Friday, July 4, 2014

Basil Salad Dressing & Another Round of Spinach

This is my first year growing spinach and so far, I haven’t had the best of luck.  The latest round of plantings – a heat resistant variety called “Galilee” – has started to bolt with only a minimal amount of growth.  I first tried to grow transplants for this variety and they bolted just as I was hardening them off.  Then I tried pre-germinating the seeds and sowing them directly into the bed.  And this is how they looked a few days ago:

Galilee Spinach Bolting....Again
 
They were definitely larger than the transplants that bolted, but only just.

Daphne at Daphne’s Dandelions had mentioned that bolting can also be induced by day length – a factor that I don’t usually take into account.  And since this is an Israeli variety & Israel is in a much more southerly latitude than we are (32°N vs. 43°N), they also have much shorter days during the summer.

All was not lost however.  The few sprigs of spinach that I harvested from the plants when I pulled them were really nice – tender & quite a lovely flavour.    I may try this variety again in the fall or early spring when days are shorter.

So I am moving on & giving another spinach variety a try – Tyee Hybrid.  This one is also supposed to be heat resistant and good for spring, summer or fall growing.  The bed I am planting the spinach in is shaded for part of the afternoon and I will probably put a shade cloth over the seedlings once they pop up as well.

I pre-germinated the seeds, which turned out to be much easier than I thought.  Back in the spring, I had a really hard time germinating some Monstrueux de Viroflay spinach seeds.  But both the Galilee seeds and the Tyee were super easy.  I’m thinking that the Viroflay was either a bad batch or is simply a more difficult spinach to germinate than the rest.

So to pre-germinate the Tyee spinach seeds, I first soaked them in water for 24 hours, then I wrapped the seeds in a damp paper towel.  The towel was placed in a zip lock baggie which I then sealed and put in the refrigerator for 2 days to give the seeds a good chill.  Then I simply left the baggie at room temperature & several germinated after only 2 days.  And by the 3rd day, I had over 70% germination.

After prepping the bed, I sowed the germinated seeds – and now we wait & hope that this variety is as heat resistant as it claims.


Basil Salad Dressing

 
Last week I pinched the tops off of my basil plants – I want to encourage nice fat, bushy plants instead of tall, skinny ones.  So armed with a bowl of freshly picked basil, I made a batch of basil dressing.
 


Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • 2 - 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2½ tbsp. yoghurt (40 grams)
  • 1 tbsp. mayonnaise (16 grams)
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 10 grindings of black pepper
  • 1 small shallot, sliced (10 grams)
  • 7 chives
  • 1 cup basil leaves, stuffed to overflowing (50 grams)

Putting this dressing together couldn’t be simpler.  Place all the ingredients into a blender.  Push the basil down a few times with a wooden spoon so that it makes good contact with the liquid ingredients.  Turn on the blender and process for about 5 seconds or so.  Turn off the blender, again tap down the basil leaves and whirl again.  This time, all of the basil should be drawn into the liquid ingredients.  If not, just tap it down again.  Process until the dressing is smooth.

That’s it – Easy peasy!  This dressing keeps for several days in a sealed container in the refrigerator (or what I often do is simply place it in a glass bowl & cover the bowl with cling film) and it holds its beautiful green colour very well.

The great thing about making your own dressing is that you can adjust it to your taste so easily.  I like my dressings to be tangy, so I use only 2 tbsp. of olive oil.  Want to tone it down? Add a bit more oil.  Too thick?  Stir in some water.  Not thick enough?  Add more yoghurt.

And I am a big fan of using dressings for dips.  Simply stir a spoonful or two into some plain yoghurt (regular or Greek) & you have a flavourful (and healthy!) dip.

Till next time…

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

4 comments:

  1. Mother Earth News has an article about spinach that you might find useful - http://bit.ly/mespinach - it has great info about day length sensitivity and growing spinach in northern gardens. Your basil dressing looks yummy, when my basil finally grows up I'll have to give it a try.

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    1. What a wonderful article - it even gave me a bit of advice on when to plant the overwintering spinach, which is new to me this year too. Thanks, Michelle!

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  2. I don't even try spinach in the summer. I know some people do it, but I just switch to eating chard.

    That dressing looks delicious. And like you I add less oil than most dressings call for because I like to taste the vinegar.

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    1. I figure I would give it shot to see what happens...and I do love experimenting :)

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