A somewhat local resort occasionally hosts a “75-Mile Dinner.” I have always been intrigued and we were really planning on going to the last one they hosted. But, after figuring that it is 112 miles round trip and that the price of the dinner was $85 a piece, we opted for our own local dinner. I dubbed this post “The 12-Mile Dinner” because the produce came from our garden, the local farmers market, and the local berry farm.
Round trip, I drove less than 12 miles for this produce and walked to our own garden to harvest. Enjoy!
(The beginning of the meal and the end of the meal were inspired by these lovely, fresh-picked blueberries.
The Cocktail: Blueberry Mint Lemonade (Hard or Virgin)
1 c. blueberries, divided
3-4 large mint leaves
1 c. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. simple syrup
1 c. white liquor (tequila blanco, rum, vodka, gin) (Omit this ingredient for the virgin option. You might add a bit more club soda and simple syrup as needed.)
1 c. club soda
Place half the blueberries in a shaker (or a flat bottomed glass) with the mint leaves and muddle. (Blueberries should be well crushed and mint leaves should be in pieces.) Place muddled mixture into a pitcher. Add remaining ingredients with the remaining blueberries. Stir and serve over crushed ice. This makes two large cocktails or four small ones.
Amount traveled: 2 miles to blueberry farm plus a couple of steps off the patio for mint leaves.
The Appetizer: Sautéed Padron Peppers
Fresh Padron Peppers (No need to de-stem or de-seed.)
Himalayan Sea Salt
Heat olive oil in a saute pan. Add peppers and saute on each side until blistered. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle immediately with salt.
When we spent Christmas in Santa Fe three years ago, we were introduced to Padron Peppers. We were treated to this appetizer (that was a special for the evening) at El Meson on Christmas Eve. We were just lucky enough to score a table and lucky enough indeed to have tasted these peppers. I was determined to grow them even though true Padron peppers are only grown in Spain. I guess the food patrol will be back after me. This is the first year that I actually got some seedlings to prosper. Be aware that eating sauteed Padron Peppers is an interesting experience. They become buttery and subtle as the saute, but it is also like Russian roulette. Some are mild and some are medium and some will set you on fire. It is worth the risk, trust me.
Amount traveled to pick peppers: less than 100 yards to garden and back.
The Entree: Spring Pasta (or Pasta with Peas and Carrots) in a Butter-White Wine Sauce
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. early spring onions, chopped
8 small carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 large sage leaves, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
1 1/2 c. fresh peas
2 T. butter
1/4 c. white wine
1 t. balsamic vinegar
your choice of cooked pasta (I used a whole wheat spaghetti.)
Parmesan cheese, grated, for topping
In a saute pan, heat olive oil. Add onions and carrots and saute until onions are translucent. Add garlic, sage leaves, and peas. Cover and let peas cook with the rest of the veggies. When peas and carrots are done, add butter, wine, and balsamic. Stir while butter melts.
Toss with cooked and drained pasta. Plate and top each portion with Parmesan cheese.
When it comes to pasta dishes, The Hubs is all about the gravy. To be a true pasta sauce, there must be some sort of porky meat involved as well as lots of tomato-goodness. So, color me amazed when he said this was the best thing I had cooked in a long while. This is a light and delicious pasta that was inspired from carrots and peas from the FM. The onions, garlic, and sage came from the garden.
Amount traveled to FM for peas and carrots: 5.2 miles (plus another 100 yards to the garden for fresh garlic, sage,and onions).
We are lucky enough to have a berry farm close to us. In the past, I have picked lots and lots of blackberries at this farm but this was the first time I had picked blueberries.
For the filling:
4 t. cornstarch, divided
2 T. brown sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 lb. fresh blueberries (Frozen can be substituted.)
1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. coarse sea salt
1/4 c. chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1/4 c. sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350° and make the filling. Spray an 8″ x 8″ glass baking dish with cooking spray. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons cornstarch evenly on the bottom of the dish. Combine remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, vanilla, and blueberries in a large bowl; toss. Place in prepared baking dish.
Make the topping. In a medium bowl, whisk together oats, flour, brown sugar and salt. Rub butter into oat mixture with your fingertips until it’s completely incorporated. Toss in almonds.
Sprinkle topping on top of blueberry filling. Place in preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes until filling is bubbly and topping is browned.
Amount traveled to berry farm: 2 miles.
Obviously the butter, wine, olive oil and other staple ingredients in this meal weren’t local, but I was proud that I put this meal on the table with local produce. And, good grief, but was it ever cheaper!
For the fancy-schmancy meal at the resort, we would have spent around $65 in gasoline plus the $170 for the meal for a grand total of $235. Not figuring in the staples, I spent the $6 for the peas and carrots at the FM, picked the peppers for free and spent $20 for almost five pounds of blueberries. (I only used a little over 1 pound for these recipes.)
Much cheaper and probably more enjoyable to spend this time on the patio enjoying a late spring evening.