Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Something new

I pick up my vegetable share from the CSA each Tuesday afternoon. It's exciting to see what new vegetables I'll get; last week it was kholrabi (which, I'll admit, I still haven't tackled). This week's share contained nothing new per se, but some beauties nonetheless: squash, lettuce, spinach, peas, more haruki turnips (joy!) and garlic scapes.

It was warm last night so I decided to have a salad for dinner, something very simple. I had leftover red potatoes I cooked in parchment the other night, so I cut up a few of them. I sauteed one can of white beans in olive oil, 1/2 minced shallot, 1/2 cup chicken stock, a few fresh sage leaves, salt, pepper and the juice of 1/4 of a lemon. A few grape tomatoes, some pine nuts, good olive oil and fresh lemon juice and that was it.

But the crowning achievement from last night was the garlic scape pesto. How do I describe my delight? Let's just say, as a basil lover, I was a bit skeptical about using these funny looking things for a pesto. I've sauteed them and used them in a frittata and they're wonderful, but raw? Well, I took the plunge, and as they say, I'll never be the same.

The taste is sweet and bitter and spicy all at the same time. And look at the color! I had little idea how to make it, so I looked for recipes online and combined a few. Many call for 10 scapes (I only had 5), and some called for more Parmesan than others. (My philosophy on Parmesan in pesto is you use as much as you like -- more if you like it chunky, less if you like it thinner). Some called for more olive oil than get the point. The thing about pesto is that it's easy and it's all about the feel and texture of it; everyone likes it their own way, with their own type of nut, so you just have to experiment. This recipe, slightly changed, comes from Dorie Greenspan's lovely site In The Kitchen And On The Road With Dorie.

Garlic scape pesto:
~5 scapes, chopped
~1/3 cup blanched almonds
~a shade less than 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
~1/2 cup olive oil
~salt to taste (I always use Kosher salt)

Combine all the ingredients except the olive oil and salt in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil. Salt when done.

I ate mine on toasted peasant bread. This and the salad were the perfect summer dinner.

I mentioned Kosher salt in the recipe, something I haven't mentioned before and probably should have. If you're using table salt when you cook, drop everything and go buy Kosher salt. There's just no cooking with table salt, though it's better in baking as its small grains dissolve more quickly. Kosher salt's grains are larger and dissolve less quickly, and you get that nice crunch from the salt. Sea salt is also wonderful, but it's expensive. Use it for finishing a dish, as you would a good, extra virgin olive oil. Buon appetito!

My history geek moment: Throughout history, salt has been one of the most important commodities a civilization could have. It is believed the Romans built certain roads to better facilitate the transportation of salt.


  1. I made arugula pesto last week. We have an abundance of the stuff in the garden so gave it a shot. Spicy and peppery, with a bit of lemon juice and grated zest; put it on whole wheat orecchiette and tossed in cooked shrimp and green peas at the end. Grated extra Parmesan on top. It was delicious!

  2. Sounds great! I do love arugula pesto; next time I get some from the CSA I'll give it a whirl.

  3. Hi Lynne,
    Have you read Men of Salt? Just read your history geek moment and immediately thought about that book! -Nicole,

  4. Hi Nicole. I've not read it but I'll take a look; thanks for the rec. Love your blog, by the way! ~Lynne