Tag Archives: pesto

Spring Green

During these times of perceived scarcity, it’s always good to recognize that nature offers up gifts to those who’s eyes are willing to see them.  Our land during Civil War times was a brickyard.  The clay was ideal for profits from this product and bricks were shipped by rail between Detroit and Chicago.  In World War II, the land was turned into an onion farm to help feed the troops.  This is where our story begins today, as the land is covered with wild chives by the thousands waiting for someone to notice them.  I dry them in our food dehydrator to use in the winter, but the real treat is when they are turned into pesto.  Now there are as many pesto recipes as there are cooks, but isn’t it wonderful when you have something randomly growing that can be used?  I think so.

This morning I put a teaspoon in my scrambled eggs; whipped it into the eggs with a little half and half and it was delicious.  The options for using wild chive pesto are only as limited as our imaginations.  Try using it as a base for a vinaigrette, or thinning it with additional olive oil, vinegar and mustard then tossing it with hot red-skinned potatoes for a French take on warm potato salad.  Don’t be afraid to add other herbs to it like dill or parsley; it makes a good dip when mixed with sour cream or Greek yogurt.  Swirl it into a brothy soup for a touch of spring.  I think you’re getting the idea.

WILD CHIVE PESTO

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups cleaned, lightly packed wild chives, cut into manageable lengths with scissors
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (or walnuts or pistachios)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup olive oil

 

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INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. You will need 3-4 4 ounce canning jars ready, as these are perfect size for freezing this pesto.  Then with your food processor running, drop your garlic cloves in one at a time until they are minced and clinging to the sides of the bowl.
  2. Open up your food processor and place your 4 cups of lightly packed wild chives in the bowl.  Add to this your pine nuts, and salt.
  3. Pulse your ingredients for about 5 times, so they are blended together; then with you processor running, slowly pour in a 1/4 cup of your olive oil.  Stop your processor and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  4. Turn your processor back on and pour an additional 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Open your processor and check to see if it’s at the consistency you want (I usually look for a loose paste).  Taste to see if the salt component is to your liking.
  5. Spoon into 4 ounce canning jars and top with additional olive oil.  This will easily keep in the freezer for up to a year.

Yield: 3-4 4 ounces jars

“The real voyage of discovery is not seeking new landscapes, but seeing with new eyes.”

—Marcel Proust

 

An Uncommon Flower

Just past the summer solstice, and we have gone from wet and cool to hot and humid.  The vegetables are breathing a sigh of relief as the heat gives us hope of regaining momentum for the farm year.  One of the first signs of optimism is seeing the garlic scapes develop.  Garlic scapes are the flower head or bulbil of the hard-neck garlic bulb.  In early summer each bulb sends up a bright green flower head as one way of reproduction.  If left to grow these bulbils will develop small seeds, after the bloom dies back.  Garlic growers cut off these bulbils or ‘scapes’ for two very good reasons.  One, if left on the plant, the bulb will send all its energy to the bulbil and seed development rather than bulb size; and two, the scapes themselves are a delicious culinary treat.

Scapes are wonderful in stir fries, pasta, potato salad or scrambled eggs.  Anything you can use garlic in, you can use a scape.  In fact I put up several freezer bags full to use  throughout the year.  Simply cut the scape into one inch pieces and fill up your freezer bag or container.  No need to blanch and they don’t stick together when frozen.  This way you can remove whatever quantity needed and seal the bag back up.  Easy peasy.

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One of my favorite ways to preserve their early summer flavor is to make pesto.  The wonderful thing about pesto is you can adjust it to your taste preferences.  Feel free to substitute Italian parsley, cilantro, Swiss chard or spinach for the basil; or pistachios, walnuts and sunflower seeds for the pine nuts.  Pecorino Romano can be substituted for Parmesan.  It also freezes beautifully.  Simply place in 4 ounce canning jars but be sure to drizzle a little extra-virgin olive oil on top of each jar; this prevent discoloration.  If making pesto to freeze multiply the recipe for the quantity needed.  Try it as a substitute for tomato sauce on a pizza, spread it on a sandwich or toss it with pasta.  I like to top grilled chicken breasts, fish or a steak with a dollop of this green magic.

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GARLIC SCAPE PESTO

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup garlic scapes, sliced crosswise (about 10-12 scapes)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or other nut of your choice
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan or Pecorino
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves or other green of your choice
  • Juice from one lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place everything except lemon juice and olive oil in bowl of a food processor.  Pulse for 5-6 times or until ingredients turn into a paste.
  2. With motor running, slowly pour olive oil through feed tube.  Stop when necessary  to scrape down sides.
  3. Open lid and add lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Pulse a few times.  Taste and adjust seasoning.
  4. Place in 4 ounce canning jars to freeze and/or use in recipe of your choice.

Yields: 1 cup

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“Too lazy to peel fresh?  You don’t deserve to eat garlic!”  — Anthony Bourdain