Sardine Pâté

If you’re squeamish in the slightest about sardines—if a high omega 3 content, a healthy dose of vitamin D and a minuscule mercury level don’t persuade you— you could make this sardine pâté, which is milder by far, than eating them straight from the can.

Everyone, if you probe deeply enough, has a sardine story, and they’re not all pretty. Maybe yours is the time you opened a can for your father in law and the oil spurted down his new trousers.  You packed a can in your luggage on a flight and it burst open and soiled your only pair of clean underwear. The pull clip came off and you had to smash the can open with a rock. But there are good tales too and here’s mine. Continue reading “Sardine Pâté”

Spring dandelion greens with mint pesto and tinned anchovies.

Spring dandelion greens with mint pesto and tinned anchovies

 

P1090173

From the array of challenges facing the Denver culinarian, top of the list surely is the availability of fresh food. I have long ago, for example, stopped buying seafood labeled as fresh from my local Whole Foods or any other supermarket. You should see the pale, pallid crap they market here as salmon.

I make an exception, however, come July and August, when the price for fresh wild Alaska salmon drops to an affordable $20 a pound.

Alaska airlines operate a daily bee line from Anchorage to Denver, and I have a man, Bruce, who has a shop, Seafood Landing, in the old Scottish Highlands neighborhood. He flies it in direct every Tuesday. But that’s as I say, only in August.

P1090168

Meanwhile, I am happy when the need for seafood arrives, to settle on the many options for tinned fish, especially if it’s packed in olive oil, my favorites being the mighty Portuguese mackerel, Ortiz’s fat sardines packed in glass jars, smoked wild herring from Bar Harbor, Maine, and lest we forget, the petite yet meaty, too often unsung beauties of the sea — anchovies snuggled in their tins with olive oil slime.

Assorted seafood conserves
Assorted seafood conserves

 

In Denver in April, 95% of the vegetable and fruit offerings at our local market, which has the decidedly unappetizing name of The Vitamin Cottage, come from thousands of miles and almost as many countries away. I have kept chard from my garden, for the purpose of experimentation, for 10 days in the fridge, and it looks about the same as what you get in the grocery store — still edible, it looks OK, but it’s not exactly fresh. I know what I’m saying because I used to work in the wholesale produce business. Think about it: After being plucked from the field and washed and cooled — let’s just say organic lacinato kale — it may lie over night in a field cooler awaiting truck’s arrival to bring it down to LA, where it may just as well sit for 2 days before enduring the 20 hour desert crossing and scaling of the rocky mountains, before arriving truck-lagged to a Denver warehouse where it could be delayed another 2 days, and possibly yet another in the store’s walk-in, before ending up in the produce case forlorn but fluffed and dying to be misted. So, really how fresh can that be?

So what’s to eat that’s super fresh and not truck-lagged in Denver in April that’ll make you think you’re eating like any every day, overtly tattooed San Francisco culinary hipster? Sure there’s asparagus, but it’s not from here, not yet anyway, it’s from Mexico and it usually looks a little dried up; the asparagus in my garden is peaking a mere 3 inches out of the ground just about now. The first things to emerge that look anything like spring around here are mint and dandelion.

P1090161 P1090152

Both are considered to be weeds by an alarming number of eaters, but both are delicious.

To make a mint pesto, just pick, wash and crush a couple of handfuls of mint leaves with a few cloves of garlic in a mortar or a food processor.

P1090162

smash it up real good.

P1090176

Add a handful of nuts. I used roasted peanuts because that’s what was in my fridge, but pine nuts, walnuts or pistachios work just fine.

P1090177

Smash some more—it feels good.

P1090179

 

Stream in a little olive oil and place it in that little container and clean up yer mess.

P1090183

Dandelion greens, as you know grow low to the ground, so make sure to triple wash them, especially if you are a dog owner,

 

P1090144

P1080120

like a cattle dog owner…

Toss with a little lime juice, some of the pesto and a little more olive oil.

P1090199

 

Pry open the anchovies or other tinned fish and place a few filets on the salad. Pour off the remaining liquid into the dog bowl—save it for later—  you can mix it with his kibble and a lightly scrambled egg for a nice meal. Take the salad and sit in a shaded area of your garden, if you are lucky enough to have one— eat and enjoy.[wd_contact_form id=”3″]