Borlotto Beans

Borlotto beans in the garden

Last season I planted a new dry pole bean called Borlotto  (also called Borlotti). They are an Italian heirloom variety. The variety was Lamon which is supposed to be the best for flavor. It got around 6 feet high and I grew it in the garden on one of the 3′ high perimeter fences. As it got taller, I added bamboo stakes to let it continue upwards. They are a very beautiful bean on the vine when growing. I planted around 12 plants, 6 inches apart right at each drip emitter. You can shell the bean fresh but I just left them to dry on the vine.  I got my seeds from Seeds of Italy.

I particularly like dry beans. I picked them after they dried on the vine which is towards the end of the season but before the first freeze. I find dry beans are so easy to grow, needing nothing except water and a vertical support of some kind and then harvesting at the end. They are very different then fresh beans which you must pick daily. There is also a bush variety of these beans but they are not Lamon.

I left them in their shells in a basket until last week when I took the beans out.  I find it fun to shell them on a cold winter night. The beans are very beautiful being cream color with maroon stripes. I got 3 cups of the precious bean. Good for 1 meal.  I will save some to replant too. This year I will definitely plant more.

Tuscan Bean Soup recipe from Ialian Food Forever

I like that I can make a hearty soup or stew from them and eat them in the winter. Here is a recipe from Italian Food Forever for a traditional Tuscan bean soup using Borlotto beans. When cooking the beans before hand, you must cook for a long time here in Santa Fe due to our high altitude at 7000 feet as you want them soft and creamy. I just cooked mine in a crock pot all day and it worked well. You can also leave out the pancetta for a vegetarian style soup. There are many recipes for Borlotto bean soup out there that all sound wonderful! Can’t wait to try them.

Hard Boiled Eggs-Not!

eggs steaming

I just read about a new way to ‘hard boil’ eggs which doesn’t really entail boiling them at all but instead you steam the eggs. Why would you want to steam them? Well, have you ever had hard boiled eggs that were hard to peel? The reason eggs can be hard to peel is because they are the fresher eggs. The fresher the eggs, the harder to peel. But when you steam them with the pointy side down and the fat end pointed upward, they peel perfectly every time. Just put them in a pan with your steamer and water underneath and lean them against each other so they stay upright and steam them for 20 minutes, then rinse them in cold water. I also mark my eggs so I know I ‘hard boiled’ them if I put them back with the other eggs which I’ve been known to do but without the markings. Then it’s a guessing game! I have chickens that lay every day and since I’ve been steaming them, they are now always easy to peel. No more frustration when peeling eggs.


winterbor_russian red kale

Russian Red Kale on left and Winterbor Curly Kale on right doing well with the cold nights

This year I grew 3 different varieties of kale-above is the Russian Red and Winterbor Curly kale growing together

lacinto kale

Lacinto kale (also known as Dino kale) It is the dark green in front of grape vine

Here is the Lacinto being shaded by the grape vine with carrots growing in front

Of the 3 varieties, Winterbor Curly Kale is my favorite and it is the most cold hardy. I started growing them the last week of July just before the Home Grown New Mexico Tour I was on. I had some holes in the garden so I ended putting some kale there. The Lacinto was partly shaded by a grape vine so it did not receive full sun. The Lacinto got heavily attacked by aphids. I sprayed all of them with water to help keep the aphid numbers down. But the Russian Red and Winterbor were planted elsewhere in the garden. I put them next to some tall tomato plants on one side and some tall sunflowers on the other side so they never got full sun either. They do well in our hot summers with some partial shade. They were not attacked by aphids. All three are still doing well. I’m not a great fan of kale so I’ve been looking for recipes that make me want to eat it. Here’s one wonderful way to eat it.

Kale Chips– you can use any variety of Kale to make this. This is now my favorite way to eat kale-dried! Kind of like potato chips but way more nutritional. Here’s a great simple recipe.

Kale Chips recipe courtesy of

Crispy Kale Chips
This kale chip recipe is easy to make and is so tasty you’ll want to make a double batch!

2 big bunches of kale
1/2 cup raw tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup wheat free tamari
1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tpsp maple syrup
optional 1 tsp of chilli flakes

Rinse, de-rib, and rough tear the kale into a giant bowl.
Put all the other ingredients into a food processor or blender and mix until smooth or use a hand blender
Pour the mixture over the kale, and use your hands to toss it all together. Squish Squish! Get it good and covered.

Oven method:
Spread the kale out evenly on lined or oiled cookie sheets. You want them to be as ‘dehydrated’ as possible, instead of baked.  250º for 4 hours (ish). Every oven is different so you’ll need keep an eye on it and be your own judge. Just remember that too much heat will change the flavor.  Don’t overcook them!

Here is the recipe in PDF format for printing:
Kale Chips recipe



Dehydrator method by :
Spread the kale out evenly on the dehydrator trays. Set temperature 115°F° or lower for about 4 hrs or more. Chips should be dry and crunchy when done. Every dehydrator is different so drying time may vary. This is still considered raw food done this way.

Raw food is food that is dehydrated at 115° F or lower to be the most nutritious and not lose vitamins. Above that and you start losing the nutritional value.

Here is some visuals of the process:


Put cleaned, dry kale in bowl with the recipe ingredients below and squish with your hands so kale is well coated.

kale_putting on trays

Put on dehydrator trays


Dried Kale chips

kale_dried in jars

Store in jars or zip-loc baggies-I like storing in jars as the pieces don’t break up so much.





Amy’s Tomato Salad

tomatoes in sherry vinaigrette

I don’t know about you but I still have a lot of cherry tomatoes that I picked the other day. I love to serve them as a tomato salad in a sherry vinaigrette. It’s divine with the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes. A friend of mine, Amy Hetager, who is no longer with us was kind enough to share it with me.  I call it Amy’s Tomato Salad. Here’s the recipe below.

Amy’s Tomato Salad (Cherry Tomatoes in a sherry vinaigrette)
2-1/2 lbs tomatoes cut into same size or cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1/3 cup fresh coarsely chopped herbs (basil, parsley, marjoram, whatever you got)

Toss everything together with the sherry vinaigrette below. Let it sit for a few hours before serving.

Sherry Vinaigrette Dressing
This is good on fresh kale salads too
1 garlic clove
3/4 tsp Kosher salt
1-1/2 TBL lemon juice
1-1/2 TBL sherry vinegar (this is sherry vinegar, not sherry wine)
1-1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar
black bepper
6 TBL extra virgin olive oil

Blend or shake it all together so it emulsifies before pouring over the tomatoes.

Here it is in pdf format for printing:
Amy’s Tomato Salad


Tomato tapenade


tomato tapenade all tomatoes

Being the Tomato Lady I have lots of tomatoes. One of the things I’ve done with my tomatoes, especially my older ones is making tomato tapenade. It’s easy to do and is so yummy you’ll want to make more with any tomatoes you can get your hands on at this time of year. The picture above I have mixed up all kinds of tomatoes.

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F

tapenade beginning

2. Take a cookie sheet and cover it with a big sheet of foil to protect your cookie sheet. Don’t try to piece two pieces together, it won’t work. The tomato juices will leak between the two pieces and what a mess it makes. I first tried it with parchment paper underneath and it was worse so don’t try that either. I learned the hard way and ruined a cookie sheet. Then I spread some olive oil on the sheet so the tomatoes don’t stick and cut my tomatoes in half and put them on the cookie sheet.

3. Put salt and pepper on the tomatoes and crush up some garlic (lots) and put that on top of the tomatoes.

red tomato tapenade

4. Put fresh thyme on top of the tomatoes.

sauteed onions

5. Then (this is optional but so good) Slice an onion or two and saute it in olive oil until soft and carmelized as above. Then spread the onions on top of all of it. Now I have made this both with and without the onions and it is definitely better with the onions but is really good without it too if you want to save more time.

yellow tapenade with garlic and thyme

6. Drizzle some good quality balsamic vinegar and then a little olive oil over it as well.

7. Cook and check often till soft and slightly caramelized. I start with half an hour and then keep checking every 15 minutes till done. Should take between 1-2 hrs if your tomatoes are bigger or juicy. There will be some black on the edges and that’s OK but watch closely as it gets closer to done as it can overcook quickly and the whole thing could burn black. A little black good, a lot of black bad. I scrap off the tomatoes (skin and all) off the foil and viola its done! I don’t puree it as I like it chunky and the skins are soft enough that you don’t even notice them.

8. I make some crostini out of some french bread toasting the slices till slightly crisp on the outside.

9. Then I spread some chevre goat cheese on the crostini and put a spoonful of the tomato tapenade on top. Sometimes I put a Kalamata olive on top, sometimes not. Divine!

Two cookie sheets makes about 2 cups of the tapenade. Refrigerate for immediate use or freeze or preserve it using a canning method for longer storage.



Rhubarb-Raspberry French Galette

I made a French galette the other day. Thinned out the rhubarb in the garden and got some raspberries from the market although it is great with strawberries too. A galette is like a pie only you don’t have to be so careful about putting the dough in a pie tin and you can put almost any fruit for them. Here’s how I did it.


First I cut about 2 cups rhubarb from the garden (cut leaves off-use only stalks) into 1-2 inch pieces and added 1 tablespoon lemon juice and lots of sugar because rhubarb is so sour (about 1 cup). The variety of rhubarb in my garden is called Victoria, a green variety although there are many other varieties. Then I added 2 tablespoons flour and stirred it up in a bowl. Lastly I added 1 cup of raspberries and gently folded them in to keep them intact.

galette_dough ready to roll out

Make the dough. I use Debra Madison’s recipe from ‘Seasonal Fruit Desserts’. The recipe makes the lightest flakiest crust I’ve ever made.

galette_roll dough on cutting board

After refrigerating it for about 30 minutes, I roll it out thin approximately round or oval. This is what I love about galettes – you don’t have to be perfect in its shape. Kinda like a farmhouse pie.

galette_picking it up

Now transfer the dough to a cookie sheet that has parchment paper on it (to keep from sticking)

galette_rolled out

Here it is ready for the filling.

galette_ready to cook

Put the rhubarb-raspberry mixture in the middle and fold up the sides. Sprinkle crust with a little sugar. Bake for about 50-55 minutes at 375°F. Check it often. If you see it starting to burn, cover it loosely with foil to keep crust from burning.


I couldn’t even get a picture before it was half eaten!

Homemade Fresh Pesto

add basil leaves

Pesto is a such an easy thing to make and is so delicious that I don’t know why more people don’t make it. This summer I made fresh pesto with my mini food processor which I then froze for later use. I put some on pasta the other night and all the flavors of that fresh basil burst in my mouth just like when I first made it.

To make fresh pesto you can either grow your own plants or buy plants to use. I cut off all the leaves except the biggest to use in pesto. I keep the bigger leaves to add when making a pasta sauce to cook down. I do not use the flowers if there are any, as I think they give the pesto a slightly bitter taste.

fresh basil leaves soaking

Soak leaves for 15 minutes

I use Italian or Genovese basil to make my pesto and after I cut the leaves off, I soak the basil in bowl of water to freshen it up for about 15 minutes.

Blend salt. pine nuts, and olive oil

Blend salt. pine nuts, and olive oil

Put olive oil, sea salt, pine nuts, and garlic cloves into a blender or food processor and blend well.

Add drained basil leaves

Add drained basil leaves

Drain your basil leaves and add them and blend till smooth and creamy. If the mixture is really thick add more oil a little at a time till smooth. It should not look like thick chopped spinach but be a little thinner and smooth consistency!

Add parmesan cheese

Add parmesan cheese

Then add the grated cheese and blend again. Notice how it is finely grated and light and fluffy.

Finished pesto ready to freeze for later use.

Finished pesto ready to freeze for later use.

I like to put the finished pesto in freezer bags, taking as much of the air out of the bag as possible. Then lay the bags flat in the freezer. Be sure to not add too much to each bag as you want it thin enough to break off chunks of it later to use with your pasta. Above is the finished pesto ready to freeze. Here is the recipe:

1/2 extra-virgin olive oil (give or take a little) use a good grade
1/4-1/2 tsp coarse sea salt ( I use less as the cheese is salty)
1/4 pine nuts
2 garlic cloves
3-4 cups fresh Italian basil
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Put olive oil, sea salt, pine nuts, and garlic cloves into a blender or food processor and blend. Drain your basil leaves and add them and blend till smooth and creamy. If the mixture is really thick add more oil a little at a time till smooth. It should not look like chopped spinach but be of thinner consistency! Then add the grated cheese and blend again. If you are not going to use it right away, put it in a bowl and add a small amount of oil on top of it to help keep the pesto from oxidizing.  This won’t hurt the flavor but will turn the pesto into a shade of Army green instead of its bright beautiful green color. I like to put it in freezer bags, taking as much of the air out of the bag as possible and lay it flat in the freezer. Be sure to not add too much to each bag as you want it thin enough to break off chunks of it later to use with your pasta. Never microwave the frozen pesto to soften it. I like to put it in a bowl on top of the stove (next to the pot of boiling pasta) where it will start to soften up. Then after I drain the pasta, I pour it over the pesto. The hot pasta will melt the pesto, then toss it to coat all the pasta evenly.  Add a little grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on top and enjoy.