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46 plants and 150 recipes in 4 seasons
The minute Didi Emmons, a chef from Boston, met Eva Sommaripa--a near legendary farmer whose 200-plus uncommon herbs, greens, and edible “weeds” grace the menus of many famous restaurants in the Northeast--something amazing happened. Not only did Eva’s Garden become Didi’s refuge and herb-infused Shangri-La, the two women also forged a lasting friendship that has blossomed and endured over time.
Wild Flavors follows a year at Eva’s Garden through the seasons. It showcases Emmons’s creative talents, featuring herbs (African basil, calaminth, lovage) and wild foods more...
...Eva has been a role model for me in so many ways.
For instance, I have always had a strong distaste
for consumerism. Eva showed me how to refrain from
judging others, but at the same time to revel in
and celebrate my own values… I admire Eva's
ability to ask for what she wants or needs,
without apology. She's carved out a unique
and successful business of her own in a very
tough line of work, through her passion, personality,
and a slew of growing knowledge...
...When she's making sales calls, Eva has the quickest
recovery rate from rejection I've ever seen. Her
joy in connecting with people is unstoppable, and
the constant ringing of her phone is one measure
of this joy. If I ran a bustling farm, working
seventeen hours a day, sleeping five hours a night,
could I amass the large number of friends that Eva has?
Definitely not, but I like to think her gracious and
bold personality has rubbed off some after enjoying
her all these years.
To help organize the book, I have chosen to highlight
four of Eva's core principles: salvaging, community,
bartering, and preserving. While I have linked each
of them to a certain season, these principles
(and practices) really happen throughout the year...
...A guiding tenet of this book is Eva's philosophy of
eating a plant through its entire life cycle. Eva
teaches us to not be afraid to try eating a plant
in a new way, and to use every part of the plant.
This is far more cost-efficient than harvesting the
plant just once. At industrial farms, the seeds,
flowers, roots, buds, and stems of vegetables and
leafy greens are left by the wayside. It would be
hard to use the whole plant on an industrial
level--for example, the arugula flower is extremely
succulent, but it would wither and die if it were
transported any distance. Eva shows us that there
are many stages of a plant's life that we can
enjoy if we grow food ourselves.
Eating herbs when they are just plucked from
nutrient-rich soil can make you reconsider
their prominence in your cooking and your diet.
I am thrilled to be calling attention to many
lesser-known herbs. Many of the plants in this
book may be a bit unfamiliar to you as well,
but I hope my words, photos, and recipes arouse
your curiosity and prod you to seek out these
plants, whether you find them at a farmers' market,
in the woods or fields, or in the pages of a seed
catalog. And then I hope you cook these plants,
perhaps using a recipe or two from this book. My
hope is that you'll grow more familiar and confident
and eventually fly out of this nest, to follow
merrily wherever the plants lead you, down your
own lovely herb- and weed-strewn path.
Linguine with Kale, Lemon, and Brown Butter
This recipe is great when you don’t have a lot of time. Included is a secret recipe for quick-and-dirty preserved lemons. If you want, add a few spoonfuls of capers and a squeeze of lemon instead of the preserved lemon. This is equally good with broccoli or rapini instead of kale. You can also add a chopped tomato.
Makes 3 or 4 servings
18 sun-dried tomatoes
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3–4 tablespoons preserved lemons or 1 heaping tablespoon capers plus the juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes, or more to taste
1 pound whole-grain linguini or spaghetti
1 bunch kale, thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for cooking the pasta. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and keep at a low simmer.
2. Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from the heat. Place the dried tomatoes in the boiling water and let soak until they are soft, about 15 minutes. Remove them from the water and slice thinly.
3. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over low heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until the butter begins to brown in spots, about 5 minutes. Once it seems uniformly golden, remove it from the heat, add the onion and garlic, and stir. Stir in the tomatoes, preserved lemons, and chile flakes. Set aside.
4. Bring the pasta water back to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and boil for 6 minutes. Add the kale and boil another 3 minutes. Drain, but do not rinse. Return the hot pasta and kale to the pot.
5. Add the tomato mixture to the pasta. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste and more chile flakes if you’d like more heat.
6. Plate the pasta and serve with grated Parmesan.
Copyright © 2011 by Didi Emmons. Reprinted from Wild Flavors: One Chef's Transformative Year Cooking from Eva's Farm with permission from Cheaspeake & Hudson.
Didi Emmons (photo, left, by Lolita Parker, Jr.) began cooking omelets when she was ten and had her own catering business by the age of fourteen. She earned a BS in foodservice management at NYU and moved to Boston, working first for food writer Steven Raichlen in Boston.
Emmons worked as a stagiaire to receive her Grande Diplome from La Varenne (cooking school) in Paris and then returned to work in Boston kitchens. She opened and ran four successful restaurants over the next 13 years.
She has written two cookbooks, the first, Vegetarian Planet, which was nominated for a James Beard Award, and Entertaining for a Veggie Planet, which won the IACP award (formerly the Julia Child Awards) in the healthy cooking category.
Emmons subsequently opened Haley House Bakery Cafe, a non-profit cafe in Roxbury, MA whose staff are people transitioning from homelessness and incarceration. She has since begun a program at Haley House Bakery Cafe, called "Take Back the Kitchen," teaching Roxbury and Dorchester residents how to eat and cook healthfully.
Forty-two years ago, in South Dartmouth Massachusetts,
Eva Sommaripa began growing herbs and greens for her
family. A few years later her garden evolved
into a bucolic 2-acre organic farm. With the help
of a skilled crew, she grows over 200 varieties of
herbs, greens, flowers, and wild edibles that
are sought by Boston's top chefs. She now sells
to restaurants around New England and New York,
as well as Whole Foods. She is an authority on
herbs and greens and is often quoted in newspapers and magazines.
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