Category Archives: Basics

Garlic Scape Pesto with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Garlic Scapes.  Who knew they even existed?  They are not the kind of thing you generally see on a grocery store shelf and people very rarely know what they are unless they garden or belong to a CSA.  I will be completely honest that I had never seen them before joining our farm share — and I love to cook with unique ingredients.  So technically speaking, the garlic scape is the green stalk of a young garlic plant.  (They continue to exist when the plant matures, they just aren’t really edible any more.)  Obviously, they have a very garlicky flavor, but are somewhat like a cross between garlic and a curly, dense scallion.

As I was making the pesto last night, I began to think of the many uses for it.  It is truly delicious and I think I like it more than regular basil pesto.  On the simplest level, toss some of the warm scape pesto with hot pasta and you have a treat.  We did that last night with some local asparagus, which made a great, light dinner.  (BTW, I am not eating wheat right now, so I had the Bionaturae gluten-free spaghetti and it was delicious.  Highly recommend it for those off gluten or wheat.)  The kids absolutely devoured it and wanted more.

But other than pasta, the possibilities are endless — mixed in with sour cream and/or cream cheese for a dip or spread, as a sauce on a white pizza with fresh mozzarella, in omelets, mixed into soups or tomato sauces, extended with a bit of lemon juice or vinegar for a salad dressing, tossed with veggies for roasting, mixed with white beans and sausage for a warm salad, used as a basis for a pasta salad, spread on toasts or bruschetta for a quick appetizer (or on a sandwich), or mixed into hummus or white bean dip, etc.

The pesto keeps well in the refrigerator and it is also easily frozen so you can enjoy it when the garlic scapes are no longer around. This version is nut-free for my allergic daughter, but I love the richness of the toasted pumpkin seeds. I’m sure any type of nuts or seeds would work, however.

Get to the farmer’s market now and ask around for garlic scapes.  If you are like me, you will want to eat this directly off the spoon.

Garlic Scape Pesto with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

15 garlic scapes, trimmed and roughly chopped
3/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1 cup olive oil
1 t salt
Freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan

1.  In the bowl of a food processor, add garlic scapes, toasted pumpkin seeds, olive oil, and salt and pepper.  Process until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary.

2.  Place into a small bowl and stir in parmesan cheese.  Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

 

Chicken Stock

Let’s face it:  there have been many days when I bought chicken stock at the grocery store.  But a wonderful article by Mark Bittman got me thinking more about where I waste money in the kitchen.  I previously bought chicken stock all the time.  It was used in cream or bean-based soups, risottos, sauces, etc.  I love making broth from scratch, but I rarely have room to keep much of it in the freezer — so I just assumed the grocery store stuff was better than water.  Of course, I never used it in broth-based soups (like chicken noodle) because … umm, it’s terrible.  

Ever actually taste it?  Yes, it is really, really terrible.

After reading the Bittman piece, I got a little annoyed with our culture.  We all complain about the price of food, the price of organic vs. traditional produce, the price of grass-fed vs. feedlot — but how often do we really think about the money we are wasting on processed or pre-made groceries that are just plain bad?  How much money might we have left over to shop from local, organic farmers if we stopped wasting so much money on junk?

dsc_5907

Bittman basically says that you shouldn’t waste your money on stocks and broths because plain water simmered with a few vegetables and garlic tastes better anyway.  And I always knew that this was true, but I still wasted my money.   Well, no more.  I am carving out freezer space so I can have chicken broth on hand that actually is delicious for chicken soup.  What a novelty.  

It did dawn on me, however, that many people have probably never made their own chicken stock.  It is so super simple — and it is a great refrigerator clean up activity.   Give it a try and remember that this is not really a recipe — use what you have.  And you can use a few chicken pieces or a whole bird — the whole bird giving you a lot of meat to use for other dishes or chicken salad.

Chicken Broth
  • A few chicken pieces (this time I had 2 leg/thigh pieces in the freezer and two wings from a whole chicken I bought)
  • 1 onion, in large chunks
  • 3 carrots, in large chunks
  • 3 stalks of celery, in large chunks
  • 1 head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
  • A few turnips or a rutabaga (great use of CSA root veggies!), in large chunks
  • Fresh herbs (rosemary, parsley, dill, etc.)
  • Sea Salt
  • Peppercorns

Place everything in a large stock pot and cover with cold water.  Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium low and cook for about an hour.  I usually then remove the chicken pieces, allow them to cool a bit, and then take the meat off the bone.  (If you let them cook in the broth too long, the meat gets mealy and tough — the white meat especially).  You can then put the bones back in the stock and let it simmer a while longer if you like — but I usually find an hour makes a plenty flavorful stock.  Put a large colander inside a larger bowl (a big, cheapo metal bowl is great for this) — I usually do this in the sink and strain the stock into a colander so solids stay behind and broth ends up in the bowl (discard solids — they have given all their life to the stock).  

If you want to make chicken noodle soup, put some strained stock back on the stove and bring it to a boil.  Add some pasta, chopped onion, carrot, and celery and cook until just tender.  Chop some of the white meat chicken and add it to the broth.  Finish with salt, pepper, and fresh dill.  

*Freeze the broth in tempered glass or stainless steel containers.  It is best to freeze it as broth and then make chicken noodle soup up fresh from the broth — the noodles absorb too much liquid when frozen.  

dsc_5937

Honey Apple Oatmeal

I feel sort of silly posting a recipe for oatmeal.  But I have only recently discovered how easy it is to make oatmeal from scratch on a weekday morning. I honestly always thought it took like an hour or something and never investigated further — continuing to buy little packages of oatmeal at the store.  But if you think about it, those packets are ridiculously expensive considering they contain some ground up oats, dehydrated apples, sugar (lots of sugar!), and various chemicals…  Now I didn’t do price comparisons today at the store, but a quick online search told me that a 42 oz. container of old fashioned oats was about $4 and a 14 oz. box of instant oatmeals packets (10 pack) was about $3.59.  Even after adding in a few apples and some honey to that 42 oz. container, I still think it’s pretty easy to see which choice is more economical.  And it’s quick.  And it contains nothing that you don’t want to put in it.   And less packaging.

So, give it a try.  I swear it doesn’t take any more time than prepping a packet and throwing it in the microwave for two minutes.   And I think you will instantly notice how awfully much sugar they put in the packaged stuff.  That may take a bit of getting used to, but with fresh fruit and a bit of honey, we are getting over it.  

Honey Apple Oatmeal

1-2 cups old fashioned oatmeal (I usually do about 1 1/2 or 2 cups which makes plenty for three with a bit leftover)
Water (3-4 cups depending on how saucy you like your oatmeal)
Cinnamon
Pinch of Salt 
Honey (or Brown Sugar or Maple Syrup, etc.)
Vanilla Extract
One chopped apple
Milk or Cream 

Put oats in a medium saucepan with a pinch of salt.  Cover with 3-4 cups of cold water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer, stirring a couple of times so they don’t stick.   Add a little more water if necessary.  Cook for about 3-5 minutes depending on how tender you like the oats.   Stir in a bit of honey to taste, a splash of vanilla, and some cinnamon.  Serve in a bowl with chopped apples, a drizzle of honey, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a bit of milk or cream (if you like).

Be creative with the many potential variations — different fresh or dried fruits, spices, nuts or seeds, etc.  

dsc_5868