Gardening is playing Hooky

Because I write our Nichols Garden Nursery catalog in the fall, I have a couple months when I’m mostly in front of my computer and my own garden is sorely neglected. It seems every year, I finish catalog and the rains begin. This year it was a deluge which I partially escaped by going to California to give a talk on container and small space edible gardening. This Sunday and Monday have been radiant and clear and I’ve played in the garden. Time to clear the pumpkins from the front yard and put up a wreath. I went for a walk with a friend Sunday and everyone was out, raking their yards, putting up decorations, and just outside having a jolly time. My own yard is looking spruced up, there’s more to do and I really need to plant tulips and a few pots stuffed with bulbs make good gifts. TIP: If you’re buying bulbs late in the season, it’s often better to buy ones in mesh bags than in the bin. By now the bulbs in bins tend to get mixed up a bit and you may not want a couple yellow tulips with your Apricot Beauties.

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Yacon Waldorf Salad

Yacon Waldorf Salad on Radicchio leavesMy friend Joyce and I have been sharing birthday dinners for nearly twenty years. This year, it was my turn to prepare dinner for six, so I seized upon this as an opportunity to prepare not one but two yacon based dishes for for our meal. This salad really shines with the yacon and apple combination.

Waldorf salad was first served at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York in 1896. It was a very simple combination of mayonnaise, apples and celery and became instantly popular. This recipe is adapted from one that appeared in Bon Appetit Magazine. Yacon is a delightful combination with the traditional apples. Served in a nest of radicchio or bibb lettuce it makes an attractive first course.
Serves 6-8
1 # yacon, peeled and diced
3 crisp juicy apples, diced and not peeled
1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ cup lowfat mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sour cream (non-fat a good choice)
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
1 cup diced celery
1 ½ cups chopped radishes (about 18)
1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 cup lightly toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
one head radicchio or bibb lettuce

Combine yacon and apples with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Stir in mayonnaise, sour cream and blue cheese. Add celery, chopped radishes and cranberries. Radishes are quickly chopped in the food processor. If serving immediately add nuts and parsley. If not set aside in refrigerator and add just before serving. Serve in a dish or spoon into two nested lettuce or radicchio leaves.