2015 Garlic Scape Pesto marathon

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If you are looking for some unique garlic scape pesto recipes, here are three that may interest you!

the blonde tressed runner

Mercy, it’s hot!  We are in a heat wave that is unusual for this early in the summer.  Yesterday, on the way home from an awesome float trip (see more below), my car thermometer showed 102 degrees F.  I’m not sure we’re quite going to hit 100 again today, but 99 degrees is the forecast.  As if that makes a difference.  And tomorrow’s forecast is for 101, so that’s just as encouraging.  The long-term forecast for the next week shows highs in the upper 90s for the first part of the week, then mid- to low-90s the latter half of the week.  Misery in a house with no air conditioning.  Fortunately, we have a little set up that helps keep the house at least somewhat bearable in the mid to late afternoons.  Last summer Hubby bought an oscillating fan on a stand that we put at the bottom of the…

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The Cilantro Debacle

Food

Do you know someone, maybe you, that absolutely hates cilantro?  Maybe you think they are crazy for not loving that pungent herb that invokes the essence of Mexican cooking.  They may argue that it has a bitter, soapy taste to it that makes salsa taste like bubble bath.  Well, if you’ve ever wondered why these “picky eaters” won’t eat your delightful Mexican cooking with the fresh cilantro you got in your CSA share that week, check out this video, which offers a scientific look into why a small part of the population doesn’t like cilantro.

It turns out to be a set of genes that makes people particularly sensitive to detecting aldehydes in cilantro, which are also some of the same aldehydes found in soap.  So now you know these people have nothing against you or your cooking when they ask if you accidentally poured dish soap into your soup–they can’t help it.  They just happened to inherit the right combination of genes from their parents that make them this way.  And, FYI, if you are looking for a good cilantro substitute, parsley is a good alternative.

What to do with Week 3 shares? Some ideas…

Food

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This week’s share might have a few new items in it for you.  It’s a sure bet that the green onions were familiar to everyone, the kale–well, even if you’ve never eaten it you’ve probably at least heard of it.  Who doesn’t know someone who has had a kale smoothie in the past year?  And you can even get kale at McDonald’s…in a breakfast bowl with turkey sausage and egg whites…in California.  But bok choy?  Probably not a common item found in your kitchen.  And I’m guessing neither are broccoli rabe and garlic scapes.  So here are a few ideas to get you thinking about how to use this week’s share that will have you asking for more at next week’s pick up.

When I first saw the list of items I knew I was going to make a giant stir fry.  I have a fun share, and we got a teriyaki sauce this week with our share, so that more than sealed the deal.  In my own garden I have snow peas coming on strong right now, so they will accompany my bok choy, garlic scapes, green onions, and kale that are going into this evening’s stir fry.  How to prepare everything?  Just chop everything into bite sized pieces and throw them in a hot skillet with some oil and whatever else you want.  Serve it over rice or noodles.  This stir fry used up almost my entire share, everything except the broccoli rabe–I’m saving that for later.  I used half of my Mustard Seed teriyaki sauce and this was a fine meal tonight:

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I found this recipe for a clever way to use the broccoli rabe in a grilled cheese sandwich.  What about bok choy in garlic sauce?  Garlic scapes can be roughly chopped and tossed in olive oil, then roasted or grilled like asparagus (note: they taste nothing like asparagus).  Try roasting some garlic scapes and adding them to mashed potatoes.  Or what about pesto?  You don’t have to stick to basil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese for pesto.  Think outside the box!  Waaaay outside the box.  I LOVE pesto of all kinds, like this garlic scape pesto, but you can also make a pesto using broccoli rabe.  Or kale.  Or spinach.  Or…this list could go on and on.

If you are the adventurous, exploratory type of cook, try using some different items in your pesto.  All you really need are the following:

* Some sort of green, which can be leafy or not.  Examples: spinach, garlic scapes, cilantro, broccoli rabe, arugula, kale, regular heading broccoli, basil, or a combination of greens.

* An herb or herbs of your choice.  This is optional, depending on what your main green is.  Use what is in season: oregano, tarragon, mint, basil, or garlic scapes.  Garlic scapes go well with basil or oregano (or both).  If you are using broccoli rabe, try oregano.  Arugula and cilantro pair nicely.

* Nuts.  Also optional, but I highly recommend because they add such nice flavor.  The standard pesto nut is the pine nut, but walnuts are a great substitute, as are pecans.  You can even try hazelnuts or peanuts.  Toast them first, to bring out their flavor, being careful not to burn them.

* Olive oil.  You can get very creative here.  I used a blood orange olive oil to make a basil pesto a few weeks ago, and it was delicious.  But there are dozens of flavors of oils you can experiment with, by checking out our locally-owned source of oils and vinegars in town.

* A hard cheese.  If you are vegan, you can simply leave out the cheese, or use a plant-based cheese substitute if you like.  I don’t always use cheese in my pesto, so you can leave it out entirely.

* Garlic.  Garlic is a standard member of the basil pesto recipe.  I love garlic, and use large quantities of it in my cooking, so I always include garlic in my pestos.  If you are using garlic scapes, you most likely won’t want to add additional garlic, though there’s no rule saying you can’t!  If you don’t like garlic, then by all means leave it out.

*Additional seasonings, as wanted and needed.  Salt and pepper are standard.  But you can also add in other spices like onion powder, smoked paprika, chipotle pepper powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, or chili powder.  Use what sounds good to you!

That’s it.  Those are the basics for creating your very own unique pesto.  Use a large amount of the greens and herbs, then add in your nuts, cheese, and garlic (if using).  Once everything is ground up in your food processor, add oil until it reaches a consistency you like.  Add salt and pepper to taste and then enjoy your pesto on noodles, potatoes, chicken, or anything else that suits you.

I hope this gives you some ideas on creative ways to use your share this week.  And while enjoying your meal, you can feel good about eating local, seasonal, fresh food while supporting local growers and producers here in western Montana.

Arugula pesto–two ways

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the blonde tressed runner

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Today we got a boatload of greens in our CSA share—‘tis the season, of course, until more things start coming into season.  We got romaine lettuce, spinach, arugula, mint, and Swiss chard.  I decided to use the arugula to make a pesto.  Since I have so much oregano and cilantro coming up in my garden right now, I decided to make two flavors of arugula pesto, one with each herb in it.

I don’t have a lot of experience with arugula outside of eating it sprinkled on pizza.  I love pestos of all kinds, though, so I thought it would be a great experiment to make arugula pesto, and a chance to use up more herbs before they all bolt in this 90+ degree heat we’re having.  The thunderstorm we got tonight, coupled with tomorrow’s forecast high in the low 80s, may buy me a day or two before I…

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Summer Share Week 2

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Coming your way Tuesday June 9 ~

PRODUCE:

~ Arugula
~ Rainbow Chard
~ Romaine Lettuce
~ Spinach
~ Mint
We weren’t given enough Radishes for all Shares last week. Members who didn’t receive Radishes will receive fresh Oregano this week.
FUN SHARE:
~ Farro
~ Cheddar Cheese Curds
PLEASE NOTE: We will have additional Chard and Lettuce for sale. (This will happen occasionally when we have to purchase in certain quantities, or if the grower has an abundance and we can help take it to market.)

Helena Local Newsletter–Week 1

Newsletter

Check out our newsletter for Helena Local news and recipes, recipes, recipes on how to use your weekly share and other produce that is in season right now!

What’s in season right now in Montana?  Lot’s of things: chives, oregano, spinach (not for long!), kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, cilantro, basil, asparagus, pak choy, and lots more.  More recipes posted soon!

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Montana Organic Association Farm Tour

Agriculture In The News

Farm Tour Extravaganza (not a Helena Local event, but we’re happy to share the love!)

Lassila farm, east of Great Falls, MT June 26, 2015 2:00 pm5:00 pm

Presenters:
Daryl Lassila
Max Blodgett, Natural Resources Conservation Service
Ron de Yong, Director of Montana Dept. of Agriculture
David Oien, CEO of Timeless Seeds
Ron Milo, Dave’s Killer Bread

Topics:
Innovative Approaches to Crop Rotations
Nutrient and Weed Management Practices
Improving Crop Yields and Moisture Retention
Natural Resources Conservation Service Enhancements

This Farm Tour is free, open to the public and ice cream and cookies will be provided.

RSVP: Daryl or Linda Lassila at 406-452-0565

Directions to the Lassila farm, Bickford Road Great Falls, Montana: Go east from Great Falls out 10th Ave. South for 3 miles. Turn left at the blinking light onto Highwood Road for 3 miles. Turn left at mile marker 3 onto Bickford Road at the group of mailboxes. Go on the gravel road for 3 more miles to the farm. Watch for signs.

The Montana Organic Association is a non-profit organization advocating and promoting organic agriculture for the highest good of the people, the environment and the state’s economy.

www.MontanaOrganicAssociation.org / www.facebook.com/montanaorganic

CSA is finally here!

Weekly Shares

the blonde tressed runner

Yesterday was our first CSA pick up.  And for being early in the season, I think we got a hella good share this first week.  We got a large head of leaf lettuce, some mixed salad greens (as a substitute for something that was out of stock), radishes, cilantro, and basil:

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So for dinner last night we had salad, an obvious choice for using up most of the share and which would generate leftovers so that lunch would be taken care of for the rest of the week.  I chopped up both the head of lettuce and the mix, chopped up the radishes, added a few leaves of chopped basil, then I added from my own garden some dill, Johnny jump-ups, chive flowers, and bachelor buttons.  And of course I boiled some eggs.  I also scored a locally produced turnip, which was delicious–and this is coming from a gal who…

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