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.