One person’s junk…

Stinging nettle at Wild Willow Farm

Is another person’s treasure! You’ve heard that one before as you browsed through a particularly fruitful garage sale. A perfectly good bread machine? A ceramic bust of Mozart? A slightly rusty but still totally usable push lawn-mower? What were these sellers thinking? Of course you’ll take it all off their hands…

The same thing happens in the garden. Some of us see weeds, others culinary delights. Where I work at Seeds@City Urban Farm we have our fair share of delicious volunteer plants like dandelions, amaranth, lambs quarters, stinging nettle, and purslane. Some was sown on purpose long ago, some just shows up. Instead of pulling it all and throwing it in the compost pile, we share the nutritional value and delicious uses with our community through the CSA program and farm stand. If you don’t have your own garden to weed (and eat from), ask at the local farmers’ markets for some of those tasty greens.

Here’s a great article from the New York Times about a few of our favorites.

purslane vs snail

Peppers, peppers, peppers…

The farmers markets tables are awash in reds, greens, purples, oranges- shiny bells and crinkly horns, tiny slivers of heat and crispy sweet bites of summer. It is pepper season!

When I was a kid my favorite recipe to prepare was Chile Rellenos. Assisted by an adult, of course, I would heat up that oil and dip the jack cheese filled (canned) pepper into a fluffy egg batter then throw my dripping masterpiece into the oil spitting pan and watch that baby brown. Once a sufficient amount sat on a paper towel covered plate, we would sit down to watch the evening news while drowning our dinners in salsa and sour cream, strands of gooey cheese streaming from plate to mouth-bound fork.

I don’t cook (much) by submersing my produce and dairy in vats of oil these days, but I still love the combination of peppers, egg, and cheese. Here’s my updated version of my childhood fave:

Stuffed peppers with roasted salsa and a fried egg:

8 peppers (the bigger the better- try poblano or pasilla but lots of other peppers will work), 1 cup cherry or small heirloom tomatoes, 1 onion cut into eighths, 2T olive oil, 1 cup shredded or crumbled cheese, 2 eggs, a bunch of cilantro

Preheat your oven to 400′. Toss peppers, tomatoes, and onions with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a baking pan and roast for about 30 minutes or until the peppers are soft and slightly browned.

Once the veggies are ready, let cool slightly, and place half the peppers on a broiler safe baking sheet. Peel off papery skin if desired, carefully slit them on one side and remove seeds. Then stuff them with your choice of cheese: My favorite is Monterey Jack, but goat cheese or queso fresco can work too! Place under broiler until cheese is melted.

Meanwhile, place tomatoes, onions, and remaining peppers into blender and blend just until large chunks are incorporated. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Add a dash of hot sauce if you like, preferably made from African bird chili peppers like the ones in the photo above!

Heat a frying pan to medium and fry two eggs to your liking. (I prefer over easy with good farm fresh eggs)

Place one or two chile rellenos on each plate. Top with fried egg. Pour warm salsa over top and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Approximately 2 servings.