The yucca are blooming

We have had a whirlwind of changeable weather. After the rains that draped our hills in green cloaks, the heat bore down making record temperatures. The last week has been rainy and cool. An abundance of wildflowers are blooming including our many yuccas. The hillside is dotted with their tall spires of creamy-white blossom. The deer and rabbits feast on these delectable petals and so do we.

We eat a lot of salad, my favorite food. My concoctions take many forms and when once a year the yucca bloom I include the petals. I was inspired to add them to a NYTimes recipe for an arugula and roasted asparagus salad. The once-a-year flowers are crisp and slightly bitter.

I roast asparagus in my toaster oven, a quick, simple way to achieve great flavor. Snap off the tough bottom part of the asparagus stalks and arrange on the oven pan on a piece of parchment. Sprinkle with olive oil and roll the stalks in the oil. Add salt and pepper. Put into cold toaster oven and roast at 400° for 3-5 minutes until just tender. Cool and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces.

Toss with arugula, cut into bite-sized bits, the petals of 6-8 yucca flowers, and a vinaigrette made with a crushed and minced clove of garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Serve with a crispy fried egg.

During our heat wave, salads were my go-to dish for supper. This watermelon and feta combo tastes great in the heat and is a complement to any grilled meat or fish. With the arugula going wild in my garden, I include it in all my salads. It’s particularly good with the melon and feta – a lovely, bitter counterpoint to the sweet, salty tastes.

Cut watermelon into bite-sized cubes. Add to salad greens and dress with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Top with crumbled feta and a handful of toasted pepitas.

Then our weather changed to cool and rainy. The hills retain their green glow and we wear socks and long pants. I thought of cold weather ingredients and made a farro and celery salad.

Have ready a bowl with three stalks of celery sliced thin, a crushed and minced clove of garlic, the juice of half a lemon and some grated zest, several tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Add hot chile flakes to taste. Cook a cup of farro until tender. Pour the drained, hot farro over the celery and dressing and leave to cool.

To make the dish more summer-like I added the first snow peas from the garden, lightly cooked, a few slivered mint leaves and fresh dill. We had leftover grilled salmon flaked on top. Toasted sourdough to accompany.

Who knows what the weather will be but I am thankful for the rain that helps my usually dry, struggling garden thrive.

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