Thursday, September 26, 2013

Outdoor Cooking at the Seattle Community Farm

This summer at the Seattle Community Farm we hosted a six-week Farm-to-Table cooking and nutrition class series through Solid Ground’s Cooking Matters program.

The Cooking Matters curriculum emphasizes preparing healthy and delicious meals on a budget. At each class we covered different nutrition topics, including the food groups on MyPlate, how to increase fiber in your diet, and the effects of different types sugars and fats on the body. On the fifth week, we went to a local grocery store and learned tips for selecting affordable, nutritious foods.

Since we held class outside at the farm, we chose recipes that emphasized using fresh, seasonal produce. We had a great variety of yummy vegetables to choose from! Class participants harvested  greens, onions, beans, cucumbers, squash, and herbs straight out of the ground and then cooked them up right at the farm. Instead of a stove we used portable burners, and enjoyed our outdoor surroundings as we chopped, peeled, and sautéed.

At the end of each class, participants took home the recipes used that week and a grocery bag of ingredients to try preparing the dishes at home. Participants came back each week with stories of their culinary successes and impressing their family and friends.

Thanks to the Cooking Matters staff and volunteers who taught and coordinated the wonderful class, as well as all of the participants who came back each week to share and learn together. This is our second year hosting the series, and we hope to make it a yearly event.

The melon and cucumber salad was a favorite among class participants this summer, and we think you'll like it too!

Melon and Cucumber Salad with Pepper and Mint 

adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy
  • 1 ripe melon, such as a honeydew (about 1.5 lbs)
  • 1 cucumber, unpeeled
  • 1 or more tablespoons chopped mint
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Mint springs
  • Goat or feta cheese (optional)
Halve and seed the melon and slice into sections. Cut flesh away from skin, then cut into bite-size pieces. Chop cucumbers into bite-size pieces. Combine melon and cucumber into a bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir together the chopped mint, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Whisk in oil. Taste and adjust as needed.

Pour dressing over melon and cucumber and toss to coat. Add cheese if desired. Chill for an hour if time allows. Grind pepper over top and finish with mint springs.

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