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Get Down On The Farm
By Barbara Kobsar
FOODIES AND EAST BAY chefs headed for nearby farms recently,
getting in touch with the produce that makes their kitchens
Organized by Contra Costa Certified Farmers Markets, the tour
was a snapshot of what has made California the pioneer in
cooking for decades: a strong connection between chef and
farmer. It also was an education on how local farmers operate,
and evidence that our farmers markets are filled with the best
produce money can buy.
The first stop was Knoll farms in Brentwood, whose incredible
figs and apricots are so prized that they are often listed by
name on savvy restaurant menus. Rick and Kristie Knoll were
waiting for our small group when we arrived at their 10-acre
organic spread. We meandered by the rows of rosemary, arugula
and tomatoes. But the fig trees were the most impressive --
branches laden with the ripening second crop of Adriatic and
black mission figs.
As we made our way
through the trees and took cover in the shade of their
sprawling branches, Rick Knoll explained his philosophy of
farming in the 21st century, later summed up by tour organizer
goal in life is to make Earth and humans work together, "
said Stiles. "His farm is his petri dish."
Knoll's methods are
designed to increase yields and efficiency at his small family
farm. That might involve brewing up a special fertilizer using
volcanic ash, or simply utilizing every bit of land he has
available. In the space between apricot trees, for instance,
the Knolls grow artichokes and rosemary (producing as much as
200 pounds of rosemary a week; even the stripped branches are
sold to restaurants as skewers).
It's expensive to go
organic, but Kristie Knoll says it's better to "pay as
you go," rather than leaving farming to agribusinesses
and dealing with the environmental consequences later.
Green Garlic Sprouts on
Bay Area Menus
Fletcher, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 1, 1998
©1998 San Francisco Chronicle
We've embraced baby
greens, sought out baby beets and succumbed
to baby squash. What's next -- baby garlic?
Indeed. At Knoll Organic
Farms in Brentwood, Rick and Kristie Knoll
are shipping 600 to 800 pounds a week this spring of immature
-- garlic, a crop they've been growing and touting for 15
This year, everyone's
listening. Spring restaurant menus abound with
green garlic-perfumed dishes, and local markets are betting
that shoppers will snap up the underage alliums.
with their white and pale-green shafts and strappy green
leaves, green garlic delivers a gloved punch -- an
unmistakable garlic flavor without the mature bulb's heat. At
this scallionlike stage, you can add it to soups, pasta
sauces, vegetable preparations, pizza toppings and stews.
``We use it liberally,''
says Christopher Fernandez, chef-owner of Crescent Park Grill
in Palo Alto. ``It freshens things up.''
If left in the ground,
the green garlic base gradually swells into the familiar bulb,
which then separates into paper-wrapped cloves by early
summer. Some growers harvest the crop at an in-between stage
known as spring garlic; at that point, the stalk has toughened
and the creamy bulb is the prize, mild and easy to use as it
hasn't separated yet into cloves.
But the green garlic of
early spring is perhaps even more versatile, both as a
seasoning and as a vegetable. After the tough green leaves are
removed, the shafts can be minced, sliced or used whole. At
Sent Sovi in Saratoga, chef David Kinch oven-braises whole
green garlic in salted water with bay leaves, olive oil and
butter, and serves it as a side dish for pork. He saves the
aromatic braising liquid and whisks it into mayonnaise to make
a flavorful aioli. Fernandez
also makes a green garlic mayonnaise, using chopped shoots
that have been sauteed first; he pairs it with
wood-oven-roasted steelhead and spring
vegetables. And he adds masses of chopped green garlic to a
pork ragu served
over pasta, claiming that it adds freshness and depth. Several
local chefs are making green garlic soup this spring,
typically with a water
or chicken stock base and potato for thickener. Naomi
Crawford, sous-chef at the Slow Club in San Francisco, reports
brisk sales for her version, which she enriches with cream and
seasons with nutmeg. Kinch floats goat cheese- stuffed
gougeres (savory cream puffs) on top of his green garlic soup,
which has become a signature
dish at the restaurant.
At San Francisco's
Universal Cafe, green garlic flavors both potato soup and
mashed potatoes. Sauteed green garlic also tops a pizza with
mozzarella, Yukon Gold potatoes and goat cheese.
Most recipes call for
sauteing the garlic first to mellow its character, but the
Knolls swear by it raw. They put a bowl of thinly sliced green
garlic on the dinner table for stirring into soup or spooning
over oil-drizzled toast. One Chez Panisse chef, who buys
dozens of pounds of their green garlic each week, tells
Kristie she is obscenely heavy-handed with it, which she
``It's an antibiotic,''
claims Rick. ``The more you eat raw, the more it helps your
alimentary canal.'' He is still searching for scientific
literature to buttress this view, but in the meantime, his own
experience supports it. Neither he nor Kristie, he says, has
been sick in 20 years.
On many farms, the green
garlic shipped to market is simply the thinnings from the
summer bulb-garlic crop. But the Knolls take another approach.
They plant expressly for green garlic and have selected
varieties that are especially tender and tasty at that
stage. (In fact, says Rick, these varieties don't produce
satisfactory bulbs.) They've also modified their growing
practices to encourage each plant to produce a long, white
neck -- in some cases almost a foot long.
Cooks frustrated with
the dry, sprouting cloves in most bulb garlic at this time of
year will find green garlic a welcome alternative. Available
in markets now through May, the aromatic shoots signal the
arrival of spring as surely as daffodils.
THE BEST WAY TO STORE IT
Because it's so moist,
green garlic is much more perishable than dried
bulb garlic. Rick Knoll, of Knoll Organic Farms in Brentwood,
recommends treating it like a flower: Leave the roots on,
shoots up in a glass of water in the refrigerator, and cover
them with a
Alternatively, keep them
in a plastic bag in the vegetable bin with a
damp paper towel in the bag. They should last at least a
The white and pale-green
shaft is entirely useable, although some
cooks like to remove an outer layer or two if it feels tough.
The following stores
frequently carry Knoll Organic Farm's green garlic. Call first
to verify availability.
-Berkeley Bowl, 2020 Oregon, Berkeley; (510) 843-6929
--Cal-Mart Supermarket, 3585 California St. (near Spruce
San Francisco; (415) 751-3516
--Market Hall Produce, 5655 College Ave,
Oakland, (510) 601-8208
--Good Nature Grocery, 1359 North Main St.,
Walnut Creek, (925) 939-5444
--Mollie Stone's, various locations around the Bay Area
--Monterey Market, 1550 Hopkins St. (at California Street),
Berkeley; (510) 526-6042
-- Rainbow Grocery, 1745 Folsom St. (at 13th Street),
San Francisco; (415) 863-0620
-- Real Food Co., various locations
Fava beans have soared
in popularity in recent years, making fans far
beyond their original Italian-American audience. Now one
California farmer is harvesting fava greens, the leafy,
non-fruiting part of the plant. Kristie Knoll of Knoll Organic
Farms in Brentwood says her husband Rick was "just out
grazing one day and thought, Ô Whoa,this is pretty good.'
Uncooked, the greens
taste nutty, with a hint of the bean flavor, a quality that
dissipates somewhat when the leaves are cooked. Although
Kristie Knoll enjoys the greens raw, in salads, most chefs are
wilting them quickly in a hot skillet or blanching them first.
They're a popular tapa
at Cesar in Berkeley, flavored with onion and
crisp bacon. At Caffe Venezia in Berkeley, they're stir-fried,
then tossed with fresh fava beans and lamb braising juices and
served with lamb shanks. At Prima in Walnut Creek, a small
salad of wilted fava greens and Blue Lake beans accompanies
fresh fish. Farallon in San Francisco uses them raw and cooked
as a fish garnish. At Firefly in San Francisco, they're sliced
and added to risotto at the last minute or stir-fried to
The novel greens, akin
to pea shoots, will be in local restaurants for
weeks to come. Home cooks can buy them directly from the
2000 McKinnon Avenue (at Rankin), Building 428,
Unit D, San Francisco; (415) 643-8686.
-- Janet Fletcher
Wisdom from the Garden of
By Melissa Kaman
Wed, Mar. 20, 2002
AFTER 17 YEARS of
certified organic farming, Rick and Kristie Knoll
of Knoll Farms in Brentwood have decided to end their
relationship with the official concept of organic.
This will be the first
year since 1983 that they have not registered with
California Certified Organic Farmers. Nor will they renew their
registration with the California Department of Food and
Why would a small,
eco-friendly farm disassociate with a growing,
seemingly good, trend? Because the Knolls see beyond organics --
to a brighter future.
The Brentwood couple has
abandoned the familiar organic "brand" in
favor of a label that more fully reflects their principles. They
Tairwá, a phonetic translation of the French word terroir,
essence of place." It's a term familiar to French wine
drinkers; referring to the earthy characteristics that grapes
pick up from soil and climate.
Accordingly, any produce
with the Tairwá label will reflect the farm on
which it was grown. An increasingly corporate organic industry,
Knolls say, puts little or no emphasis on producing food that is
local and seasonal.
"We have become
dissatisfied with the organic movement, because
there has been a lowering of the bar," says Kristie Knoll.
"The industry has begun to do what is easy rather than what
is going to create the most nutritious food.
"Why get fruit from
South America or Asia when it is grown right here
in California? People have traveled all over the world -- it's
want to re-create that food on special occasions," she
says. "But in
general, people need to eat more naturally and more
The Knolls bought their
10-acre farm 23 years ago, and have since
nurtured it from an alfalfa field to a teeming and diverse
organic culinary herbs, specialty greens, seasonal vegetables
When Rick Knoll sees
nearby farmers abandoning money-losing plants, he makes room for
them on his farm. Last week he was planting Fuji apple trees
with intern Thako Harris.
"Asian apples have
put California apples out of business, because the
Asian market can do it so much cheaper," Kristie Knoll
says. "But the
more distance between the farm and the table, the more nutrition
flavor you lose."
A New York Times Magazine
article published in May by the author of
the No. 1 Times best seller "The Botany of Desire" put
into print what
the Knolls had been thinking for years. It inspired the Knolls
Tairwá into reality. Michael Pollan's article,
"Naturally," gave an
unblinking, in-depth look at America's organic industry.
Organics' rapid takeover
of supermarket shelf space has been its
undoing, Pollan said. "This sort of growth has attracted
the attention of
the very agribusiness corporations to which the organic movement
once presented a radical alternative and often a scalding
critique," he wrote.
The Knolls say that by
focusing on terroir and using the Tairwá label,
they will give their customers -- now mostly restaurants
the integrity of their produce.
"Our focus is the
soil. It always has been and always will be. The soil is
the foundation -- its viability and its health are paramount.
"All things require
proper materials for maintenance and repair. The old adage that
'you are what you eat' has great meaning. Give your body the raw
materials it needs for maintenance and repair, and it will serve
you well for a long time. Soil is the same, only better: It has
no finite life span and, with proper nourishment, continues to
get better and better.
"Because we give our
soil the raw materials with which to regenerate
itself, our produce has a life force, which provides high
Oliveto restaurant in
Oakland has been buying from Knoll Farms for
five years. Co-owner Bob Klein says Oliveto will continue to
support the Knolls and their new label. "They are beyond
organic," Klein says.
"They are drawing a distinction between themselves and
something that has become watered down."
Others, such as organic
farmer Marcia Litsinger, say sects like Tairwá
pose a danger of watering down a strong, established movement.
"If everyone starts
branching off and doing their own thing, we are just
going to confuse the consumers more. We need to work for change
underneath the organic label."
Brian Leahy is president
of California Certified Organic Farmers, a
nonprofit organization that has been certifying farms since
80 percent of California's organic farms are certified with the
CCOF. In addition to complying with the USDA's definition of
organic, the CCOF has its own set of standards -- some of the
strictest in the industry. But Leahy says that farmers who
already have their customers trust needn't worry about
"The USDA owns the
word organic," he says. "But if you are going on
trust, why subject yourself to the USDA regulations?"
The CCOF defines organic
as a rejection of inappropriate technology,
of pesticides on food, what Leahy calls "toxic
They encourage the use of
soil-building techniques to build and maintain the environment,
and using materials known to be good for the soil. "When
people see an organic label they think they are supporting small
farms," Leahy says.
But organic, he says, does
not mean small farm, and does not mean
locally produced. "You can buy an organic Twinkie
today," he says.
The CCOF has plans to create a new label in the near future, one
truly does represent the small farmer. The label will identify
producers who believe in sustainable agriculture,
and who cannot or will not comply with government standards.
The money that the Knolls
save from not reregistering will most likely
be spent on the production and maintenance of the Tairwá label.
plan to include a small brochure with their produce that
beliefs and methods.
Kristie says they are
unsure whether Tairwá will attract new customers
but hopes that continued support from respected restaurants,
Chez Panisse in Berkeley, will give Tairwá credibility. Peter
chef of Prima Ristorante in Walnut Creek, is attracted to the
exceptional produce. Fava beans are not yet in season, but he is
leafy fava greens as wrappers for a number of items.
The Knolls already have
the support of San Francisco's top produce
companies. VegiWorks sells to top East Bay restaurants, such as
OnoMazé in Walnut Creek. In their weekly newsletter to
they specifically list what can be had from Knoll Farms. Here
snippets from last week's newsletter:
mixed chard greens, marvelous flavor
mixed radishes (Icicle, Red, White and Striped), tender
root, fresh dug
and fig wood for grilling
The listings finish with:
"We encourage you to support this farm; they
are one of the best!"
John San Agustin, director
of shipping for VegiWorks, has worked with
the Knolls for about 10 years. "Rick and Kristie are one of
forefathers of the organic movement," he says. "Their
spirit are true to that movement."
San Agustin agrees that
organic certification has begun to bend and
sway to larger organic growers, often to the frustration and
disillusionment of the small farmer. "Small farmers are
people of their
word," he says. "A handshake still means something to
San Agustin says he has
already heard of farmers contemplating a
break with certification in favor of their own local
"It's in the air.
Organic growers are following their hearts and minds.
The Knolls are creating a lead that others will follow."
"Rick (Knoll) is
metaphysically tuned in to the spirit of the land.
He reminds me of the American Indians, who worked with the land
and allowed nature to happen."
Greenleaf is a much larger
produce company that works with 2,000
growers throughout the year. Andy Powning, the self-described
soul and ambassador of Greenleaf, has done business with the
for 20 years. He says he loves their contrarian nature but
them to be cautious about abandoning organic.
"I err on the side of
caution. I wouldn't want this to hurt their business," he
says. Powning also recognizes that small growers are becoming
disillusioned with the organic certification process. "The
pendulum has swung too far in favor of large organic farms. It
is hard for the small-scale farmer to compete, and they are the
lifeblood of interesting new vegetables coming up."
Despite his trepidation,
Powning says Greenleaf will vigorously support Tairwá.
"We have a strong
history with the Knolls. We are committed to making this work
and consider ourselves partners."
Anyone can be a partner to
the principles behind Tairwá.
"Shop at farmers
markets and get as close to the source as possible,"
Kristie Knoll says. Theoretically farmers shouldn't exist.
People should grow their own food. Familiarize yourself with
small family farms and support them -- in supermarkets and
One way to participate is
by becoming part of community-supported agriculture, or CSA -- a
nationwide network that helps connect consumers with local
Every week Kristie boxes
up produce for local residents. She includes recipes for
unfamiliar-but-seasonal items. She also includes Web sites and
literature for the conscientious consumer.
capitalistic democracy, one's strongest vote is cast when one
shops," she says. "The way in which people
collectively spend their money determines the course of
Kristie still encourages
consumers to buy certified organic products. "Farming
without chemicals -- with nature -- rather than trying to
browbeat it into submission is important."
An adjacent lot of land to
the Knolls is brown and barren. It stands in stark contrast to
their land, which is alive and diverse, a feast for the eyes.
"Top soil is
disappearing at an alarming rate," Kristie says. "Its
erosion is one of the gravest concerns for present-day
Kristie's natural approach
echoes a cartoon posted on her door: "God put me on earth
to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I am so far
behind I will never die."
Immortal, no, but
"We believe strongly
that it's time to forge ahead to the next level, beyond the
"O" word -- to develop a marketing strategy for our
unique products and, perhaps, to lead the way for other family
farmers who wish to remain true to the original tenets of our
The Knolls put their money
where their mouth is; Kristie would rather spend money at a
great restaurant than on nice clothing or furniture.
So the money those
restaurants spend on Knoll produce often gets recycled.
"Eating well is our
one major extravagance," Kristie says.
Melissa Kaman is an
assistant manager at Oliveto restaurant in Oakland. This story
was written with Times Food editor Nicholas Boer.
Duggan, San Francisco Chronicle
Sunday, July 29, 2001
©2001 San Francisco Chronicle
It's 7:30 a.m. on a
Saturday in late June and the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market is
packed. There's a particular buzz around the Knoll Farms stand,
with shoppers eager to snap up the last of the farm's organic
figs. Then they'll be gone - at least until August, when a
second, larger crop comes in.
Farmer Rick Knoll cuts
open a few green Adriatics and black missions, both with pink
centers so ripe and moist they quiver as they fall off the
knife. With elbows jamming all around, I grab a sample and take
a bite. It's the first thing I've put into my mouth that
morning, even before coffee, and the sugar hits my brain like an
"It's like legal
candy," Knoll had said in an earlier telephone interview.
I had no idea.
Figs first came to
California in 1769, when Father Junipero Serra planted them in
Mission San Diego. They became a commercial crop in 1900, and
California is still the only state to grow them commercially.
But most of the fruit is dried - about 30 million pounds a year.
When Knoll and his wife,
Kristie, started growing figs more than 20 years ago, fresh figs
were a specialty, found mostly in Italian stores and some
restaurants, he says. It's only in the last decade or so that
they've had a resurgence as a fresh fruit.
Fragility accounts for
much of their rarity. Ripe figs are too soft to travel far.
Knoll Farms is only a two-hour drive from the Bay Area, and
there are smaller growers nearby. Otherwise, fresh figs mostly
come from the Fresno area.
Figs originated in western
Asia and made their way to the Mediterranean in prehistoric
times. They became one of the very first cultivated fruit trees,
probably as early as 4000 B.C. in Egypt or Arabia. They were
worshiped wherever they went, it seemed, often playing symbolic
roles relating to sensuality and fertility. The East Indian fig
tree, or banyan, is sacred in India, and interwoven with Indian
In ancient Greece, dried
figs were a major part of the daily diet of rich and poor.
Associated with Demeter, the Greek goddess of agriculture and
fertility, the fig became a symbol of the fall harvest. Romans
considered the fruit a gift from Bacchus, the god of wine and
all things sensual. The fruit was given as an offering to
Bacchus at the frenzied, orgiastic festivals in his honor.
Though mentioned often in
the Bible, figs are probably most famously associated with the
story of Creation. When Adam and Eve have to leave the Garden of
Eden, they cover themselves with fig leaves. Some have even
argued that the forbidden fruit was actually a fig, not an
All of the sexual
connotations around figs mesh with the fascinating birds-
and-bees ritual traditionally used to cultivate them. Called
caprification, the process is named for the caprifig, the
original native fig tree.
Technically, figs are not
a fruit but an inverted flower, with more than 1, 000 blossoms,
or seeds, within each fig. The caprifig has both male and female
flowers, whereas other varieties often only have female flowers.
Tiny fig wasps that live inside the flowers take care of the
When a female wasp leaves
her home fig to go lay her eggs, her wings get coated with
pollen from the male flowers inside it. She then flies to
another fig tree, bringing the pollen with her and fertilizing
the new fig.
Early growers learned to
place branches of the caprifig tree near the trees they wanted
to cultivate. Caprification is still practiced today for some
varieties, but others - such as the black mission, the kadota
and the Adriatic - don't need wasps for cultivation.
These varieties have two
crops per year. Locally, the first crop, from June to early
July, has a shorter season and is not as bountiful as the second
That starts in August and
can run into November, depending on the weather.
When they're in season,
figs create a clamoring among some Bay Area restaurant chefs and
diners. Besides their obvious applications in sweet dishes,
chefs often turn to them as a foil for savory foods, especially
grilled and roasted meats. Chefs from as far away as Manhattan
also order fig wood for their wood-fired ovens from Knoll Farms,
as well as fresh fig leaves.
"They're definitely a
signal that summer is here," says Charles Downing,
executive chef at Spiedini in Walnut Creek. "Figs have a
great depth of flavor and richness - almost a glycerine-y mouth
feel. Other fruits can be delicious but don't have the richness
or the meatiness of the figs."
Like clockwork, when the
weather starts getting warm, customers begin calling in to ask
if his spiedini di fici is on the menu yet, Downing says.
For this signature
antipasto, Downing stuffs fresh Brown Turkey or Adriatics with
Gorgonzola dolce and anoints them with extra-virgin olive oil.
He roasts them in a fig wood fired oven, then partners the warm
figs with twirled prosciutto rosettes, fresh Zante currants and
deep-fried fig leaves, which provide a tannic, slightly bitter
Chef Amaryll Schwertner of
Stars in San Francisco serves roasted figs with grilled squab
and purslane. Before roasting the figs, she drizzles them with
lavender honey and red wine and tosses them with thyme sprigs
and orange zest (see recipe at right). In the hot-as-Hades wood
oven, the fruits acquire a caramelized crust that Schwertner
describes as "almost like a very fine creme brulee
top," which, she points out, is very nice to bite through
to the moist fig beneath.
There's no doubt these
modern-day figs could serve as offerings to the gods.
Figs in the Market
The season's second crop
of fresh, local figs are just starting to come into markets. It
should peak in September and last into October or November.
The ripest, best-tasting
figs are very soft and not always the prettiest; look for those
with skin that is beginning to shrivel and crack. They are very
perishable, so plan to eat them within a day or two, or
refrigerate them for a few days. Trim off the stems, which
sometimes taste pithy.
These figs are generally
available in Northern California, especially at produce or
Black mission. This fig is
named for the Spanish missions where figs were first grown in
California. Purple-black on the outside and pink inside, black
missions have a heady flavor. Grown widely in California, this
is the variety generally used in Fig Newtons.
Brown Turkey. These fat,
ruddy-brown figs are honey-colored or pink inside.
Calimyrna. Called Smyrna
in the Mediterranean, this ancient variety is one of the most
common in California and is often dried. It can range from
yellow to green.
Kadota. Look for ones that
are green on the outside and white or amber inside.
Green-skinned, with a shimmering purple or pink interior, these
are particularly high in sugar.
Stars executive chef
Amaryll Schwertner roasts figs in a wood-fired oven and serves
them next to grilled squab. At home, you can use a very hot oven
or barbecue and serve them with any kind of grilled fowl or even
meat dishes. The figs won't get quite as caramelized as they do
in the wood-fired oven, but they still taste delicious. So do
the crispy thyme branches, which you can eat, too.
Ingredients: 1 pint ripe
(but not too soft) black mission or Adriatic figs, Sea salt to
taste, Cracked black pepper to taste, 6 thyme branches, 6 strips
of organic orange zest, Pinch of sugar or lavender honey, A few
drops of red wine...
Preheat the oven to 500° or prepare a hot charcoal grill.
Trim the stems on the figs and halve the figs lengthwise. Place
them in a bowl and sprinkle lightly with the sea salt and
pepper. Gently toss in the thyme branches, orange zest, sugar
and wine. Let sit for a few minutes.
Place the figs cut-side up
on a greased baking sheet or oiled grill basket, and place the
thyme across the top. Discard the orange zest. Roast or grill
for 5 to 8 minutes, until the skins are bubbly and the insides
are molten. If using an oven, turn the heat to broil and place
the figs near the broiler element for a few minutes to brown. Be
careful they do not burn.
Remove the figs from the
heat source and let the crusts harden slightly. Serve with the
crispy thyme branches. Serves 6.
PER SERVING: 30 calories,
0 protein, 7 g carbohydrate, 0 fat, 0 cholesterol, 0 sodium, 1 g
Tara Duggan is a
Chronicle staff writer in the Food section. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Figs' Plucky Nature Comes
at at Price
Fletcher, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 1, 1999
©1999 San Francisco Chronicle
If you've ever wondered
why fresh figs are so expensive, listen to Rick Knoll describe
how they're picked.
``The Kadotas and
Adriatics will eat your cuticles,'' says the grower, proprietor
of Knoll Organic Farms in Brentwood. The milky latex that oozes
from a fig stem when pinched ``is like Compound W. A drop of
milk from a green fig will dissolve a wart.''
Knoll says his harvesters
either wear surgical gloves or tape their fingers like football
players. His own fingers are so damaged he can't pick any
To protect his crew, Knoll
has designed a small harvesting knife so workers no longer have
to pinch the fruit off the stems. The knife slows down the
harvesting but saves the hands of laborers who may have to pick
figs almost every day for three months.
Knoll's five acres of figs
include Kadotas, Adriatics, Missions and Brown Turkeys, all
capable of producing two harvests a year in Brentwood's warm
climate. The early crop, harvested in June, tends to be lighter
and of shorter duration than the late summer crop. ``It's just
enough figs to make you crazy,'' says Kristie Knoll, Rick's
wife. ``We never have enough for everybody.''
By September, the Knolls
are picking and packing the second crop for restaurant customers
such as Oliveto, Flea Street Cafe, Chez Panisse and Black Cat,
and for retailers like Real Food, Mollie Stone's and Rainbow
Grocery. The Knolls' luscious, oozy figs are so popular at San
Francisco's Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market -- even at $3.50 a pound
-- that shoppers get angry when the couple skips a week. The
elderly woman who helps them at their booth says she has been
accosted on BART by customers wanting to know where the figs
The Knoll fruit wins fans
because it is picked when ripe instead of when still firm enough
to ship. At their ripest, Knoll figs may be 25 percent sugar and
have a shelf life of only three or four days. Plump and prone to
squashing, these fragile figs demand coddling from field to
At the farmers' market,
Kristie Knoll tears her figs in half and prods novices to take a
taste. ``People don't want to touch something that's kind of
soft,'' she says, but she eventually gets them to cradle a Brown
Turkey in their palm and to squeeze gently to judge ripeness.
``A lot of people look for
a fig that's too beautiful,'' she says. ``They see slits in the
skin and think, `Pass on that.' But that's what you should be
looking for. That means it's ready to go.''
The Brown Turkey fig has a
thin, light brown skin and flesh that ranges from soft pink to
raspberry. The Adriatic and Kadota are both green- skinned figs,
but the Kadota flesh is typically honey-colored while the
Adriatic's is pink-to-strawberry. The Kadota produces a drop of
honeydew on the bottom when ripe; the Adriatic gets
thinner-skinned, almost translucent.
In contrast, Mission figs
have purplish-black skin and red flesh, and the uglier they are,
the better. ``They get a little semi-dried looking, kinda
shriveled and wrinkly,'' says Kristie. ``You rip those in half
and eat them and, oh man, they're great.''
To keep dead-ripe figs
longer than a day, refrigerate them. If the figs are still a
little firm, store at room temperature and they will continue to
ripen. (Mission figs won't ripen off the tree but the other
types will, Rick says.)
For the grower, the
biggest challenge in getting figs to market is saving them from
the starlings and gophers. The European starling is ``out of
control here,'' Rick says, and it has few predators. At least
the native birds work on only one fig at a time; the starlings
peck a hole in all of them. Gophers, for their part, can eat a
young tree in an afternoon and kill a big tree if given enough
time. Some gophers eventually succumb to dogs, owls, snakes or
traps, but not before decimating a tree.
Occasionally Kristie Knoll
polls local restaurants to learn how they're using her figs. Her
recent discoveries -- roasted Adriatic figs with duck (Chez
Panisse Cafe, Berkeley); roasted fig-walnut bruschetta with
Cambozola cheese (Flea Street Cafe, Menlo Park); red dandelion
and arugula salad with figs (Oliveto, Oakland); and grilled
Brown Turkey figs with aged goat cheese wrapped in fig leaves
and grilled (Black Cat, San Francisco). Her husband likes to
smear a ripe Adriatic fig on a toasted English muffin. ``You
can't tell it from strawberry jam,'' he says.
If warm weather prevails,
the Knolls' fig season can last into October and beyond. ``One
year we delivered figs to Real Food for Thanksgiving,'' Kristie
recalls. ``We always hope for that. But by the middle of
October, unless we have an amazing Indian summer, we'll be on
the down side of the bell curve.''
From The March
2002 Issue of Natural Foods Merchandiser
Biodynamic Agriculture Blends The
Scientific And Spiritual
Thomas Garvey May
Rick Knoll knew that
biodynamic agriculture worked from his first experience with the
One autumn, he planted a
cow's horn packed with manure in the soil, the fermentation step
in the system's instructions for making a root stimulant. But
he'd planted what is known as biodynamic preparation 500 in the
wrong spot in relation to his fig trees. In the spring, when he
dug up the horn to continue making the preparation, roots from
the nearby grove had wrapped and penetrated the horn, sucking it
To the uninitiated,
biodynamics can sound like voodoo or the esoteric rituals of a
cult. But to Knoll, who earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from
the University of California at Irvine, the system for
optimizing soil fertility made perfect sense. The preparations
were a way of ratcheting up the soil's potential, revving the
microbes until "they were ready to go out and conquer the
world," Knoll says.
Fertilizers made strictly
from farm-derived inputs are just one part of biodynamics, a
system developed in 1924 by Rudolph Steiner, an Austrian
scientist and philosopher. The method parallels organic farming
in many ways—especially with regard to some biological
practices, such as cover crops and compost—but it is set apart
by many as well, most notably its association with the spiritual
and acknowledgement of cosmic forces.
Perhaps it's these
spiritual and cosmic aspects that have kept biodynamics on the
fringes of the natural foods world. Or maybe it's because the
method isn't widely practiced or promoted. But added-value
ecolabels, such as biodynamic, may get a boost from organic's
acceptance in the mainstream. Plus, there is credible research
to prove that Steiner's methods, though based on spiritual
principles, help to produce some of the best soil of any
agricultural system known.
Born in what is now
Croatia in 1861, Steiner was a classically trained scientist and
a renowned philosopher. By the early 1920s, he was often
approached for his opinion on enigmatic topics. His innovative
theories had already laid the foundations for the Waldorf school
system and a series of lectures on anatomy still read by medical
His eight agriculture
lectures, later published in a book called Spiritual
Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture, were in response
to a group of farmers who came to him for advice. Before the
chemical practices developed during the 20th century were
considered the norm, some farmers were worried about the impact
these fertilizers and pesticides would have. They had already
begun to notice a decline in their livestock, soil and seed
The theories behind the
chemical farming movement disregard the roles of plants, soil
and animals, says Knoll, who farms 10 acres in Brentwood,
Calif., 60 miles east of San Francisco. "One of the
problems with modern farming is that it puts man at the center
of the whole equation."
Steiner took a holistic
approach to the subject—from his perspective, the entire farm
was one organism. The biodynamic method he conceived is
described as having two interwoven parts, says Harald Hoven,
farmer and teacher at Steiner College in Fairbanks, Calif. Crop
yield and quality are influenced by two groups of environmental
factors: earthly and cosmic, or biological and dynamic.
"So there are two
areas," Hoven says. "The horizontal consists of
working in the community and with the farmland, and the vertical
deals with how to keep the plant in touch with cosmic
The basic ecological or
horizontal principle of biodynamics is to view the farm as a
self-contained entity. Biodynamic farmers emphasize integrating
crops and livestock, recycling nutrients, maintaining soil, and
heeding the health and well-being of crops and animals; even the
farmer is part of the whole. "No inputs from outside would
be needed in an ideal system," Hoven says. "All the
fertility should be generated on the farm."
"The farm is 23 years
old, and it has evolved into an organism," Knoll says of
his farm. He has a role in the system, but doesn't see himself
as the controller. "We consider ourselves just one of the
species of the ecosystem."
Because the farm is alive,
"dead" materials, such as chemical fertilizers, should
never be used. This aspect of biodynamics is similar to organic
agriculture. However, the specific preparations used as
alternatives to synthetics distinguish the method from organic
Steiner described the nine
biodynamic preparations, or magic potions as Knoll calls them,
to enhance the soil fertility. They consist of a combination of
mineral, plant or animal manure extracts, which are fermented
for a period of time, then diluted and stirred in a procedure
called dynamization. The final product is applied in small
amounts to compost, soil or directly to plants. The preparations
are numbered 500 to 508, and each has a different purpose,
ranging from root stimulant to growth regulator. There's even a
preparation—made from the silica-rich horsetail plant—used
as a spray to suppress fungal disease in plants.
The preparations have a
microbiological basis, but the rituals involved in creating and
applying them are part of the cosmic or dynamic aspects of
biodynamics. This is where the system differs most dramatically
"One of the main
differences is that biodynamics is basically a spiritual
activity," says Anne Mendenhall, director of the Demeter
Association, the sole certifier of biodynamic farming, with U.S.
offices is in Aurora, N.Y. "It serves as a learning path
for the farmer to delve more deeply into nature and the
mysteries of growth."
In all of Steiner's work,
he tried to bridge the gap between science and spirituality.
Recognizing the celestial influences on plant growth is part of
biodynamic awareness; subtle energy forces affect biological
systems. Another manifestation of this belief is the biodynamic
calendar. Lunar and astrological cycles are charted and can play
a role in timing biodynamic practices, such as when to make the
preparations, cultivate or plant.
Teachers and scholars of
Steiner's work emphasize this practice. The planting calendar
was part of his effort to raise awareness of cosmic forces,
Hoven says. "You have to work together with the sun and the
season. You cannot try to fool them."
But Mendenhall, who visits
many farms every year, says that planting by the biodynamic
calendar isn't always practical, nor is it part of the standards
that Demeter certifies. "Farmers rarely, if ever, have that
option," she says. "You have to hurry and get your
crop in during the window of opportunity, and if you wait for
any astrological aspects, you're apt to be left holding the bag
of seed in your hand."
The Demeter Association
was founded in Europe in the 1920s to foster and encourage
biodynamics by certifying growers. The certification process is
similar to that of organics because Demeter requires record
keeping and annual inspections. But Mendenhall says the Demeter
seal is tougher to obtain because there are so many more aspects
to consider with biodynamics. A farmer starting from scratch
faces the same three-year prohibition on chemical use as an
organic farmer does, but then there's a two-year period during
which farmers must show full use of biodynamic preparations and
methods. One year into the two-year conversion, but only after
the three-year chemical prohibition, the farm's produce can be
labeled as "In-Conversion to Demeter, " Mendenhall
Some biodynamic farmers
don't believe the certification process or codification of
Steiner's teachings is true to the philosopher's intentions. The
lectures were observations about the lack of intuitive work on
farms, Knoll says. Steiner saw the farm as an individual, and as
such each farm should be a running experiment, an evolution.
"I don't think he'd
like the cult standing he has obtained," Knoll says.
"He wasn't into rules. His observations were about being
Knoll's farm isn't
certified by the Demeter Association, but he has been certified
organic for more than a decade. It produces year-round—crops
ranging from white stone fruit and heirloom vegetables to
culinary and medicinal herbs—and Knoll sells only at markets
where a premium is placed on quality. He sees no added value in
the biodynamic label, and instead is working on developing a
program and certification system to promote locally grown
But Chuck Beedy of the
Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association in San Francisco
has a different opinion. He suggests that the biodynamic label
will gain more economic viability now that the federal
government is involved with organic. For some consumers, organic
means more than just an agriculture system that doesn't harm the
environment. Added attributes, such as locally grown or
family-farmed, are often associated with the organic label.
Although on many organic
farms that is the case, the National Organic Program dictates
nothing of the kind. But with biodynamics, many of those
attributes are required for certification. "People who
sought out organic as a movement or a philosophy, not simply [an
agricultural] method, might look to biodynamic as remaining
truer to that ideal," Beedy says.
Beedy and the association
have begun efforts to get the word out about biodynamics. But
his challenge is that the words don't have as great an impact as
the produce itself. "You need to get it into people's
hands, so they can [see and taste] the difference."
For farmers looking to
move into biodynamics, recent studies show that some of
Steiner's theories have scientific validity. Lynn
Carpenter-Boggs and John Reaganold, researchers at Washington
State University in Spokane, Wash., found that biodynamic
preparations improved soil quality when compared with
conventional fields that weren't treated. They also found that
biodynamically treated compost pits had higher temperatures,
matured faster and had higher nitrate levels than control piles.
But if spiritual
fulfillment and soil enhancement aren't enough motivation, the
system's efficiency reaps financial rewards as well. Knoll says
he spends much of his time deciding what not to do on his farm
and lets his land decide. And apparently his land makes good
decisions: Last year his crop averaged just less than $40,000
gross per acre. "That's way off the charts," Knoll
says. "Even in a lot of organic circles."
Government cleans up
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
Reach Melissa Kaman at email@example.com.
AS OF MONDAY, the federal
government officially owns the word "organic." The
USDA's new guidelines went into effect Oct. 21, setting in place
a strict nationwide definition of what it means to be organic.
"The new organic
rules codify organic as a national standard," says Bob
Scowcroft, executive director of the Organic Farming Research
Foundation. "They present the consumer with a true
alternative to an agro-industrial system that shows little
regard for environmental concerns."
Before Monday, a product
sold anywhere in the United States could claim organic with as
little as 1 percent organic ingredients and could contain
genetically modified organisms. In California, organic growers
were required to register with the state. But official organic
certification, through agencies such as California Certified
Organic Farmers, was entirely optional (there was no regulatory
oversight on the word "organic"). Now, previously
registered organic growers, if continuing to claim organic, must
certify through the CCOF, which now complies fully with USDA
Under the new guidelines,
any food product using the word organic, whether grown in the
United States or imported from other countries, must be free of
GMOs, radiation and most conventional pesticides (the National
Organic Standards Board has approved a small number of these
pesticides for organic use). To be stamped organic, it must
contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients. Organic meat,
fish, chicken eggs and dairy products must come from animals fed
a 100 percent organic diet. Beef and chicken must be raised
under organic management, with no antibiotics or growth
hormones. The use of petroleum-based or sewage-based fertilizers
on the land on which the animals roam is forbidden.
The official USDA organic
seal will appear only on products with at least 95 percent
organic ingredients. The term "100 percent organic"
assures that all of a product's content is certified organic. A
product still may be labeled "made with organic" if it
contains at least 70 percent certified organic ingredients.
Products containing less than 70 percent organic may identify
particular ingredients as organic, but only on the product's
The seal, accompanied by
the appropriate phrasing, may appear stamped on a box, wrapper,
or above a display, indicating which fruits, vegetables or meats
are USDA-certified. Certification agencies, such as California
Certified Organic Farmers, are in charge of enforcing these
"organic," if used without complying with the national
standard, can result in a fine of $10,000. Farmers with income
of less than $5,000 per year are excluded from the certification
process but still must comply with the rules and are subject to
fines. There is aid available to farmers who can't afford the
The new standards,
according to George Chartier, public affairs specialist with the
USDA, are industry-created and -regulated -- a topic of debate
and discussion among industry professionals -- and were not
imposed by government. They represent the third and final draft
released by the National Organic Standards Board (composed of
scientists, environmentalists, organic farmers, handlers,
processors, consumer interest representatives and a certifying
agency). "Any decisions made came and will come from
comment from the industry itself," says Chartier.
The certification process
is entirely voluntary, but farms that choose not to complete
certification may not use the word "organic" in
marketing their produce.
Masaki Asaoka, produce
manager at Star Grocery in Oakland, says he must rename
"organic" produce "pesticide-free" if those
farmers aren't certified through the USDA. Because organic
usually costs more than conventional produce, some farmers will
not reap full benefits from retail sales.
Organics has a growth rate
of 20 percent per year -- the fastest-growing sector of
agriculture. Many see these new standards as a victory for
organics, but some small-scale local organic farmers are
skeptical. They see organics as a way of life -- a method of
farming that listens to the land and fosters biodiversity.
"A couple of figs in the morning, when you're tired, or run down, or
hungover, is almost like a blood transfusion," says farmer Rick Knoll.
Huh. And to think I've spent all this time supporting my neighborhood coffeehouse.
"They're highly nutritious, high in iron and calcium," continues Knoll. "If I'm dragging, I eat a few and get a real energy surge."
Knoll, who owns Knoll Farm in Brentwood along with his wife Kristie, is a visionary, one of the pioneers of sustainable farming, in addition to being famous for his figs.
Although the Knolls farm organically and
biodynamically, which involves farming in harmony with the land's ecosystem, they are trying to avoid being pigeonholed as "organic."
"We're one of the original organic farms that are now marketing our product under our own label, "Tairwa," he says. "With the increasing growth and corporatization of organic farms, the growing methods are becoming less sustainable and ecology-minded, so we decided we needed to distinguish ourselves from those types of operations."
The Knoll's new label, "Tairwa," is a play on the French term,
terroir, which roughly translates as "sense of place." It's a term used to describe how the unique characteristics of a particular area's soil, climate and indigenous plants can affect the food grown or raised there. For example, cows that graze on the salt-tinged grasses along the Sonoma coast will produce milk that not only tastes specific to that breed, but also to that region and season.
The Knolls grow a variety of fruit and vegetables on their small Brentwood farm, but figs and green garlic are their trademarks.
"The fig thing came about by accident," says Knoll. "I used to grow a lot of peaches and nectarines, but there were a lot of stonefruit growers in the area, so I felt I needed to distinguish myself, and I decided to tear out all my trees. It was a dumb move, but it worked out because we decided to grow as many outrageous varieties of figs as possible."
Knoll currently grows six types of figs, but he doesn't plant new varieties on a whim.
"Fig trees will bear fruit after just three years. But when we try a variety we find interesting, we get its genetic material, grow a tree, experiment with seeing what its seasonality is, test the fruit out on our customers, then start grafting root stock and starting new trees. The whole process takes around 10 years."
If it sounds as though Knoll is a bit of a mad scientist, perhaps it's because he holds two separate doctorates in organic chemistry and agricultural ecology. Still, he is as laid-back and down-to-earth as the farm he has created.
"I don't like categorizing. We're not 'organic.' We're just the essence of this place, this soil on this patch of land we farm on."
Knoll nurtures his fig trees by doing the opposite of what most farmers do.
"We intentionally plant and add to what's already there - native bunch grasses, alfalfa, red clover. Some people call them weeds. But keeping the diversity of the soil really high by keeping lots of root systems going and adding to the microbial life in the soil, well, I think it makes for great crops," he says.
"People have a tendency to hoe out everything and denude the area they're planting, but you need to create an environment that's hospitable, to keep root systems active and healthy."
Knoll's fig season begins in late May with his two varieties of Adriatic figs. Weather permitting, the season extends to Thanksgiving with, appropriately enough, Brown Turkey figs.
Brown Turkeys are a large Turkish fig with a rosy interior. They are more juicy than the average fig, which Knoll says makes them good for baking because they hold their shape well and the sugars in the juice caramelize as they cook.
The ubiquitous Black Mission fig, the "Fig Newton fig," jokes Knoll, came to California along with the Spanish missionaries. They are black-skinned, with reddish flesh.
"They're the only variety that freezes well," says Knoll. "After you take them out and they've tempered a bit, they have the flavor and consistency of fig sherbet. They're bad for cooking with, though, because they just melt down."
Kadota figs have a thick, green skin with a salmon-colored interior. They are syrupy sweet and are best used for canning or paired with
prosciutto, the saltiness of which provides a good contrast to the sweet flesh.
"Kristie likes to make a fig vinaigrette with our
Kadotas," Knoll says. "She uses a food processor to blend up the figs, balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, and a bit of herb such as basil."
Of his Adriatic figs, Knoll explains that every region of Sicily has its own specific variety. "They usually grow later in the season, but in our microclimate, they're early producers. They're thin-skinned, green with a reddish tinge, and fragile. The interior is very strawberry-like. The best way to enjoy them is to get a good baguette, some almond butter, and smear on some fresh figs and make a sandwich."
Knoll's current favorite - perhaps because he's still experimenting with the trees - is Melissa.
"There's a nice bit of folklore to the fig," he says, "You know the Allman Brothers song, `Melissa?' Well, it's about a woman who was as sweet as this fig. It looks like a smaller, rounder, Brown Turkey, with white dots. It's got a
custardy, salmon-colored flesh. It's outstanding for eating fresh or with creme fraiche and mint, or on pancakes."
I like my figs in a salad of baby greens, walnuts, good blue cheese and tossed with a sherry or balsamic vinaigrette. Or I'll put them on toasted walnut levain bread layered with prosciutto and drizzled with honey.
But however I choose to enjoy them, I don't think I'm ready to give up my morning caffeine surge just yet.
- Knoll Farm figs are available at Ferry Plaza farmers' market in San Francisco, Monterey Market, Mollie Stone's, Berkeley Bowl, and Rainbow Grocery. The following farms also sell figs: Guru Ram Das Orchards at the Berkeley farmers' market; and Terra Firma Farm at the Berkeley and Marin farmers' markets.
E-mail Laurel Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column is a service of the Berkeley Farmers' Market and Eating Fresh Publications (www.eatingfresh.com) publishers of "Cooking Fresh from the Bay Area."
The Berkeley Farmers' Market is open 2-7 p.m. Tuesdays at Derby Street and MLK
Jr. Way, and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays at Center Street and MLK Jr. Way.
Call (510) 548-3333 or visit www.ecologycenter.org
FRESH FROM THE FARM
Pea greens offer fun, fresh entree options
HEY, FOODIES! I heard y'all were happy getting
recipes last month, so here are a few more this month. I'll focus on a single
item that those Knolls call pea greens.
Others call them pea shoots. A Boston customer calls
them pea tendrils. Asians call them dou miao. I've always pronounced the Asian
version "dow mew," but looking at the way my Asian seed catalog spells
it, I'm certain my pronunciation is incorrect. Ah! The bliss of cluelessness.
Not to worry: My shortcomings in the pronunciation department are, I hope,
offset by my talents in the preparation department.
Pea greens are the tender end shoots of the pea
plant. They often have curly little tendrils that give them a whimsical, almost
fairy-tale look. They are delectable greens, with a pea-like flavor -- go
figure. Moreover, they're quite "nutrilicious" -- my own term for
"nutritious and delicious" all rolled into one.
As is often the case with the culinary arts, the
uses and applications of same are limited only by one's imagination. The many
ways to prepare pea greens run the gamut from very simple to complex. I rarely
have the time to get too complex, so the recipes you'll see here are "sorta
complex" at most. In all my recipes, you can assume that all ingredients
used are organically grown, unless I just cannot get my hands on an organically
grown product. This is especially true for soy products (tofu, tempeh, etc.),
grains and any meat, poultry or dairy products.
At their simplest, pea greens can be gently rinsed
and eaten fresh, which makes them a quick and tasty snack. They are also
wonderful -- again, fresh -- as additions to salads, where their tender
crunchiness and pea essence are a delight. Served atop a bed of brown basmati
rice, which smells like popcorn when it's cooking, pea greens partner with the
rice to form a complete protein.
The Brentwood Raley's at Sand Creek and the bypass
and the Discovery Bay Safeway at Hwy. 4 and Bixler carry certified organic
California brown basmati rice grown by Lundberg Family Farms. Those Lundbergs -
Eldon, Wendell, Harlan and Homer - use Certified Renewable Energy for their
headquarters and production facilities. So while you help curb global warming by
supporting a farm that uses renewable energy, you'll be regaled by the wonderful
aroma of popcorn as the rice cooks.
But I digress. So you've got your pea greens atop
your rice. What is the protocol for the "polite" consumption of this
dish? Well, you can pick the Pea Greens up with your fingers and
"snack" them like you would fresh off the plant, or you can toss them
gently with the rice and wilt them a bit, which is also very nice. You may be
obliged to eat them with your fork after tossing and wilting them.
If you need a little salt to add some flavor, you
can use San-J Organic Whole Soybean Wheat-Free Soy Sauce, also known as tamari.
Eden Organic makes the same sort of wheat-free tamari sauce, too. Each of these
tamari sauces is free of MSG (monosodium glutamate) and should be available at
the Raley's or Safeway mentioned above.
You can chop pea greens coarsely and add them to
cooked dishes -- pasta, rice, quinoa, polenta, soups, eggs, beans, whatever --
just prior to serving.
You can use one tablespoon of oil -- sesame for an
Asian flair, olive for an Italian flair -- in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low
heat. Allow the oil to get warm; then tilt the pan back and forth to get the oil
to cover the bottom of the pan. Add a chopped onion and a snug-fitting lid.
Slice the cylindrical shafts of two THE Green Garlic stalks into one-inch
pieces; add to the skillet; simmer covered until translucent. If you have some
baby carrots, baby green beans, or other baby veggies that you enjoy in a
half-cooked, crunchy state, toss 'em in here. Cross-cut the remaining garlic
(the greens) into thin ribbons while baby veggies cook lightly. After five
minutes, add a half pound of pea greens and THE Green Garlic ribbons to the
skillet. Toss lightly with the rest of the ingredients in skillet until the pea
greens are wilted. Serve immediately over rice, pasta, polenta, quinoa, or the
My favorite pea greens recipe is tofu-sesame pea
greens. Start as above with one tablespoon oil -- I opt for sesame oil for this
recipe -- chopped onion and one-inch pieces of THE Green Garlic shafts. While
the alliums simmer gently, cut a quarter pound of tofu, chicken, turkey, beef,
lamb, or the like into half-inch cubes. Toss well with 1 to 2 tablespoons tamari
sauce. When the alliums are translucent, add cubes and brown gently over medium
heat. Note that the alliums may caramelize slightly, which will make them even
sweeter. While the cubes brown, toast quarter-inch-thick slices of your favorite
bread and set them aside. Cross-cut the remaining garlic (the greens) into thin
When the cubes are well browned, add one pound of
pea greens and THE Green Garlic ribbons to the skillet and toss gently until the
pea greens are wilted. Turn the contents of skillet on to a serving plate and
sprinkle generously with toasted sesame seeds. Spread crostini (toasted bread)
with roasted sesame tahini (roasted, ground sesame seeds; the sesame equivalent
of peanut butter). It's nice with sake.
You can pick up the Knoll products mentioned above
at the Sand Creek Raley's in Brentwood. Look for 'em in the specialty produce
Get your tickets now for the 2006 BALT Fun(d)raiser
Dinner to be held on May 20 at Tamayo Family Vineyards. Log on to www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3390.
This is an event you don't wanna miss. Can't afford tickets or wanna volunteer
to help? E-mail email@example.com.
Knoll Farms is at 12510 Byron Highway Brentwood, CA 94513-4233 or call