Walking through the hydroponic greenhouse at Scissortail Farms surrounded by hundreds of towers of the freshest greens and herbs is a futuristic experience.
The lettuce, kale, chard, basil, sorrel, chives — about 30 different varieties of vegetative plants — grow thick and lush.
It’s a forest of green plants peeking out from all sides of large cylindrical white towers. Every so often, water pumps through towers, trickling down inside, sounding like a gentle waterfall.
The edible plants are especially tender because they aren’t exposed to the elements, explained co-founder Rob Walenta.
And the taste is fresh and full because the produce hasn’t been sitting on a truck for days while being transported to a store near you.
It’s no wonder Scissortail Farms, 8450 W. 51st St., is fast becoming a favorite source of many of Tulsa’s top chefs.
The leafy greens and herbs are grown with nutrient-infused water and without soil. The method allows Scissortail to produce fresh greens daily without use of bio solids, pesticides or other chemicals, another perk for the chefs.
“It’s been great working so close with the chefs and getting their feedback so we can adapt how we grow,” Walenta said.
Some of the restaurants that have bought from Scissortail Farms include Juniper, Tallgrass Prairie Table, Lambrusco’z and Boston Deli Grill & Market, he said.
Home cooks can also find Scissortail Farms produce at Reasor’s.
Walenta and co-founder John Sulton have been running Scissortail Farms out of a 26,000-square-foot greenhouse in west Tulsa for nearly a year.
As interest has grown, they have recently expanded their retail hours and have added monthly tours. The next tour date should be at the end of April, Walenta said.
Within about the next year, they hope to be growing other produce, such as tomatoes and peppers. At this climate-controlled greenhouse, production is year round.
Currently, they are producing about 62,000 plants at a time. Many of the plants grow quite big, such as the kale, heads of lettuce and basil leaves that we saw.
“It just depends on how quickly you harvest them and how long you let them grow,” Walenta explained. “They definitely grow fast this way. The plants have all the nutrients they need, so the only limiting factor is the sunlight.”
Because the greens are so tender, they are perfect for salads, Walenta said. He enjoys eating the kale in a salad or wilting the spinach in with a variety of foods. The basil is also great to have on hand for a Caprese salad, he said.
“Sorrel is also one of my favorites. It’s something you don’t see very often,” Walenta said.
They also like to experiment with the foods they grow, such as growing a mix of two or three varieties of kale together or growing baby Romaine leaves individually, rather than in a head of lettuce as it is commonly seen.
They also adapt to accommodate the chefs, he said.
“We have some chefs who like a standard microgreen mix, then we have some chefs want a little more developed leaf, so we grow it both ways,” Walenta said.
“And some chefs really value the longevity, so we sell some with the roots attached and then we have others who really value the space in their walk-in so they don’t have room for the plant, and that is more of a priority.”
For more information on Scissortail Farms, go to scissortailfarms.com.
Here are some recipes to make with ingredients grown at Scissortail Farms
MUSHROOM AND MICROGREEN OMELET
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1½ ounces white mushrooms, thinly sliced (about ¾ cup)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
¾ cup microgreens
3 large eggs
1. Heat half the butter in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook mushrooms, undisturbed, until they begin to release their liquid, about 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, and stir. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes more. Transfer mushrooms to a small bowl; stir in microgreens.
2. Whisk eggs in a medium bowl until well-combined; season with salt and pepper. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels. Melt remaining butter over medium heat, swirling to coat bottom of pan. Pour eggs into skillet and cook, undisturbed, until edges are set slightly.
3. With a heatproof, flexible spatula, push eggs from edge toward center, tilting pan to let uncooked eggs run underneath, until omelet is just set, 1 to 2 minutes. Place mushroom filling on 1 side of omelet. Using spatula, gently fold other side of omelet over filling. Serve immediately.
— adapted from Martha Stewart
STRAWBERRY, CUCUMBER AND BASIL SALAD
4 cups hulled strawberries, quartered (1 pound)
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl, and toss gently to coat. Cover and chill for 1 hour.
2. Combine cucumbers and juice; toss to coat. Add cucumber mixture, salt and pepper to strawberry mixture; toss gently to combine. Serve immediately.
— adapted from allrecipes
HALIBUT WITH TOMATO AND SORREL SAUCE
¼ cup finely chopped shallots
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup dry white wine
½ cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 ounces mushrooms, chopped
½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
2 medium zucchini, trimmed, cut into matchstick-size strips
4 8-ounces halibut fillets (about 1 inch thick)
½ cup (1 stick) chilled butter, cut into pieces
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sorrel or spinach
1. Combine shallots and vinegar in heavy small saucepan. Boil until most of liquid evaporates, about 4 minutes. Add wine; boil until most of liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Whisk in cream. Set sauce aside.
2. For halibut: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and crushed red pepper. Cook until mushrooms are deep golden brown, stirring frequently, about 12 minutes. Add zucchini and sauté 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Meanwhile, lightly oil baking sheet. Place halibut on sheet and brush with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Bake until fish is opaque in center, about 10 minutes.
4. Bring sauce to simmer. Reduce heat; add butter and whisk just until melted. Remove from heat. Mix in tomatoes and sorrel. Season with salt and pepper.
— adapted from epicurious
Nicole Marshall Middleton 918-581-8459