Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pesto and More

It's been another adventureful week of food here in Brooklyn! We started off the week with a roommate beer share from our local fancy food store, Grab. They sell really nice cheese, meats, expensive chocolates, and high-quality beers, including a bunch on draft every week that you can take home in a growler. Fun!

We were all in the mood for a beer one night so I ran across the street and picked us up a growler of Allagash White. By putting down $5 or so for a growler deposit, you can hang onto the container itself and bring it back for different refills. Hopefully this will be the start of a frequent growler tradition. Plus, as if we needed more incentive to drink beers, once you fill your growler twelve times, you can get the thirteenth one for $1. What a deal!

I adapted my favorite strawberry rhubarb crumble recipe to incorporate new fruits this week. Our apartment had an abundance of peaches and blueberries, as well as some quickly disintegrating rhubarb, so a peach-blueberry-rhubarb crumble was in order.

More peaches were purchased to replace those in the crumble, which quickly became Mark Bittman's famous tomato and peach salad. Remember this, Katey and Nicole? We made it a few years back at one of our picnic potlucks in the park and it was a big old hit. Mark Bittman says:

Toss together sliced seeded tomatoes and peaches, along with thinly sliced red onion and chopped cilantro or rosemary. Dress at the last minute with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

This made a great lunch on top of some salad greens, though I wished I had waited to dress it until the last minute. Got a tiny bit soggy. But delicious as always.

This week also held pesto adventures aplenty. Remember the garlic scapes I purchased last week at the farmer's market?

These became a delicious, bright, super-garlicky scape pesto. I found the recipe on the blog of fellow Park Slopers (Park Slopians? Park Slopettes?) Thirty Bucks a Week, but dug up their original recipe from Dorie Greenspan.

Garlic Scape and Almond Pesto

Makes about 1 cup

10 garlic scapes, finely chopped

1/3 to 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (to taste and texture)

1/3 cup slivered almonds (you could toast them lightly, if you'd like)

About 1/2 cup olive oil

Sea salt

Put the scapes, 1/3 cup of the cheese, almonds and half the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor (or use a blender or a mortar and pestle).

Whir to chop and blend all the ingredients and then add the remainder of the oil and, if you want, more cheese. If you like the texture, stop; if you'd like it a little thinner, add some more oil. Season with salt.

I, however, prefer pine nuts to almonds. so used pine nuts instead. Maybe almonds next time. The garlic scapes were so cheap ($1.50 for the whole bunch, I think?), making this a great way to stock up on pesto. The fresh pesto was combined with some artichoke ravioli and fresh portobello mushrooms for dinner.

The rest went into the freezer. Score.

Yesterday I attended the Grand Army Plaza market at the bright and early hour of 8:30am, which was completely wonderful. The market opens at 8, so only a few dozen folks had arrived by that time, and the sun wasn't so blazing hot yet, allowing me a leisurely early morning of walking through the market. I brought home a bunch of beets, some garlic, a big old bag full of carrots (only $2!) two glorious pints of sungolds, and an enormous bunch of basil.

I quickly turned the basil into pesto, which is now in the freezer alongside the garlic scape pesto. Fresh pasta sauce all winter long!

At this point I've made basil pesto often enough that I don't really follow a strict recipe, just mix up my basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts and parmesan (and salt and pepper) in the food processor until it looks right and tastes great.

One of the farmstands at the market, I believe it's Evolutionary Organics, sells absolutely stunning-smelling cinnamon basil pesto, which I would love to replicate. They also sell the cinnamon basil itself, which is a bit pricey, and I'm debating whether it would make more financial sense to buy the ready-made stuff, done by the experts, or splurge on the herbs and make my own. Perhaps a project for next weekend...

I've got a few of those Mark Bittman summer salad recipes on my radar for this week, one to use the carrots and one or two for all those sungolds (if they last long enough! I've been known to eat them raw mighty quick...). Stay tuned!

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