Even though I sometimes freeze my fingers doing it, if there isn’t snow on the ground, I like to start sugar snap peas in my garden around Spring Equinox. The peas like it cold and wet, and if I get them in then or soon after, by now they are starting to climb the wire fence I always plant them along. Our rather cold and unpredictable Springs also allow the planting of hardy greens and roots like radishes, kale and broccoli rabe. I often see them volunteering, along with flat leaf parsley and dill, and I get excited for another season.
And even though I got hit by a lightning bolt that told me it was time to move, I still planted some things that I could enjoy for a while and then leave to my lovely buyer. So amidst the hectic and overwhelming labor of sorting through and starting to pack up, I can go out and pick from the bounty of new baby greens.
Remember those romaine crowns I stuck in water a few months ago? They’ve been in the dirt for over a month, and have produced lots of tasty leaves. They’re going to seed now, but other new sprouts from seeds are taking their place.
This is a very simple lunch bowl featuring the things that grow in abundance in Spring in my old established garden. I’ll be taking a little of each of these wonders to my new place. But right now, let’s celebrate the old garden with a lunch made special by it’s greening glory. I’ll list the things I was able to pick from my old garden, but you use the baby greens you have, either in your own garden or from the farmer’s market, or even the grocery store. And be sure to use some fresh herbs too. Mint is often abundant at this time of year, and it adds a wonderful dimension to both Asian and Mexican style bowls.
Maria’s Old Garden Millet Bowl
about 1 cup cooked millet
about 1/4-1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
a carrot, julienned
a slice of red cabbage, chopped (optional, but nice)
a slice of two of cooked sweet potato, cubed (optional, but nice)
any or all of the following greens and herbs (from my garden or yours, or a farmer’s), about 2 cups:
baby red russian Kale
broccoli rabe leaves
red giant mustard
green onion and/or chives
garlic, ginger, tumeric, powdered or fresh
garnish (any of all of the following):
lemon juice, teriyaki sauce, sesame seeds
or what I call,”Anytime Sauce”:
1 tsp of chickpea or soy miso
1/2 tsp of apricot fruit spread
1 -2 tbs of lemon juice (start with one and then add more if you want)
optional add ins:
a bit of tamarind paste
To make the bowl:
Heat a few tablespoons of water in a good non-stick skillet on medium. When the water is simmering, add all the chopped vegetables, sprinkle liberally with garlic granules and ginger powder. Cover and let steam for a few minutes, until the veggies turn brighter and the moisture is almost gone. Take the lid off and add the cooked millet, potatoes, chickpeas, and a little tumeric, if you like. If necessary, add a little more water, but just enough to prevent sticking. Stir-fry it all for a minute or two until everything is warm. Top with any extra herbs or chopped green onions, cover, and remove from heat. Let it sit like that while you make your Anytime Sauce or get out your bowl and lemon juice and teriyaki sauce. Empty into a pretty bowl. Top with Anytime Sauce and Sesame Seeds. Or just lemon juice and teriyaki sauce. Or even just lemon juice. The citrus makes the flavors sing.
To make your Anytime Sauce: put all the ingredients in a very small bowl. Mash with a spoon until the fruit spread and miso are more or less combined with the lemon juice. That’s it. You can change this up however you like. Use lime juice instead, or lime zest. Use other spices. Use your imagination.
I’m still a bit shy about what conventional eaters will think of my food. Nearly every day there’s something happening related to the move, or someone coming over to pick something up and put it somewhere else, check something out, have me read a form and sign it. I was hungry and decided I had better eat before the friend coming over to take some stuff away for me or the homeowner’s insurance agent appeared. On this particular day I had made this bowl with Sprouted Buckwheat Sunshine Burger crumbled into it, since I didn’t have any chickpeas cooked. I had flavored the basic Anytime Sauce with a pinch of orange zest, and topped the whole thing with some of the fresh dill that’s volunteering all over my old garden bed.
The homeowner’s agent came just a few minutes after I had finished. I’d never met him before, since my long time insurance agent has retired. The first thing the new guy said when he walked in the door was, “It smells like lunch in here. Smells really good!” And he just stood taking the aromas in. I always enjoy it when someone who probably eats bacon and eggs for breakfast says that about the way my food smells. And it never fails to happen. I just smile and say thank you, while inside I’m feeling such deep gratitude I’m found this burning bush: these low fat plant-based lunch strategies that are carrying me through what it takes to rezone, sell, buy a house and move into a new one with the kind of stamina I wouldn’t even have known to dream about before.