This past weekend, we went north to Petaluma for a daylong visit to Tara Firma Farms. Thanks to a few hardworking folks, we got to see the farm up close and learn a few things about sustainable agriculture. It’s been a few years now since I began to fully understand the importance of responsible farming practices and I am always inspired to see it REALLY happening – and so close to home. We enjoyed a walk through the fields with farm co-owner, Craig Smith, visiting with the pasture-raised piglets and chicks. We also took a look at the farm’s CSA Box staging area, getting the inside skinny on how they feed nearly 1,000 local families.
And the day just kept getting better. After the farm tour, we were joined by Sean Baker, a well-known farm-to-table chef and co-owner of Berkeley-based restaurant Gather. He demonstrated how the day’s lunch was to be prepared. The menu: beef tongue with caramelized carrots and quinoa. I have to say, the tongue was a bit of a stretch for me. Not something I usually opt for but it was amazing. Really. I went back for seconds in the end.
We all ended up having a wonderful day with some unbelievable food – and in such a beautiful place. And although I will never be able to quite match the flavor that Sean was able to bring out in those carrots, I certainly have had fun these last couple days trying. It also gives me an great excuse to make my way over to Gather sometime real soon.
1 pound small carrots
1 tablespoon butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup stock
5-6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 ½ cups red quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
3 tablespoons lemon juice
freshly ground pepper
- Add the quinoa to 3 cups of salted water. Bring to a boil before lowering the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Drain out any remaining water and allow the quinoa to sit for another 15 minutes or so.
- In the meantime, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook until they begin to soften and become fragrant, about 5 mins. Stir in the fennel, cumin & cayenne, cook for another 3 minutes. Stir in the quinoa, another tablespoon on olive oil and the lemon juice. Season with salt & pepper and set aside, covered to stay warm.
- Heat the butter and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and toss until they are well-coated. Using tongs, spread them out evenly in the pan so that all the carrots are touching the surface. Allow them to cook without stirring for 5 minutes or until they start brown. Turn them over as best you can and again let them cook for another few minutes without stirring.
- Once the carrots start to soften, add the broth and cover quickly. Continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes. Stir in the parsley, scraping up the browned carrot bits on the bottom of the skillet.
- Serve over the quinoa.