Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Kermit had it wrong...

It IS easy being green.

At least with somebody else doing all the heavy lifting. While I have all sorts of vegetable plants in the ground, I have yet to show any edible results for my efforts. This will hopefully change later in the season, but for now trying to keep a watchful eye out to avoid the various pitfalls of raising food has me grateful that I've got a built-in supply of guaranteed goodies with my weekly CSA baskets from Tecolote.

Tonight, case in point, I went to Castle Hill Fitness to try out one of the free classes with my daughter who is a member there. Their Off the Wall class is open to visitors on Thursday nights, and is a fun and funny way to discover both how fit you REALLY are (or aren't), and how comfortable you can be while hanging upside down.

Bottom line is I got back home around 7PM and still needed to prepare something for dinner. I'd thought about this beforehand, knew I wouldn't be up to too strenuous a prep, and decided to finish up a package of 4 cheese ravioli and the last of our amazing Mustard Greens along with some of our Bloomberg Spinach with the following recipe.

This is adapted from one of the few Michael Chiarrello recipes I'd ever attempt off his NapaStyle website. Tortellini in Brodo with Greens is as much a technique as a precise recipe. Here's how it breaks down:

1 pkg tortellini
1 1/2 quarts stock
2 cups tightly packed mustard greens, spinach, broccoli rabe or dandelion greens

Season broth to taste with sea salt. Bring to a simmer in a saucepan.

Add tortellini and cook as directed.

Transfer tortellini with a slotted spoon to four warm bowls. Add greens to broth and cook until greens are tender, then use tongs to divide the greens among the bowls.

Ladle a little broth over pasta and greens.Grate Parmesan over bowls and finish with a grind of black pepper and a swirl of extra virgin olive oil.

I used a lot more greens, a little less stock, and ravioli rather than tortellini, but you get the drift. It was quick, it was delicious, it was a lot healthier than the ravioli smothered in, say, butter (hypothetically - ok?), and it really hit the spot on a night like tonight when I needed something fast(er) but good.

I served ours with a bread combo (for my husband at least) of the moist cornbread I'd made yesterday, and some homemade soft pretzels my son made and gave me when I visited him earlier today.

He has converted his back patio to a culinary garden of sorts so I took him several larger planters we weren't using as well as some of our basket goodies. As a chef, he has been eagerly waiting to get his hands on some of the organic veggies like I'd promised back when this all started. I shared beets, parsnips and some of the mache. I'm seriously hoping to find at least one more bag of these especially tender and yummy greens in next week's basket so I won't rue having been so generous with sharing it so far this year.This was just a great day for me. I got to spend good time with my kids while we pursued some of our common interests. I got to spend good time with my husband and shared a delicious and healthy meal.

Eventually our little crops out back might be featured in a series of great meals. That is the plan, anyway. Until then, I am grateful as I can be for farmers who will go to the trouble for me, of seeing that we have healthy food to eat on hand week to week. As far as I can see from here, green is the only way to go. And with Tecolote Farm as my provider? Easy does it.

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