A group of homeschoolers visited The Sylvia Center at Katchie Farm for a complete day of gardening and enjoyed a full culinary experience. They started the day by digging in the potato beds and then harvesting cherry tomatoes for the potato salad and veggie pasta salad they made later in the Cooking Pavilion. The students were completely engrossed while taking the farm tours and also when learning to chop vegetables and herbs for the first time. They absolutely loved eating the final product and even went for seconds. In a short period of time, they saw how delicious it was eating fresh whole foods and how enjoyable it was to prepare and share a home-cooked meal together.
The dishes the homeschoolers created are vegetarian and contain a variety of vitamins and minerals rich in fiber and are essential for good health. Both recipes include a main protein source (the hard-boiled eggs for the potato salad and the white beans for the pasta salad) which helps keep the body full longer and regulate blood sugar levels better. Plus an additional source of protein could be found in the whole wheat pasta and in the parmesan cheese that topped off the pasta to complete the dish.
While all these ingredients are nourishing for the body, it’s also food for the eyes! The potatoes used were the fingerling variety and were yellow, red and purple-skinned. The tomatoes, green onions, and corn added more vibrant colors and compatible flavors. In the pasta salad, beautiful crisp green swiss chard leaves from the Learning Garden were chopped and sautéed and the brightly colored hot pink yellow stems gave a colorful touch. Plenty of cherry tomatoes were harvested and were mixed in with chives and lemon to add the finishing touches of brightening up the dish.
These dishes can be tweaked to use different seasonal vegetables and spices/herbs that you love, such as spinach or dinosaur kale instead of chard, bell peppers instead of tomatoes (both rich in Vitamin C), yams instead of traditional potatoes, or a different kind of bean or cheese. The dressing used for the potato salad had a Mexican flair to it but can be altered to fit your tastes, such as by removing the cumin and substituting parsley for the cilantro. Last but not least, these dishes contain a very healthy monounsaturated fat – olive oil – which also helps to keep you full longer and is heart-healthy.
Mexican Potato Salad
3 pounds potatoes (6 cups)
1/4 cup purple onion, minced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh white corn (you can use frozen, but thawed)
2 plum tomatoes, finely diced
1 small avocado, peeled and finely minced
2 green onions, sliced
4 eggs, hard-boiled and diced
For the Cilantro Dressing
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp honey plus more to taste
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
Salt to taste
- Cover potatoes with lightly salted water in 5-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 10-15 minutes or until fork tender. Drain and cool.
- Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet. Add the potatoes cook over medium-high heat for approximately 3-4 minutes.
- Add the minced purple onion and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the potatoes turn a golden brown around the edges. Place potatoes in large bowl and set aside to cool completely.
- Add corn, green onions, tomatoes, avocado and hard boiled eggs to the potatoes. Add the vinaigrette and carefully fold into the ingredients.
- Season with cumin, freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste. Chill one hour or until ready to serve.
- For the dressing, add all of the ingredients to a mason jar and seal the lid tightly. Shake until well blended.
Fall Vegetable Pasta with White Beans, Parmesan, and Lemon
1 cups green beans snapped into bite-size pieces
2 cups of chard leaves, chiffonade
1 cup tomatoes, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large bunch chives, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, zested and juiced
⅓ cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 lb pasta
1 – 15 oz can of white beans
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to instructions or until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.
- While pasta is cooking, bring a large skillet to medium-high heat. Once skillet is hot, add olive oil. When the oil is shimmering, add garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add green beans, white beans, and tomatoes until vegetables are bright green, about 2-3 minutes. Add chard and wilt.
- Add the pasta and reserved pasta water to the saute pan. Simmer until the sauce has thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Finish with fresh chives, lemon juice, lemon zest, and grated parmesan.