Zucca means pumpkin in Italian, a crop for which Millstone Farm knows no shortage at peak harvest.
I met Annie in the summer of 2007 when Mamma told me about a new farm around the corner from our family home. Curious, I sprang onto my bike, winding up and down the familiar New England contours to find this anomaly in our forested, suburban town. I cycled into Millstone Farm with eyes ablaze! I had surely arrived at Wilton, CT’s best kept oasis. I gushed at the pastures bound by their wooded edge with majestic horses sputtering at the flies, and the vegetable patch spilling with food. I saw a mobile hen house, just like the one I read about on Joel Salatin’s farm, Polyface.
When I found Annie amongst the seedlings in the greenhouse, one of the first things she said to me was “we grow grass here.” (Good grass is the indicator for healthy soil, which produces healthy food and animals.) Though Annie has been reciting this mantra since the early 70’s (like most food thoughts people are just catching onto) the saying had recently been made famous in Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Which, of course, I had just devoured. From ABC Nightlight: Annie is what you would call a “farmer’s farmer,” the person you hire if you want to turn your farm organic.” That’s just scratching the surface.
Annie hired me that day, the first of two farming seasons I spent under her wing. I picked zucchini until my arms were red with rash from the plants’ tender spines. I coddled lettuce seedlings in the greenhouse and fought a war against tomato blight. I raced about town delivering produce to restaurants and eagerly awaited our CSA families arrival to pick up their shares. I cooed at the piglets and held the sheeps’ hooves when it was time to shear their wool. I was freezing cold, sopping wet and parched with thirst. Farming is f*ing hard! But it’s also whoppingly rewarding.
In all the days I spent with Annie, I never did discover her secret recipe for pickles and other preserved creations. When Bobby and I stopped by Millstone over the past holidays, Annie loaded us up with more bright flavors to enliven our Winter cooking. Among the jars was a Zucca Sauce.
Bobby and I snapped off the cap this week, and dressed spaghetti with a mighty portion. I toasted walnuts to sprinkle on top for a buttery crunch. We took one bite, set down our forks, and exclaimed with joy! Our mouthes were skipping! We finished the pasta and then dug into the jar, slopping up the sauce by the spoonful.
I emailed Annie instantly. “Please!” I begged. “I would love to share recipe this on the blog!” Well eaters, I’ve held you in suspense until this point to let you down with a wheezing sigh. This sauce will go down in Millstone history with Annie Farrell’s name on it. I even scoured the internet for similar recipes and couldn’t find a clue. I can’t even tease you and or spark a recipe challenge with an ingredient list; it was washed away with the dishes!
Well, the good news is that these greens go beautifully with any pasta recipe and take all of 15 minutes to whip up!
- Olive oil - 3 tablespoons
- Garlic - 5 cloves garlic
- Winter greens - 1 bunch winter greens like kale, collards or bok choy
- Sea salt - 1 teaspoon
- Strip the leaves from the stems, cut coarsely and rinse in water.
- Peel the garlic and smash it lightly with the back of a spoon.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- When the olive oil is hot, add the garlic. Saute until the garlic just begins to brown.
- Add the greens and toss in the pan until coated with olive oil.
- Cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat down to medium low. Simmer for about 10 minutes, tossing every 3 minutes or so.
- Add the sea salt at the end and toss again. Simple and ultra-satisfying!