It’s May, and spring is in full swing here in the foothills. Yellow pollen is coating everything, and the warm weather is jump-starting all of the crops our local farmers are growing.
Last month, kids from 11 schools tried asparagus as part of the Harvest of the Month program. Some schools barbecued it, some served it with dressing, and some did comparison tastings between raw and cooked. Many students were introduced to this spring favorite for the first time.
Speaking of spring favorites, our harvest of the month featured item for May is lettuce. Lettuce is a great source of Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Folate and Vitamin C. Botanically, it is in the Asteracea family, which is the same family that sunflowers and dandelions are in. Lettuce isn’t just great for salads; you can use it to make wraps or even put a whole head into your smoothie for added nutrition. It’s the perfect crop for spring, because summer’s hot temperatures often make lettuce harder to grow and more bitter. So, eat up fresh local lettuce while you can.
The lettuce we are using for the Harvest of the Month program is grown by Mountain Bounty Farm.
Mountain Bounty Farm is a 15-acre family farm located high on the forested contours of the San Juan Ridge near Nevada City. The farm is run by John Tecklin and Angie Tomey, who share a love for the land and a passion for eating good food.
Each year Mountain Bounty Farm welcomes five interns to join their crew and share in the experience of farming; 2013 is their 16th season of growing vegetables for this community. Mountain Bounty will supply vegetables for the Harvest of the Month program for the rest of the school year, as well as next fall.
They grow an incredible diversity of vegetables, fruits and cut flowers for their Community Supported Agriculture program.
For those unfamiliar with the CSA model, it consists of receiving a box of farm fresh produce for a specified time (usually for the summer/fall season).
For more information about local CSAs and farms in this area, visit the Nevada County Grown website atwww.nevadacountygrown.org
Recipe- DIY Salad ideas
Salad is a great way to highlight what’s in season. As a challenge, try creating a salad without cucumbers and tomatoes until they are available from local growers later in the summer . In the spring, great seasonal salad additions are radishes, sprouts, peas, strawberries and asparagus.
1-2 heads lettuce or other mixed greens (any variety)
All toppings are optional.
Here are some fun ideas:
Raisins, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, a can of garbanzo beans (rinsed), any type of cheese cut into pieces, hard boiled egg, avocado, sliced radishes, shredded carrots or beets, tofu/steak/chicken/bacon/fish, sprouts, edible flowers, snap peas, apple, pear, strawberry...if you would snack on it, try topping your salad with it.
Once you have all your goodies on top, it’s time to dress your creation.
Olive oil and Balsamic vinegar are always a nice, simple option. Drizzle on your greens and add a dash of salt and pepper on top.
Or, try an Asian flavor profile by drizzling your salad with toasted sesame oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar.
Make your own honey mustard by combining mustard, oil, honey, water and apple cider vinegar in a jar. Shake to blend and taste to find how you like it best.
In general, making your own salad dressing is less expensive, less processed and more creative than buying it in the bottle. Make a big batch and put it in the fridge for easy dressing on the go.