Locavore Time-Keep It Close To Home


Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook

Those Lively Spring Greens-Now

What a pitty we can’t count on being Locavores 12 months of the year. Life is changing as Federal Department of Agriculture micro and macro loans are being given to our progressive farmers for hoop houses to grow produce year ‘round. If the mid-Atlantic winters continue as in 2011-2012, we’ll be experimenting with January kale and cabbage in our own gardens.

You will find lots of herbs and cool weather edibles at Homestead Gardens-Now!

The Recipes

Herb, Feta & Beet Salad

Spicy Slaw with Sugarsnaps and Plumped Mustard Seeds

Nouveau Chimichurri  Sauce


Herb, Feta & Beet Salad

Serves 4

This is a “tuck it in” salad with five parts: beets, pineapple, feta, herbs, and a very simple vinaigrette. The  elements come together at assembly time.


For the vinaigrette

  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons walnut oil, pecan oil or olive oil

For the beets

  • 1-1/2 pounds red beets (3 to 4 medium), washed and trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

For the herb salad

  • about 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves
  • 8 fresh chives, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon Cuban oregano (or other oregano)
  • 2 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley (1/2 cup packed)
  • 3 cups mesclun greens, or a mix of sliced sorrel, watercress, arugula, mizuna, or lambs lettuce
  • Fresh pineapple, cut in wedges
  • 1/4 pound feta, cut into triangles, about 1/4 inch thick
  • freshly ground black pepper

To make the vinaigrette

In a small bowl, dissolve the salt in the vinegar. Whisk in the nut oil.

Prepare the beets 

In a large saucepan with a steamer basket, steam the beets until tender when tested with a knife, 30 to 45 minutes. Cool. Peel the beets by pulling off the skin. Cut into 1/4-inch slices. Put the beets in a bowl and drizzle with with a small amount of the vinaigrette.

Prepare the herbs and lettuce

In a large bowl, combine all the herbs and greens (including any reserved small beet leaves). Toss with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the leaves.

To assemble

On four individual serving plates place a mound of the herbs and lettuces. Tuck in beet slices and pineapple wedges. Top each salad with Feta triangles and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.

Spicy Slaw with Sugar snaps and Plumped Mustard Seeds

Serves 4

Freshness for Spring is always on the menu. Make the most of tender verdant sugar snaps with the great long term cabbage.

  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 8 ounces very thinly sliced cored Savoy Cabbage (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • about 1 1/3 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed and lightly steamed
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 medium carrot shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • Drops sweet hot chili sauce, if desired

Combine the mustard seeds and vinegar in a cup and microwave for 1 minute; let rest, covered for 5 minutes to plump.

Place the cabbage, sugar snap peas, scallions, carrot and mustard in a medium bowl. Toss thoroughly. Add the mustard seeds in vinegar, salt and pepper, sweet hot chili sauce and toss; let sit for ten minutes, tossing occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings. Let sit another ten minutes for a softer slaw. Serve.

Nouveau Chimichurri Sauce

Makes 1 1/4 cups

A garlic and parsley sauce always accompanies grilled steak in Argentina. This rendition of the famous chimichurri is also perfect as a marinade for beef, chicken or seafood. In the photo you see it baked on folded mild fish fillets.

  • 1 cup (packed) fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (packed) fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup quality mayonnaise

Puree all ingredients in processor. Transfer to bowl and whisk in mayonnaise until very smooth. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)