Pesto Please! What to do with all that basil

Basil is in season and if you have recently planted it in your garden the fragrant herb is probably trying to take over! I have a planter of it on my balcony and I still have plenty of it to make lots of yummy things.

Number one thing to make with basil? Pesto of course!

Classic Pesto Recipe from Food Network:

Ingredients

Directions

Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.

If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese.

Now, what to do with all of that pesto?

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Don’t be afraid of the beet!

Beet greens and ends

We’ve gotten a few beets in our CSA box the last couple of years. They (shamefully) were left in the fridge for too long of a time and then sneakily thrown out. They seemed too much work, they taste like dirt (right? That’s what they say?), and they are too messy.

Our last CSA box contained two beets. I was determined to cook them. My husband might not eat them, but I would at least prepare them. Instead of heating up the whole house on a hot day and roasting them in the oven, I opted to boil them. I cut the ends off, scrubbed them with a vegetable brush, and popped them into a pot of boiling water.

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Gazpacho Recipes

We picked up our CSA box yesterday; it was full of an assortment of vegetables and fruit and even a very tasty watermelon. The weekly newsletter included two recipes for gazpacho. I’ve never made gazpacho before, but it seemed like a great way to use several different vegetables at once.

There was a recipe for Watermelon Gazpacho from All Recipes, and a recipe for Gazpacho Soup from Raw Foods Diet Center.

The Watermelon Gazpacho had a lot more ingredients so I decided to try the Gazpacho Soup.

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For Some, Growing Your Own Vegetables is Illegal

There are some days I read the news and I just feel incredibly disgusted, confused, and terrified. It scares me when I hear about people who are persecuted by the government for doing something natural and non-harmful, like refusing dangerous medications or growing vegetables (among others).

Today’s head shake comes from Michigan and the city’s action against a woman who has grown vegetables in her front yard. Apparently you can fill your yard with cement, but vegetables are a no-no. Kevin Rulkowski, the city planner from Oak Park, Michigan feels passionately that vegetables are not suitable to grown in front of your house.

Sign the petition and speak out against the officials wanting to persecute Julie Bass for growing vegetables in her front yard.

You can also visit her blog, Oak Park Hates Veggies.

I understand that there are some communities that are very particular with how your lawn and houses should look. You can’t paint your door a different color, the trim must match, your lawn must be mowed, etc. It just seems so counter-productive to put so much work and effort to criminalize growing a kitchen garden. Shouldn’t we be promoting this? Shouldn’t we teach our children the value of the land and eating from it? I would think a vegetable garden that could provide teaching opportunities about gardening, earth, and health would be more beneficial then making sure a yard fits the cookie-cutter mold.

Kevin Rulkowski, the city planner from Oak Park, cited vegetables are not considered suitable for your front yard. What if you had a plant or two in your flower bed – would it still not be suitable? At what point would it be suitable? Would vegetables never be suitable, regardless if they take up the whole lawn or just a corner of it? I understand (regardless of whether I think it’s right or not) that some communities would like their homeowners to maintain a nice lawn and take care of their yards, but how is concrete and rocks more suitable than vegetables?

What do you think?

Summer Garden Recipes

Just a small portion of this week's CSA veggies

Yesterday I attended a class at a local nursery and garden shop about how to cook with your summer bounty. While I don’t really have a garden (just a couple containers), our CSA box is full of lots of summer garden goodies.

The nursery staff showed us how they make a few of their favorite dishes using items they grow themselves. We even got a little mini-cookbook and were able to sample the goods. I didn’t try the banana and apricot or blueberry muffins, but I imagine they were pretty tasty. I had spearmint ice tea which wasn’t overpowering but still refreshing and I enjoyed the basil and Parmesan rounds as well as the bruschetta topping. They also served a cowboy caviar with blueberries instead of beans, which made it light and perfect for hot days.

Here are few recipes from the class:

Chavelle’s Bruschetta

Heirloom tomatoes
1/2 Walla sweet onion
Fresh basil, coarsely chopped
2-3 cloves crushed garlic
Grey or sea salt
1-2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (the more aged the better)
Olive Oil
Baguette

Chop tomatoes and onions. In a small bowl, add the vinegar then whisk in olive oil and garlic. Add the tomatoes and onions. Stir gently. Stir in basil and salt and pepper to taste. Bruschetta is best served after a few hours, at room temperature. If not serving immediately, omit the basil until right before you serve. Spoon on grilled or toasted baguette slices.

Rounds of Pesto (from the cookbook California Sizzles)
Makes 36

3/4 cup slivered basil leaves
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (grate yourself or buy a good quality cheese already grated)
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
French baguette

Stir together basil, cheese, garlic and mayonnaise until blended. Spread each piece of bread with a generous amount of mixture. Broil bread approx. 3-4 minutes on a cooking sheet, until bubbly and lightly browned.

These were pretty tasty but I try and avoid too much bread. This mixture might be tasty on squash rounds or other veggies.

Teresa’s Mixed Berries with Marscarpone-Limoncello Creme
Serves 8

3/4 cup chilled whipping cream
4 oz container marscarpone cheese
3/4 c sugar
3 tbsp limoncello
8 cups assorted fresh berries
3/4 c raspberry preserves
1 tbsp grated lemon peel

Combine cream, marscarpone, 3 tbsp sugar, and limoncello in a large bowl. Beat until soft peaks form. In another bowl, combine 1/2 sugar, berries, preserves, and lemon peel. Toss gently. Divide berry mixture into 8 dishes and top with cream mixture.

Quick and Easy Garden Pizza

Use leftovers and extra veggies for a simple meal

I’m a fan of Food Renegade, and as part of their Fight Back Friday, here is simple recipe for a healthy meal with lots of vegetables.

Sometimes we have trouble eating all the vegetables we get in out CSA Box or sometimes we just don’t feel like cooking. The solution?

Easy Garden Pizza

Ingredients:
Premade or precooked crust – I use organic gluten-free or sprouted-wheat crust
Olive Oil
Seasonings (basil, pepper, garlic, etc)
Vegetables (we use organic vegetables from our CSA Box or garden)
Cheese (we use raw cheddar, mozzarella, Parmesan, or goat cheese)

The winning combo for us this vegetable season?
Yellow squash
Eggplant (a great way to use this veggie if it’s not your favorite)
Leeks
Red onions
Peppers
Tomatoes
Garlic

I brush the crust with olive oil and 2 spoonfuls of fresh organic salsa. I sprinkle minced garlic throughout.
I top with sliced and chopped vegetables, then sprinkle with cheese. (if using leftover meat, place on the pizza before the cheese).
I then sprinkle basil and sun dried tomato flakes all over the pizza.

Place on a pizza stone after following crust directions for temperature. Should be ready in 8-12 minutes. We find the pizza pairs perfectly with a fresh salad with oil and balsamic vinegar.

This recipe can easily be changed to be gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian.
A friend of mine uses veganaise as a dip to serve with pizza.

Don’t be afraid to use whatever vegetables you have on had. You can put anything on pizza and it can be healthy!