There hasn’t been much to harvest in the school gardens yet this spring (though things are starting to grow faster and faster in the last week or so with the heat we’ve been having), but we’ve still made a bit of food with some classes. A few classes have made Stone Soup, which is always fun. Some root veggies have also made their appearances in some classes.
With the spring being fairly dry and cool (hard to believe, as this week has been hot hot hot!), we didn’t yet have any salad greens growing when a Withrow teacher wanted to make some salad with her class. One of the things I really hope kids learn from garden programming is the seasonality of our food, and how our food is dependent on weather, among many other factors. I didn’t want to buy imported salad greens, so I started thinking of what local produce is available at the beginning of May. Well the farmers I work for (Wooler Dale Farm), still have lots of delicious root vegetables stored from the fall. I picked up a bunch of them from market one weekend, and took them to this Senior Kindergarten class. Students peeled and grated some beets, multi-coloured carrots, daikon radishes, watermelon radishes, and cut up some cabbage with scissors. We also harvested some chives from the school garden, and added a very simple oil and apple cider vinegar dressing. 5 year olds and root veggie salad, you ask? Well, the only complaint I heard was “We were only allowed to have 4 servings!”
The success of this salad inspired another cooking session with the grade 4/5 class at Blake. Instead of just making a salad, I thought the older students would enjoy making some rice paper wraps. We used the same ingredients as above, and then wrapped them in rice paper and added some rice noodles too. These wraps were so popular that many kids asked for the recipe. Since I was going to write that up anyway for the students to take home, I figured I’d write a little post about it here too. Ok, it wasn’t really a recipe per se, but here’s some inspiration at least.
Rice paper vegetable wraps
This is what we used when we did this with the grade 4/5 class, since it’s what I had available. But use any vegetables or other ingredients you’d like.
- beetroot (red/purple and candy-stripe varieties)
- carrots (orange, yellow and orange varieties)
- radishes (daikon, watermelon and pink)
- herbs (we used chives and oregano from the garden)
- rice paper
- rice noodles
- rice vinegar
- sesame oil
- Boil some water.
- Put rice noodles in a heat-safe bowl or pot. Cover with boiling water and let sit.
- Wash, peel and grate or cut vegetables.
- Mix the dressing. We used equal parts rice vinegar and sesame oil.
- Put some hot/warm water in another heat-safe bowl or put. Put in one or two sheets of rice paper until soft. Remove one sheet at a time and put it on a plate or cutting board.
- Place vegetables, dressing and noodles in the middle of the rice paper. Fold the rice paper around the vegetables.
- Eat and enjoy!
Rice paper wraps and rice noodles are inexpensive and available at most grocery stores (I bought them in Toronto’s East Chinatown, but they’re available at No Frills, Food Basics…). You can easily use whatever vegetables you have at home that need to be used up. Each family member can make their own wraps so they can choose their favourite vegetables (though you can have “rules” like every wrap has to include at least 2 different vegetables, or encouraging kids to have as many colours in their wraps as possible).
They were quite the hit among the students. As one of the girls said “These are great for three reasons: they’re cheap, they’re delicious and they’re healthy!”
Happy growing (and eating)!