Showing posts with label spring. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spring. Show all posts

Friday, May 29, 2015

Grilled Bok Choy (A story of a picky eater reformed by the farm share)

I'm throwing the farm share on the grill this summer, starting with Bok Choy. This easy and versatile side dish of tender stems and smoky crispy leaves is great with fish or chicken.

In honor of my formerly picky eater's 17th birthday, I thought I'd share a story about picky kids and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm shares. 
Ten years ago we set off on our first CSA adventure filled with loads of idealism (farmers! local food!) and a smattering of technical skills. Our kids really didn't have a say in the decision, but being resilient military kids they were used to going with the flow, living in a variety of settings and being offered a variety of foods.

The kids were not big on a lot of vegetables, however. Sure, my daughter would eat raw broccoli stems for a snack and my son (a carb and cheese lover) would eat the occasional baby carrot under duress, but mostly they'd eat corn or potatoes. [One glaring exception was Yakisoba.] When a box full of vegetables comes into the house, and then another and another and another every week, though, you have to figure something out or you'll end up wasting food.
I hate wasting food. It's a waste of my money and our farmers' time. If the food came to us all packaged it would be an even bigger environmental waste, but in this case my compost bin doesn't complain.
After the massively steep learning curve of the first year farm share I picked up a few tricks [and shared some of them in a post written during the slow winter months]:

  • Make familiar foods with additional vegetables added.
  • Perform Vegetable Triage to identify and use what is most perishable first.
  • Think outside the salad bowl.

Every season some new-to-me vegetable will throw me for a loop, but eventually I find a way [or fake one, our motto Peary high] to love it. Or at least tolerate it. I've had plenty of failures, some shown on my FB page, but the one that is family legend is Grilled Radicchio. I tried some recipe years ago and we hated it. [Like, straight into the compost bin don't even pretend to eat it for the kids'  sake hated it.] The only Good Thing about grilled radicchio became the story.
When you take your kids to the pediatrician they'll get asked "what fruits and vegetables won't you eat?" I'm sure it's a roundabout way to gauge a child's nutritional status. My kids will always answer without hesitation "Grilled Radicchio!". This usually shuts down that line of questioning. I can only assume it's because a kid who has an opinion on grilled radicchio has probably been exposed to more than just baby carrots, corn, and potatoes.

When I picked up the first farm share the other day I was delighted to see strawberries, spinach and salad mix and unsurprised to see additional greens. It's Spring, after all. I decided to grill some bok choy partly because I had the grill out for tilapia and salad turnips and partly to try and change our family's perception of grilled leaves. I loved how the edges of the leaves got all crispy like kale chips, and was pleased at how tender the stems became so quickly. I kept the seasoning simple--a splash of soy sauce--because we ate it with fish and rice, but I think you could go in a variety of directions. Maybe some lemon pepper seasoning, or hot sauce, or a balsamic vinegar reduction.

For more recipes using bok choy, please see my Bok Choy Recipes Collection, part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient. For other ideas using greens, please see my Greens board on Pinterest.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Easy Artichoke Arugula Pesto Burrata Pasta

A fast-to-fix vegetarian pasta dish using farm share greens, marinated artichokes, and creamy burrata cheese. Putting up pesto is one way I keep from being overwhelmed when the farm share greens are in abundance.

I forgot to take finished, plated, photos of this dish. I also had the grill going and it just slipped my mind. I debated sharing this recipe today, seeing how it's the first day of the the farm share season and I had the potential for new and returning readers arriving on the blog and did I want to start off with less than my best foot forward?

I decided that I did. Hope you understand!

The idea that you don't have to Eat All The Greens in a Week was a revelation to me when I adjusted to eating from a CSA, and putting some items up for later use is one of the ways I feed my family from our seasonal farm share year round. We're starting our 10th year enjoying the fruits of CSA farmers' labors, and recipes like this are one the tips and tricks for farm share success. For other tips, please check out this post

When we get a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share box filled with assorted greens I am emphatically not looking to throw them all into salads. There are only so many salads we can eat in a week. Instead, I'm looking to turn anything not expressly salad-like into a recipe ingredient, and I give myself bonus points if it becomes a long-storing ingredient. I've shared a concept recipe for incorporating farm share greens into pasta dishes here, which is a terrific quick use for a bunch of greens. If you've got a bit of time to do some prep work, though, you'll be reaping the benefits for months by putting up some of your greens as pesto.

Arugula pesto fits the long-storing ingredient category--typically we're getting arugula in the farm share side by side with a bag of salad greens and other cooking greens. It's useful to be able to put up a batch of pesto. I store mine in the freezer in half pint jars, with a splash of olive oil on top, using these terrific lids (Amazon affiliate link). I don't just want to share how I put up this stuff, though--I want to show you how I use what I put up.

This pasta dish is my second version of a fast burrata pasta meal. The first one, that I've made three times now [unheard of in my family] uses meat and winter squash so it will debut in the Fall. Oh, so worth the wait. I wanted a vegetarian and summer-friendly version, good for a quick supper, so I took the burrata pasta concept and here we are. Adding in artichokes just elevates a simple pasta dish into a snazzier one, though we are in danger of the kids becoming artichoke fans and eating all the leftovers. The same thing happened to us with take out Indian food, and now my picky eater tells me the spaghetti sauce needs more eggplant. Educated palates. Harrumph.

Burrata cheese was new to me, and my spellcheck keeps trying to change it to burrito. When I first bought it I thought it was just like fresh mozzarella and was sorely disappointed when the creamy center oozed all over my pizza dough. Once I embraced the gooey center I came to appreciate it for what it is (creamy), not for what it's not (solid). I've found burrata cheese at the fancy cheese counter of my local Kroger. It's pricey but perishable, which means whenever I see it marked half off/quick sale I pick it up. [Yes, I cruise the fancy cheese counter looking for magical markdown stickers--I'm married, I don't cruise bars anymore.] I know we'll enjoy burrata pasta dishes so it's worth the splurge--at half price at least.

For other recipes using arugula, please see my Arugula Recipes Collection. For other recipes using marinated artichokes, you're looking for the Recipes Using Veggies In Jars Collection. These are part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient, a resource for ideas when you're facing an unfamiliar ingredient. You can also find me sharing ideas via my Pinterest boards and my FB page. Want to know how to Use This Blog? Click here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Strawberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Fresh strawberries and lemon curd inside a jazzed up bundt cake, topped with strawberry jam.

I'll say it straight up in case you're wondering--this dessert is inspired by Cake Mix Doctor recipes and starts with a box of cake mix. [Whew, I'm glad I got that off my chest]. While I routinely whip up muffins, waffles, cookies, pizza dough, bread and spaghetti sauces without opening a box (other than the baking soda box) I'm not there yet with cakes. I may never be. I'm happy with the results I get adding a few things to a box of cake mix, so for now I'll keep on doing it.

Strawberry season is brief, and I want to make the most of the fresh berries while they last. Because I prefer the taste of local berries, I simply don't buy strawberries at the grocery store. I'll stock up like a squirrel at the farmer's market, but when my backyard patch and the markets are empty I'm done for the year. I wish I could spend my days dunking fresh berries in sour cream, then brown sugar, then popping them into my mouth--but sadly, I need to do other things as well. I put up local berries in jam, salsa (my cantina style recipe is here) and in bags in the freezer. We'll enjoy some fresh in treats, like my Strawberry Lemon Snack Cake and Strawberry Sour Cream Brown Sugar Muffins.

This cake is another, more falutin', way to enjoy fresh strawberry flavors. It will work with frozen berries as well. It won't taste as good with a box of berries who have crossed multiple state lines to make their way to you. Have a piece of chocolate instead. 

For other recipes using strawberries, please see my Strawberry Recipes Collection, part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient. For other Cake Mix Doctor-inspired recipes, please see my Triple Chip Zucchini Spice Cake. I pin fruit recipes to my Pinterest Fruit Board. Wanna know how to Use This Blog? Click here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Szechuan Asparagus with Ma Po Sauce

Szechuan peppercorns and a spicy Ma Po sauce flavor this fast Spring asparagus side dish.

When you move around a lot, you tend to leave behind more than friends at your last duty station home. You leave behind food--literally and figuratively. In the literal sense, you can't take the contents of your pantry and freezer with you when your household goods are going to spend a month on a boat, nor can you take your Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farmers or their produce. In the figurative sense you leave behind the ready access to foods you've come to love. I have not been able to recreate the Chicken Schnitzel Melba from Mom's Place in Spangdahlem, Germany, a Leonard's Malasada from Honolulu, Hawaii, nor a plate of Ma Po Tofu and Ma La Wonton from the Great Wall restaurant on Logan Circle in Washington, DC.

However, I can make a dish inspired by the flavors of that last one. [Feel free to contribute to the 'Send This Blogger Back to Germany and Hawaii So She Can Experience Some Beloved Dishes' fund and I'll work on the other two.] I picked up a jar of Ma Po sauce at the Cincinnati Asian Market during sled hockey practice, and added Szechuan peppercorns to my Penzey's shopping list. Coupled with my other stock of Asian cooking basics I was set. Except I didn't really know where to start.

One day at the thrift shop where I work someone brought in a 1970's era Chinese Food Using a Food Processor cookbook by Culinary Arts. As I was tagging it I randomly flipped through and my eye caught the Pork & Bean Curd Szechuan Style recipe. I already knew that Ma Po Tofu had tofu, black beans, pork, and Szechuan peppercorns, so I figured this recipe may be a good place to start. [I should note that I didn't follow that recipe, I just looked at the ingredient list and went off, away from the food processor and the pork and tofu, and did my own thing.]

This spicy asparagus is a great accompaniment to a Spring Chinese meal. For other recipes using Asparagus, please see my Asparagus Recipes Collection, part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Carnitas Tostadas with Strawberry Salsa

Slow cooker pork carnitas tossed with sweet & spicy strawberry salsa and served on fresh corn tortillas for a Springtime tostada.

Last week was Spring break and we planned an Epic Midwestern Loop. We'd visit friends and factory tours, literary and artistic venues, natural wonders and iconic American landmarks. I came down with a cold at the first stop on our tour and messed up our plans. Instead of spending the week driving around the midwest, we were headed back home after just a few days.
Best costumed interpreter ever.
Yes, we did manage to drink freshly brewed beer and learn what the whole 'beechwood aged' thing was all about, ride to the top of the arch in a tiny barrel, and see both the Louisiana Purchase document and the World's Largest Golf Tee. It wasn't a total bust.

Returning home unexpectedly meant that not only did I not have any food in the house, I also didn't have a food plan for the week. My amazing spouse picked up milk, salad, and pizzas while the dogs reunited with the kids and I tried not to blow out the contents of my skull, one tissue at a time.

I had the foggy idea to rummage around in the freezer and was rewarded with a few meals for the kids to make. This recipe is not the result of some gorked-out by cold medicine creativity. As if--I wasn't cooking much less photographing or eating food. I'm getting to my point in a minute. My daughter thawed taco meat and corn to make nachos one night, we had spaghetti with sauce from roasted vegetables another night, and my son emptied the little freezer so I could rearrange and rediscover some leftover Chinese food I'd planned to stretch/reimagine. We survived/thrived.

My point is this:  if you eat meat, buy the big hunk of ________ [in this recipe a pork shoulder/Boston butt], cook it, and freeze a 'your family size' portion. It's so much easier to plan a meal around a ready-to-go protein than to stand in the kitchen cluelessly wondering where to start.

When we eat at Chipotle, carnitas is our favorite protein. When I make it at home we've got easily 12 to 15 servings which is a bit much for our family of 4--even with 2 teens who love meat. I automatically freeze half of the cooked and cooled meat, knowing that when I pull it out again the effort of initial cooking is done and I just get to play.

These tostadas are a nice Spring meal. While they are warm and filling for a cool evening, the sweet spiciness of the strawberry salsa reminds me that our berry patch is waking up and I'll soon be savoring fresh strawberries. [I'll wait for the local ones. Life is too short to eat flavorless food.]

[It's interesting what comes out of my pen when I wake up at 3 am because I have not been coughing.  Yes, I woke up concerned because I was not coughing. I know. Weird. Just try the recipe.]

Friday, March 27, 2015

Crispy Baked Old Bay Swai with Minted Farm Share Peas

Spicy seasoned swai on a bed of fresh minted farm share peas.

The doctor's office. Sports practice. Getting the oil changed. The pharmacy. Piano lessons. The salon. A flight. Picking up your kids from school, if in fact you have kids, if not--choose another reason for waiting. When you know you'll have time to kill--do you bring along something to do? A book or magazine to read, a craft project to work on?

I knit, I write, or I read. In the wintertime I knit, mostly on a rainbow blanket that is long enough to keep me warm during hockey games. The rest of the year I'm writing or reading as knitting when it's hot out doesn't thrill me.
As an indented aside, that's part of the reason I've been working on this blanket since I was pregnant with my first child, who is in high school. Mostly it's just because I knit slowly. Like I cook slowly. The years in Hawaii were a total wash.

Last Spring, while waiting in the orthodontist's office, I was flipping through an EveryDay with Rachael Ray magazine. The No-So-Mushy Peas caught my eye, because I look for ways to use the fresh peas from our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share. This recipe is described as a spring classic, and I get that--I'm craving it again this year!  Just like Alanna's Chicken Cider Stew heralds Fall to me, Rachael Ray's fish and peas now mean Spring.

For other recipes using peas, please see my Pea Recipes Collection, part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient. I've got additional interesting recipes on my Colorful Veggies Above the Ground board, one of my Pinterest boards (link to follow me on Pinterest).

Monday, July 7, 2014

Surimi Chirashi Sushi with Summer Vegetables

A filling main dish salad of surimi and summer vegetables tossed with sushi-seasoned rice

Surimi Chirashi Sushi with Summer Vegetables | Farm Fresh Feasts

When it's hot out, my body craves lighter food. Eating seasonally, the kitchen pendulum swings [yeah, there's a pendulum swinging in my kitchen. that's why it's a mess all the time!] from hearty chili, stew, or casseroles over to simply seasoned piles of pretty vegetables.  Making a chirashi sushi is one way to keep it cool in the hot weather. Chirashi sushi means scattered sushi, which means I get to be lazy all the flavors without all the fuss of rolling your own.
I love to roll my own sushi, don't get me wrong. The other day I made a bunch of pretty, and tasty, Egg, Kohlrabi and Carrot rolls. Taking a page from Fusian we put panko over top and the flavor/texture contrast was really neat.
Surimi Chirashi Sushi with Summer Vegetables | Farm Fresh Feasts

When I've got kohlrabi or cucumber I will make up a big bowl of chirashi sushi. If I've got salmon I'll add that, or Spam, Surimi, or just scrambled eggs rolled up in an omelette. My friend Lasar introduced me not only to chirashi sushi but also to the furikake my son and I sprinkle on top. [My spouse and daughter don't care for furikake, so I list it as optional below.]

Surimi Chirashi Sushi with Summer Vegetables | Farm Fresh Feasts

This keeps for a couple of days and can be reheated gently in the microwave. I store the cucumbers/kohlrabi separate because I like them cool and crunchy.

Surimi Chirashi Sushi with Summer Vegetables | Farm Fresh Feasts

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Beet Greens with Rice Vinegar

Beet greens and spring onions sautéed then seasoned with rice vinegar--an excellent side dish to accompany Asian meals

Beet Greens with Rice Vinegar | Farm Fresh Feasts

Ya'll may think I'm crazy, but part of the seven (7!) different edible greens we got in our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share last week was a double amount of beet greens. I'm happy to have them, and I completely understand how something that caused a tummy upset in the past is something to be avoided in the future--which is what caused my benefactor to bequeath her greens.
A few weeks ago, for the first time in 15 years, I made sesame peanut noodles.  I thought I was ready for them, but no--memories of the tummy bug we caught the night of my son's first birthday party were still too strong. At least my folks liked them this time around.
Beet Greens with Rice Vinegar | Farm Fresh Feasts

When I've got double the greens--and not a lot of solo breakfast opportunities because everyone is constantly underfoot--I needed to think past my beloved beet green breakfast into something the whole family may get excited about.  When I saw mandu marked down at the grocery store I decided to make a slightly Asian twist on my beet greens.  It worked out well enough that I made this side dish a second time this past week.

I think this recipe would also work well with Swiss chard, and probably spinach too. We've been drinking up kale lemonade smoothies so much that there's no really any kale left for cooking, but perhaps that would also sauté well.  Especially after a massage.
I'd be happy to sauté well after a massage, come to think of it.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cold and Creamy Pea, Avocado, and Mint Buttermilk Soup

A tangy refreshing chilled soup of garden fresh peas, avocado, and mint in a buttermilk base

Cold and Creamy Pea, Avocado, and Mint Buttermilk Soup | Farm Fresh Feasts

"This is my mom.  She has worms."
My daughter's scintillating introduction to her charges didn't dissuade me from my purpose--to share my worm bin with the young gardeners at our local historical society.  Some kids think it's cool, some kids think it's gross, but all kids learn a little bit about worm composting. The more folks--young and old--who are exposed to the myriad of ways we can decrease the amount of waste we create, the better.
I think early exposure to a variety of ideas and foods is important and can result in permanent behavior changes. After I shared my worms with the young gardeners I helped them in their plot. It reminded me of when my teens were in elementary school and I'd volunteer during class time, helping kids to plant, weed, and harvest vegetables.  Now, my daughter was in charge of the pea harvest--showing the kids how to snap off the peas without pulling up the whole vine. She also encouraged her charges to sample the harvest.

Cold and Creamy Pea, Avocado, and Mint Buttermilk Soup | Farm Fresh Feasts

When I harvest in my own garden I just eat peas straight off the vine. They need no accompaniment, to me, which is why I haven't shared a pea recipe before. Usually I start snacking on peas while driving home from picking up our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share box, and I'll nibble a few here and there until they are all gone.

Cold and Creamy Pea, Avocado, and Mint Buttermilk Soup | Farm Fresh Feasts

However, I screwed up with the peas in the farm share recently which is why I created this soup. After nibbling on a bunch, I set the pint on the shelf in the fridge and the peas froze. Oops.  Not one to waste perfectly edible food that is the result of our farmers' hard work, I searched for a soup recipe combining what I had on hand (peas, mint, buttermilk) with what sounded good (avocado).

Cold and Creamy Pea, Avocado, and Mint Buttermilk Soup | Farm Fresh Feasts

If you don't like the taste of buttermilk [because your mom raised you to eat what was put in front of you and your friend's mom offered you a tall glass of buttermilk which you choked down--only to be given a second glass since you appeared to like it so much--my spouse's experience with buttermilk, not mine] I recommend trying this pea soup recipe.  Or this one.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Strawberry Lemon Bisquick Snack Cake and A Peek Into My Process

A light strawberry lemon snack cake, fast and easy to make and delicious warm or chilled

Strawberry Lemon Bisquick Snack Cake and A Peek Into My Process | Farm Fresh Feasts

Warning:  This is a long post.  But there's cake at the end, so I think it's worth it. 
"Cake makes everything worth it." (Meghan McCarthy)

Apparently I'm continuing last week's trend of writing lots and lots and then sticking a recipe at the end.  Instead of teaching you about nurturing your garden soil, this week I'm giving you A Peek Into My Process.  Blame Meghan for all this--she roped me into it by asking me to answer the following questions.  She wanted me to tag other bloggers to keep the chain going but I'm a chain letter breaker.  So--if you'd like to answer these 4 questions, please comment and I'd be delighted to link to your writing process post.  Let's get this over with.
  • What am I working on/what am I writing?
  • How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?
  • Why do I write what I do?
  • How does my writing process work?

Strawberry Lemon Bisquick Snack Cake and A Peek Into My Process | Farm Fresh Feasts
Old school--writing on paper, scheduling on paper, losing countless papers.
#1.  Well, I'm working on this, obviously.
 I'm also weeding, putting up strawberries, decluttering the house and clearing through nearly 500 emails that piled up over the past months (so many good blogs to visit) in between handing off my computer to the kids so they can work on summer online classes,  enjoying movies with popcorn (no kids with braces!) and 3 day weekends with my spouse. What am I writing?  See #4.
Strawberry Lemon Bisquick Snack Cake and A Peek Into My Process | Farm Fresh Feasts
Blogging while on vacation--that's dedication, folks.
#2. This one is easy.  More cowbell Pizza! When I first found other CSA bloggers, the primary thing  I noticed was that they shared photos of their farm share boxes (which appeals to the voyeur in me) and talked about how they used the items that week.  That's inspirational, but I was looking to provide more practical support for local eating. Inspiration's great if you've got the skill set to run with it, but some practical support helps you to succeed.
I see this with my kids all the time.  Setting them up for success with appropriate supports results in far better outcomes than just telling them to wing it.  In the kitchen and in life. Once you have a foundation--then wing away, baby, wing away.
I feel what sets my blog ever-so-slightly apart is that while I'm showing you how to use the farm share produce via my recipes, I'm also showing you how I put up the produce we can't consume right away, how I use that in the off season, and I'm helping you find ideas for other produce via my recipe index.  Indexes.
And every once in a while I'll show you what's in my box, too.

Strawberry Lemon Bisquick Snack Cake and A Peek Into My Process | Farm Fresh Feasts
Ah, one of my favorite meals--and one of my favorite posts.
 #3. I believe every dollar you spend is a vote for what matters to you.  I choose to spend money on local small businesses producing food in a way that nourishes the environment. Over the years I've learned that a lot of folks agree with me--but while it's a lovely idea to get a farm share, the reality of eating this way can be very hard to adapt in your kitchen.  This is why I write this blog.  I want to help everyone who desires to eat locally to succeed, so I provide recipes using seasonal ingredients, storage tips for off season eating, and a recipe index to help you figure out what to do with the contents of your crisper.

#4.  This is the long answer. Let's look at that cake to remind us why we're sticking with it.

Strawberry Lemon Bisquick Snack Cake and A Peek Into My Process | Farm Fresh Feasts

Since we eat seasonally, even though I just grilled up the last of the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve [butternut squash are particularly long-storing] I won't post that recipe until Fall.  But the photos have been taken, uploaded, and indexed so I can find them when I need them.
In a perfect world the spouse would edit the photos to make them pretty, but apparently I'll "never learn to do this until [I] just do it" (the whole Worlds Collide thing) so I am painstakingly--with a blunt object instead of a surgical scalpel--doing this myself.  I know I want a horizontal/landscape photo at the top because I think most food looks best this way and for Food Frenzy Digest to pull, plus a square photo for the food porn websites when I remember to submit, plus a vertical/portrait shot that I can add a title to for Pinterest. When I photograph the food I take a variety of images to get all bases covered.  But this post is supposed to be all about writing. Ahem.
I also jot down the recipe notes, hopefully in a notebook but sometimes on a sticky note or on my FB page, so that when I go to write the post I've got the recipe info.  Otherwise it's back to the kitchen, and if it's a seasonal item I sometimes have to wait a year. Best just to jot down as I go.

Often, while I am cooking, I will think about what I want to say in the post.  When I've got ideas flowing it works best to sit down and write them out.  This post just poured out of me while the pizza was baking. If the words don't come, I move on to something else. With 50 posts in some form of the publishing process [they've got at least 1 of the 3: recipe, photos, or headnotes entered in the computer] as well as more in the notebooks, I don't need to force it, I just pick something else.

Strawberry Lemon Bisquick Snack Cake and A Peek Into My Process | Farm Fresh Feasts
where I was writing this post--on the porch, with Vincent as a lap dog desk, Simon and Wee Oliver Picklepants on lookout
Thanks for taking a peek into my process--it was fun reflecting and ruminating on this post.
Let's have some cake, shall we?

Strawberry Lemon Bisquick Snack Cake and A Peek Into My Process | Farm Fresh Feasts

Friday, May 9, 2014

Garlic Scape Pesto Cheesy Flatbread Pizza (Pizza Night!)

Mild garlic flavor from the garlic scape pesto, plus plenty of shredded cheeses, makes a Cheesy Garlic Scape Flatbread--a seasonal treat that can be enjoyed year round thanks to your freezer.

Mild garlic flavor from the garlic scape pesto, plus plenty of shredded cheeses, makes a Cheesy Garlic Scape Flatbread--a seasonal treat that can be enjoyed year round thanks to your freezer

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I want to talk about making pizzas at home, and share a way you can keep it innovative.
Having a stash of pizza topping options in the fridge and freezer keeps our weekly pizza nights interesting.  It's super simple to throw some leftover protein (chicken, ham, ground beef--links to some of my pizza posts) onto a meat-containing pizza.

It's a breeze to add fresh vegetables (peppers, spinach, or mushrooms--more links to suggested recipes) and/or preserved vegetables for a vegetarian pizza.

I store a lot of pizza cheese in the freezer [NOT always a good idea to use in a pizza], have a vat of feta standing by, and sometimes you don't even need cheese [this would be the place where I'd link to the Beef and Broccoli Pizza if it had been posted].

Mild garlic flavor from the garlic scape pesto, plus plenty of shredded cheeses, makes a Cheesy Garlic Scape Flatbread--a seasonal treat that can be enjoyed year round thanks to your freezer.

It takes some time to build up that pizza topping stash, but it's worth it.  Preparing a batch as each vegetable hits peak season means that I'm not constantly slaving away in the kitchen [it only seems like that in August-September with the tomato canning, though, like childbirth, I'd do it again] yet I get to enjoy a wide variety of homemade, locally grown sauces on our pizzas throughout the year.

I don't want to tell you what to do want to subliminally brainwash you to consider trying to put up one pizza topping in your freezer this summer. Here's some suggestions, in order of when they're ripe and ready throughout the season--all of these store well in the freezer.

Think about it and get back to me.  In the meantime, here's one way you could use your bounty: pizza.

Mild garlic flavor from the garlic scape pesto, plus plenty of shredded cheeses, makes a Cheesy Garlic Scape Flatbread--a seasonal treat that can be enjoyed year round thanks to your freezer.

I'm not sure if regular readers noticed, but it's turning into Garlic Scape Week around here. I'm preparing a Garlic Scape Recipe Round Up for my next post and wanted to include some of the ways I feed my family garlic scapes from our garden and the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share.  [In order to include my recipes in the round up, I kinda needed to post them first.]

Mild garlic flavor from the garlic scape pesto, plus plenty of shredded cheeses, makes a Cheesy Garlic Scape Flatbread--a seasonal treat that can be enjoyed year round thanks to your freezer.

I started off by sharing how I put up my scapes in the form of pesto, combined with a variety of leaves (I'm partial to parsley and basil) as well as an assortment of nuts (I'm partial to pistachio and sunflower seeds).  I use this pesto in all sorts of things, from Hummus to Shrimp Scampi and now, because it's a Friday and my family likes our Friday Night Pizza Nights, on a pizza.

Mild garlic flavor from the garlic scape pesto, plus plenty of shredded cheeses, makes a Cheesy Garlic Scape Flatbread--a seasonal treat that can be enjoyed year round thanks to your freezer

I made two pizzas using this Garlic Scape and Pistachio pesto:  a plain cheese one and a more involved Sun-dried Tomato, Artichoke, and Olive with Fresh Mozzarella pie.  Since I was making a number of pizzas, I told the kids to go ahead and eat the cheese one while it was hot.  By the time I joined them they'd nearly demolished it and my son told me "this tastes just like cheesy garlic flatbread". Well, now I don't have to come up with a creative title--thanks!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Garlic Scape Pistachio Pesto Hummus

Garlic scapes, basil, parsley and pistachios combined in a traditional hummus base for a fresh Spring dip. Garlic scape pesto freezes to have this seasonal treat year round.

For other recipes using Garlic Scapes, please see my Garlic & Garlic Scapes Recipe Collection. It's part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient, a resource for seasonal eaters faced with a staggering amount of fresh produce we just don't know what to do with. I've got a Pinterest board of Garlic Scape Recipes here, and a Round Up of 28+ Food Blogger Recipes Using Garlic Scapes here. Want to know how to Use This Blog?

Garlic scapes, basil, parsley and pistachios combined in a traditional hummus base for a fresh Spring dip. Freeze the pesto to make this year round!

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Part One: The Making of Garlic Scape Pesto

To paraphrase Dick Van Dyke's Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ("Don't waste your pucker on some all day sucker.  And don't try a toffee or cream.  If you seek perfection in sugar confection, well, there's something new on the scene") don't waste your scapes in some Spring stir fry, instead try this pesto, it's green.

When I read Annie's post about garlic scape pesto I was intrigued.  I'd never tried it, but it sounded good.  When my CSA farm share and my garlic bed provided me with garlic scapes I knew I'd give it a try.  As it turned out, I didn't follow my own directions for stocking up on pesto supplies before the garlic scapes appeared.  I did have a block of parmesan, but I didn't have any pine nuts.

close up of a jar of garlic scape pistachio pesto

I got to thinking . . . why do I have to use pine nuts in pesto?  Weren't the original pesto makers just using what was readily available to them, not sourcing to China to make a sauce? (Check your bag of pine nuts, you'd be surprised)  I mean, I had great success using almonds and cashews in my Fresh Tomato Pesto.  In my pantry I've got almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and sunflower seeds available--I chose pistachios for this just because they are green and would enhance the bright green of this garlic scape pesto.

[In fact, I had a lil' ol' pestopalooza party with all the garlic scapes and fresh herbs after my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share resumed--that flood of green after the long winter was so welcome--sure, the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve provided some lovely orange veggies, but man, I missed getting a big ol' box of leafy veggies each week!  I made pesto using garlic scapes and sun dried tomatoes.  I used basil and parsley for the leaves. I used pistachios and sunflower seeds for the nuts.  I wrote down the various combinations, but my favorite is the one I'm sharing below--garlic scapes with pistachio nuts and basil.]

Garlic scapes, basil, parsley and pistachios combined in a traditional hummus base for a fresh Spring dip. Freeze the pesto to make this year round!

Because I plan ahead, and will be putting up this pesto by freezing it, I keep it a little thicker by using less oil.  By freezing this pesto, the plant cell walls that weren't disrupted by the food processor will burst, resulting in a more liquid pesto when thawed.  If you're not planning on saving some for later, use more oil.

Garlic scapes, basil, parsley and pistachios combined in a traditional hummus base for a fresh Spring dip. Freeze the pesto to make this year round!