1 lb cucumber
1 bunch radishes
1 fennel bulb
2 tablespoons each cilantro, mint, tarragon
1 inch ginger
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!