The following is a blog post I wrote for Farm Fresh to You, a wonderful CSA organization you will all want to read about and take part in. You can sign up for a produce box of almost any size, go out to the farm for one of their wonderful farm functions (music, food, fresh air!) or just lave in the pleasure of knowing such fine folks and fine food exist in our world.
To make it even more tempting to check them out, there’s a special offer made to readers of this blog- yes, you can get $10.00 off your first box – just mention promo code 4870. (Read below the post for just a taste of how the farm got its start.)
And check out the links
Winter Greens and Polenta
Now that we are well into the chocolate season, a time of monumental overindulgence (fudge nudges all other food aside as the base of my personal food pyramid), I try to balance sweet excesses by eating healthy dinners. However, the season is also a grey and rainy one and that chill requires a balance of its own – and that’s warm comfort food.
Fortunately, this is not only the time of year for those chilly days, but also for the greens that grow in cool temperatures: chard, beet greens, collard greens, and kale. And nothing beats greens and polenta as comfort food.
I’ve bought pre-made polenta; just slice it up and stick it under the broiler. I’d rather make my own, however, and add my own seasonings. The recipe is simple – Four cups of liquid (water, broth, and/or milk) to one cup of (coarsely ground) cornmeal.
I cook the polenta on low, stirring every so often, adding a bit more water to the mix if seems too thick. I have found that 15 minutes of forgetfulness gets me a lumpy mess, but 30-45 minutes of intermittent spoon wrangling provides a soft creamy polenta. I sometimes stir a knob of butter into the polenta at the finish, or shredded hard cheese, sautéed garlic greens, herbs, or truffle oil. I spread the polenta into a pan so that it’s about an inch thick. When it has cooled I cut the set polenta into pieces then broil it until the top is brown and crispy.
The perfect counterpoint to sweet creamy polenta is slightly bitter greens. Sadly, my kale is not yet harvest ready. But while my beet roots are only about the size of a ping pong ball, there’s lots of delicious beet greens to be had at the farm as well as lots of chard.
I wash my greens very carefully (I can tell you nothing ruins a good meal like garden grit, or the surprise meeting of a Quarter Acre Farm snail on one’s fork) then cut out the ribs, chop them and set them aside. I roll the rest of the chard then coarsely chiffonade the leaves.
In a large fry pan (I use a big pan because the greens diminish in volume remarkably during the cooking process) I heat a couple of TBs olive oil, and sauté a teaspoon of pepper flakes, the chard ribs, and ¼ c of sun dried tomato batons (I actually dried the tomatoes in a dehydrator, but dehydrator tomatoes don’t sound nearly as delicious).
When the rib sections are tender, I add the rest of the greens to the pan, turning and stirring until the greens are evenly wilted and tender. I finish with a splash of balsamic vinegar –
-heap the greens on the plate with the polenta (hot from the broiler) and serve.
As promised – find out more about Capay Organic!
The farm was founded by Kathleen Barsotti and Martin Barnes in 1976. Graduate students at UC Davis, Kathy and Martin borrowed money from their parents to buy 20 acres of property in Capay Valley.
Kathleen Barsotti was born in Belmont, CA in 1949 and attended UC Riverside where she earned her B.S. in Agriculture, with a minor in statistics. She went on to earn her master’s degree in Ecology at UC Davis. In 1979 she and her husband Martin moved to Capay and built a house on 20 acres of land where Capay Fruits and Vegetables was founded. She worked part-time at the UC Davis Plant Pathology Department and then in 1982 began work full time with the farm. In 1992 she and Martin divorced and Kathy continued as sole proprietor and manager of the farm. In late 1992 she began the successful home delivery service Farm Fresh To You. Kathleen is beloved by all who knew her as a devoted student to ecological sciences, an excellent farmer, and loving mother of four sons who have continued to make the farm a success.