Ample Bites Farm Update #2

Despite a paucity of rain the Ample Bites Vegetable Farm is coming along nicely. In fact, we have already harvested some of the lettuce, spinach and radishes and used them in a salad.

The tomatillo plants that Sandy was given by a co-worker, and nurtured by our neighbor while we were away, did not survive. The beans are under siege by some sort of bug and a couple of the potato plants seem not to be emerging. Otherwise, all of the plants are doing very well thanks to some watering by friends and family and Sandy’s persistent weeding.

The farm really looks cool with the emerging plants and the hay that we have placed around them to help subdue the omnipresent and aggressive weeds, which seem to grow as quickly as any vegetable with or without water.

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Grilled Salmon and Warm Cherry Tomato Salad

Salmon is a versatile fish that can be cooked in any number of ways. Ample Bites likes Grilled Salmon the best. Other preparations include smoked, poached, planked, and salmon burgers or patties.

Grilled Salmon with a light coating of good olive oil, sea salt, and fresh ground black pepper brings out the essence of the main ingredient.

Grilled Salmon

Serves 4

4 8-oz salmon fillets
2 Tbsp good extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat you grill to a high temperature.

Brush the salmon with the olive oil and season with the sea salt and pepper.

Place the fillets skin side down on a clean, hot grill grate. Close the grill and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the fillets over, cover the grill again and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes for medium well done. If you wish to check the temperature of the fish it should read about 140F.

A perfect side dish for Grilled Salmon is a Warm Cherry Tomato Salad. The salad is light and fresh. The acidity of the tomatoes work well with the simple, meaty flavors of the fish.

Warm Cherry Tomato Salad
(Courtesy of Super Suppers Cookbook, Judie Byrd, 2006)

Serves 4 to 6

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
2 pints cherry tomatoes
6 green onions, bias-sliced, or ½ cup finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ cup chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, cook and stir for 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes and green onion, cook and stir until tomato skins begin to burst. Stir in vinegar, salt and pepper. Remove skillet from heat. Add parsley, toss to combine.

An added plus for both the Grilled Salmon and the Warm Cherry Tomato Salad is the simple preparation. Both dishes can be completed in less than 30 minutes, which makes them perfect for a middle of the week dinner.

Field Trip to The Olive Mill in Geneva, IL

Yesterday I visited a favorite local food store called The Olive Mill. It is located less than two miles from home, just off of 3rd Street in downtown Geneva, Illinois, so my field trip was quite short. If you don’t live as close as I do you can order at their website The Olive Mill.

The Olive Mill stocks a large and diverse selection of olive oils and vinegars. Sandy and I have been buying better oils and vinegars from this store since shortly after they opened a few years ago. The store sells these cooking liquids in their own labeled bottles which can be cleaned and reused when you return to purchase more product. A frequent buyer program offers a free bottle of oil or vinegar after purchasing ten bottles. All of their oils and vinegars can be tasted before purchasing and the store offers numerous recipes using The Olive Mill products. Many of these recipes have been provide by customers of the store.

During my visit I bought a bottle of their Persian Lime olive oil and a bottle of Blackberry Ginger Balsamic vinegar.

A simple recipe using the Blackberry Ginger Balsamic Vinegar uses it in a vinaigrette.

Spring Mix Salad with Blackberry Ginger Vinaigrette

8 cups of mixed lettuces (romaine, endive, frisee, spinach, etc.) rinsed and spun dry
1/2 lb feta cheese crumbled
1/3 cup walnuts (optional)
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 mandarin orange or tangerine peeled and separated into sections
3 Tbsp OLIVE MILL Blackberry Ginger Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp dried mustard
1/4 cup OLIVE MILL extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare greens, cheese, nuts, onion and fruit by arranging on a serving plate or bowl. Thoroughly whisk vinegar, pepper and mustard together in a small bowl. Add the oil while whisking. Pour the dressing over the salad or serve on the side.

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