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.
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.I 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.
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. To 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.
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8 Cups Arugula
1 lb green beans
1 bulb fennel
6-8 oz chevre
1 cup pumpkin seeds
Lilikoi Tarragon Salad Dressing
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 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.
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.