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Seasonal cooking: January at Pacific NW

Even though January is considered a low season for farmers and most of the farms are closed for business, quite a few kinds of vegetables are available during the winter season and can be found mostly at the Farmers Markets that are open year round, and in some grocery stores that sell local farm produce. Winter produce consists mostly of different types of winter greens – chards, kale, arugula, and salad mixes, as well as broccoli, turnips, winter squash, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, and garlic. Some late fall apples can be stored through the winter and are available at winter Farmers’ Markets too.

Salad with fresh and dried tomatoes

This salad is very light and refreshing. It’s goes well with almost any main dish: meat, fish, or pasta.

Ingredients

½ lb salad mix

½ lb cherry tomatoes (optional)

¼ of medium size onion cut in long thing stripes

¼ cup sun dried tomatoes

salt

Dressing

¼ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Instructions

1. To prepare dressing, add all the dressing ingredients into a salad dressing jar and shake well until all the ingredients are well combined.

2. Wash and dry salad mix and put it in a big salad bowl.

3. Cut cherry tomatoes in halves and add to the salad bowl.

4. Add dried tomatoes and onion.

5. Sprinkle with salt, add dressing and mix well.

Tweaks and variations

For this salad you can use any type of salad mix, arugula, kale, or spinach.

Fresh tomatoes are optional if you want to keep it strictly seasonal.

Instead of raspberry vinegar you can use balsamic vinegar, or any other berry or fruit vinegar. Sipping vinegars also work great with this dressing.

You can use any type of salt, but coarse salt, even the plain one, creates an additional layer of flavor. Flavored salt (truffle salt, pink Himalayan salt, etc) will enrich your salad even more.

Frittata with chard and mushrooms

There are several varieties of chard or Swiss chard, the most common ones being Ruby Chard, Rhubarb Chard, and Rainbow Chard. They vary in color from green to red to purple. They are all similar in taste and any of them can be used in this recipe. Chard can also be substituted by kale or spinach. I prefer to use chard or kale for frittatas because spinach turns out very watery when you cook it.

You can use any type of mushrooms for this recipe, either fresh or dry. Fall and winter is a great time, however, to try fresh mushrooms. You can find many different kinds at the Farmers Market. They can be very distinctive in taste and are a great addition to many different dishes – salads, soups, frittatas, meats, etc.

To use dry mushrooms, soak them in hot water for at least 15 min before you use them, then put them in the colander. If after that they are too watery, squeeze them by hand a little bit.

Ham and cheese are optional ingredients in this recipe and the dish turns out delicious with or without them. Ham can be substituted by bacon, sausages, or any other meat of your liking. You also can use any kind of cheese - Parmesan, cheddar, etc.

Ingredients

6 eggs

6-8 medium size chard leaves, what and cut in ½ inch slices

2–3 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup milk

½ cup chopped ham, bacon, or any other smoked meat (optional)

¼ cup shredded cheese (cheddar, parmesan, or any other) (optional)

Handful of chopped cilantro, parsley, or any other green spices of your liking for garnish (optional)

Instructions

1. In a medium size skillet, saute mushrooms (and ham) until they are reduced by half in volume, and are soft and light brown.

2. Add chard and garlic and saute for another couple of minutes until chard gets softer. Saute time could vary depending on how you like the chard. The more you cook it, the softer it will be. If you like it crunchy and crispy, don’t overcook it. Just give it a quick mix once or twice.

3. Beat eggs with milk until combined. Add ¾ of the cheese to the mix and pour it to the skillet.

4 . Spread the rest of the cheese on top of the frittata.

5. Reduce the heat, cover the skillet with a lid and cook until frittata is firm.

6. Sprinkle with chopped herbs (optional)

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