Welcome to the final Made Local recipe column from teacher and stand-up comedian Sarah Whitmore.
Dear, Sonoma County … and when I say Sonoma County I mean:
Radical Family Farms, El Roy’s Tacos, Sweet Scoops Homemade Ice Cream, Green String Farm, The Casino, El Brinquito Market, Miracle Plum, Oliver’s Markets, Wild Flour Bread, Anna’s Seafood, Noble Folk Ice Cream and Pie Bar, Sunrise Donuts, Simmer Vietnamese Kitchen, Karina’s Mexican Bakery, Asia Mart, Revolution Bread, The Shuckery . . . and Made Local Magazine.
I am headed north. After 20+ years in northern California, I’m bound for home in Portland, Oregon. I will miss you with my whole heart—and palate.
Before I go I need to make a correction to a past recipe. It’s my favorite recipe, one I’m proud of and make often to show off and impress people: Forget-Me-Not Salad. It is very unlike me to neglect to mention the nuts, but I did. Honestly, I probably forgot because my process for prepping walnuts is berserk. The results are worth it.
Like many people, my tongue is mildly reactive to walnuts; they can cause a prickly stinging in my mouth. So here’s what I do to them, I guess as a punishment. The following simple process weakens walnuts’ power over me. I like to think it neuters them. It also makes them taste crazy delicious. All bitterness is removed and the warm, golden nuttiness busts out unburdened by whatever poisons are leached away. Here’s what I do:
- Soak 2 cups raw, organic walnuts in a large container of cold, filtered water overnight.
- Toss the resultant dark brown liquid into the eyes of your enemies.
- Run back to your kitchen, lock the door, thoroughly rinse and drain the walnuts.
- Lay them on a kitchen towel and pat dry, keep a weather eye.
- Spread nuts over a parchment-covered tray.
- Toast at 250 degrees for about 20 minutes or until they are completely dry and crispy.
- Crumble gently and sprinkle over Forget-Me-Not Salad.
- Know that I will miss you and please come visit me in Portland!
With love, Sarah
This summer forest salad showcases two of the best-for- memory foods. The flavors are deep and bright. This salad is a satisfying, fresh, visual heartbreaker. Gorgeous West County blackberries dance among the cool, local fennel greens. It’s like a morning walk in August through Ragle Ranch Regional Park. Plus, all the ingredients can be found at your summer farmers’ market. Simple to make and an elegant, gourmet stunner!
- 3-4 cups thin-sliced fennel root (2-3 whole bulbs with fresh, green, feathery fronds—avoid the bulbs with wet, clumpy, seaweed-like tops)
- 1 1/2 cups corn, broiled, to make about 1 cup toasty, chewy corn
- 4 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided (if you’ve got it, use the thick, murky, deeply grassy stuff here—try Petaluma’s McEvoy Ranch OO)
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice 8-10 ounces fresh blackberries
- 1/8 cup very thin-sliced red onion 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1/2-1 teaspoon red chili flakes (depends how sassy-pants-spicy you are)
- Toss fresh corn kernels with a teaspoon of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
- Spread evenly over a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet.
- Cook under a broiler until flecked deep brown and blackened here and there, for approximately 3-6 minutes. Kernels should be a mix of chewy and crispy.
- Add 4 tablespoons olive oil and lime juice to a large bowl.
- Finely mince the garlic and immediately add to lime and oil This will “cook” and sweeten your garlic.
- Add 1 teaspoon salt.
- Clean and core 2-3 fennel. Save the feathery fronds!
- Slice the bulbs in half length-wise and then cut thin arched slices or half-rounds.
- Slice about 1/4 red onion into similarly thin arches.
- Neatly tear away a cup of fine, feathery fennel ends to toss into the salad.
- Save some of the stemmed ends to ring the salad as a garnish.
- Decorate with fresh herbs like lemon thyme and lemon balm.
- If you have them, sprinkle contrasting, edible calendula leaves over the top—obviously.
- Don’t forget the walnuts! (see above)