Currently viewing the category: "Fennel"

pmm_20140301_153Need a light, crunchy appetizer bursting with flavor? Featuring the cucumber zest pupu: locally grown cucumbers, pickled radishes,  and fennel pesto.  The fennel is roasted with garlic and salt and minced into a paste.  Radishes are marinated in lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, salt, mint and orange zest.  Sitting atop Kauai Fresh Farms cucumber:  it’s fresh, vibrant and singing! Lucky we live Kauai!
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imageThis colorful, flavorful salad features 100% Kauai grown fruits and vegetables:  cucumbers, carrots, fennel, radishes, oranges, lime juice, ginger, tarragon, mint and cilantro!

Recipe
1 lb cucumber
2 carrots
1 bunch radishes
1 fennel bulb
3 oranges
2 limes
2 tablespoons each cilantro, mint, tarragon
1 inch ginger
salt

I used a zester to make the decorative design on the cucumber and a mandolin to shave the cucumber to 1/4″ thickness.   Shave carrots as thin as possible with vegetable peeler or mandolin.  Shave or slice radishes to 1/4″ thickness.   Slice or shave fennel to 1/4″.   Section 1 orange and juice the other two.  Juice limes.  Chop herbs.  Fine mince ginger until it’s almost a paste.  Combine orange juice, lime juice, ginger and salt.  Add to vegetables and orange sections and let marinate 1 hour before serving.  The longer the salad marinates the better it is!
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Cucumbers are challenging to grow on Kauai so I leave this one to the pros.  Dylan Strong of Growing Strong Farms grows beautiful organic cucumbers and sells them  at the Wednesday Kapa’a farmers market.   He covers each cucumber in a protective sleeve so it does not get stung by the fruit fly which damages most squash on Kauai.  Kauai Fresh Farms grows their cucumbers hydroponically in a greenhouse which also protects them from being stung.  Their cucumbers can be found at most health food stores and at Banana Joe’s, an old school fruit stand in Kilauea that sells local fruit, produce and a plethora of Kauai made goodies! image
Radishes are an easy grow here.  They germinate quickly and mature in 30 days or less.  They are so refreshing and wonderful to balance salads that need a loud, spicy quality or crunchy texture.  Pickled radishes are also great to have on hand as a condiment to savory, fatty, salty foods. Radishes are in the Brassica family.  I plant them in a composted, raised bed after a non-Brassica for crop rotation.  They are a light feeder so I don’t use a fertilizer.  I direct sow the seeds 1/2 inch below surface.  When the radish sprouts are 2 inches I thin them to 1 inch spacing.  Not thinning will cause the radishes to grow vertically instead of nice and round.  After I thin, I dress sprouts with Hawaiian spirulina tea.  Any kelp, seaweed or compost tea will do.  This helps with any shock the roots experience due to thinning.  Save the sprouts and add to a salad or as a garnish for a hint of heat. image
Shaved carrots gave me a greater appreciation for the humble carrot.  Slicing them paper thin and marinating them in lemon juice and orange juice makes them tender, delicate and bursting with flavors.   They become a versatile vehicle for many herbs and marinades.  They can be sliced on a mandolin or vegetable peeler.  I like the mandolin however, because it’s fast and makes a more consistent peel. Some exciting news about carrots for Kauai is that a couple of farmers have been growing carrots for seed which is a considerably long process and takes an ample amount of space.   The seeds are not yet available commercially but will be soon.  Robin, of Heaven on Earth Starts will be the first to have them.  Her starts are available at the Kilauea Farmers Market on Saturday’s from 9-1 and at Hoku Whole Foods in Kapa’a. I have the best luck with my carrots in the fall, winter and spring.  I try to plant as many seeds  as I can during this time because the summer may be too warm for them to germinate.  Some summers I have been able to grow them others not. I always dig a deep fluffy bed for carrots so the roots will have plenty of space to grow vertically.  I usually plant after a light feeder such as arugula, beans or herbs.  I add compost and Hendrikus complete fertilzer.  Carrots take  7-14 days to germinate.  After they get to be 4 inches I thin them to 2-3 inches apart.  I then feed with compost tea or Hawaiian spirulina to support the seedlings after thinning.  Once a month until maturity, I feed them with more compost tea or spirulina tea. fenneluse
Words cannot express how happy I am that I have a beautiful row of fennel right now.  It is a consolation for the shorter winter days and 2 weeks of straight rain we just had!  I am also very excited that after many years of cooking I finally figured out a use for the stalks other than using them for tea and stock.  Fennel pesto!  That is most likely my next post! For this salad I use only the bulb and shave it thinly on the mandolin.  It’s crunchy, celery like texture and licorice flavor are a perfect compliment to the flavors and feels of the other ingredients.  Growing tips for fennel can be found on my post for the Lilikoi Tarragon Chevre Salad.

Cilantro grows best in the winter and spring.  It likes the cool weather and ample rainfall.  I plant cilantro similar to radishes.  Direct sow to 1/4″ in a composted raised bed.  I feed with spirulina or compost tea when seedlings are 4 inches.  When harvesting I select the outer leaves only, not the entire plant.  It will continue to grow until it goes to seed.  When it begins to go to seed, I harvest the whole plant or let it continue to seed.  The seeds can be harvested and used fresh in salads or left to dry on the plant.  If left to dry they can be collected and replanted or used to make coriander powder.

Check out my previous posts for information on ginger, mint and tarragon.
As spring approaches citrus is beginning to dwindle.  I stock up from the farmers markets and juice oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits and freeze them.  Perfect for defrosting and adding to salads and marinades! Lucky we live Kauai!

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This refreshing colorful salad is simple and quick to prepare yet satisfying and full of flavor.  It can easily be made into a dinner salad by adding a protein or enjoyed for lunch.  Most ingredients were recent harvests from our garden save for the Kauai Kunana Dairy chevre which is arguably the best part of the salad.  I could eat their cheese every day of my life for the rest of my life.  It’s the creamiest fresh chevre I have ever tasted.  My reasoning behind the cheese tasting so sublime is that the goats are treated like royalty. As they should be.

The Kunana Dairy is one industrious entity.  The Wooton’s make chevre (from milking their own dairy goats), grow a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and herbs, make delicious baked goods, cultivate honey, make health and beauty products and give farm tours.  I probably missed something in there but you can see for yourself by going on their farm tour and seeing a successful working, family farm in action.

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For greens I used arugula because I love it and we have a ton of it.  This small crop is the second generation from the seeds we saved from the last crop.  It’s healthy, spicy and crisp! Arugula seeds are extremely easy to save.  Just let one of your prize arugula plants (one that was slow to go to seed, disease free and healthy) go to seed until the seed pods start drying out and turning brown.   Once they do this remove the plant, store it somewhere dry and cool (not in the sun) and hang it upside down for about two-three weeks.  Open seed pods, collect your seeds and plant them!

Bush beans! We had a 3 day respite from one crop to another and now we are back on.  Our first harvest was at least 2 lbs.  This crop is the “Provider” variety.  A little crunchier and fatter than our last “Tendergreen” bush bean but just as nice.  I sauteed these with garlic, salt and pepper in olive oil for 3-5 minutes.

The beets are just about the last from the spring crop.  It’s a little too hot for them in summer so we will plant more in the fall.  I boiled them for 20-30 minutes in salted water, dropped them in an ice bath until completely cooled and removed skins.  I then marinated them in balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper (this can be done the day before, the longer they marinate the better).

Fennel is the beauty queen of the garden pageant.fenneluseI could eat fennel every day.  It’s licorice/anise flavor is delicate and sweet.  It’s crunchy texture adds life and it is surprisingly versatile.  I often roast it with other vegetables such as parsnips, carrots, and beets.  I also roast it with chicken and herbs and use it’s beautiful sweeping tops for tea and stock.

Fennel is fairly easy to grow on Kauai.  It germinates well but is slow growing by nature.  It takes a full 3 months to reach maturity.  I should say it is slow growing for me because we usually eat it up before the next crop is planted.  I cut it at the base however, and a new bulb grows out of the original one which takes less time than to start again from seed.  I have grown fennel that has regenerated 3 times.  For the salad I simply cut off the tops and shave the bulb width wise using a mandolin or knife.  If the fennel is a little older cut out the core which is tough and inedible.

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If fennel is the beauty queen lilikoi is the princess bride.  Also known as passionfruit, lilikoi is a wonderfully unique addition to many dishes.   Lilikoi is  a trifecta in flavor components.  It’s a little sweet, a little sour, a little bitter.  It grows on a vine during summer.  This is the lilikoi flower which will grow into  a green tennis ball size fruit ripening to yellow or purple. lilikoi2useTo eat the lilikoi, simply cut in half and scoop out the seeds.  Lillikoi is a wonderful addition to fruit salad, savory salads, dressings, sauces, desserts, beverages etc.  It can be eaten with the seeds or blended and strained through a sieve to omit seeds.  Personally I like the crunch of the seeds for added texture.

The roasted pumpkin seeds are from the delicious kabocha squash.  The kabocha is one of the few (possibly the only) squash that grows on Kauai with a skin too thick to be stung by the fruit fly.  It’s a hearty, flavorful starch that  I love to use for soups, stews, and roasting.  The Regenerations International Botanical Garden harvested 300 from their food forest last spring. Some weighed 15-20 lbs!  Definitely a viable and sustainable food source for Kauai.

To get to the seeds, cut the squash open and scoop them out.  Remove pulp from seeds rinsing excess pulp off with cold water.  The seeds can be dried out for a couple of days in a cool dry area or they can be roasted in the oven right away.  I like to dry them out, they seem to have a little extra crunchy texture to them.  I season them with salt, black pepper, and olive oil before roasting for 20 minutes at 350.

 

Lilikoi Tarragon Chevre Recipe

8 Cups Arugula

4 beets

1 lb green beans

1 bulb fennel

6-8 oz chevre

1 cup pumpkin seeds

Lilikoi Tarragon Salad Dressing

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1 lilikoi

1/2  inch ginger

1/4 cup fresh tarragon

1 lemon or lime

1 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

honey to taste (about 1-2 tsp)

Place vinegar, lilikoi, ginger, tarragon, lime, salt, and pepper in blender and blend until smooth.  Drizzle olive oil into blended ingredients while blender is on to emulsify dressing.  This gives the dressing a nice, thick and creamy texture.  I like my dressing on the acidic side so always adjust to your own taste.  The goal is to have the salt, acid from vinegar and lemon and sweetness in balance.

Salad

Wash arugula and spin dry in salad spinner.  Saute green beans with olive oil, salt and black pepper until al dente, about 7-8 minutes.

Place lid on the beans about 4 minutes through to steam them a little but stirring frequently to avoid burning.

Boil beets for 20-30 minutes until soft.  Not too soft though.  Poke with a bamboo skewer or fork to determine if they are ready.  The skewer should slide through easily.  Place in ice bath to cool.  When cool remove skins and quarter beets.  Marinate in balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Cut tops from fennel and shave the fennel thinly, widthwise.

Season pumpkin seeds with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast 15-20 minutes.

To assemble salad, gently toss arugula with salt, pepper and 1/4 cup dressing.  In a separate bowl mix green beans and fennel with enough dressing to coat.  Place green beans and fennel on arugula.  Next place beets on arugula.  Then add chevre and pumpkin seeds. This can all be done in a large salad bowl or on individual plates.  Serve immediately as arugula wilts quickly.  Salad ingredients can all be made in advance then dressed just before serving.