The only bad thing I find about growing the brassica family (cabbages, kales, etc.) under row covers is what it does to the gardener. “Out of sight, out of mind.”
Because cabbages, once planted, need no care until harvest I guess I tend to forget about them. It’s like getting a bye as far as garden work goes: they, like the potatoes, just do their growing thing out of sight until needed. After a week away from the garden due to the oppressive heat, so many (!) things needed care that I *should* be able to ignore those cabbages another week or more, right? Wrong. I am a masochist, so I took a peek under the rowcovers.
Ohmahgah, purslane city! Time for a little Revenge, Served Cold:
PURSLANE GAZPACHO, for six (Note: I find it best to cut the purslane by first gathering up all its sprawling arms together and cutting it off, pony-tail style, about an inch above where the branches leave the ground. Purslane can be messy to clean if you pull it up roots and all.)
- About a gallon’s worth of purslane leaves and branches
- Two small cucumbers, peeled
- Two to four fleshy tomatoes, preferably the ones that are green when ripe, like Aunt Ruby’s German Green, or Green Zebra, but any color will do
- Four large cloves hardneck garlic (or more) to taste
- A medium red or yellow onion
- One small hot chili, stemmed, and seeded too if it’s really obnoxious
- 2 cups tomato juice or water to get the blender working correctly
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chives or green onions for garnish; vinegar for taste
This makes a shockingly green soup: the more red tomatoes you add, the more muddied the color so be warned. Clean purslane in a few changes of water, and strip off smaller branches from the larger trunk branches, discarding the trunks (unless of course they’re small then use all of it). Core but don’t skin the tomatoes, and clean and halve onions and garlic. Reserve part of the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and purslane, set aside. Blend remaining ingredients (it might take a couple batches to get it all) in either a blender or a food processor, and place contents in a bowl. Chop reserved veggies, add to chives/green onions, and add to bowl. Test for salt (it can take a lot of salt) and add vinegar if it needs to be brighter. Chill, serve.
WEEDER’S FRIEND PASTA SALAD serves six depending on how much you like salad
- 1 lb dried pasta like oriecchette (or really any small-ish and salad-friendly pasta), cooked al dente and then cooled immediately; tossed with 2 T olive oil, then chilled until rest of ingredients assembled
- About a quart or more of purslane leaves and small branches: after their cold-water bath, pull leaves, chop branches finely
- About 2-3 cups of lambs’ quarters, young leaves only
- Fresh turnips, cucumbers, kohlrabi and/or carrots, about 2 cups’ worth once cleaned and cubed
- 2-3 large red beets and their leaves: peel, cube and steam beets until crisp-tender and chop and reserve beet stems and greens
- 2-5 radishes, cleaned and slivered, or 1/2 cup or more whole radish seed pods (quite edible, and tasty!)
- 1/2 cup or more chopped fleshy herbs to taste (oregano, parsley, basil, etc.) and some thyme leaves thrown in too
- Chopped red onions or scallions to taste
- 3/4 cup or more of your favorite garlic-heavy dressing: this works well with a garlic/buttermilk or garlic/yogurt dressing, or a lemony vinaigrette, or, hell, fresh aioli!
- 1 cup goat’s milk feta, crumbled, or to taste
Toss all veggies in a very large bowl with cooled pasta and the dressing. The beets make it nice and pink-y red. There should be a LOT of vegetables here: about 2 or 3:1 as far as veg:pasta ratio goes, so you will need to jigger the dressing accordingly by adding the juice of half a lemon or enough extra dressing and/or onion to make it sing. Crumble the nice salty feta on top, don’t spare the pepper grinder, and dig in.