Tag Archives: Just A Little Farm

Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Orange Star Anise Vinaigrette
Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

We grow a garden and live out of it in the summer. We grow lots of different varieties of lettuce and so salads are an almost daily part of our menu.

Lettuce from our Garden
Lettuce from our Garden

On hot summer days, I love to make what I call a main meal salad. I simply take a meat platter and lay a layer of mixed greens down the center bordered by a row of quinoa along both sides of the lettuce bed. I often marinate and cook chicken breasts then slice them for salads as I have done here.  I use whatever fruit I have on hand or that is in season to make a colorful and healthy salad. It could be strawberries, mango, melons, oranges or mandarins, blueberries, peaches, raspberries, and so forth.  Add some red onion rings, crumbled feta cheese, and top with crunchy pea and radish shoots and you have a very colorful, appetizing, and healthy dinner.

Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Orange Star Anise Vinagrette
Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinagrette

What makes the salad super tasty is the vinaigrette.

Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette
Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

For this recipe,  start with 3 tablespoons of orange juice and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and add a small star anise pod and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let the juice cool. This allows the star anise to infuse the juice with a lovely subtle layer of licorice flavor. Discard the star anise and mix the vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar and shake vigorously.  If adding fresh herbs, only add them at the time of serving as, otherwise, they become quite limp and wilted.

Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette
Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

Now, I don’t tend to measure the ingredients for the salad itself. I go to the garden and pick a couple of handfuls of different kinds of lettuce. For a main meal serving for two, I cook 1/2 cup of quinoa and a large chicken breast. For the fruits, just add as many of each kind as you like and the same for the pea and radish shoots.  I don’t grow these shoots – I get them from Just A Little Farm in Bonshaw.  You can click here to read the story I wrote about this farm. Jessica grows the most amazing produce and her pea and radish shoots are so lovely crisp and fresh!

Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette
Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

This recipe will yield a generous main meal for two or, if serving as a starter, it could serve 4-6.

[Printable Recipe Follows at end of Posting]

Orange and Star Anise Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
3 tbsp orange juice
1 small star anise pod
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp liquid honey
¼ tsp garlic salt
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh herbs (e.g., parsley, thyme, dill), chopped

Method:

In small saucepan, bring orange juice to boiling point over medium heat.  Reduce heat to simmer and add the star anise pod.  Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely, allowing the star anise to infuse the orange juice. Remove and discard star anise after orange juice has cooled.

Combine all ingredients, except the fresh herbs, in a small jar. Shake vigorously.  Add the chopped herbs at time of serving.

Yield: Apx. scant ½ cup

Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

Yield: Scant 1/2 cup

A tasty vinaigrette with subtle undertones of licorice flavor. Perfect accompaniment to any salad but especially good with Chicken and Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 small star anise pod
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp liquid honey
  • ¼ tsp garlic salt
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh herbs (e.g., parsley, thyme, dill), chopped

Instructions

  1. In small saucepan, bring orange juice to boiling point over medium heat. Reduce heat to simmer and add the star anise pod. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely, allowing the star anise to infuse the orange juice. Remove and discard star anise after orange juice has cooled.
  2. Combine all ingredients, except the fresh herbs, in a small jar. Shake vigorously. Add the chopped herbs at time of serving.
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Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

Just A Little Farm: Growing Produce the Natural Way

This being national organic week in Canada, I thought it was timely to pay a visit to a farmer who grows vegetables the natural way without chemicals. So, our visit today takes us to Just A Little Farm on the Green Road, near Bonshaw, PEI, where we meet farmer Jessica Vos.

Jessica Vos of Just A Little Farm in Bonshaw, PEI
Jessica Vos of Just A Little Farm, Green Road, PEI

When asked why she chose life as a farmer, Jessica explains that she grew up on a farm, worked in community gardens while in university, owned a landscaping business in Western Canada, is genuinely interested in food, and is happiest when outside working in the soil. Jessica has a degree in Human Ecology with a minor in nutrition and she is currently studying holistic nutrition.

View of part of the gardens at Just A Little Farm
View of part of the gardens at Just A Little Farm

It’s amazing how many varieties of vegetables and herbs Jessica grows. It would be a shorter list if you ask her what she doesn’t grow than what she does! In particular, Jessica grows a lot of lettuce and, by a lot, I mean a small field!

The Lettuce Field
The Lettuce Field at Just A Little Farm

All the lettuce plants are started in Jessica’s small greenhouse and then transplanted.

New Lettuce Plants
New Lettuce Plants

Throughout the growing season, she has an ongoing planting cycle of seedling plants one week and transplanting the next.

Lettuce Plants Ready for Transplanting Outside
Lettuce Plants Ready for Transplanting Outside

Jessica grows 5-6 varieties that have proven successful in PEI’s climate and she has fresh lettuce available until November.  How I wish we had access to this on PEI all winter!!!

Because she does not use any chemicals, I asked Jessica how she controls for weeds. She says she uses the old-fashioned method of weeding by hand and hoe. The other method she has found success with is planting the vegetables close to each other to suffocate the weeds.

There are challenges to any kind of farming, especially in the control of pests that also find the produce tasty. In particular, the cucumber beetle, cabbage moth, and slugs pose problems. Jessica has had success using netting to cover vegetables most often attacked by the pests.

Netting to control for pests
Netting to control for pests

This year, she is also using crushed up crab shell meal as a way to control for slugs.

Crushed Crab Shells
Crushed Crab Shells

Placed in proximity to the plants slugs like to attack (such as basil, for example), the rough shells are a deterrent for slugs which don’t find them very comfortable to crawl over.

Crushed Crab Shells to Control Slugs
Crushed Crab Shells to Control Slugs

Despite the challenges which Jessica jovially refers to as “part of the fun”, there are also sources of satisfaction she finds in her farming. As she says, when her produce grows well and her customers are happy, Jessica is happy knowing she has produced and supplied them with chemical-free, healthy and nutritious produce.

Look at these gorgeous, healthy basil plants!  I can attest they made some mighty fine basil pesto!

Love the dragon tongue beans on the right in the photo below!

A dragon tongue bean, anyone?

Jessica with her dragon tongue beans
Jessica with her dragon tongue beans

All of Jessica’s produce is hand-washed before leaving the farm.  Her new cooler storage unit is to the right in the photo below.

Jessica's Washing Station and Cooler Unit
Jessica’s Washing Station and Cooler Unit

Throughout the growing season, you can find Jessica’s produce in nearby local stores like Gasses General Store in New Haven and Harvey’s in Crapaud.

Every Saturday morning in July and August, Jessica can be found direct-marketing her produce at the small farmers’ market in the  seaside village of Victoria-by-the-Sea. She also supplies several local restaurants with fresh produce as well.

Jessica Vos at the Victoria-by-the-Sea Farmers' Market
Jessica Vos at the Victoria-by-the-Sea Farmers’ Market
At the Victoria-by-the-Sea Farmers' Market
At the Victoria-by-the-Sea Farmers’ Market

 

Like many organic farmers, Jessica also sells her produce through Community Shared Agriculture Boxes (CSA Boxes). This is where individuals (known as CSA members and sometimes referred to as shareholders) buy shares in her farm – i.e., at the beginning of the season, they sign a contract with Jessica and pay a certain sum of money upfront. In return, Jessica commits to do the best job she can to provide them with high-quality vegetables. Then, once harvest season begins, CSA members get a regular share of the vegetables from the farm as they are available. Currently, Jessica has about 15 CSA members who either receive a share of veggies weekly or bi-weekly. Jessica first tested the CSA method in the fall of 2013 and found a demand for it so this year, once a week, she fills her share boxes with whatever produce and herbs are currently available and heads to Victoria-by-the-Sea where her CSA members meet her to pick up their supply of fresh farm produce.

To contact Jessica and find out more about her chemical-free produce, visit Just A Little Farm’s website at http://www.justalittlefarm.com/

Earlier, I shared a recipe for Basil Pesto using fresh basil from Just A Little Farm. Today, I am featuring my recipe using pattypan squash from Jessica’s farm. This is a tasty side dish that combines pork sausage, mushrooms, basil pesto, and cheese with the pattypan squash.

Pattypan Squash and Sausage Casserole
Pattypan Squash and Sausage Casserole

Pattypan Squash and Sausage Casserole

Ingredients:

1 large sausage (e.g., Italian Sweet, Chorizo, Sun-dried Tomato)
2 tsp olive oil
½ cup chopped mushrooms

Apx. ¾ lb of small pattypan squash
2 tsp olive oil
2 – 3 tbsp basil pesto (homemade or store-bought)
2 – 3 tbsp grated mozzarella cheese
¾ cup fine bread crumbs
1½ tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1½ – 2 tbsp melted butter

Method:

Heat oil in frying pan. Remove sausage from casing and discard casing. Crumble sausage into frying pan and scramble fry over medium low heat for about 5 minutes. Add chopped mushrooms. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

page 1 - Sausage

Slice pattypans about ⅛” thick . Toss in a bowl with apx. 2 tsp olive oil.

In greased 8½“ x 6½“ pan, lay a layer of pattypan slices, overlapping slightly to cover bottom of pan.

Loosely dob about 2 tbsp basil pesto over the squash.

Spread the sausage and mushroom mixture over the squash.

Sprinkle with Mozzarella cheese.  Add another layer of squash, again, overlapping the slices to cover casserole.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and melted butter. Stir with a fork to mix. Sprinkle over squash.

Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes, until squash is fork-tender when tested.

Yield: 4 servings

Pattypan Squash and Sausage Casserole
Pattypan Squash and Sausage Casserole
Pattypan Squash and Sausage Casserole
Pattypan Squash and Sausage Casserole

 

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