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Garden offers unexpected gifts that can be used in the kitchen


Home-grown vegetables, fruits and herbs remain one of life's true pleasures.

Sylvia Thompson, a California-based garden writer, has spent more than seven years working on "The Kitchen Garden Cookbook" and its companion book "The Kitchen Garden" (Bantam, $27.95 each).

Ms. Thompson, who lives on a mountain in Idyllwild in Southern California, uses everything edible, from the wrapper leaves of large cabbages, cauliflower and brussels sprouts to the bolted flowers of broccoli and the tender shoots of peas.

The following pair of recipes are printed as they appear in the book.

Linguine With Flowering Broccoli

Serves 3 to 4

3 to 4 cups tender broccoli blossoms and flower tips cut in 1-inch lengths, or very slender broccoli florets; include some thin ribbons of tender leaves

salt to taste

1/2 pound linguine

about 2 tablespoons olive, walnut or hazelnut oil

3 walnut size shallots, finely chopped

2 medium-large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2 -inch dice

juice of 1 lemon

freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

handful of toasted pine nuts

Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in blossoms and ribbons of leaves and boil uncovered until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Keep water boiling while you scoop out broccoli with a strainer and put it into a heated serving bowl. Cover loosely and keep warm. Add linguine to boiling pot. Stir, cover pot until water returns to boil, then uncover and boil until tender but slightly chewy -- start testing after about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in a large heavy skillet. Saute shallots over medium-high heat until softened, stirring frequently -- about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and lemon juice and stir until the tomatoes are warmed through. Stir in the broccoli and, when it's warm, remove the skillet from the heat -- by which time the pasta should be ready. Add pepper, then taste for seasoning.

Drain linguine through a colander into your serving bowl so the BTC water heats the bowl. Dump out water, shake the bowl dry, turn in the pasta, then top with the sauce. Drizzle with oil to moisten, sprinkle with cheese and finish with pine nuts. Drink a golden Italian wine and pass Kalamata olives.

Per serving: calories, 420; fat, 16 g; cholesterol, 10 mg; sodium, 260 mg; carbohydrates, 55 g; protein, 16 g.

Hot, Sour and Sweet Napa Cabbage

Serves 6

2 tablespoons rice or cider vinegar

1/2 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon mild oil

1/2 to 1 small dried or fresh hot red chili, seeds removed, crumbled or thinly sliced, or to taste

A silver dollar-size slice of fresh ginger, chopped

12 cups 1/2 -inch shredded Napa cabbage, about 1 3/4 pounds

1/4 cup chicken broth, vegetable stock or water

salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

chopped cilantro

Blend the vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch and sugar in a small bowl.

Heat a large wok or heavy skillet over high heat. When it is smoking hot, swirl in the oil, then stir in the chili and ginger. Almost at once, add the cabbage and stir-fry for 45 to 60 seconds, until it wilts slightly. Add the broth and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the vinegar mixture and stir until the cornstarch thickens. Add salt and pepper, then taste for seasoning.

Serve at once as a side dish, sprinkled with cilantro, with rice and any simple fish, poultry or meat.

Per serving: calories, 75; fat, 3 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 140 mg; carbohydrates, 12 g; protein, 2 g.

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