I spent three hours potting front-porch plants, removing dead leaves from the landscaping on the east side of our house, and waging war on the crabgrass that overtook the landscaping around our deck last summer. That crabgrass grew into nearly every plant in that little garden. Into my mugo pines and my creeping phlox, into my shasta daisies and into my coreopsis, into my feather reed grass and into my oregano. Fortunately, I make sure to choose hardy little things for my gardening efforts, and they are all showing promising new growth this spring.
“It will not happen again!” “Not this year!” “Not in my garden!” These are my battle cries. I plan to spend the majority of my gardening time these first few weeks, battling the crabgrass, until I am confident I’ve subdued it. Actually, I might be trying to subdue it all summer, too. Regardless, I will prevail.
This means dinner might take a backseat to my work in the garden. It sure did yesterday – and resulted in a minor triumph. You see, the Big Guy offered to eat leftovers when I came in at 5:30 and said I was going to start dinner. I said, “No, no. I overshot the food budget this month and by golly, we’re making everything I planned to make, that took us over that edge!” And then the meal we almost didn’t have was ready in less than 40 minutes and was quite tasty and we both felt stinkin’ healthy after eating it. We won’t talk about the no-bake cookies I made in the evening…
I had planned on grilling salmon and serving it with sauteed kale and jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk with red bell pepper chopped into it. We’ve had this rice before and really love it – it’s creamy, wonderfully scented, and super simple. But when I pulled off my gardening gloves and dusted the dirt off my yoga pants, I found that we didn’t have any jasmine rice left.
And Impromptu Orzo with Blanched Asparagus was created. It’s light, delicately flavored and pretty darn healthy. I wasn’t sure the Big Guy would like it much (he doesn’t generally go for things that are light and delicately flavored, and if it’s pretty darn healthy, he doesn’t want to be able to identify it), but he declared it a success and had a couple big servings.
I thought I overcooked the salmon, but it turned out moist and full of yummy grilled flavor. The sauteed kale should be reserved for those who enjoy garlic and broccoli – but if that’s you, try it today. I could just feel the beta-carotene and vitamin K seeping throughout my body as I ate it. I hope you get the same feeling. The Big Guy just looked at me like I was cuckoo when I told him that. He keeps me grounded…
I’ll call the how-to’s below “preparations,” because they can’t really be called recipes if you don’t measure anything, can they? So…
Orzo with Blanched Asparagus
Prepare orzo (approximately 3/4 cup dry) as directed on the package, in salted water. While orzo is cooking, chop 6-7 spears asparagus into 2″ pieces and blanch. Drain orzo if needed and stir in 1/2 Tbsp. butter. Gently stir in asparagus. Squeeze juice from 1/2 a lemon over it and season lightly with salt and black pepper. Serve warm or chilled.
Garlicky Sauteed Kale
Mince 4 garlic cloves. Wash and roughly chop 1 large bunch kale. In a large skillet, heat approximately 3 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Toss in the garlic cloves and saute for thirty seconds. Toss in kale and stir to mix with olive oil and garlic. Press kale into pan and keep stirring, for about 4-5 minutes or until kale is dark green, evenly coated with oil, and slightly wilted. Season lightly with salt and black pepper (you don’t need much because the garlic and olive oil lend such flavor).