April 1, 2009

triple washed, ready to eat

Garden-fresh vegetables, while carrying with them the distinction of being the healthiest, most opulent meal, must be washed. A few weeks ago, while eating a beautiful salad with greens from my mother’s garden, I looked down and thought, “I didn’t put rosemary in the dressing...” and realized I was staring at an inch-long wriggling bit of extra protein the exact shade of an uber-fresh rosemary needle. It served as a gentle reminder of just how fresh my food in fact was. So before I could embark on any culinary adventures with the pounds of produce that hailed from my mother’s garden, I had to clean it. I set up a rinsing station, employing every large bowl in my kitchen arsenal. For anyone fretting about my plastic bag usage...rest assured they’re recycled from my mom’s kitchen and were the best available transport option. :) Spinach, kale, and lettuce all got soaked in batches (to send all the remaining bugs upward, gasping for air), then spun in the salad spinner, then soaked again. Twice. This is, I suppose, what a commercial lettuce vendor would call “Triple Washed and Ready to Eat,” though before I cooked any of these greens I washed ‘em once more for good measure. Texas black dirt is stubborn, and heirloom greens like to cling to it. But when it’s cooked, you can’t tell.

For the turnips, carrots, and onions, still covered in lots of dirt, it was an outside operation. I set up my washing station and got to work. Once most of the mud was gone, I took them inside to be scrubbed with a brush. They get peeled, anyway, so a little dirt didn’t hurt. All the water from this operation was dutifully saved and poured into my watering can to feed my container garden.

Washing the veggies helped me come up with a game plan to use them all in a timely manner. First, the radicchio... Then the spinach and lettuce, and the onions, carrots, sugar snaps, and turnips could be saved for later in the week. Stay tuned for oh-so-bitter radicchio night, followed by baby quiches...and the best stir fry I have personally ever made.