A Season for Baking

I know that fall has arrived and feels like it has already passed in many parts of the country.  Now that we are in Chapel Hill, the signs of fall are less abundant.  You have to search for auburn leaves crackling in the wind. While the grocery stores are filled with mums, winter squash, and pumpkins I am wearing short sleeves and sunglasses.  My windows have been open all day and the dogs have been basking in the sunshine.  The only hint of real autumn is the crisp air in the morning.  The temperatures are dropping at night into the forties only to climb back into the mid-seventies by late morning.  I feel pulled and dragged back and forth between summer’s sunshine and fall’s ingredients.  What foods are “in season” here?  There’s a whole new cooking learning curve for me.  Good thing the farmer’s market is just a brisk Saturday morning walk away.  In the meantime, I am taking advantage of the cool mornings and evenings to crank up the oven to make some “every” season favorites.

 

 

 

 

Since the first time I made homemade granola, I haven’t spent another penny on a box or bag of it.  It takes a little bit of time, but it comes together quickly and easily. You mix up the ingredients, spread them on a cookie sheet, and bake on a low heat until golden brown and your house smells like sweet, roasted nuts and oats.  It doesn’t get much better than this.

First chop up 2 cups of nuts.  I used 1 cup of cashews and 1 cup of almonds this time, but you can use anything you like.  Mix them with 3/4 cup of shredded, unsweetened coconut (You can leave this out, if you have coconut haters at home, but I suggest you try it.  I have converted many a coconut hater with my granola). Finally add 3 cups of old fashioned oats, 3/4 t of salt, and 1/4 cup plus 2 T dark brown sugar.  I have used regular brown sugar before, but the dark gives a lovely depth of flavor.

In a separate bowl combine 1/4 cup plus 2 T real maple syrup, honey, or agave with 1/4 c oil and mix well with the dried ingredients.  Spread it on a baking sheet with a lip or a 13×9 baking pan.  Bake at 250 for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.  I find it is best to keep track of how long it’s been in the oven.  I use my dry erase board to keep track of the minutes, burning your lovely granola will not be lovely.  After the first stir, you will notice that the house is beginning to smell heavenly.  This is only one of the reasons to make your own granola.  I don’t think a candle company has replicated this aroma.

After an hour and fifteen minutes, the granola will be golden brown and the nuts will be wonderfully toasty.  If you can wait, let it cool.  If not, grab a handful.  You will not be disappointed.

Feel free to add your own flair.  I generally mix some ground flax seeds to the granola after it comes out of the oven.  Adding cinnamon, nutmeg, or other spices to the mix is also lovely.  Raisins or other dried fruits are a natural addition to granola.  A bit of vanilla extract or vanilla bean infused in the liquids can’t be wrong.

Personally, I eat my granola every morning with a bit of Greek-styled yogurt and local honey or a bit of fruit.  Someday, I will have to share with you how I make my yogurt so you can know how amazing that process can be and how delectable the outcome!  The Philosopher drowns his granola in milk and adds fresh berries or bananas.  Since it’s fall, roast up some apples with cinnamon in the oven and top them with some granola and a little vanilla ice cream.  Simple apple crisp!  Toss your granola in your homemade trail mix, toss a few pieces in your pancakes after pouring them on the griddle for another breakfast treat, or give it away as a gift.  People love granola, yet most don’t realize how easy it is to make!  Last year, a good friend made homemade granola and packed it in gift bags for the holidays. Yep, that’s a great gift!

Store your granola in a container with a tight-fitting lid.  One batch usually lasts a few weeks around here.

So dear readers, wherever you are and whatever season your body thinks it is, cook and eat well.  How are you enjoying the changing seasons?

 

 

 

 

Squash Slaw Crazy

 

I can’t help it!  It all began with the salsa verde and I have now been salsa/taco crazy.  I made that salsa verde for snacking at a backyard picnic, then found myself using the leftovers in fish tacos for friends.

The good thing, is that this taco craziness has led to some creative uses for squash.  We have received abundant yellow squash and zucchini this year in our CSA, but I also ordered extra to make more squash pickles.  It should go without saying that we have had a lot of squash-based meals, have a lot of squash in the freezer, and have had lots of squash baked goods.  I have also begun using squash to make various ‘slaws’ as side dishes or toppings for other meals.  A few weeks ago, I made squash slaw with tomatoes and fresh mint for a picnic at the Franklin Park Conservatory for our anniversary.  Squash provides a fantastic foundation for your favorite flavors.  It’s a great backdrop to the menu’s cuisine for the night.  Tonight, I made a squash slaw to top fish tacos.

Of course you could make chicken, tofu, or beef tacos also.  In fact, I encourage you to try your favorite taco recipe with this slaw on top.  The lovely crisp texture and distinct flavor should compliment your favorite taco stuffing.

First, I used my mandoline to thinly slice 2 medium squash.  I lightly salted the squash pieces and left them in a colander in my sink to drain all the excess liquid.  I stirred the salted squash and shook out the excess moisture a few times over the course of an hour or so .  (You could do this while you are at work.  Just place the colander in a bowl and pop it in the fridge.  When you get home, stir the squash, shake out the moisture, and throw the rest of the ingredients together.)  At about 45 minutes in, I prepped the other ingredients.  First, I thinly diced two bell peppers that were half red and half green from my mother’s garden.  I added the kernels from two grilled ears of corn and then I roughly chopped a generous handful of cilantro.  I tossed them together with the zest and juice of two limes.  I added the squash and mixed all the ingredients together well.  I have found that the salt on the squash is usually enough.  I did add one rounded teaspoon of cumin and a few generous pinches of chili powder to the mix until I found the seasoning to be right for me.  I would recommend using spices from your cupboard instead of prepackaged taco seasoning, as you are unlikely to need the extra salt in the commercial mixes.  Don’t be scared of seasoning by taste, this is an extremely forgiving recipe.  Add some spices, stir and taste.  Is it good?  Stop.  Does it need a little something?  Trust yourself to add a bit more cumin. Or some cayenne. Or fresh hot peppers. Or more cilantro. Or another lime.  Or all of them.  This is your dinner, enjoy it!

I seared a small piece of fresh fish from my local market quickly and warmed up some corn tortillas in the toaster oven.  The juice of half a lime and more fresh cilantro on the fish, and dinner is ready.  I topped my tacos with feta as I could not find queso blanco in my market today.  And when the tacos lost my interest we ran out of fish, my homemade pico de gallo and slaw happily topped my chips and filled my belly.  Personally, my favorite part of squash slaw is its versatility.  I eat it on chips, in a tortilla, with a fork.  This is summer right?  What’s better than the flavor of sunshine and some hard work on your plate?  Plus, you barely have to cook anything.

When the produce is this fresh, life is good.

These are the days to thank my farmers.  Their willingness to toil means I don’t have to.  A few chops and slices in my kitchen is about all it takes.

I hope you are all eating as well as we are!  Happy August, dear readers!

The Surprises of Summer

Please forgive me.  I have been an absentee blogger.  I promised lots of CSA-inspired recipes and have failed to deliver.  Its not that I have not been cooking, I have.  It’s not that I don’t have lots of time on my hands.  I do.  Unfortunately, sometimes life just fills that time in unexpected ways.  Like this one.  6 hours were spent one evening in the emergency vet.  This is what happens when you decide to have dog-children.  Sometimes you have to have a cone of shame at  your house.  Although we now call her “Flappy Ear Penny”, we still totally love her.  I mean, what’s not to love?  Look at that cone-headed beast!

This week’s CSA was gloriously summery!  We received 7 various squashes, 2 hot peppers, 1 1/2 pounds of tomatoes, 1 pint of tomatillos, 1/2 lb of green beans, 1 melon, 2 eggplant, 2 green peppers, and one bunch of basil.  It’s been a week’s worth of cookouts.  Our block watch celebrated National Night Out with a potluck cookout.  I keep saying it, but it’s still true, we have great neighbors.  While our house isn’t usually included in the block watch, we have been welcomed to their events, newsletters, and local crime updates.  We carried grilled squash with fresh basil and oregano down the street and soon The Philosopher and I were talking to neighbors new and old.  We shared recipes and gardening secrets, heard stories about our street from years ago, and broke bread with our community.  All good things in the Karma in the Kitchen world.

Last night, The Philosopher, our neighbors, some family, and a friend spent a few hours enjoying the fountains at the Scioto Mile.  And evening of grilling adventures followed as each of us managed to run out of gas in our grills before all of dinner was cooked.  Ah well.  I am certain the children never wiped smiles off their faces.  Thankfully, I made a roasted salsa verde right before we left for out water adventures.  As you can see, I had one of the world’s largest tomatillos (seriously, I think it rivaled a tennis ball!).  I peeled and rinsed my tomatillos and popped them on the grill (I still had plenty of gas then!) with 3 jalepenos, 2 large garlic cloves, 2 medium tomatoes, and one onion, quartered.  When everything had browned nicely, I popped the ingredients in the blender with the juice of 2 limes, 1 teaspoon of coarse salt, and 1/2c of fresh cilantro.  After a few minutes of whirling I tasted and decided it may be too spicy for some of the younger diners.  I added one avocado and blended it up well.  The finished product was perfectly spicy and creamy.  It was a delicious dip and a perfect snack while we waited for the rest of dinner to finish cooking on the stove.  Oh summer.  So full of [wonderful] surprises!

Welcome Back Dessert!

It’s been a long, cold spring.  Well it certainly felt that way without the the three fires of sugar, gluten, and dairy to keep us warm.  We survived and now, we celebrate.  Albeit the celebration is still fairly sugar, gluten, and dairy-free around here.  Or at least very light on those things.  Thankfully, summer produce offers us many scrumptious dining options without much of those heavy hitters.  Peaches have arrived in Central Ohio, which obviously calls for grilling those little treats and topping them with Jeni’s Pistachio and Honey ice cream.  This Jeni’s variety is mildly sweet, allowing the caramelized, peach flavor to shine.  Oh what a glorious time of the year!  This week, our CSA grew to include 5 summer squash!  Call me excited!  It’s time for zucchini bread!

We had a few events this weekend that called for just such a dessert.  Gaining inspiration from David Lebovitz, I tired a gluten-free  and lower sugar version of his Zucchini Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze.

First for the gluten-free flour mix.  I ran across this recipe in the NYT recently and have used it for waffles, pancakes, pumpkin bread, and zucchini bread.  It seems to be up to most typical glutenous challenges.  The cornmeal and oat flour offers this blend a nice texture that I have appreciated in my cooking so far.  You may want consider texture when deciding how to best develop your flour blend.  The NYT article further suggests that a ratio of 70% grain and/or nut flours and 30% starches will yield the best blend.  The grain/nut flours include rice, cornmeal, sorghum, amaranth, teff, buckwheat, garbanzo, or almond.  The starches include potato, tapioca, arrowroot, and cornstarch.  With all those options, the combinations seem endless.  As always, I say it’s time to play!  Stop worrying about following recipes and have fun.  Your stomach will likely thank you in the end!

So, using this gluten-free flour blend, I made a zucchini cake.  Here’s what I did.

First, oil and flour (use the GF flour) 2 bread pans, 2 round cake pans, or a bunt cake pan.  Chop 1c of toasted almonds, walnuts, or pecans (I used almonds for my cake).  Grate 2 1/2 cups of zucchini or other summer squash.  I did this by hand, but a food processor would do just fine.  I often find that grating squash leads to lots of liquid.  I say keep it and make sure it gets in your batter.  That is the stuff of gooey, moistness.  In fact, I have been known to freeze shredded squash for winter baking.  The defrosted squash usually has a good layer of liquid that separates.  KEEP IT!

Ok, rant complete.  Now on with dessert.  Next I sifted together the dry ingredients:  2c GF flour, 1t baking powder, 1/2t baking soda, 1t salt, 2t cinnamon, 1t ground ginger, and 1/2t nutmeg.  In a separate mixing bowl, I creamed 3 room temperature eggs (if you want to go egg-free/vegan, use 3T ground flax and 1/2-3/4c water) with 1 1/2c sugar and 1c safflower oil.    I beat these together for about 3 minutes on a medium setting.  I added 2t of vanilla and began to slowly add the dry ingredients until they were all well incorporated and mixed an additional 30seconds.  Stir in the nuts and zucchini.  Spread into your pan(s).  I made 2 bread pan-sized loafs and they baked for 50 minutes at 350.  I began checking them at 40 minutes, if you opt to make a 2 cake pans, you may want to check fairly early also.  When a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, pull the pans out and let them cool for about 10 minutes.  I would suggest you place a cookie sheet or some foil under your cooling rack to collect the best part of this recipe.  The glaze!

Remove the cakes from the pan and mix together 1/4c freshly squeezed lemon juice (this was about one lemon for me), 1/3c granulated sugar (that’s the regular stuff), and 1c powdered sugar.  Mix until well incorporatedand brush over the top of the cake, allowing it to run gently down the sides.  Allow your cake too cool at least until the glaze has hardened.  The crunchy exterior is the best part!  The lemony glaze is so bright and vibrant!  It really makes this cake sing!

Serve on your patio to your friends/neighbors/[family members] while watching your dog attack the neighbor’s boxer puppy.  Smile.  That’s summer.

We May Have Overeaten…

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”   ~Erma Bombeck

Yes, I know that the fourth of July is a faint memory as summer’s time whizzes by.  But I ran across this quote somewhere and couldn’t help feeling that it summarized my last week so completely that I had to share it with you readers.  Our Monday was a day filled with some of my favorite things; dogs, children, friends, neighbors, and food.  Have I mentioned lately how fortunate we are to be surrounded by awesome people?  A random conversation one day suggesting a cookout soon turned into a gathering of old and new friends, two- and four-legged family members, laughter, culinary treats, games, smiling, sparklers, beer, and happiness.  We may have overeaten, but celebrating my community is a pretty good way to commemorate the fourth.  Here’s evidence of the event.

think it is safe to say that all enjoyed the day.  I mean, what’s not to love?  My friends are fabulous cooks.  The dogs children are always well-behaved.    And the conversation always ripples through, punctuated by laughter.  A good evening, ended with a walk to the Park of Roses to watch Clintonville’s firework display.  The Philosopher ended up with a wide-eyed 5-year-old in his lap.  I don’t know if the flies died from happiness, but I suspect few faces fell asleep without a smile on their lips.

Tuesday’s CSA pick up was an exciting event as summer squash had arrived.  I received another huge head of lettuce, a bunch of beets, kale, a kohlrabi (with leaves), 2 yellow squash, and one zucchini.  While my own plants are beginning to show signs of life, it’s nice to be able to trust the Sippel’s to keep my refrigerator packed.  I recently rediscovered cornmeal in my house.  Since our detox diet eliminated corn, I had buried my supply deep in the recesses of my basement.  I recently unearthed many lovely treasures and found them loving homes on my kitchen shelves again.  The zucchini was calling for polenta.  I just knew it.  I made two 8″ round (but square pans would work well also) of polenta and popped them in the fridge around lunchtime.  At dinner, I heated them in a large skillet lined generously with oil.  I sauteed an onion and a few cloves of garlic in a separate skillet until the onions were soft and added the zucchini, cut into 1″ pieces, and a large can of crushed tomatoes.  (Just think, my time of canned tomatoes is nearly reaching it’s end!)  I also added fresh basil and oregano from my garden, red pepper flakes for some heat, kosher salt, and a bit of agave for some sweetness.  When the zucchini had begun to soften, the polenta was golden brown.  After topping a piece of polenta with the veggies and adding a sprinkling of basil on top, the season’s first zucchini reached my lips.  Welcome summer!  In your kitchen, feel free to make the polenta the night before and keep it in the fridge until it’s time to make dinner.  You can also simply put the pans in the oven or under the broiler.  I suggest spraying or brushing the top with oil so the top browns nicely.  It will likely take about the same amount of time, but if you are like me, you are staying far away from the oven these days!

The week ended with the lovely celebration of my nephew and father-in-law’s birthday.  Again, the afternoon was filled with the excited sounds of children; on bicycles, helping to open presents, and enjoying a story together.  My brother-in-law who is stationed in Las Vegas in the air force had arrived the day before to surprise his parents and attend a friend’s wedding.  A few hours in the sunshine with important loved ones strengthened the bonds and commitment of this caring family.  I couldn’t help snapping a few shots to help the birthday boy remember how his birth caused such celebration three years later.

Few occasions aren’t improved by a dinosaur cake and the gift of a sword.  As the long-distance aunt, it’s amazing to see the transformation of my niece and nephew into little people, with their own unique personalities.  Each visit, each year, each celebration shows a little more of them.  Who they will be, what the will become.  It’s a great honor to be a part of such a magnificent process.

And the remains of our CSA found a good home at another fabulous evening as last night we gathered with fellow CSA friends and other members of our extended Clintonville circle to enjoy a delicious meal.  I had the kohlrabi, beet greens, and lettuce remaining from our share this week.  If you are not familiar with kohlrabi, don’t be alarmed.  I think my neighbor said it best when she asked something like, “Who would have ever looked at that thing and thought to themselves, ‘I should eat that’?”  Well, I don’t know who that person was, but I gladly accepted the fruit of their ingenuity.  I found this recipe on Epicurious and thought it was a perfect use of my leftovers.  I made some changes, obviously.  I didn’t have the kale, so I used the kohlrabi greens and my beet greens.  I also felt it need a little more crunch than my one kohlrabi could offer, so I added the better part of my head of lettuce.  Finally, I used sunflower seeds as they were already in my cupboard.  It was a perfect side dish to the falafel, tzatziki sauce, and french bread made by our hosts and was followed by a lovely banana cream pie.  What a great way to share in our kitchen skills and produce.  Eating with friends makes everything taste a little bit better!  A nice balance of texture, punch of lime juice, and garlicky goodness made this a pleasant summer salad.  Don’t have an alien-like kohlrabi laying around? I would try this again using a small head of cabbage, I think it would still be lovely.

I hope your week was filled with a form of patriotism that makes you proud.  Proud to be a citizen.  Proud to meet and mingle with all those other citizens.  Proud of the good feelings you get when we come together.  Proud to serve as both leaders and servants in the rest of the world.  Proud to learn from other nations forging new paths forward.  Proud of your own families, friends, neighbors, and communities.  We may have overeaten, but we truly found a way to honor the occasion.

Inaugurating a New Kitchen

Hello friends… I haven’t posted in a while, partially because I am the delinquent child in this blog relationship.  But also because in the last month or so I have picked up all of my belongings and carried them to a new home.  I’m still in the city of Chicago, but I’m now inhabiting a place with a spacious kitchen.  This is a huge relief and something I was looking forward to as soon as I set foot in my previous apartment.  I tried not to complain about it too much, but I had a galley kitchen with basically no counter space to speak of.  It was a hallway leading to what should have been an actual kitchen.  Sigh.

Now, however, I have a lovely kitchen with lots of space to cook.  It’s beautiful.  Another new thing that’s begun recently is a CSA I’m sharing with a friend of mine.  As I’m sure most of our readers know, this spring was unusually cold, so a lot of the yield thus far has been in the way of lettuce.  It’s weird to have so many different types of lettuce just kicking around.  I’m not a huge lettuce eater, but I obviously eat it more when it’s being delivered to me on a weekly basis.  We are starting to see a transition out of all lettuce and into heartier stuff, such as snow peas, turnips, green beans and cucumbers.

Not that cucumbers are hearty.  We were really hoping for a lot of dark leafy greens, and really I chose this CSA because they promised kale.  I wanted a bunch of kale every week, at least, if not 2-3 varieties.  Alas, we work with what we’re given, the motto of CSA subscribers everywhere.  Luckily, turnips mean turnip greens, which aren’t kale, per say, but are nice sauteed and are good for nutrients.  For a quick dinner, I sauteed turnip greens in olive oil and salt, laid them over some polenta and fried up a chicken sausage for the side.  I also roasted turnips, garlic scapes, onions and a non-CSA sweet potato in the over with garlic and herbs until the veggies were soft and munched on it quite happily.

Sweet potatoes tend to sneak their way into a lot of impromptu meals, but one situation in which I’ve found them particularly useful is in the creation of frittatas.  I posted before (as part of the donut post) about a frittata I made back in March. I used a recipe then, but decided this time that it wasn’t even necessary.  There are two tricks to a delicious frittata I have learned in my experiments.  Browning thinly sliced potatoes in the pan (sweet or otherwise) and leaving them there as a crust adds a good foundation to the dish.  When you bite into it, you get the eggs and cheese and fillers on top, and then there is that constant golden brown potato in every bite.  Very satisfying.  Sweet potatoes are my choice because not only is it golden brown, it’s also a little creamy and sweet to boot.  Who is turning down golden brown, crispy, creamy sweet vegetables?  Not me.

The other trick, or it might be essential depending on how technical you are being about your frittatas, is to finish it off in the oven.  For this you will need a pan that can be put in the over.  Generally, these are anodized and don’t have plastic on their handles.  So when you finish the frittata on the stove, usually by adding a generous layer of cheese, you can just pop the whole thing in the oven to brown on top.  The only truly aggravating thing about creating frittata is that it takes a long time.  To slice the thin potatoes, to brown the potatoes, to prep and sautee the other veggies, to mix the eggs, to get the whole thing together on the stove and then to brown it in the oven takes some serious cooking time. However, I have found the process to be worth it, 100%, each time I have concocted a frittata.

Something I did this time, was take the frittata and flip it onto my large wooden cutting board to cut it.  This saved the integrity of my pan a little, made sort of an interesting serving dish, and made me feel pretty skilled for being able to deftly flip a large pan full of food onto another surface without destroying it.  My roommate was impressed anyways.

In other non-frittata related news, I recently discovered a way of making my gluten, yeast, dairy, egg free BFF a real chocolate cake.   This is how it went down.  I said I would have her and her boyfriend over for dinner.  Knowing the constraints this would put on my menu choices, I chose pork roast, roasted root veggies, and corn on the cob (something I know she likes).  We were talking online day of and she was lamenting about how she would never be able to eat real cake again, and it struck me that my mother had made eggless cakes for our family growing up all the time, because my father was allergic.  It was called a screwball cake, probably because the recipe sounds kind of crazy.  Since GF folks are pretty numerous and pretty vocal, there are some decent GF baking flours on the market.  So I picked up a bag of GF baking flour, and I baked her a cake.  So, for those of you who battle dietary restrictions including, gluten, dairy, yeast, and/or egg, here is a recipe for you to have your cake and eat it.  All of it.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Mix 3c flour (GF if necessary), 2c sugar, 1/2c cocoa, and 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl.  You might need to sift the mixture together, as GF flour likes to clump a little more than wheat flour.  Once it’s all combined, you make three holes in the mix.  (Nothing fancy, just dig out three holes equidistant from each other.)  In one hole, put 2tsp baking soda, in the next hole put 2tsp white vinegar, and in hole #3, put 1c oil (it’s not all going to fit in the hole, relax.  This deviates from the recipe a little, but I throw a little vanilla in at this point too, with the oil, or before the oil in hole three.  Then you pour 2 cups cold water over the top of everything, and mix it all together.  Pour into a 9×13 ungreased pan and bake for 45 mines.  Voila, gluten free, egg free, dairy free, yeast free cake!  I made a topping with powdered sugar, almond milk, and cocoa to pour over the top.  It was a hit with my friends for sure.

Garlic Scape Pesto Times Two

I have been back from the UK and still feel unprepared to write about the trip.  I thoroughly enjoyed the time with new and old friends.  I saw amazing sites and took some pretty good photos.  I ate a lot of potatoes and fish and pork [gasp!].  The trip was the perfect balance of sight-seeing and relaxing.  Look forward to some words about the UK shortly, but for now I must move on to other timely topics.

Week 6 of our CSA offered this beautiful bounty.  In the back is another huge head of lettuce.  The lettuce this year has often been larger than my head, requiring only a leaf or two for a side salad.  Fresh and crisp.  Delish.  Moving forward, is some beautiful rainbow swiss chard which was turned into a caramelized onion and chard fritatta for breakfast with yoga friends yesterday morning.  A bunch of beets are near the front.  The greens were braised in stock, shallots, and garlic and served with the roasted beets as a side dish one evening.  A few sprigs of basil are tucked in the front.  They served as back up to the main stars of this week.  See those curly garlic scapes in there?  They were one of my favorite CSA arrivals last year and I have eagerly awaited their return this year.  Here’s a shot of them up close.   My understanding is that cutting the tops, or scapes, from the garlic root, encourages growth.  I am happy to foresee gorgeous heads of garlic in my summer and fall shares and enjoy the more gentle flavor of scapes today.  Last year, I discovered garlic scape pesto.  This week, I made a batch with the fresh basil, scapes, cashews, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

As with many things, pesto-making requires no formal recipe.  Each batch should be as unique as the individual mixing it up.  I put about 6 garlic scapes, 15 leaves of basil, 1/3c of cashews, a dash of salt and pepper in the food processor.  I drizzled in olive oil until an aromatically lovely sauce formed.  After tasting, I realized I had quite a garlicy pesto.  I decided that a gentle heating would help cut some of the spicy garlic flavor.

For the first night, I baked slabs of tofu in the oven.  You could pay fry them on the stovetop, but I was roasting beets at the same time and when the summer temperatures rise, I try to use the oven as little as possible and to maximize the energy expenditure when I do turn the dial on.  I popped tofu slices in an oiled baking pan at 400 degrees.  After 10 minutes or so, I flipped the slices and browned on the other side.  I topped the slices with a dab of pesto and popped back in the oven for an additional few minutes.  The additional heat was perfect.  The pesto was still fresh and clean, but the bite of the raw garlic was tempered.  It was a lovely main dish.  I suspect roasted or grilled chicken or fish would be lovely this way.  Try it and let me know!

Later that week, I made gluten-free pasta and tossed it quickly in a warm pan with the rest of the pesto.  The second meal was lovely.  Fresh like a warm spring June evening.  A fresh salad, glass or two of pinot grigio, and the conversation of friends is the perfect way to compliment this meal.

As our tomato and pepper plants are hanging heavily with future meal prospects, we eagerly await Tuesday’s CSA share.  Zucchini and yellow squash should arrive soon, right?  How are you enjoying the fresh produce of the season?