Ciabatta Lasagna, Fresh Herbs Medley, Burpee Presentation, Delaware Valley College Farm Market
Gently sweeping back and forth like curtains blowing in a breeze, varying shades of grey moved as cover barely letting the peeks of white clouds move through. Accentuating the cool nip of the first morning ushering in Memorial weekend did not prevent a friendly crowd of area attendees to Saturday’s presentation, Easy Herb Gardens for Beauty and Flavor held at the Delaware Valley College Farm Market in Doylestown.
Burpee Seed Specialist, Chela Kleiber led the Power Point presentation outlining informational and fun herbal lore tales among the world’s oldest cultivated plants along with their broad variety of qualities including unique flavors, medicinal and cosmetic uses as perfumed scents, insect repellent abilities, and positive modern day benefits packing fresh healthy taste attributes to any food dishes using a lighter hand to the old go- to standby, the salt shaker.
Each attendee was treated to a special gift, a small planter choice of small leaf basil, and who can have too much basil planted in their annual garden? Interesting was the unique paler color of green variety where upon a nip of a leaf seemed quite sturdy along with a more dense flavor that would lend well to a variety of summer ingredients and dishes.
You might find fascinating that Burpee sells 19 varieties of basil.
Since I enjoy history very much I can’t help but also be fascinated by that of the company founder, W. Atlee Burpee who’s well to do Philadelphia family descended from the French Canadian Huguenots and at eighteen years of age had already begun the development of what would become the largest and most progressive seed company in America.
The story reflects a strong sense of entrepreneurial spirit toward creating a specialty niche by paying attention to a desired need along with good, strong seeds for successful planting, particularly among newly arrived farmer immigrants throughout the United States.
Pungent, fresh, clean, healthy, and tasty, I don’t tend to neglect my herbs among these valuable traits and flavors that inspire personal and culinary happiness but according to Chela Kleiber, many herbs actually thrive on neglect, especially those of Mediterranean origin.
Chela shared a story of friends that constructed an entire roof garden upon their city home in downtown Philadelphia thinking it would bring a higher value to their home. But as it turned out the family had little time or interest in actual tending. Nevertheless, upon a roof top visit before moving, the single living growth that endured were the neglected pots of herbs that they then gifted to their horticulturist neighbor, Chela, to enjoy as part of her own herb garden collection.
The intoxicating effects among the myriad of herbs inspired me to adapt a recipe from the cookbook, Dr. Oetker Modern German Cooking. The cookbook gifted to me by Petra, mom of one of our team field hockey players, Gina from Germany, was personally delivered upon her visit with a message in our conversation that this was really the ‘new’ German Cooking, the more common style of eating among the German people these days.
Let me just say Petra’s visit came on the heels coinciding with the field hockey tradition of ‘senior day’ where we honored Gina a couple of seasons back with what was dubbed, the ‘Oktoberfest’ and guess what was served? You got it, disproportionate amounts of bulging, gorged sausages of every variety. Lots of German potato salad too, not really German, and plenty of oompah music wrapping up the whole theme. No, this was not my idea, but like the everlastingly good saying in life goes, it is the thought that counts, and the loving intent was stellar.
If there is nothing else to define the basis of some European heritage in my own background it might be my love of bread (ok, potatoes too.)
Though admittedly highly discerning of freshly prepared bread, excellent bread is one that I find among the most pleasurable of life’s satisfactions, especially dipped or topped with any little bit of ingredient, some fresh cheese, juicy, dripping, red tomatoes.
The recipe concept of creating a lasagna style dish using toasted day old ciabatta instead of noodles is one that caught my eye in the German cookbook from Petra, then adding on a combined twist including some lightly sautéed zucchini between the tomatoes, the fresh mozzarella and Parmesan mixed with an infusion of freshly picked herbs, Ciabatta Lasagne Fresh Herbs Medley. Piping hot and all melted throughout, the combined flavors are outrageously good, and yet, with the bread, in some ways a hint of flavor resembling something of a pizza.
The Farm Market at Delaware Valley College is located at 2100 Lower State Road in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Besides an expansive offering of potted herbs and vegetables for planting, the Market hosts a vegetable/garden store, freshly prepared foods through gourmet vendors, and seasonal weekly events including programs, demonstrations, and Friday evening music concerts in conjunction with a local winery. You can receive calendar updates through email subscription, themarketatdelval.com
Having also picked up a couple of heirloom tomato plants at the Delaware Valley College Farm Market over the weekend I look forward to slightly varying this recipe of Modern German Cooking with some new shapes and shades of color in the weeks ahead, besides being a special memory of Gina and Petra, along with plenty of freshly picked, robust and highly scented fresh green herbs.