Inside a greenhouse in Fort Mill, SC, a small group takes a tour and learns about micro greens. The greenhouse is one of five on a hydroponic farm of two acres. The fruits and vegetables are grown that way so the farmer doesn’t have to use herbicides or pesticides to keep weeds and harmful insects from ruining the crops.
The tour lasts about an hour and teaches the guests about what is grown there, farm operations and what they taste like. The focus today is micro greens. “Even as tiny as they are, they are a more intense flavor of whatever they are. So more intense basil. More intense cilantro.” Heidi Billotto, host of the tour.
The tour is all a part of a three hour cooking class that Heidi teaches. Heidi started her cooking classes in Charlotte in 1982 and now every Saturday this spring and summer she does them on a farm. She works with six different local farms. This one is Tega Hills Farms in Fort Mill, SC.
It’s farm to fork in action. You literally can see where your food comes from and then cook and eat it. Heidi spends time explaining the flavors of the dishes, where they come from and students get to taste everything right on the spot. She introduces new products and shows students how to use the best, freshest and most affordable ingredients, all while supporting the local farmer.
“I always teach a lot of technique.” Heidi says she wants everyone to learn the techniques and apply them at their homes.
It’s a hands-on class with a beautiful farm background.
You can learn about Heidi’s classes by subscribing to her newsletter. Find her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/HLBillotto
Mother's Day Local Farm Salad with Edible Flowers
Recipe from Charlotte Culinary Expert Heidi Billotto
1/3 cup Koronieki extra virgin olive oil from Pour Olive
5 Tbsp. Pour Olive Grapefruit-infused balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. local Wildflower Cloister Honey
Coarse pink sea salt and Heidi’s Hot pepper blend from the Savory Spice Shop Southend
24 stalks of local asparagus from New Town Farms
2 cups shelled local certified organic fava beans from Windcrest Farms
1 cup New Town Farms white turnips, quartered
2 bunches local greens from Tega Hill Farms,
1 cup Bosky Acres crumbled soft fresh goat cheese
1 cup halved pitted Kalamata olives
4 Local Chester Farms eggs
Edible nasturtiums from Tega Hills Farm
Steam or grill asparagus 2-3 minutes on each side. If you are not serving them immediately, plunge them into cold water to stop the cooking process and keep the spring green color. Cook lima or fava beans in boiling salted water until just tender, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile sauté the turnips in olive oil or butter just to brown slightly and warm.
For ease of serving, all of these vegetables may be prepared in advance.
Arrange a bed of Tega Hills Farms lettuce on individual salad plates, top with grilled asparagus and the turnip and fava bean mix.
Dot with the goat cheese
Prepare dressing by combining sherry vinegar with herbs and honey. Whisk in olive oil. Drizzle dressing over the vegetables and salad greens. Season salad with salt and pepper. Finish with a fried or poached over easy egg on top. Garnish with olives and the edible nasturtiums