Alice Waters' original Edible Schoolyard is a five minute walk from our house. For years, we've taken early evening strolls through the garden, ogling the vast array of plants, herbs, fruit trees - all inspiring our own tiny backyard veggie garden.
When our boy Otis was getting ready to enter middle school two years ago, we couldn't resist King. We wanted Otis to have the freedom to safely roam our neighborhood, ride his bike to school, have local friends, and be a part of our community school. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the Edible Schoolyard was a huge draw for us in making this change. King kids are fortunate enough to have classes in both the Kitchen and Garden programs associated with the Schoolyard. Every time I visit, I'm stunned to see a huge group of middle schoolers not messing around or worrying about being cool, but totally focused and invigorated about cooking, gardening, eating, and learning. I've never seen adolescents so excited about vegetables! Who wouldn't want their child to have this invaluable education... an education which instills a passion for learning that permeates all aspects of the school, way beyond the Garden and Kitchen.
King kids know they're lucky to have the Schoolyard - I see them taking great pride in knowing where food comes from, and how to grow and cook nourishing food for themselves. I dream of these King kids becoming parents a generation from now, and the joy and knowledge they will be able to share with their own families - the healthful meals they will cook with their own children.
When my amazing friend Phyllis asked if I'd be interested in teaching a class with her at the Edible Schoolyard to benefit our Berkeley Public Libraries, I immediately said "YES!" On Saturday, we had a blast cooking with 11 adorable kids and their moms, dads, and even a few grandmothers. Phyllis, a pastry master, taught everyone to make sumptuous savory tarts - my oh my were they incredibly good. Then, I worked with the gang on making a deconstructed salad and taught the kids how to whip up a simple vinaigrette in mason jars. Watching all their eager little faces as they shook up salad dressing and ate lettuce like it was candy made my heart swoon. While I always feel lucky to cook with my own kids and their friends, it was totally inspiring for me to cook with this group of kiddos I'd never met. I feel incredibly lucky to have had the tiniest taste of the magic the Edible Schoolyard gets to experience every day. I'm savoring it.
CITRUS, FENNEL, RADISH + PISTACHIO SALAD
For the dressing:
- 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
- generous pinch of good sea salt
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
For the salad:
- 1/2 pound baby arugula, or butter lettuce
- 1 medium fennel bulb
- 6 radishes
- 8-10 kumquats
- 2 oranges: Cara Cara or blood oranges are my favorites here
- 1 cup roasted salted pistachio, shells removed; or 1/3 cup pepitas
- optional: arugula and/or fennel blossoms
The dressing: First, place all ingredients in a lidded jar. Shake vigorously until dressing has emulsified. Dip a leaf of lettuce into the dressing and add more salt, vinegar, or oil to your liking.
The salad: Wash, fully dry and place your salad greens into a large bowl. (Keep in mind that fully dried leaves will be key to your dressing adhering nicely to the greens later.) Trim and thinly slice fennel bulb and radishes. Slice kumquats thin, leaving skins on. Remove any seeds.
Supreme oranges. (See video at the end of this post.)
Place fennel, radishes, kumquats, orange slices, and pistachios (or pepitas) into individual bowls.
When all of your salad components are prepped, and you’re ready to eat, lightly dress your greens. (Go ahead and use your hands to toss the salad - it's the best way to get a beautiful even coating of dressing on all the leaves.) Place bowls of chopped goodies on the table and let everyone make the salad they desire. Pass around small pitcher of extra dressing in case anyone wants to add another drizzle to his/her plate.
I decided to make a little video for you guys ( my first ever!) showing the simple way to supreme an orange. If you struggle to slice clean segments of citrus and are looking for a little help, I hope this video makes your life easier....