Early Garden Bounty, Greens with Anchovy Caper Dressing

We’ve had a wonderfully wet spring, and now my garden is beginning to produce. This morning I woke to hazy skies and the first really warm temperatures of the season. It was perfect harvesting weather. Like so many vegetables, lettuces are simply best when harvested from your own garden. Sweet & tender young salad greens are divine. A few weeks ago, I bought seed packets from Botanical Interests (available at many Boulder area grocery stores), and planted to my heart’s content. Thanks to good precipitation, I am preparing a simple salad of spring lettuces & radishes. Perusing through one of my many cooking magazines, I found an anchovy, olive oil, and caper dressing recipe I thought would be nice to try.

1/2 lb Lettuce greens
1 Bunch radishes
2 Anchovy fillets, drained
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. drained capers
1 cup fresh parsley
1 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cups white wine vinegar
Celtic sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

Wash & prepare greens and radishes.
Slice radishes, and set aside.
Blend in food processor – anchovies, oil, capers and fresh herbs. Transfer to large bowl, mix in 1/4 cup vinegar (or more) and season with salt and pepper. Gently massage into salad greens. Add radishes, toss and serve.



20130612-172313.jpgLots of fresh herbs and the umami quality of the anchovies made a combination that was delicious on cannellini beans as well.

Directional Melons

No this post is not about a boob job gone awry.

In Chinese there are three melons which have directional names. East melon a.k.a dong gua or winter melon is a simply enormous white fleshed thick green skinned melon that is often used in medicine and in soup making. West melon or xi gua is watermelon and nan gua, south melon is the pumpkin. There somehow is no north melon, perhaps in northerly climes the growing season is not long enough to produce a melon of any kind, perhaps I’ve simply not heard of it yet. Coincidentally the Chinese phrase meaning “stuff” is dong xi, literally translated as “east west” and I suppose that it can be interpreted as – everything in existence is the difference between two opposite directions. The extremely simple recipe that I came up with finds a meeting place between east and west, that is east melon and west melon.

winter melon

Summertime often finds us with plenty of watermelon hanging about in the fridge. I’ve had so much fun with this melon in the past, straining it’s juice and mixing with limes (and occasionally vodka) to make a most refreshing beverage, I’ve made watermelon and heirloom tomato gazpacho which is simply delicious. This year I’ve extended my admiration for this prodigious melon to its skin. As a kid we used to go on boat trips in the summer and after a full day of goofing around in sun and salty sea we would use watermelon peel as a rub for sun exposed skin, a quick and juicy cool off. I can feel it now the balmy meeting of cool watermelon with heat kissed skin. As nostalgic as I might get about cold fruit meeting hot skin I had not until today thought of cooking this particular fruit.

Winter melon is prized because when one braises it in soup it softens to translucency and becomes inundated with tasty broth. I thought why not do the same thing with the watermelon skin.

  • Starting with a simple mirepoix (onions, carrots and celery) gently sweat the vegetables until they are fragrant then add a chicken broth. Mine was made from the bones of a store bought roast chicken. My watermelon skin had most of its red and green removed (sometimes however little flashes of color are nice) and I chopped it into bite sized pieces.
  • Add your watermelon skin and simmer until the skins are soft and their white color becomes transparent. This chicken soup is finished with a couple scoops of cooked quinoa or whatever your favorite soup grain might be. The watermelon skin lends a quiet sweetness to this simple dish which I accented by garnishing with a handful of course chopped fresh mint and parsley from the garden. I made something akin to east melon out of west melon, the rind pieces were a truly delightful explosion of broth and there was something almost meaty, hearty and satisfying in the interesting textural juxtapositions: liquid and solid; hot and cooling; slippery and chewable, east meets west.

I hope you enjoy it… I found it to be captivating “stuff”.