Upcoming recipe: winter squash & beluga lentil burgers + chipotle coleslaw

What’s the point of this post?  To get you excited about next week’s CSA share and help you prep your pantry & fridge for items on this coming week’s tremendously exciting menu!

It is winter squash season, so we’ll be getting a different winter squash every week.  This week we got ‘Fairy’ winter squash, which I have yet to use, but I plan to make good use of it this weekend.  Next week we’ll try another variety (maybe ‘Lower Salmon’ or ‘Kabocha’) and I’ll put it to use in this veggie burger recipe with some black beluga lentils.  So what’s on the menu?

Winter squash & beluga lentil veggie burgers with homemade hamburger buns.  Chipotle coleslaw.  Roasted baby carrots & baby beets.

I don’t know about you, but I am EXCITED about this upcoming meal.  And if all goes according to plan, we’ll get most of the ingredients with next week’s share.  Nearly all of the remaining ingredients we’ve gotten in previous shares, which means nearly 100% of this meal will be made with locally sourced ingredients.  Yay!  Wanna make these burgers?  And/or the coleslaw?  Here’s what you’ll need:

For the burgers:

Winter squash (this & next week’s share)

black beluga lentils (next week’s share) -OR- other lentils/pulses/grain of your choice

smoked Monterrey Jack cheese –OR-cheese of your choice

parsley (this week’s share)

thyme

onion (recent shares)

oatmeal

eggs

cornmeal

For the coleslaw:

cabbage (next week’s share)

celeriac, also known as celery root (next week’s share)

carrots (recent shares & next week’s share)

watermelon radish (this week’s share & next week for those who didn’t get theirs)

dried cranberries

chipotle pepper (dried or canned in adobo sauce)

I’m really hopeful we get everything we order so I can make this meal.  If we don’t, oh well, that’s how the baby beets roll this time of year in Montana.  I’m also hoping to acquire some arugula in next week’s share to serve on top of the burgers, along with some sliced tomatoes that we got in this week’s share.  And I’ll make some chipotle mayo to slather on the buns as well.  Of course, I’ll make a video to show you how to throw it all together, too!  It will be fun!  ‘Til next week, dream of warm winter squash-based meals!

 

 

 

Lentil Sausage Bake

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Early this afternoon I took a look in the pantry and was uninspired.  “What am I going to do for dinner tonight?” I thought.  While working through the rest of the afternoon, I let this little conundrum roll around in the back of my head.  Inspiration usually hits me if I just let my subconscious work like it’s wont to do.  And it did not let me down.

I have a shload of lentils in the pantry, which is where I wanted to start my dinner theme.  How could I incorporate lentils into tonight’s dinner but not have it be the overwhelming flavor?  (Don’t get me wrong, I love lentils, but I was not in the mood today for a lentil-heavy dish like a dal or something like that.)  My subconscious said, “Add sausage.”  Hubby would certainly like that, so I plucked a 1 pound package of bulk sausage from the freezer to thaw.

Side note: The bulk pork sausage is from the half hog hubby and I bought earlier this year.  Our local butcher makes incredible breakfast sausage, and I use it in all sorts of dishes, not just fried up with eggs and pancakes for breakfast.

What else was in my pantry?  Ah, I just bought some sweet potatoes the other day.  I love sweet potatoes, and they are such a nutritious addition to a meal.  I cooked the lentils and roasted the sweet potatoes early on, once I decided they were going to star in the meal.  Then I let my brain finish assembling the ingredients into something delicious.  I have a ton of chopped, frozen kale in the freezer from the CSA this summer.  Things were beginning to solidify in my head.  Onion.  I would definitely need some onion.

When I began cooking dinner, I wasn’t exactly sure where I would end up, but I figured I would wing it and make it work out one way or another.  That’s just how I roll in the kitchen.  I ended up tossing in a few herbs–thyme, rosemary, and some homemade garlic powder.  And that was it.  It came together nicely and hubby was pretty stoked at how good everything tasted together.  We both agreed that it was the perfect meal for a chilly evening.  It was something like peasant food, we decided.  Not really a casserole, but not really a skillet scramble, either.  It’s hard to classify just what it is–except delicious.  And I was really pleased that hubby liked it.  Sometimes when I mention ‘lentils,’ he gets a pained look on his face.  Or kale.  Or sweet potatoes.  But the lentils weren’t overwhelming.  The kale wasn’t obtrusive.  The sweet potatoes weren’t too sweet.  And there was sausage in it.  How can you go wrong with sausage, some would argue?  There was a nice range of flavors, textures, and plenty of vitamins and minerals to go around.  In fact, lentils, kale, and sweet potatoes are considered ‘super foods,’ chocked full of good stuff (come to think of it, I’m sure there are plenty of people who would argue that sausage is, in fact, a super food).  I don’t get too wrapped up in all the super food hype, I just eat food because I like it.  I also try to eat a well-balanced, vitamin/mineral/fiber rich diet, but I don’t stock my pantry with any particular item just because it is trendy.  But I have to admit, I was a little proud of my combination tonight.  It felt like a ‘Nailed it!’ moment.  I’m definitely looking forward to leftovers tomorrow!

Want to give it a try?  Find the recipe here.

 

How to save globe artichoke seeds

The time is here to save your globe artichoke seeds!  I’ve shot a video showing how I go about the process, but I’ll go into some detail with photos down below.

If you grow globe artichokes and have wondered about saving your own seeds it is super-duper easy to do.  You only need a few tools that you probably have lying around your house anyway.  So let’s do this!

I first save globe artichoke seeds in 2015.  We had a very hot June that my artichoke plants loved–and they began flowering shortly after the hot spell.  I decided to take a gamble and see if I could produce my own seeds.  Gardening in the Rocky Mountains is always a gamble–cold, hot, snow, drought, hail…we have it all.  But to grow globe artichokes, which are only hardy to Zone 7 (we’re a Zone 4), well, those are a challenge.  It can be done, but it takes more effort than in a warmer climate.  But to save seeds?  That just sounds ridiculous.  But I have now done it twice, and I know the first set were viable because some of the plants I grew last year were started from seeds I saved in 2015.  And I’m fairly confident the seeds I harvested this year are viable as well.  I’ll know soon enough come January.

In order to save the seeds all you have to do is let your artichokes flower.  The bees will help to ensure you produce seeds:

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There are at least 4 bees on this one flower–I have other photos that show 6 or more bees on the same flower–these flowers are quite literally the bees’ knees!

Once they flower, then you just wait.  And wait.  And wait some more.  You have to wait until the flowers dry up on the stalks and then, and only then, may you cut them.  I wait until the last. possible. moment. to make my cut.  Ideally, you want to harvest the dried flowers after a long dry, warm spell.  We had a good one this fall, and right before the weather turned cold and snowy I cut them off.  They look like this:

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The bracts turn tan, the flower petals are still slightly purple.  When dry, the bracts become very sharp–you can see the sharp tips in the above photo.  When removing these bracts to get to the seeds, you’ll want some hand protection.  I prefer leather gloves.

Now comes the fun part–tearing apart the flower head.  It’s like Christmas for seed savers!  Using needle nose pliers, you just rip those bracts right off the flower, working your way inward to the soft, fluffy pappus that is attached to the top of the seed. I think they are very cool:

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I use at least one leather glove on the hand that I use to hold the artichoke, then I use the pliers in the hand without the glove.

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You can see several of the seeds in the middle of this head.  To me, they look like little grey, fat dog ticks.  I know that is really gross, but I’m sure you now have a really good image of what these seeds look like!  There are dozens and dozens of seeds on one artichoke head.

Not all of the seeds will be fully developed.  Some will be small and not viable like the ones shown at the top of this photo:

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When you finish pulling away all the fluff and seeds, you are left with a ‘naked receptacle.’ (I love that term.  It is, by the way, a true botanical description.  I am not making this up.)

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Now you have to separate your pile of seeds from the chaff and fluff and then store them in the fridge until you are ready to plant them.  I put my seeds in old pill bottles with one of those little silica gel packs to absorb moisture.  I’ll dig them out in January when I start seeds in my basement.

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And that, my friends, is how you save globe artichoke seeds.  It’s not complicated.  It is a little time consuming.  I have 3 heads saved from this summer and this photo is of just one of those heads!  It took me about an hour to rip through the head, so I’m saving the others for another day.  As you can see, I will have no shortage of seeds for next year!

Finally, the remaining two heads waiting to be de-seeded and the After Fluff, heading for the compost:

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