[RECIPE] Roasted Pumpkin Salad with Quinoa, Long Beans, Herbs, Heart of Palm & Parsley Vinaigrette

 

Ever looked at a great big pumpkin and scratch your head. It’s not one of those ingredients that jumps out and begs a home cook to be dinner. They come in all shapes and sizes, many of which are XXL.  Of course those are hard to cut unless you have the proper knife, like Grand Cayman farmer Jennett Anson who uses her cleaver to break down the big round guys into customer-friendly portions at the farmers market in Camana Bay.  Then there’s the calabaza’s density, making cook time longer than your garden variety vegetable.

So who wants to cook calabaza now?  We do!  And now that I’ve convinced you to never look a pumpkin in the eye in your own kitchen, let me allow TGHG special ops chef Thomas Tennant and Farm to Kitchen’s Chris Padin persuade you otherwise.

“It’s definitely more abundant right now as summer approaches, but pumpkin is one of those great crops that we get all year round down here,” Chris explained on the phone earlier this morning. “You’ll start to see more of the butternuts, the smooth tan ones shaped like a bell, coming in now in April and May, and the green and orange striped long necks are looking really nice, too.  They have more meat than the big round ones which are hollow in the middle and filled with seeds.”

Over the years, I’ve seen some freakishly big pumpkins sitting pretty on our ingredient wall and atop the pastry station at Michael’s Genuine in Miami when local tomatoes are out of season (heirloom alert: a week more of Teena’s Pride, before we head up state until June!)  We have Martha Corona and her u-pick farm to thank; she always makes sure to grow them, and customer demand is so high she brings them in from a farm upstate when her supply runs out. They grow up to 20 pounds each, even more.  Chris’s weekly order averages about 50 pounds all day, give or take a few depending on what the kitchen wants on the menu.  They can show up as a wood roasted side, shaved on pizza, cubed in hash at brunch…  pretty much everywhere and anywhere.  And Harry’s just added candied pumpkin seeds to its arugula salad.

Upon returning to the mainland from Grand Cayman’s Slow Food Day in March, Thomas not surprisingly received requests from afar for his pumpkin salad recipe.  Sure, it was so delicious as a base for Caja China Local Goat, but better yet, a fresh, healthy, and vegetarian dish balanced and hearty enough to stand alone. When working with pumpkin at home, Thomas suggests choosing the longnecks if you can find them, peeling with a vegetable peeler and using a large, properly sharpened chef’s knife for cubing. The chunks don’t need to be perfect cubes, but do take care to cut with uniform thickness for uniform cook time. Enjoy with a Home Brew and toast to summertime!

Roasted Pumpkin Salad with quinoa, long beans, herbs, heart of palm and parsley vinaigrette

Serves 6

3 quarts fresh pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
3 cups cooked quinoa
1 pound long beans
½ cup fresh heart of palm, shaved
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup Parsley Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
½ cup scallion, sliced thinly
½ cup parsley leaves
½ cup cilantro leaves

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Place the cut pumpkin on a sheet pan, dress with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the pumpkin until it becomes tender, about 12 minutes. Once tender, remove and allow to cool at room temperature.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the long beans for 15 seconds then shock into ice water to stop the cooking. Once the long beans are chilled, cut into 2 inch long pieces.

To assemble the salad, combine the warm pumpkin, cooked quinoa, long beans, and shaved heart of palm in a mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Toss with the vinaigrette and herbs. Serve while the salad is warm.

Parsley Vinaigrette

makes about 1 cup

1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup parlsey leaves, picked
¼ cup oregano leaves, picked
1 small shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup sherry vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Add ½ cup of water to a saucepot over medium heat and add the salt. Once dissolved, set aside and allow to cool. Finely chop the parsley and oregano. Combine the herbs, shallots, garlic and sherry vinegar in a mixing bowl. Using a whisk, bruise the herbs with the vinegar and whisk in the salt water and finally the olive oil. Place in a plastic container until ready to use. You can allow the dressing to marinate for a day and the flavors will improve.

A Tale of Two Falls: Adventures in Seasonal Foraging from MIA to NYC

This time of year is an exciting one as a chef and a diner no matter where you live in the country. Farm to Kitchen’s Chris Padin just stopped by The Genuine Hospitality Group office here in Miami’s Design District to pick up his budget for today’s Homestead farm run. At 4:00 p.m. he’ll return with a van full of produce, stopping first at The Cypress Room, then to Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, and finally Harry’s Pizzeria. 1,276 miles away in New York City’s Union Square, where the farm comes to the restaurant, Mo of Gramercy Tavern is visiting vendors and collecting orders on his morning market run. Same strokes for different folks. And thanks to Instagram, we get to follow along.

So what’s being harvested and what is growing in these parallel universes?

Here in Miami, we are still squeezing the last of this particularly drawn out summer season which means okra, calabaza and even mangoes are still coming in – like the third wave of them – and this time it’s the gorgeous specimens that are the huge Kents and vibrantly colored Keitts. Passion fruit and avocado, sporadic year-round crops, are currently plentiful. And all the while our typical fall crops are kicking in and hitting menus like beans of all kinds, squash, chard, kale, carrot and eggplant. Check out Chris’ full local product availability list for this week, here. Winter’s seeds are still incubating, from cucumber and peppers to oodles of our favorite crop, local heirloom tomatoes. This year we’ve got a new one we haven’t tried, but native to South Florida for ages, the Everglades tomato. Teena’s Pride has offered to grow this tiny treat for Slow Food Miami’s Ark of Taste event on January 28, and we’ll be serving it in every course!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Meanwhile up in New York City, tomatoes are at their peak. There are beans, beans, beans… even strawberries… We have the best of both worlds here at Genuine HQ. Not only do we enjoy diverse year-long growing season with staples and tropicals, but we are heading to the Big Apple all next week to enjoy its bounty before it’s gone! Our berries are in the ground and will fruit when the north is blanketed in snow.

The main event is Lemon: NYC for Alex’s Lemonade stand on Tuesday, October 8, but there will be extracurricular activities sprinkled throughout our stay, including yummy meals of fresh product cooked close to the source by the best in the business. Joining Michael to represent The Cypress Room up in NYC for the first time is chef de cuisine Roel Alcudia. His menu is looking killer, and we can’t wait to see what local product will grace it. There will be bottles of our brand new 12 ounce Michael’s Genuine Home Brew and other Back Forty Beer Company brews for our table of 10 should bottling get completed in time (fingers are crossed!) We can remember last year’s event, the second hosted by the one and only chef Jonathan Waxman and produced by one of our favorite pint-sized juggernauts, Barbuto GM Jennifer Davidson. Roel, then still living and working in NYC, had chaperoned Michael and Bradley’s ridiculous Striped Bass to perfection. What a difference a year makes.

Happy Friday from all of us at The Genuine Hospitality Group, and see you soon New York City!

Berry Nice: Our Menus Get Sweet on Local Strawberry Season!

Screen shot 2013-01-08 at 10.46.55 AM

Yea it’s 79°F outside, but we know it’s winter in South Florida… The strawberries are here, and a sweet season is upon us according to forager Chris Padin, who has been making the rounds to all our favorite growers in Homestead from Knaus Berry Farm to Martha’s U-Pick aka Corona Farms.  Hedy Goldsmith and her pastry team agree and have been hard at work whipping up delicious strawberry delights for the dessert menu at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink.  Yesterday, I caught Tiffany Rawson plating the beauty above classic during lunch service: Strawberry Shortcake with heaping spoonfuls of macerated jewels in their syrup, soaking into every crevice of a twist on the traditional cake, a sponge with the lightness of angel food. Today, thanks to Hedy’s love of citrus, its whipped cream center changes to a luxurious layer of tangy lemon curd.  Hopefully the crema quenelle will stay put!

Screen shot 2013-01-08 at 11.47.23 AM“This particular season has been reamarkably sweet.  The first crops even… and it usually takes a few deliveries to get berries with this level of sweetness,” Hedy explains. “They are so great on their own, without doing much, but I’m definitely embracing the season.  It trickles down to all areas, from fillings for doughnuts and pop tarts, to ice creams — we were doing a strawberry straciatella ice cream sandwich for brunch.  We’ll probably do a linzer-style cookie….”

Venture over to Harry’s Pizzeria and you can enjoy local strawberries for the first time today in our housemade soda, also coming out of Genuine Pastry Central.  The fresh fruits are cooked into a punch-packed syrup with just enough tang to balance its sweetness and mixed to order for a refreshing winter beverage.  Come by and enjoy the season while it lasts, and stay tuned to our Instagrams (Harry’s Pizzeria and MGFD) for the latest and greatest ways local strawberries can be enjoyed on our menus!

Fall Field Report: Foraging Homestead with Chris Padin & Chef de Cuisine Bradley Herron

Chris, Brad and I on the road in The Redland, an agricultural community about 20 miles or 45 minutes southwest of the restaurant and Downtown Miami, i.e. our local farmland.

This past Friday was a farm day.  It was 11 in the morning when I rendezvoused with our forager Chris Padin, for whom biweekly trips to The Redland in Homestead are the routine, and Chef de Cuisine Bradley Herron, who will have run the Miami MGFD kitchen for three years come November.   Actually it was a reconnaissance mission more than anything.  With the fall upon us and the start of our main growing season in South Florida, it was time for Bradley to check in with our local growers and see the crops first-hand, trade ideas on what we’d like to work on together in the coming months, and have the necessary face time that, as old school and time consuming as it may be, never fails to result in game changing revelations.  This is not always possible due to the demands of the kitchen… or the office.  But as Bradley had to remind me, when I was tempted by my To Do list to bail, “You gotta make the time or you’ll never go.”

Consequently, Friday was a big day in our little world.  Firstly, Michael Borek of Teena’s Pride Farm will begin packing our orders of his gorgeous tomatoes in reusable crates, rather than the farm’s branded cardboard boxes.  Less waste, less cost, and more tomatoes per unit, for which he will need to create a new SKU on his price list.  Borek will also now provide Bradley with his throwaway tomatoes, i.e. perfectly fine ones that might not pass muster with the packing house, but would find a warm welcome in the MGFD kitchen in beautiful sofrito, tomato sauce, or base for a wood oven skillet of, say, cobia with a toasted sourdough crostini and lemon aioli.  Tomatoes are hitting earlier than ever this season thanks to a new wet wall, a cooling system of cellulose pads installed along one side or in the end wall of the greenhouse. The pads are kept wet by a system of pumps and gutters that recirculate water. On the opposite end of the greenhouse is a series of fans to pull air through the greenhouse. As outside air passes through the pads, the water evaporates and as it does so it is cooled. This cool air is pulled across the greenhouse lowering the temperature inside. It aids in growing the tomatoes earlier in the season.  Without the wet walls Borek would just be planting now, and it would be January before we saw decent heirlooms!

Of course the day would not have been complete without a zinger or two.  What if I told you we out-buy Whole Foods Market stores in South Florida — in season, 800+ pounds of heirlooms, per week?  Boom.  Please enjoy the gallery below with little nuggets from Borek and other stops made along the way, and check out our Flickr for the full set of pictures. Lots more to come in the coming weeks as the menu reflects the arrival of all these new ingredients and more.

Foraging Homestead Strawberry Fields

Strawberry fields forever.

It may have been summers in Maine for sleepaway camp as a kid that has made me associate berries with the north, often forgetting that we have such a strong contingent of local farmers growing them during the Florida winter.  After reading forager Ali Lauria’s field report last night and devouring her photos, I don’t think I will ever have that problem again.  She has been pretty busy lately with the arrival of the main growing season, so I feel especially lucky that she took the time to send me this update from her adventures in Homestead strawberry land with Martha’s U-Pick, Burr’s Berry Farm, and (the not quite ready for harvest) Knaus Berry Farm. Continue reading