Friday, 14 June 2013

Recipe: Pesto

Fresh herbs are now available at our farmers' market and there is simply nothing that holds a candle to the fresh, pungent aromas and powerful flavours of those fresh herbs. I'm with the authors of Earth To Table: Seasonal Recipes From An Organic Farm...  they write that dried herbs taste of dust! 

In the summer I harvest extra basil that I don't use up in my cooking by picking the leaves and packing them tightly into large (Ikea) ice cube trays, cover them with water, then pop the cubes in a ziplock bag in the freezer... pop a few into spaghetti sauce in the heart of winter and they add a bit of summer (and a lot of extra flavour) to the pot! Riverbend Gardens still had some basil plants last week (if you'd like to put some in your garden or in pots on your deck).

I love this book for its wonderful pictures, for its focus on eating locally and growing your own food, and for its awareness of the bounties of each season.

The authors insist that eating locally means eating seasonally... and that is what I'm trying to do with our blog during market season: show you easy to make recipes that have the bulk of their ingredients available and in season at our farmers' market.

Cooking with ingredients that are in season is key not only to nutrient-dense, healthful eating... it is key to eating good tasting food as well. A strawberry tastes sweetest and is juiciest picked at the peak of its ripeness when holding it while you bite into it can stain your fingers red! And a tomato, sun kissed and still warm from the sun... there's just nothing quite like the taste of that little wonder!

The chefs who penned this book are farmers themselves and they write,
It is the farmers who make good food taste good. They do it not only by taking care of the planting and weeding and harvesting (and peering inscrutably at the horizon, watching for signs of rain), but by doing it right, and simply by doing it at all. A day can make all the difference, and a farmer's life is a year of those days. I am grateful that farmers go to all this trouble. Without the men and women who grow and sell fresh produce, or raise range-fed animals, we'd all be doomed to eating bleak, industrial food. I'm not saying I would never eat a chocolate bar or a take-out burger. But without produce and meat from properly managed farms, life would be pretty grim.
Come out to our market this week and see what authors, farmers & chefs, Jeff Crump & Bettina Schormann mean (and what most of you know to be true!). Support our local farmers, and all the effort they put into bringing top quality foods to our market. Support them to help them thrive. And support them to bring the best quality food to your plate.

Right now we have seven terrific farmers represented at our market: four terrific veggie growers and three terrific meat producers.
And next week (June 19) the fresh bounty really begins to pour in as the fruit farmers  could begin to come on the scene (they might come the following week... it all depends on the timing of the harvesting).
In the mean time, come on out to our market and grab loads of basil for pesto. Keith Dargatz plans to harvest some from his farm and bring it to our next market (Dargatz Family Farm). Pesto is one of the simplest things to make in a spring kitchen. Simply stir a few heaping spoonfuls into fresh, hot pasta and you have a delicious & simple supper. The key is to NOT heat the sauce... the heat from the cooked & drained pasta is more than enough to intensify the fresh flavours and keep the green of the basil a vibrant & inviting colour.
3 large cloves of garlic
3 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/2c. pine nuts, toasted
1/2 c. coarsely grated Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
Nuts benefit greatly from a little toasting. Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the pinenuts on an unlined, ungreased baking tray and toast for 2-5 minutes. A small nut, like a pine nut, will only take a couple of minutes. A toasted nut will become very fragrant when it is ready to come out of the oven... so take a sniff!
With the food processor running, drop the garlic through the feed tube and finely chop. Stop the motor and add the basil, pine nuts, cheese, salt & pepper. Process until combined and smooth, about 2 minutes. With the motor running, slowly add the oil through the feed tube, blending until just incorporated but not completely smooth.

Recipe from Earth To Table: Recipes From An Organic Farm, by Jeff Crump & Bettina Schormann
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Contributed by Sheri Hendsbee

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