(Ok, not really on the Spring part. That’s still a few months away.) I gave my mom paper white narcissus bulbs for Christmas. This is a picture of how well they’re growing + my mom’s beautiful Rocky Mountain view. (The paper whites generally live inside, of course. They go outside for photoshoots.)
Pappa al pomodoro is a tomato bread stew that I love love love. Last night after a long day of yoga teacher training I made this tasty stew with tomatoes that I canned with friends in the fall.
It’s fairly simple to make, if not a little time consuming with various chopping. I wanted to make enough for my dinner + some leftovers. So I used
- half an onion
- one celery stalk
- one carrot
- two garlic cloves
- handful of fresh parsley from my garden
- sour batard loaf
- one quart jar and one pint jar of my canned tomatoes (you can do the math on that)
- haphazard amount of chicken stock, probably around 3 cups
You start with a savory base of finely diced onion, carrot and celery, along with a garlic clove or two and fresh parsley. (Side note: the Italian word for parsley is prezzemolo. So fun to say.) Cook all those in a little bit of olive oil until they’re soft.
I used almost a whole loaf of sour batard, but you can use any simple white loaf. I let the loaf sit for a couple of days. This stew comes from the tradition of the tavola povera, in which you make do with what you’ve got. This stew, like ribollita, was a way of using up stale bread. Now you know. Ok, so slice the crusts off the bread. (I was hungry while I was cooking so I ate the crusts like crackers. You could probably put some nice cheese on them too, and really snack it up.) Cut the bread in cubes. Put it in the pot.
I dumped my jars of whole canned momotaro + early girl tomatoes in the pot with the bread. Stir it up.
Add in chicken stock or vegetable stock.
Cooking the Stew
Let it cook down for about 45 minutes. The flavors will mix and the bread will absorb all the delish.
See, it’s really pretty simple.
The recipe I use is Italy al Dente by the phenomenal Biba Caggiano, an old school (in a good way) chef who raised the bar for Italian food in my hometown.
We had lovely warm weather today, so I took advantage of it and did some fall planting. Our mild winters here mean gardening year round (yay!). I planted garlic, fava beans and tulip bulbs.
Growing garlic is super easy. (Read my previous post on this.) I don’t think you really need to buy fancy bulbs from seed catalogs, but do at least buy nice garlic from the farmers markets. (Apparently some grocery store garlic can be sprayed with something to keep it from sprouting that little green shoot.) Break the bulb up into cloves. Plop the cloves into the ground. No need to peel them. And I have a feeling that the skin helps keep them from getting waterlogged and rotting. I bought this garlic from the Ballard Farmers Market in Seattle when I was there in September visiting my BFF. This garlic is a hardneck variety — which means that it will grow a delectable scape. Most garlic is softneck, which stores longer, but doesn’t grow a scape. (Recipes here, here, and here.) I was all giddy when I found this at the market. Hardneck garlic is also better suited to colder climates, so I stashed it in the back of the fridge for about 6 weeks. This is called vernalization — faking a cold winter for those of us in areas with mild winters. I made a mental note to plant it right around Thanksgiving. So the long holiday weekend was a perfect time to check some things off my garden to-do list.
And hey, good news apartment dwellers, you can totally grow garlic in containers!
After weeding and doing some garden clean up I also harvested the scarlet runner beans that had dried on the vine. The dried pods looked a little funky, so I wasn’t sure how the dried beans inside would be…
BUT THEY WERE BEAUTIFUL! I love the mottled lavender and black of scarlet runner beans. I think that next year I’m going to use more garden space for beans to save and dry.
Handful of beans!
For some culinary nerding out on garlic you should also probably go read this.
Follow me on Twitter for more adventures in urban gardening: @baydirt.
This was my load from the Noe Valley farmers market on Saturday. I love neighborhood farmers markets like this. I stocked up on chard and kale, and grabbed a kabocha squash and cippolini onions. I’m waiting for the chard and kale in my garden to get a little bigger before I start harvesting it. I have 8 chard plants going right now, because I seriously can’t get enough. And I will probably have too much very soon, so if you’re a chard fiend, let me know because I’m happy to share.
More on Twitter: @baydirt