24 Aug Hungry Harvesters
Time to feed workers who feed us
One of my fondest family farm memories is riding home in the back of the grain truck many years ago for the last load of the night. Lounging atop 500 bushels of newly harvested wheat, I remember my hands sifting through the smooth kernels as I breathed in the smell of the ripe wheat in the pure, clean air out in the middle of nowhere.
The bright gold harvest moon hanging in the sky illuminated the checkerboard pattern created by cultivating one field this year, resting the adjacent field until the next, which creates an amazing tapestry of gold and black quilt squares stretching across the countryside.
And so, I completely understand how excited our daughters get when August rolls around, the wheat turns golden, and their Papa and Uncle Tyler get ready to harvest the wheat, hoping for hot, dry temperatures to hold long enough to get the crop in.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year on the farm in the eyes of our young Madison and Mackenzie, who are eager to ride in the trucks, the grain cart and the combine. And it’s also the busiest time of the year with everyone else scrambling to do his part in helping harvest run smoothly and without a hitch.
As for my mom, she’s on duty in the kitchen whipping up gourmet goodies from dawn ’til dusk, with little downtime in between. It’s nonstop — planning meals, preparing food, packing up and serving the picnics in the field — only to load it all up, clean up and start over again on the next meal. Whew!
Everyone deserves a break, and so the girls and I decided we could make lunch for the harvest crew and give my mom a well-deserved reprieve last week.
The long days and hard work of harvest call for something hot and hearty, with bread and dessert to boot. We whipped up an all-in-one pasta dish, some pesto cheese bread and Nutter Butter bars, especially for my dad who loves peanut butter cookies.
With thanks to all the farmers who grow and harvest the food we enjoy, I give you this week’s Special of the Day: A Hot and Hearty Lunch for Hungry Harvesters. Enjoy.
» 16-ounce package bowtie pasta
» 1 tbsp. olive oil
» 1 tbsp. butter
» 2 cloves garlic, minced
» 2 tbsp. flour
» 2 cups heavy cream
» 2 cups chicken stock
» ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained and cut into small strips
» 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
» 1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed, cut into bite-size pieces
» ½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
BOWTIES WITH CHICKEN, SUN-DRIED TOMATOES AND BASIL
Cook pasta according to package directions.
Drain in colander.
Brush bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with olive oil and pour cooked pasta in a pan.
In a large cooking pot over medium heat, melt butter and cook garlic until softened.
Add flour and stir to combine.
Whisk in cream until smooth, then stir occasionally, bringing sauce to a simmer.
Add chicken stock and whisk until smooth and slightly thickened.
Cover with foil until ready to bake and serve.
Uncover and bake in preheated 350° oven for 25 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and pasta is hot.
Sprinkle fresh basil, additional grated parmesan and freshly ground pepper on top and serve.
PESTO CHEESE BREAD
» 2 loaves asiago cheese bread (Albertsons bakery)» 1 cup mayonnaise » 3 tbsp. prepared pesto » ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
Cut loaves of bread in half horizontally.
Combine mayonnaise, pesto and cheese in small bowl.
Spread pesto cheese spread atop cut sides of bread, then put tops and bottoms back together.
Wrap loaves tightly in foil and refrigerate until ready to bake.
Bake in 350° oven for 10-15 minutes until warmed.
Cut into slices and serve. Makes two loaves.
NUTTER BUTTER BARS
» ½ cup butter» 1 cup brown sugar » 2 eggs » 1 tbsp. vanilla » 2 cups flour » 1 tsp. baking powder » ½ tsp. salt » 1 cup creamy peanut butter
Preheat oven to 350°.Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. In a medium pan over medium heat, melt butter.
Add brown sugar and stir to combine.
Remove from heat.
Stir in eggs and vanilla until incorporated, then stir in dry ingredients.
Stir in peanut butter and mix until combined.
Spread batter into prepared pan with rubber spatula and smooth top.
Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until set. Let cool completely.
Make the topping.
CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER TOPPING
» 4 ounces cream cheese, softened» ¼ cup creamy peanut butter » ½ cup powdered sugar » 1 tbsp. vanilla » ¼ cup heavy cream
Using electric mixer, beat all filling ingredients until fluffy.
Refrigerate until ready to top bars.
When bars are completely cool, spread, or pipe, topping over them.
Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
Cut into bars and serve.
Sydne George is a food journalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.