incredible how much this farm has transformed. Brand new areas have been turned into productive farmland, and all of us workers have grown and learned so much valuable knowledge. This week we’re wrapping up any loose ends, getting as much cover crop in the ground as possible, and harvesting our last rounds of flowers and vegetables. The weather today is a nice full-circle reminder of when we got here at the end of February, and the farm is starting to look more and more like it did when we arrived. Our few over-wintering crops are being prepped for colder temperatures to come, some by being nestled in the greenhouses or others by being sprayed with a cold-toughening kelp spray.
We hope that you all have enjoyed sharing in the bounty of the season with us. By supporting our farm you have allowed all of us flower-novices to learn the full cycle of flower growing, harvesting, and arranging — an experience we will all cherish for a long time. We have also all learned so much about vegetable production as well, and have been exposed to delicious regional treats such as pea shoots, sweet turnips and purple sprouting broccoli! From all of us at Persephone Farm 2016, including all of our pollinators like the one below, we would like to thank you for your kind words and continued support, and hope that you have a nice and relaxing winter.
– 2016 Persephone Interns
Can you believe it’s already August?? Our “new” interns have already been here for a month and are now in the full swing of things. Lately it seems like the majority of our time is spent harvesting, both vegetables and flowers (which happens to be my favorite job!). Each morning begins with harvesting of some sort, and all of Friday is dedicated to harvesting so that everything is as fresh as possible for the Farmers’ Market! When we do manage to squeeze in some time for other tasks, we have been doing a lot of bed turnover. Veggies and flowers whose time has come and gone are getting taken out to become compost, and their space is being tilled and made into raised beds, ready for the next thing to be planted! It’s really special to be able to witness the full life cycle of the farm within just one short season. Today we will be taking out the last annual plant that was here before we arrived, one bed of over-wintered kale. Sad to see it go, but exciting to say that everything (aside from perennials) growing on this whole farm has been planted since our time here! Below are some pictures from our new Instagram account, started by our intern Kristina! Be sure to check it out and give us a follow @persephonefarmer!
Summer squash means it must be summer, right? We were warned about “Juneuary” but “Januly” is a whole different story. Luckily today seems to be warming back up – this sun is definitely a sight for sore eyes. This week we welcomed some new and old faces to the farm! Previous years’ interns stopped by to help out around the farm, and two new interns have been added to the mix (welcome Kris and Gracie). Be sure to say hello if you see them!
If you stopped by the Bainbridge Island Farmers market on Saturday (or saw our Facebook page), you already know we set a new Persephone Farm record of sweet pea bunches – 63! Those and all the other flowers bursting into bloom have been keeping us plenty busy, and us interns are getting to learn more about the flowers and how to harvest them. The most exciting part to me, though, is getting to use them in bouquets! Our intern bouquet making school, taught by Rebecca, is always a highlight of our Wednesdays and Fridays, and we hope you all are loving the beautiful flowers! Here are some pictures of our flowers we harvested this morning, and some of the bouquets we’ve made so far
(Persephone’s note – Brian and Brooklyn are our other awesome 2016 Interns.)