Tag Archives: basil

Long Neck Swans

Yesterday we had a nice present from our garden. The long awaited for garlic scapes, the edible flowering bud of the garlic plants were finally here. They have striking shapes that resemble long neck swans posing very still at rest or ready to take flight.IMG_3771 IMG_3776 IMG_3775 IMG_3774 IMG_3773We ate them pickled last fall during our stay at D Acres Farm in NH. That was our first experience with them, and I have been waiting patiently for their arrival. Garlic scapes taste mildly like garlic, definitely not pungent or overpowering in flavor or aroma. They are firm and their texture is crisp and snappy, similar to broccoli florets.

I collected about 50 or 60 flower buds yesterday morning at the same time that I picked some basil and fresh oregano from the garden. I gave the oregano and some of the scapes away, but kept enough to make a wonderful pesto for dinner. IMG_3783 IMG_3781The pesto recipe is quite simple and is my own version of a somewhat similar recipe Beth had found online to accompany pasta. However, I used my pesto to flavor and enhance fish filets. IMG_3800

Pesto Recipe

Combine the following ingredients in a blender:

20-40 fresh garlic scapes chopped

1 cup shelled unsalted pistachio nuts

1/2 cup olive oil

1 cup chopped basil

1 cup Parmesan cheese

1 tsp Kosher or sea salt

Pulse blend all ingredients until you obtain your desired texture (I like mine to be kind of crunchy).

Spread the pesto thick over your favorite fish, we used mahi mahi filets. Bake the fish for 5 minutes at 375ยบ in a closed aluminum foil pouch, open the pouch and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the fish is fully cooked but still tender. Sprinkle sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste at the table.

I accompanied our fish with a fresh garden salad and quinoa. Sorry I did not get any decent pictures of the finish pesto, or even the meal, but you can trust me, the flavor and the texture were awesome. Let me know if you try it, and please post if you improve the recipe.

Bon apetit

 

 

 

It is Pesto Friday

From a very early age, our youngest son developed an unusual taste for basil pesto sauce. Funny for an extremely finicky eater. He was probably the only child to open up a Tupperware container of “green pasta” at lunch time at school, and comeback home with garlicky pesto breath…we still wonder why we never got a note from his teachers…

Since then, “green pasta” has become a staple at our home, perhaps as common as mac ‘n cheese is on most other tables. We prepare pesto and hold it refrigerated during most of the year. In the cooler months we buy two full plants a week from the vegetable market, and quickly process it into sauce to preserve the wonderful flavor. Since we started gardening, Basil has of course been a main component of our garden, but it took us a couple of years to get into the rhythm of producing enough for our own needs.

We put the basil plants in the ground the weekend of Mother’s Day (when the risk of frost ends in our area). We have figured that 15-16 plants hold us up for the summer once in full production. Three weeks ago we had our first significant harvest of leaves, since the cool days lingered longer than usual this year.

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We make sure to use the immature flowers before they go to seed

Every Friday we harvest the basil early in the morning, as the the flavor is stronger at that time of day. We clip off the top 1/3 of the plants leaves, to keep the plants from producing mature flowers and going to seed, so they just keep on getting bushier with every harvest. We do use the young flowers and the very tender stems near the top, but discard the tough stems right next to the plants to compost. Our weekly production is equivalent to what you get from two full grown basil plants from the vegetable market.

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Portion of the plant that gets harvested

Our son, H, is responsible for making the pesto immediately after the leaves are collected. Our version of the Basil Pesto sauce can be made in a few minutes.

After washing the leaves in cold water, place them in a blender or food processor with 2-3 garlic cloves and 1/2 cup of olive oil. Blend at high speed until a thick paste forms, adding extra olive oil until all plant material has been processed. Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of parmesan cheese to the mixture an continue blending until homogeneous. And it is done. Some recipes call for pine nuts, but we find it does not add much to the flavor, and given the price of pine nuts we’d be flat broke by now. We keep the pesto sauce refrigerated in a closed container until we need to use it. If it is too thickwe mix a couple tablespoons of the water where we cooked the pasta with the portion of pesto we are going to use at the moment.

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This is our weekly basil harvest

Our garden is now producing enough to make a quart of pesto sauce a week. I was hoping to start freezing it and saving it for the winter months, but so far we have eaten all our production…I told you, we go through that stuff real fast.