"Things won are done,
Joy's Soul lies in the Doing."
- William Shakespeare

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Eating Outside the Box

I think a new title is in order for this season's CSA recipe series, don't you?  Last year, it was Out of the Box...this year, I've put a little twist on it. 

We have the pleasure of partaking in Helsing Junction Farm's CSA program, for the second year running, and I must say, I am all kinds of pleased.  As was to be expected.  Aside from the obvious benefit of eating local, organic food, I get the perk of a little "surprise!" moment, when opening the box each week.  Every time I pop that lid and delve inside, the wheels start turning...cookbooks fly off the shelf into my hot little hands...Food is about to happen here, people.

Let us not forget to mention the awesomeness of less grocery shopping each week, by the way.  Less time spent trudging the aisles, searching for something that sounds good (and is preferably organic, hopefully local)...more time spent creating something delicious with what is right there in front of me.  This is the way to cook.  (And eat.)

Last's week's box contained a beautiful assortment of early-season fare (I feel like I should say early-summer, but it doesn't seem right, given the rubbish weather), including garlic scapes and arugula.  Oh joy!

I had a bit of walnut butter that I'd made a few days before (recipe follows), so it was just a natural progression to come up with a Garlic Scape, Arugula, and Walnut Pesto.  Right?  Obvious.

Garlic scapes are the shoots that spring from hardneck garlic bulbs, that must be snipped off, in order to allow the plant to put its growing mojo into that bulb.  They're slightly milder than garlic, not as much heat, but full-flavored and scrumptious.  Such a treat, especially as they're only around for a very short time each year.

The walnut butter is super easy to make, and a wonderful substitute for bog-standard PB&J.  It's not quite as smooth as peanut butter, but I think it's a little more versatile.  It's oddly great combined with goat cheese, arugula, and avocado (in a recipe from Tom Colicchio's  'wichcraft), marvelous spread on crackers with a little marmalade or fruit chutney...ah.  Endless possibilities.  Plus, and I just realized this, walnuts are grown around here.  What a fab, local substitute for peanut butter, huh?

If you cannot be asked whipping up a batch of walnut butter, just toss some walnuts into the pesto.  The end result will be the same.  (Although you won't have a lovely jar of walnut butter sitting in your fridge.)

Oh PS - I'm doing the "You be the guide of your destiny", sort of recipe, again.  Create, my friends, create!

Garlic Scape, Arugula, and Walnut Pesto 


4 or 5 garlic scapes, coarsely chopped
small bunch arugula, (roughly 1 1/2 to 2 cups, packed)
EITHER:  a couple tablespoons walnut butter (recipe follows)
OR:  a generous handful toasted, coarsely chopped walnuts
olive oil
juice of 1/2 to 1 whole lemon
freshly grated parmesan, about a handful or so
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

If you are using walnuts, rather than the walnut butter, throw them into the bowl of your food processor first, and give it a go around, until they're fairly broken down.  Add the garlic scapes, arugula, a bit of salt and pepper, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, and a glug of olive oil.  Whiz everything around until it's somewhat smooth, and taste.  Add more olive oil, if the pesto is too dry, more lemon juice if you want to jazz it up a bit.  A bit more walnut butter will round out the edges.  Add in the parmesan, process again, and recheck the seasoning.  Make sure you have added enough salt, because it will bring all the flavors together, plus, if you're adding the pesto to hot food, it will lose its edge somewhat.

The pesto should be a lively green, with a vibrant hit of garlic, and A smooth, peppery background, from the arugula.  Yum.

There are endless ways of serving this:  toss with pasta, over roasted or grilled veggies or fish, on crackers or sandwiches...get into it.

Walnut Butter - adapted from 'wichcraft
-makes about 3/4 cup

2 cups walnut pieces
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 300 deg F.  Toast the walnuts on a sheet pan, in the oven, until fragrant.  Keep an eye (nose) on them, it should take anywhere from 5 to 7 minutes, depending on the size of your walnuts.  Check often.

Process the toasted walnuts in a food processor, until roughly chopped.  Slowly add the olive oil, and continue to process, until you have a spreadable, but not overly smooth, butter.  (It will not have the smooth texture of store-bought nut butters.)  Season with salt and pepper.

This will keep for up to one week, in the refrigerator.  (Note:  In the 'wichcraft recipe, this is actually referred to as Walnut Pesto.  I just like to call it walnut butter.  It makes sense to me.)

By the way...I am keenly aware the my posting has been fairly sporadic these days.  We're in the midst of house buying, and I seem somewhat unable to focus on any one activity for longer than five minutes.  You can most often find me, if not wandering aimlessly, trying to remember what I was doing, gazing off into the distance, caught daydreaming about a new life, in what may be a sort of dream-come-true, kind of place.

We're still in the inspection phase of buying, and I do know better than to count my chickens before they hatch...but...shall we count these instead?


Fruit trees!

How much fun will I be having?

May your day be filled with dreaming, as well.

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