Yesterday, it was quick-and-easy-dried-herbs. Today, another clever (and most delicious!) way to conserve that summer herby bounty: may I introduce you to MAKE YOUR OWN PESTO. WITH WHAT YA GOT ON HAND. See, I was up in the NE part of the city this morning and I stopped, as I always do when I'm there, in my favourite foodie haunts. One of these is the Italian Store, a side business to Scarpone's next door. They carry lots of fun things that may be hard to find in your regular grocery store, and one of my favourites: copious amounts of arugula and basil. They also tend to, from time to time, have some local produce and so I thought I'd stop by there this morning to see if inspiration would hit. AND AYE CHEE POW it did.
I picked up a bag of arugula (I smothered half of my volunteer plants that come back year after year by building up the garden beds this year, so my usual arugula supply is too meagre for my liking) and a few bags of basil leaves and some asiago cheese. I knew I'd have nuts or seeds at home, and everything else you need for a good pesto so I just thought to do one quick stroll through the kitchen gadget section for fun, which ends up in their small fresh produce section. Lo and behold, there stood a big box of local extra-fresh hard-neck garlic. Oh was I overjoyed. I picked about 10 heads of garlic ($8.16) and promptly made my way home, along with a beautiful tray of fresh figs, after paying of course. I have yet to figure out what I will make with that load of figs.
I will talk more about that garlic tomorrow, but suffice it to say that I used a few cloves in today's instalment of Putting Up the Harvest. Recipe to follow, but this is my smattering of things on the table as I was thinking what could go in it.
I need to get professional on this here website and figure out a way to do an easy recipe block that you can easily print, but for the time being, I'm going to just ramble a recipe together, kind of like this afternoon's harvesting project went. Making a pesto incidentally is a brilliant way to preserve the copious amounts of herbs that are at their peak and best price right now. I love frozen cubes of pesto so much that I did a double batch of this one, and plan to do more in the coming days.
I'll start with a good basic recipe, and will add my embellishments afterwards. These are absolutely not essential, but may be a reason to go play with your food. Just saying. Allow me to do a single batch for you:
I took out my food processor and blitzed 1/2 cup of pistachios with 2 cloves of that fresh garlic. When it was crumbly, I added in 2 cups of arugula and 2 cups of basil leaves picked off the stems. I also threw in 1/2 tsp of sea salt, the juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 tbsp of honey and whizzed that whole thing in to a paste. When it was all combined and crumbly even more, I kept the motor running whilst adding a whole 3/4 cups of good quality olive oil. If you're feeling adventurous, you could up the nutritional ante and superfood-it-up: I added 1/2 tsp of spirulina (super immune supportive, and liver loving, you can find this at your favourite local health food store), 1/2 to 3/4 tsp of seaweed flakes (rich in minerals, and iodine which will give your thyroid a wee high five), I also added 1 tsp of chipotle in adobo sauce because that hint of kick and smokiness just rounds out the sweetness from the honey and elevates this pesto to give that taste of je ne sais quoi. Blitz the whole thing together again, until it looks like a pesto. Scoop it out into a bowl, and mix in by hand 1/2 cup of your cheese of choice, be it parmesan or asiago or whatever you have on hand. I did asiago.
Once it's all mixed in, give it a taste and adjust the flavours if you like. Know that you can swap out the pistachios for any nuts or seeds you have on hand, or any of the greens and any herbs here: you can use straight up basil if you like without the arugula, or do a batch with that lemon sorrel you have in your garden that has gone to seed (note to self), or add calendula petals or nasturtium flowers in the mix BECAUSE FLOWERS. The most important part of this is that you will make your own combos up as it will bring you joy. Promise. But before it brings you joy, you have to put it in the freezer so that you can have it the winter long. So go ahead and slop that pesto goop into ice cube trays, and pop in the freezer for a few days before you load them in your plastic freezer bags, sealing in that pungent herby flavour for winter pick-me-ups. You're welcome.
Tomorrow: how to keep vampires and colds at bay. Thanks for checking in, kittens.