We had a raspberry patch growing up that stretched down the fenceline in our backyard. My siblings and I would spend a good amount of our summers wedged between the barbed wire cattle fence and the berry bushes, grazing. Though we often were given chores that included picking green beans or weeding in the garden, picking raspberries never made the list. We spent so much time picking and eating each red jewel one by one that I can recall only once or twice having a bowl of berries big enough to make their way into the house. Even then, there were usually no more than a small handful reserved for my dad, who didn’t have time to stand around in the backyard and eat berries all day.
If we were lucky enough to have an abundance of berries that made their way inside, they were eaten for breakfast, simply, swimming in a bowl of milk.
These past few years, I have avoided purchasing raspberries, not because I don’t love them, but because I have a tough time justifying shelling out so much for a small punnet that I could have picked and gobbled by the red-stained-handful in a matter of minutes. I always tell myself that as soon as William and I live in a place that is ours, berries will be the first green thing we put into the ground.
I tend to spend a lot of time waiting though, in many areas of my life, and I’ve finally come to the realization that what I sometimes consider to be patience is actually avoidance. Waiting is not always the answer. If not now, when?
Even though we are not yet in a place to plant our own berries, the time to eat them is now, when they’re fresh, in season, and local. By the handful. In salads. Because raspberries can do more than liven up sweet things; more too than liven up a bowl of milk.
Coconut-Mint Raspberry Panzanella, serves 3-4 This salad was inspired by all the ingredients I had on hand, and when allowed to sit out at room temperature for an hour or so before eating, the raspberries ooze their flavor into the dressing and bread. Of the bread, you can use any hearty day-old loaf. I have been making variations of loaves from Jennifer Katzinger’s Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread. All the recipes I’ve tried are splendid. The lettuce in this is a mix of gentle leaves, though if you’re in the mood for something heartier, any type of mild-flavored green should do the trick. 2-3 cups cubed hearty bread 1 Tbs. + 1 tsp. coconut oil, divided 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans 1 medium onion, chopped 1-2 cloves garlic 2-3 green onions, chopped 3-4 cups lettuce 1 cup raspberries 1/4-1/2 cup sprouts Dressing: ~ 1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped 3 Tbs. orange juice 2 Tbs. rice vinegar 2 Tbs. coconut oil salt and pepper, to taste Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.On on a baking pan, toss the cubed bread with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Once all of the bread is coated, bake for 10-15 minutes or until bread pieces are deep golden brown. Remove from the pan into a large serving bowl.In the same pan used for the bread cubes, toss the onion and whole garlic cloves. Toss them with the remaining teaspoon of oil and some more salt and pepper. Roast for 10-20 minutes or until the onions are golden and getting tender. Remove from the oven, remove the garlic cloves from its skin, and mash. Toss the onions and garlic over the bread cubes. At the same time add in the garbanzo beans.
While the onions are roasting/cooling, make the dressing: Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until the mint is broken into a puree and it becomes a creamy, coconutty mixture. Taste it for seasoning, and adjust if necessary.
In the serving bowl, gently toss in the lettuce, raspberries, and green onions. Spoon the dressing on top and stop when it has as much as you desire (you might have a bit left over). Toss everything together to combine and season to taste with more salt and pepper.