• Putney Farm In Print And Pickled Asparagus

    Pickled Asparagus.

    Pickled Asparagus.

    We try to avoid too many shameless plugs here at the farm, but often sometimes I can’t resist. For the last few months I’ve worked with Edible Silicon Valley magazine on both the print and online editions. I do most of the blogging, which I love (and you can check out here), but there is still something special about seeing your words in print. And our Spring edition just came out and I wrote a few of the articles and took a number of the photos (Carolyn will have some photos in the summer edition). If you want to explore the amazing new form of indoor, sustainable, organic farming created by Ecopia Farms, try this article. And if you want to learn about an entire town that truly embraced gardening and local produce, you may want to peek at this article.

    ap1ap2But in the end of the day, we still like to cook, adapt and write recipes and take pictures. It’s kinda what we do here. Happily, we also got to do that for Edible Silicon Valley and this recipe for Refrigerator Pickled Asparagus (along with this quick pickle recipe) is in print for all to see. As gardeners we know it takes time for things to grow, but maybe a few articles in print will eventually lead to a cookbook. One can dream.

    ap3As for the recipe, asparagus is in season here in Norcal and few things taste better than pickled asparagus.  Refrigerator pickles are a very easy way to keep the sweet, earthy flavor and crunch of the asparagus, but also add spice and acidity. And you don’t need a canning rig or anything complicated for refrigerator pickles. The only important tip here is to quickly blanch the asparagus so the pickling liquid can penetrate all the way through the stalks.

    ap6ap4Otherwise, if you can boil some liquid and mix some spices, you can make refrigerator pickles with almost any veggie. The only bummer is that the pickles are best if you let them sit for at least a day (better at 2-3 days) in the fridge before you start snacking. We try to wait, but often fail. These asparagus pickles are hard to resist. Even the kids like them.

    ap5Pickled Asparagus:

    (From our recipe in Edible Silicon Valley)

    Notes before you Start:

    • You can use store-bought pickling spice, but it is easy to make at home. See below for a recipe.
    • Blanching the asparagus before pickling is an extra step, but very much worth it, the flavor and texture will be much better.

    What You Get: Very flavorful asparagus pickles. Yum.

    What You Need: No special equipment required. Which is nice.

    How Long? About 30 minutes to make the pickles, and then at least a day of waiting. Anytime dish.


    (Makes 2 (24-ounce) or 4 (12-ounce) jars)

    • 3 pounds asparagus, washed and trimmed to fit your jars
    • 1½ cups water
    • 1½ cups white vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons salt
    • 2 tablespoons pickling spice (*To DIY, see recipe below.)
    • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed


    1. Combine vinegar, water and salt in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Set aside.
    2. Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus to the pot and cook for exactly 1 minute. Transfer asparagus to a colander and run under cold water until chilled.
    3. Place 1 tablespoon of pickling spice and 1 garlic clove in the bottom of each jar (split the spice and garlic cloves if using 4 jars). Divide asparagus evenly between the jars. Pour pickling liquid over asparagus. Seal jars and let cool to room temperature, then store in the refrigerator.
    4. Let the pickles rest in the fridge at least 24, and preferably 72, hours before eating. The pickles will keep for 2 weeks.


    * Pickling Spice

    (Makes 1 cup)


    • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
    • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
    • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
    • 2 tablespoons allspice berries
    • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
    • 1 tablespoon ground mace
    • 1 small cinnamon stick, crushed into a few pieces
    • 12 large, or 18 medium, bay leaves, crumbled
    • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
    • ½ tablespoon ground ginger


    1. Place a small pan over low heat and toast peppercorns, mustard seeds and coriander seeds until just fragrant. Remove pan from heat and gently pour spices onto a cutting board. Lightly crush spices using a heavy pan, the side of a knife or a very quick spin in a spice grinder.
    2. Combine the cracked spices with the rest of the spices in a medium bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Store in an airtight container.
  • Massaged Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad


    Massaged Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad.

    Of all the vegetables we grow and eat here at the farm, brussels sprouts are one of the most challenging. Our attempts to grow them fail (and they attract a massive amount of aphids) and the only brussels sprouts recipes we like usually have tons of bacon and bacon fat to enhance the flavor. While we do love our bacon, we would like brussels sprouts to taste good on their own. After multiple failures, we usually avoid brussels sprouts, but every once in a while we try a new brussels sprouts dish in a restaurant or see a recipe that sounds promising. Usually, we are disappointed. But not this time. Carolyn tried this salad at a restaurant (Bar Bocce in Sausalito) and we adapted it for home cooking, and it’s very good- we didn’t even have to add any bacon.

    kale10kale7And, oddly enough, what we needed to enjoy the brussels sprouts was some different technique and the addition of another veggie. For the technique, we use finely shaved raw brussels sprouts, and for the extra veggie we added kale. One might not expect two earthly vegetables to compliment each other, but the sweeter sprouts play well with the “briny” notes of the kale. Add some roasted almonds for crunch and nutty flavor, shave on some romano cheese for salt and umami and finish with a bright, acidic dressing and you have a delightful salad.

    kale8kale11Simple enough, but there is one extra step that makes this salad really sing, the “massage”. And no, there is nothing creepy about massaging your kale. What’s really going on is that you add some of the lemon juice from the dressing to the kale and sprouts, mix or “massage” the juice with the greens and then let them sit for 5 to 20 minutes. The acid will actually start to “cook” or soften the kale and sprouts. It makes a big difference in texture of the salad. Usually dressing a salad too early makes it wilt, but for a tough green like kale, this is a good thing. (This approach will work for most kale-based salads).

    kale6kale5A few other notes about this salad. Firstly, the kale and sprouts are very hearty, so you can store the salad, dressed, in the fridge for a few days- so go ahead and make a big batch, if you like. Secondly, if you want to make a vegan version of the salad simply substitute the cheese with caramelized shallots. It won’t be exactly the same, but it will still be very good. And finally, it is best to shave the brussels sprouts with a small hand slicer or mandolin, but if you don’t have these tools use a very, very sharp knife and take your time. Brussels sprouts can be slippery little suckers, be careful…and then enjoy a very healthy and tasty salad.

    Massaged Kale and Brussels Sprouts salad

    Massaged Kale And Brussels Sprouts Salad:

    (Adapted from Bar Bocce)

    Notes Before You Start:

    • We use lacinato kale for this dish but most types of kale will work in this recipe. Just be sure to remove the tough ribs from the middle of the kale.

    What You Get: A good recipe for brussels sprouts that doesn’t hide them behind bacon or fat.

    What You Need: No special equipment required. But a small hand slicer or mandolin would be a big help.

    How Long? About 30 minutes with 10 minutes of active time. Anytime dish.


    • 4 cups kale (we use lacinato), washed and roughly chopped
    • 8 large raw brussels sprouts, washed and thinly sliced
    • 1/2 cup almonds
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • Pecorino romano cheese (sub parmesan, if you like)
    • Kosher salt
    • Freshly ground pepper

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