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Introducing Chef Katy Aker's Farm Share Inspired Recipes

Posted on August 15th, 2022 by Conrad Cable

I am so excited about this week's newsletter! I introduced Chef Katy last week, and this week you will get to know her a little more, and have a chance to be inspired by her farm fresh recipes for the farm shares this week!

Chef Katy Aker's Farm Recipes

Born in Monroe, Chef Katy Aker has been cooking professionally for over 20 years, and obsessing over the culinary arts since she was a child.
"Other kids were watching Saturday morning cartoons, I was watching Great Chef's of the World on PBS. It did something to me, the reverence those chefs showed for the craft, the unusual ingredients and all the cool tools and techniques, I was hooked."
Aker has lived all over the US but still considers herself a "dual citizen" having lived throughout the State of Texas over her life and pulling heavily from the culture and cuisine of the Lonestar state. 
"I really got the grand tour growing up. We moved just enough that I got to truly experience the cultures around me, and then it was on to the next place."
The techniques and flavor profiles she's acquired tell a tale of that journey. You would be hard pressed to find someone who will share those gifts with you so enthusiastically. Katy not only loves her craft, but loves to encourage others to learn about the local landscape, roots & traditions.
Inspired by the Bartlett pears in this week's shares:
"Summer Salad with Crunchy Dressed Pears"
Serves 4
4 handfuls of tender greens such as spring mix 
(For this preparation I used spring mix with the addition of 1 cup of torn arugula, basil, and microgreens to add depth and texture)
2 Bartlett pears
Peeled & thinly sliced 
(Avoiding the woody center)
1 large Nectarine
Pit removed & sectioned in 8 parts 
2oz Feta
(Preferably in brine)
(Subs-goat cheese/fresh mozzarella)
1 small seedless cucumber
Thinly sliced
1/4 Medium red onion
Thinly sliced 
1 Large lemon 
Juice & Zest
1/4 c Extra Virgin Olive Oil
(Preferably a rich/bold flavor)
+ More to taste 
1 bunch basil or mint 
Torn as garnish 
1tsp Kosher salt 
1tsp Fresh cracked black pepper 
In a large bowl pour the olive oil, lemon juice + zest & sliced pears. 
Gently toss to coat, ( it's important to note that this will act as the dressing for the salad you want the pear to be covered but not swimming, as not to overdress)
Lightly sprinkle pears with salt & pepper, add nectarines cucumber & red onion, gently toss.
Adjust seasoning as needed & begin to  incorporate the greens, 
half at first, making sure to fully dress the greens and then adding the remainder.
Garnish with crumbled feta & torn mint/basil and serve right away. 
Y'all, these dressed pears may be the perfect summer salad addition! The Bartlett pear really shines as it's juicy, crunchy self. The addition of a high quality olive oil + lemon dressing enhances the slightly sweet flavor, and turns the humble green pear into a refreshing base for a variety of dishes. 
Perfect for BBQ's and buffets, this epic salad is an assembly job of gorgeous, yet simple ingredients. Serve with chicken, steak or salmon from the grill for an impressive summer spread that won't heat up the house!
Individual components of the dish may be prepped ahead of time and stored by themselves but it's not advised to prep the dish in advance as the tender greens will wilt. 
Remember that greens like arugula are versatile. Chef Katy added some to a homemade pizza. It's important to add it once the pizza is taken out of the oven, or in the last few minutes of baking. It's easy to overcook. I love garnishing our meals with arugula and fresh basil! Stay tuned next week for a summer cocktail inspired by some of our small-batch jams!
Next Week
Unfortunate news folks-I spoke with Farmer Louis at Thompson's Produce, and he said that next week might be the last week for consistent peaches. Some of the late season varieties were adversely affected by low rainfall and high summer temps. He showed me were the tops of the trees have been sun-burned and the low-quality of fruit left in the understories. It really does break your heart. He has over 22 varieties of peaches, so I'm hoping that some of those later varieties will produce. I will for sure still ask each week, and when I can get them, they will be in the shares. 
We are between crops of arugula, so we will not offer any next week. There will be plenty of shoots, plus the collard greens. The beans and peas are here to stay! 
Farm Update
I'm really hoping that we have seen the hottest temperatures of the summer thus far. Last week's rain was essential for lots of our new plantings. This week we are busy getting lots of soil prepared for planting. I'm counting on the rain and cooler weather next week to sow some vital fall plantings. It's been a tough summer. So many plantings have failed, and so many of our plans have been disrupted, that the past week's successes have been most welcome. One of the hardest parts of farming is having to always plan ahead, yet be flexible enough to adapt to those plans changing. They always do. This mental stress, combined with the toll of tough physical work, can make it hard to keep myself at the same high-energy level this time of year as in the middle of winter. I do get a great lift in spirits when I make deliveries and get feedback from the shares. It's a great reminder of the importance and meaning of our work to farm share members. 
I hope you all will be inspired by the new recipe section of the Farm Happenings! A huge shoutout to Chef Katy for taking the time to be so creative with our fresh ingredients! Y'all let us know through the surveys just how important recipes are for you. Cooking with whole ingredients can be hard! Factor in life, school starting back up, plus work and cooking from scratch can be intimidating. I hope through these recipes you can create a wonderful meal that is enjoyed by the whole family! Thank you for supporting our farm!