Goodbye to Winter!

2013-03-18_17-26-39_713Or is that wishful thinking?  We have officially ended the winter season in our high tunnel this week, but the outdoor gardens remain under a heavy layer of snow and ice and are ready to see an end to wind chills and bitter cold.  What a winter this has been!  I feel like I have had the best of both worlds, though; lots of snow all winter long and a warm retreat into the tunnels on sunny days!

Our low tunnel has been direct-seeded with cool-weather spring crops that we are hoping will begin to grow soon into lush salads and greens our spring shares.  With the end of our winter share season and winter markets, we have joyously salvaged all the bags-full of spinach, Chinese cabbage, claytonia, kale, salad and other greens that we can use in our house and (with a bit of sadness) tilled everything that remained into the soil in preparation for transplanting our spring greens and early tomatoes soon.

The bagged greens that I speak of are tucked away into my refrigerator and I am determined to see that they are gratefully used by us while they still remain in prime condition!  I think that our taste buds have moved on from the roots and winter squash that have been sustaining us and onto the lighter and more vibarant greens that are now fueling my imagination.

Greens will actually keep for a pretty long while if they are properly prepared before storing and then stored under the right conditions, although a home refrigerator is not usually the best conditions to store greens, especially if they are “packed” into it, I am hoping that they will hold up for a few weeks with my extra care.  (*Preparation and storage instructions are included with all of our CSA produce shares!)

Warm spaghetti pasta with claytonia

Warm spaghetti pasta with claytonia

Last night we had a wonderful dinner of stir-fried Chinese cabbage and Bok Choy over spaghetti pasta that had fresh claytonia stirred into it.  What a perfect combination!  The simple duo of pasta and greens leftover were a delicious lunch today that really didn’t need anything else!

With a nice large bag full of spinach the night before and my new favorite toy; the tortilla press, we had delicious Spinach Enchiladas that were so easy and really delicious!  While the enchiladas were baking, I made a pot of Corn Soup to serve with them using some of the sweet corn that I had frozen on the cob (cut, frozen corn or fresh corn would be fine, too) and some frozen sweet bell peppers.  All of this cooking made it easy to talk my son into staying for dinner!  It’s always more fun cooking for company!

Spinach Enchiladas with Roasted Red Chili Sauce

Spinach Enchiladas with Roasted Red Chili Sauce

*A note about some of the ingredients:  For the sauce, I used Roasted Red Chili peppers.  I thought they were the perfect choice.  You can use other chili peppers or blends, but be aware of the heat units (HU).  These peppers had a 1,000 HU rating (some peppers can have up to 30,000 HU or more!)The sauce was pretty mild but very tasty.  I also purchase most of my spices in bulk form, these are usually the freshest.  Shopping locally in this area, you can ask for these spices at the Health Nut in Watertown, Basics Coop in Janesville or Willy St. Coop in Madison. If they don’t have them, they would probably order them for you!

 

Spinach Enchiladas with Roasted Red Chili Sauce

Enchiladas:

 

8-10 corn tortillas

1 lb. spinach (approximately)

1 onion, minced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese

1 cup grated pepper-jack cheese

Cilantro

Sauce:

¼ cup canola oil

2 Tbs. flour

¼  tsp. baking powder

¼ cup fire roasted chili pepper

1 pint tomato sauce

1 ½ cups water

½ tsp. ground cumin

¼ tsp. garlic powder

Rinse the spinach and spin or pat almost dry.  Chop coarsely.  Sauté onion over low heat until soft.  Add garlic and stir.  Add spinach and cook until wilted (3-5 minutes).  Stir in ricotta and Monterey Jack cheeses.  Warm a tortilla in a pan until it is soft.  Add a heaping spoonful of spinach mixture to tortilla and spread evenly across the center.  Roll tortilla up and set open side down in a 9 x 11” oiled pan.  Repeat to fill pan.

To make sauce, heat oil in a saucepan over med. heat, add flour, baking powder and chili powder. Stir constantly until the mixture is dark red, bubbly and thick.  Gradually pour in tomato sauce, cumin and garlic powder.  Add 1 cup of the water, stirring constantly until mixture thickens.  Add more water if needed.  Sauce should be a little thinner than gravy.

Pour sauce over enchiladas and top with a little grated Monterey Jack cheese.  Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Garnish with cilantro and serve.

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