Go Mode + RECIPE: Spring Harvest Grain Salad

I always do this.  I always think that May is our busiest month and I burn my candle at both ends all month long and then when June hits, I’m (not) surprisingly very tired. I tell myself it’s June and I can let off the gas a bit so I make time to rest and I schedule some friend dates and force my husband to get the heck out of the fields for a full day only to realize June is no less busy than May and I need to get back into go mode.

Go mode is hard. It is beautiful and bountiful and sun-filled and thrilling, but it is not where life happens. It is non-stop. It is hard on our bodies, hard on our spirit, hard on our marriage.

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Thank the lord go mode is relatively short-lived. Not as short-lived as the one-month I always think it is, but short-lived in the grand scheme of a very beautiful, abundant, dreamy life.

So we’re here in June and we’re still weeding like mad and transplanting the last crops (which will sound much more daunting when I tell you that these last crops take up whole fields as opposed to whole beds), but we have infinitely less time to do it because we’re also harvesting which is not sad at all because everything is beautiful and perfect but is also very time-consuming. Our CSA began today which is filling my heart with boundless amounts of joy, but still, that means I’m spending more time in a car delivering boxes instead of tending to my crops.


It’s as much of a whirlwind as it sounds like but we’re trying to find spaciousness inside the madness and be grateful for all we have because this push, this rush, this pain is what we dream of all winter long. It’s soul satisfying and nurturing in a way I can’t even begin to put into words. So despite the fact that I’m constantly fighting to keep my eyelids open, I’m happy and full (in both heart and belly) and cooking pretty much every waking hour I’m not at the farm or my off-farm gig. The inspiration for new recipes is limitless, but also, (this should come as no surprise), we’re always hungry.


Luckily, in my sixth year of production, I’m finally realizing what it takes to make vegetables sing: not much at all. The recipe below is simple to celebrate that fact. It’s essentially a big bowl of grains with a mixture of every vegetable we’ve got and a delicate dressing so as to not overpower the flavors of our fields. Steamed asparagus meets sweet spinach, spicy arugula and crunchy green onions. Stalks of green garlic round out the subtly complex flavors. Shitakes and avocado bring protein and heft (and so much flavor). I’ve been eating this for days on end and don’t expect to stop any time soon. I suggest you do the same.

All my spastic, clumsy, radiant love,

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I fell in love with grain salads last summer thanks to a beautiful Bon Appetit recipe that featured loads of herbs, steamed veggies, raw veggies and a tangy, sweet, salty dressing. I had never had such a variety of textures and flavors in one bowl of food. I’ve been experimenting with those elements every since. Since there aren’t herbs in your box this week I used arugula and spinach as the “herbs”. You could easily add a whole lot more than I used here so make as instructed, taste and then add more greens if you desire. 

Serves 4-8 depending on whether it’s a meal or a side
Takes 30 minutes

1 cup quinoa
1-1/4 cup beef broth
1/3 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces (spears halved if larger)
2 tablespoons butter
6 ounces shitakes, sliced
2 green garlic stalks, white and pale green portions only, minced
1/2 cup (or more) arugula
1 cup (or more) spinach
3-4 scallions, ends trimmed, sliced
1 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari (or soy sauce)
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or honey)
1-3 avocados, optional

  1. This first step is my fool-proof method for making quinoa (learned from I am a Food Blog). If you have your own tried and true method, feel free to do that instead and ignore this first step. Rinse your quinoa is a fine-mesh strainer. Add to a medium saucepan and toast over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until fragrant but way before it begins to burn. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Once the timer goes off. Turn off the heat but leave the pan on the burner and leave the cover on for 5 minutes more.
  2. Meanwhile, steam your asparagus for 5 minutes until just tender (but still crisp). I don’t have a steamer so I put a metal colander with handles in a stock pot and cover it to get that steamed effect.
  3. Then in that same stock pot (if you used one), drain the asparagus water and melt butter over medium heat. Add shitakes and green garlic. Saute for 7 minutes until mushrooms begin to release their juices and are cooked but not too soft.
  4. Combine your quinoa, asparagus, mushrooms, and green garlic together in a large bowl.
  5. Cut your greens into a delicate chiffonade (roll a stack of leaves and slice them thinly; then roughly chop the thin strands of greens) and add them to your bowl with the scallions.
  6. In a small bowl combine oils, vinegar, tamari and maple syrup. Whisk until smooth. Pour over salad and stir to combine. Serve at this temperature or cold with avocado slices or cubes on top.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Hi Leek/Lauren –

    I’m Jean from Madison, some call me Jeanbean. I’d like to help you with your Wednesday CSA deliveries if you think it will help. Every other week, say. No payment. I am just a retired 57-year old medium-fit gal – who has a daughter working on a CSA farm in Washington – and I would like to channel assistance to you every other week or so for a few hours.

    I have a 2005 Toyota Matrix that may not be large or refrigeratable enough to haul boxes but I will if you think so. Or I could meet you somewhere like Verona and ride along with you to help you unload. Maybe you have a different idea for how I can help. Let me know what you think.

    Jean 608.658.9190

    On Thu, Jun 7, 2018 at 6:58 AM The Leek & The Carrot wrote:

    > Leek posted: “I always do this. I always think that May is our busiest > month and I burn my candle at both ends all month long and then when June > hits, I’m (not) surprisingly very tired. I tell myself it’s June, I’m tired > and I can let off the gas a bit so I make time ” >


    1. Leek says:

      Jean! That is so generous. I think with the number of boxes we have it’d be really hard to pull off but so appreciate the offer, support and kind words. If you want to come out to the farm and/or volunteer in another way, let’s talk! Send me an email at raleighshillsidefarm@gmail.com


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