Wednesday, July 3, 2013

CSA Basket Meals: Garlic Scape, Basil, Green Onion and Arugula Pesto!

Let me tell you, it is slightly challenging to make pesto in a run-of-the-mill standard blender. Having said that, I, like many food bloggers and food enthusiasts right now, am obsessed with using the seasonal bounty of local farms to make tasty treats. One such trend in this farm to table gastronomy, is the beauty that is: the pesto. Once you break out of the basil-only box, ideas for different pestos can almost drive you mad (in a good way), but this time I knew I at least wanted to stick with a green pesto.

Thanks to the yummy goodies from my Notre Petite Ferme CSA basket, I was able to make this beautiful, organic pesto that has quite a zip to it and is highly addictive when paired with crusty bread.

Garlic Scape, Basil, Green Onion & Arugula Pesto

I made a small batch due to the quantity of scapes I had on hand, so I will leave amounts out, but trust me, just eyeball it. Add in slightly less pine nuts than greens, and add olive oil as you go when emulsifying. 

  • garlic scapes, chopped
  • arugula
  • basil leaves
  • green onions, chopped
  • pine nuts
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • food processor (or blender if you are ill-equipped like me!)

Start by pulsing all of the greens and the nuts until they are finely chopped and almost paste-like. Then add the olive oil slowly, bit by bit until it is beautifully emulsified. Let the pesto sit at room temperature for a few minutes and then spread it on some crusty bread and enjoy! I'm tomato-obsessed so I had to add a few of those too. Enjoy! 

P.S. Pesto freezes well and also keeps in the fridge for a while :) 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

CSA Basket Meals: Roasted Carrot and Tomato Soup with Arugula Salad

Summer is here and we are visiting farmers' markets, picking our own berries, and picking up our CSA baskets. This is the first year I have signed up for a CSA basket, and being a single-dweller, I am sharing with my neighbour. I love veggies, but each basket boasts a bevy of magical greens and other lovely treasures from the earth, so in order not to waste, sharing has been the best decision.

The charming farm I chose to receive my vegetable bounty from is called Notre Petite Ferme (Our Little Farm), and although I have not yet met the family and their team, they have been wonderful with communication and so far I'm quite pleased with my share of the crop!

This week's basket contained:

  • romaine lettuce
  • arugula
  • pac choi (similar to bok choy)
  • cilantro/coriander
  • green onions
  • cabbage
  • basil
  • broccoli
  • garlic scapes
  • radishes
  • kale
  • rabioles (white turnips)

I had some baby carrots on hand and, and quite honestly, I am not a huge fan of baby carrots but I had them and did not want to waste them. What do you do when you don't really like baby carrots? You roast them for soup! I decided to make a roasted carrot and tomato soup, using as many ingredients from the basket as possible. As I was roasting my veg, I made a salad to tide me over. A simple arugula salad with tomato, green onion, hemp hearts, raw pumpkin seeds and sliced almonds with a drizzle of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon, seasoned with salt and pepper was just the thing to get my dinner started. 

Here is what you will need to make the soup: 
(Makes roughly 5 portions)
  • 1 hour of your time (I did other things as the roasting and simmering happened)
  • a blender, a stock pot and a cookie sheet
  • 1 can of whole tomatoes or crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 can of tomato paste
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • a small knob of ginger
  • 3 large handfuls of baby carrots
  • 2 rabioles
  • 3 handfuls of greens (I used the tops to the rabioles and the pac choi)
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste
To start the soup, I pre-heated my oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and lined a cookie sheet with parchment paper. When the oven was ready, I roasted the baby carrots with the red onion (rough-chopped), the whole cloves of garlic, sliced ginger and sliced rabioles, a liberal drizzle of olive oil, and a bit of salt and pepper. While you are roasting, check periodically and turn the veggies over, messing  them around a bit to ensure optimal browning and roasted awesomeness. 

While I was roasting the root veg, I brought to a boil the tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable broth, lemon juice and water and then reduced it to a simmer. When the veggies were done (roughly 30 minutes in my 1970s oven), I added them to the stock pot and then added the greens, cilantro and salt and pepper. I brought it to a boil again and then back down to a simmer. 

When you are at this step, remove the lid and let the soup cool a bit. Then transfer the soup into a blender and liquefy. If I had a food processor I might have used that instead, and it is important to note that I had to blend in 3 batches. Have some empty vessels on hand to hold the blended soup while you are still working on what's in the stock pot. 

Once the soup is blended throughout, return it to the stock pot and bring it to your desired soup-slurping temperature. The result was a fresh-tasting soup with the primary flavours of tomato, cilantro and "roasted awesomeness" coming through. 

This would be an easy soup to add coconut milk to, or yogurt or even curry to boost the flavours. You could also simmer it for a longer time period if your schedule permits. For now, I am quite happy with the result of this fresh soup that was super easy to make! I simply wanted to taste the vegetables, get some use out of the baby carrots and the rabiole greens, and make a healthy dinner that I can enjoy again tomorrow at lunch. 

Let me know if you try this recipe or a variation of it in the comments below and please share your thoughts! 

I guess it would be safe to say I am pretty excited for the weeks and months to come to see what my "little farm" will bring me to play with next!