Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer picnic salad, crab season practice, lamb's quarters

Well, I've managed to neglect the blog for nearly half a year. If it were a garden it would be bursting with nettles, blackberry vines and horsetail by now. Yum, actually...
Last weekend we had a potluck barbecue at the beach and I opted to throw a side of Copper River Sockeye basted with Basil and Green Olive Pesto. We also brought a farro salad that enjoyed a nice reception, probably thanks to the little nuggets of Salumi Guanciale hiding in nearly every bite. There have been requests for both recipes so I shall provide them down below. All told it was a perfect day at the beach, cool in the shade tan-worthy in the sun. I think we may be paying for our good luck with the dreary clouds that set in at the crack of dawn Monday morning. Aaah, well. It is a Seattle summer after all!
I have a very big party I'm cooking for on glorious Lopez Island late this summer and one of the things we'll be cooking up is locally caught crab (and if we're lucky, Spot Prawns from nearby San Juan). To get my chops back on crab, I bought three yesterday: one live (to my four year old's screaming glee, he lived in the bathtub for several hours. A sort of edible pet), one cooked and chilled and a final one flash cooked and frozen on the boat off of Dungeness Bay. I need to see how I like the frozen crab, some really love it. It's a big test- in order to feed up to 75 people locally caught crab it's going to take some freezing ahead so no crabbing rules are broken, I suppose... The big recipe I wanted to try first was a yuzu-miso sauce with lime beurre blanc. It sounds extra fancy and fussy but took about 6 minutes to create after I set things up (another 5 minutes)- all told, far quicker than prepping the crab. I haven't tried the frozen crab yet, but the sauce was incredibly nice.
One of my crab partners-in-crime arrived with a grocery bag full of lamb's quarters. I blanched them for 30 seconds with large sprigs of cilantro and then sauteed the whole bit in olive oil and a big dollop of the Yuzu-Miso Sauce. Delightful!

Now onto the recipes. Sadly, I didn't take any pictures- too busy making sure my kiddo didn't test out the live crab's reflexes. I will try to post some pictures when it's crab practice part 2!

Farro and Butternut Squash Salad
2 cup pearled farro (non pearled will take quite a bit longer to cook and should be soaked in a slightly salted brine overnight)
5 cups homemade chicken stock
dash kosher salt

1t olive oil, plus more if needed
1/4 cup Salumi Guanciale*, cut to 1/4" cubes
2 cups butternut squash, cut into thin 2" slices
2 cups leeks, cleaned, quartered end to end and sliced to 1/4" pieces
1/2 cup garden herbs (I used rosemary, lemon thyme, parsley, sage but play around if you don't have these), loosely packed

Balsamic vinegar
Walnut Oil

First, cooked your farro. Give it a quick wash in a colander, allow to drain a minute and then add to the chicken stock and salt in a large saucepan you can cover. If you don't have homemade stock, that's fine- just leave out the salt as commercial stock can be salty. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. The farro will be cooked in about 20 minutes, go a little longer to allow the farro to fully absorb the stock.
Now, I am a lazy cook. I knew I would be making this salad for the Sunday party, so Friday night while making dinner I cooked the farro and then put the whole pot in the fridge before bed (once it had cooled). On Saturday, I prepped the veg and left them in the fridge as well, leaving only 10 minutes of prep on party day. Of course, you can do everything all at once, but I like to stretch the prep out.
Heat the olive oil in a wide, high sided saute pan over a medium high flame. Use a spoon to make sure the whole surface is coated then add your guanciale. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add the squash, leek and herbs and a healthy pinch of salt, saute for 6-8 minutes. If you notice they are a bit dry add some olive oil, 1 T at a time. When the veggies have a tinge of brown, empty the pan into a large mixing bowl. Add the farro and season to taste with balsamic and walnut oil, starting with 1 T of each. I did two additions, but trust your own taste.
Chill and serve.
A nice addition to this salad is goat cheese and to make it a whole meal, you can serve it on a bed of greens like mizuna, butter lettuce or arugula.

* any kind of guanciale will do, even pancetta in a pinch, but a combination of Seattle pride and favoritism make Salumi's guanciale my best choice.

Miso-Yuzu Sauce
1/4 c lime juice
3 T finely chopped shallot
1/4 c butter

2 T shiro miso
1/4 cup sake
2 T yuzu vinegar

First, make a beurre blanc with the first three ingredients.
Over medium flame, heat the lime juice with the shallot for 2 minutes, making sure the juice does not completely evaporate. Then add the butter in 4 parts, whisking after each addition.
Now add the miso and sake in. Cook for 2 minutes and then remove from heat and stir in the yuzu vinegar.
This sauce is lovely on crab and also mixed into greens. We also tried it on rice vermicelli to lovely results.

Basil and Green Olive Pesto
This is a bit more of a tapenade than a pesto, but it is so very green I couldn't resist the misplaced moniker!
1 cup packed basil leaves
1/2 loose cup italian parsley
3 garlic cloves
1 cup pitted green olives, Castelveltrano or Bellas
1/4 c walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup peppery olive oil, Columela is a favorite
Mix all ingredients, except olive oil, in a food processor and blitz for 3 minutes, streaming the olive oil in once the ingredients are chopped. Scrape sides down and process a further 1 minute. The mixture should be smooth.