Thursday, April 29, 2010

Early Growth in the Garden

On April 7th we planted seeds in our garden. I blogged about it here.

After 8 days, we already had sprouts:Pea Pod, 8 days

Mesclun mix, 8 days.

Three weeks after planting, the plants can now be identified by their appearance. Those pea greens are almost ready for eating! If you haven't tried pea greens before, watch for them in your local farmer's market. They're popular early in the season when other crops aren't ready yet. I like to toss some in my salad. They're also good topped with grilled salmon. We probably won't pick ours as pea greens (unless the plants need thinning) because we REALLY love pea pods. If we pick the greens, there won't be any pods.
Pea pods, 3 weeks

Mesclun mix, 3 weeks.

Last year I bought a 6 pack of pak choi from our local garden center for the first time. I've always loved pac choi but hadn't grown it before then. Some of it went to seed and now we have a bunch of volunteer plants. I plan to let them grow a bit more and then harvest some tiny ones to eat and let the others fully mature. (They're much too crowded right now).
If you've never tried pac choi, I highy recommend it. It's a vegetable that's popular in Asian cooking. My favorite way to eat it is in stir fry. The key is to not overcook it- just a few minutes in a hot wok or saute pan is enough. Pac choi is readily available in most farmer's markets and grocery stores. In the grocery store, look in the produce section near the cabbages. They look kind of like small romaine heads with smoother, more rounded leaves that are less densely packed than romaine leaves.

For a side dish, try this:
  1. Cut off the very bottom and wash the leaves in plenty of cold water- soil can get trapped in the base of the plant.
    If they're large, you can cut them crosswise into large pieces an inch or more wide. I frequently leave them whole.
  2. Heat a wok or saute pan over medium to high heat. Add a bit of olive oil or canola oil (Maybe a tablespoon). When the oil shimmers, add the pak choi.
  3. Saute it quickly over high heat until the leaves become bright green (This happens quickly, so watch closely). If the pan seems too dry, add a couple of tablespoons of water.
  4. Drizzle the leaves with oyster sauce and serve. (Find Oyster Sauce in the international or Asian food aisle in your grocery store near the soy sauces and teriyaki sauces. If it's not available there, you may need to go to an Asian market. For my local readers, we go to Kam Man in Quincy, MA.

For an even healthier option, you can steam the pac choi for a few minutes and then drizzle it with oyster sauce.

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