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Magic Salad Ingredients

Palisade Peaches, garden tomatoes and basil

If you are lucky enough to live in Colorado, as I am, you may know that Palisade Peaches show up in the grocery store once a year around August or September.  The first Palisade Peach of the year is just about as delicious as the first tomato out of the garden.  (Well, almost.)

Every year at the hubby’s school they do a fund raiser, and he gets a case of these babies straight from the grower–the Cox family. 40 perfectly round, fuzzy, juicy, sweet orbs of love.  Yum.   The western slope of the Rocky Mountains apparently has the perfect conditions for growing peaches—hot and sunny during the day, but nice and cool at night.  BTW—this is also the perfect venue for growing certain types of grapes, and there are some fantastic vineyards out on the Western slope–go wine tasting.  Do it now.

At the exact moment the tomatoes in the garden began to ripen, Palisade peaches arrived, and thus the Magic Salad, as the hubby calls it, was born.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium to large peach, chopped into ½ inch pieces.  If you can get a Palisade peach for this, do it!  If you sadly live in a different part of the country, do your best to get a locally grown peach in season.
  • 1 – 1½ cups of tomatoes, chopped ½ inch pieces.  You can use any kind of salad tomatoes—I usually use a mix of different colors and sizes, just to add a bit of visual appeal.
  • Drizzle of good balsamic vinegarWe happened to have some excellent aged balsamic flavored with black cherry from Seasons Taproom in Bethlehem, PA. 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil
  • Arugula  – 1 to 2 ounces, or enough to make a bed for each salad.  From the garden, of course!
  • Good feta cheese, crumbled – about 4 ounces.  If you live in Denver, get the Greek feta at Pete’s Market on Holly & Cedar.  They have four varieties there—Greek, Domestic, Bulgarian, and French.  They are all good, but I prefer the Greek for a crumbly texture and Bulgarian for a more creamy texture.  Greek is good for this salad, because it crumbles nicely, and it’s a little sharper and saltier—counterbalances the sweetness of the peaches and tomatoes nicely.
  • Basil chiffonade, about 2 tablespoons.  Chiffonade is a really pretty French word that means “made of rags”. How does everything sound prettier in French?

Make it:

  • Put the peach and tomatoes in a medium bowl.  Drizzle with just enough balsamic vinegar to coat.  Toss.
  • Season with salt and pepper.  Toss.
  • Drizzle with olive oil to coat.  Toss.  If you have other stuff to work on, this can sit, refrigerated, for about ½ hour.  Just stir it up every ten minutes or so.
  • Lay a bed of arugula in four wide bowls.
  • Spoon the peach/tomato mixture over arugula.
  • Top with feta, then basil.

Happy Hubby

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While turning my beds over this past weekend, I found a small crop of carrots that somehow managed to escape last year’s harvest.  Those stubborn little things survived the winter and were just waiting for me like an impatient child. “It’s about time,” they said, “It’s been freezing out here!”

Carrots for Soup

OK, admittedly not the prettiest carrots you've ever seen, but they will make great soup!

These carrots had, indeed, frozen and thawed, frozen and thawed, frozen and thawed, over and over throughout the winter.  As a result, the skinny ones were flimsy, and the large ones were very woody in the middle.  I couldn’t possibly chop them up to put on a salad, but they had too much life left to be doomed to the compost bin.  The solution?  Soup!  Soups and stews are always a great way to take advantage of veggies that aren’t bad, but aren’t quite at their freshest, either.

Yesterday it snowed, and the temperatures dipped to a chilly 32 during the day.  It seemed the perfect time to turn my tenacious carrots into a belly-warming dinner.  I happened to also have a head of not-so-fresh cauliflower on hand, so I supplemented my carrot crop with some of that, but you could easily make this recipe with 4 cups of carrots (or 4 cups of cauliflower).  Although I think 2 teaspoons of curry powder is just about right for this amount of soup, you will probably want to add 1 teaspoon and taste it before dumping the whole amount in–we tend to eat spicy!  (more…)

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