Fresh from the Garden

One of the fabulous experiences we had at Rancho La Puerta was to enjoy a hands-on cooking class at La Cocina que Canta (The Kitchen That Sings) with visiting chef, Robin Asbell. Under Robin's watchful eye and with the help of the staff of La Cocina, our group prepared a wonderful pescetarian meal. (Pescatarian = vegetarian with some fish added in for those of us that are too chicken *pun intended* to go full veggie.)

The veggies were straight from the organic garden behind La Cocina. In it are vegetables that grow according to seasons and without any pesticides. Flowers bloom throughout to attract bugs and pests away from the veggies.

Lead by Salvador, the Guardian of the Garden, we picked all the veggies and herbs we needed for our lunch.

I was so proud of the leek I pulled. I'm a dork. Sue me.

We also got to sample some jujubees fresh from the tree. Didn't even know there were jujubees!

The salmon we served was wild, not farm raised. No, we did not go to Alaska and fish it out ourselves.

Once inside, we set about to chopping, shredding, cutting, slicing, boiling, whisking, stirring... and singing! We had lively music playing the whole time we prepared our meal, and with our group, it wasn't long before we were belting out Besame Mucho! It is the Kitchen That Sings, after all!

Kari and Nancy chopping away.

Kale, kale, we all love kale... right?

Caron giving an onion chopping lesson.

We all had our own stations. Some people made dessert. Others made the soup. There were a few salads and a goat cheese gnocchi that I am still dreaming about. (Oh my GOD, that gnocchi was good!!!)

The part of the meal that I prepared was really a meal in itself. Most of the time was spent in the preparation and making of the dressing, believe it or not. The rest was done in just minutes.

Looks good, right? Well, I can't just show you the deliciousness and not share. Here's the recipe, care of chef Robin Asbell:

Light Tuscan Bean and Kale Salad with Broiled Salmon and Gorgonzola Bruschetta

SALAD:

Light, flavorful balsamic dressing is made low-fat by using vegetable stock as a base in this recipe. Just a touch of flavorful olive oil and crunchy kale give these creamy beans all the flavor of Tuscany.

3/4 cup Vegetable Stock 2 teaspoons cornstarch 1 teaspoon brown sugar 1 teaspoon salt to taste 2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped 4 cloves garlic, chopped 1/4 balsamic vinegar 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 bunch kale, stems removed 1 15oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained 1 15oz can navy beans, rinsed and drained 1 large beefsteak tomato, diced

SALMON:

1 lb salmon fillet, skinned and boned 1 large lemon, zested 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil Coarse salt and cracked black pepper

BRUSCHETTA:

Baguette bread, sliced in 1/2" pieces 1/2 cup fresh basil 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil 1 pinch kosher salt 1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola

1: Put large pot of water on to boil and add the kale. 2. In a small saucepan, combine stock, cornstarch, sugar, salt, rosemary, and garlic. Stirring CONSTANTLY, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently until thickened. Add vinegar, pepper flakes, and oil. Simmer briefly and remove. Place in fridge to cool. 3. Remove kale when done. Drain and spread on clean dish towel. Roll dish towel and squeeze to remove excess water from the leaves. Remove and then coarsely chop the kale. 4. Rinse and drain beans, then place them on a clean dish towel to dry thoroughly. Put beans in a bowl and gently toss with the kale and dressing. Set aside and get to work on salmon and bruschetta. 5. Preheat the broiler to 350. 6. For salmon, cut into four portions, rub with oil, and sprinkle with lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Broil until cooked, 3-6 minutes depending on thickness. 7. For bruschetta, place slices on sheet pan. Chop basil finely and mix with olive oil in a small bowl. On each slice of bread, portion basil and gorgonzola on top. Broil for just a minute, watching carefully to just melt the cheese.

Next time you come over, I am totally making this for you!!

Buy Robin's book, The New Vegetarian. I did!!

Thanks again to Rancho La Puerta for hosting me for a memorable week in the Garden of Eden just south of the border. I will never forget it!!

Thanks to Vixen for making my fun apron!! She has lots more where that one came from. Check out her on-line shop, Apron Frenzy. (Yes, I paid for the apron.)

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