Any of you who have been reading for a while know about my garden woes. We live right next to the mountains, so wandering deer get a lot of our veggies. However, we have never had to go without garden fresh produce, thanks to brother-in-law Matt from Magpie Gardens. Almost weekly through the summer, I get a call to pick up an overflowing basket of tomatoes, peppers, herbs, melons, zucchini, you name it.
Last summer we ate purple, orange, yellow, red, pink and striped tomatoes. All from Magpie Gardens.
Some of you may know Matt. For those of you who don’t I’ll let him introduce himself:
“I’m a teacher during the winter months and a gardener during the summer. I grow over 20 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, each with its own unique flavor. I also grow over 30 varieties of chiles and bell peppers, from mild Cal Wonder Green Bells to the Bhut Jolokia, widely regarded as the hottest chile in the world. I’m committed to local, sustainable food that doesn’t deplete our natural resources…and tastes good.
“One of my friends once told me I ruined her life. I was quite stunned bu such an accusation. I asked her why. She told me that once she had tasted one of mu fresh, heirloom black krim tomatoes, she could never go back to eating hot-house store tomatoes again because they tasted like cardboard. It’s nothing unique I do that makes the tomatoes taste so good, rather it’s honoring and cultivating the varieties that were bred for taste (rather than how uniform in size they are, how fast they grow, or how well they ship), that generations of farmers, gardeners and others have been committed to.”
He starts everything he grows from seed in his office/greenhouse…the chilies as early as February. Who thinks that far in advance? Matt. (P.S. all of his seeds are purchased from certified organic seed suppliers.)
This summer, his garden is looking so promising, he is offering his produce to the masses along the Wasatch front (hopefully that includes you). Already he has a variety of salad greens for sale. Soon he will be offering peas, beets, carrots, and in another month or so, the tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers will be ready. Throughout the summer, he will have onions, chilies, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, pumpkins, beans, peas, eggplant, and greens. He also has oregano, cilantro and seven varieties of basil.
If you would prefer to grow your own, go pick up some little seedlings…he has several varieties of heirloom tomato plants, various herbs, and many types of peppers.
His garden is completely organic. The only fertilizer he uses comes from the chickens that roam his garden. (He is not USDA certified, because that takes an enormous amount of paperwork.)
I got my first sampling from Matt this week. A variety of salad greens: lettuce, spinach, mustards, romaine freckles, lolla rossa, four seasons, bloomsdale spinach, bourdeaux spinach, arugula, black seeded simpson, osaka purple mustard (these are the rounded purple/greenish leaves, try just nibbling on one and wait for the spicy afterkick), spoon mustard, and mizuni mustard. The osaka purple mustard greens were my very favorite.
Mixed Greens with Baked Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette
adapted from Colorado Colore
Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette
1 (8 oz) jar roasted red peppers, drained
3/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
Proces the red peppers in a blender or food processor until pureed. The puree should measure 3/4 cup. Add the oil, vinegar, cilantro, salt, black pepper, sugar and red pepper. Process until blended.
Baked Goat Cheese
1 (5 oz) log soft fresh goat cheese, such as Montrachet, chilled
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
olive oil for sauteing
Slice the goat cheese with dental floss (unflavored, obviously). Chill, covered, in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Coat the slices with the flour, then dip them in the eggs. Coat them with bread crumbs (if during this process, the cheese starts to get too soft, cover it and stick it back into the freezer for a bit).
Saute the cheese slices in hot olive oil in a skillet for 30-60 seconds per side (until lightly browned). Freeze on a baking sheet for 40 minutes, or until firm. You may prepare up to this point 2 weeks in advance. Store the frozen cheese slices in a seal-able plastic bag in the freezer.
When you are ready to serve the salad, arrange the frozen slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.
12 oz mixed greens (grown by Matt of course)
Divide the salad greens evenly among serving plates. Arrange the warm goat cheese on top of each serving. Drizzle with the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
This salad is unique and delicious. Not something you would take to the neighborhood potluck…this is sit-down-dinner-party salad.
Matt also offers landscaping services (he is an expert on native, drought tolerant plants), he builds grow boxes…heck, he’ll even build you a hen house.
Want more recipes? Check them out!