Week #4 Food Prep Guide + RECIPE: Garlic Scape Pesto
Though this is likely the last week of rhubarb in boxes, we're excited that this week is the first of purple snow peas and garlic scapes! We will also most likely have baby fennel and kohlrabi ready to add to boxes starting next week. The mulberries are beginning to change from lime green to blush, which means they'll be ready before long as well. We spent the weekend taking cuttings of mulberries, currants, and roses, and we hope to take cuttings of our elderberries and honeyberries as well. We just harvested honeyberries but sadly only had enough for our family. I'm sure there will be enough to go around starting next year!
On a very sad note, we had an unfortunate livestock massacre that wiped out our entire flock. I'll spare you the details but it's just one of many reminders that Mother Nature tries very hard to take control despite our best efforts...and that raccoons are relentless. Extra coop fortification with hardware cloth and lumber did nothing to stop them and it was quite horrifying to find our girls the way we did. We will miss them. Having the hens for companionship as well as the eggs to eat and sell over the last four years has been such a joy. I can't wait to bring them back at some point. They were never my main focus nor my main enterprise so we will be okay this year without them.
We recommend that you set aside 15-30 minutes to unload your produce and do some quick preparations to help your food last as long as possible. Please consider the following preparation tips to make the most of your purchase.
*Wash all produce before use and either scrub or remove the peels.*
*Pickle or freeze anything you don’t plan to cook in 3-5 days.*
Purple snow peas. Store unwashed in an open plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator and cook as soon as you can. The variety we grow, 'Beauregarde', has been bred to have increased levels of the antioxidant anthocyanin and therefore maintain its purple color after cooking. Before using, wash in very cold water and remove the stem and any fibrous strings. To stir fry, cut large pea pods in half on the bias. Quickly sauté pods over high heat. Add salt and a splash of water, then cover and continue to cook for 30 seconds. Serve immediately. To freeze, bring about 4 quarts of water to a boil, then boil the pods for about 90 seconds before immediately draining and shocking in an ice water bath for a few minutes. Freeze on a lined baking sheet for 30 minutes before transferring the pods to an airtight bag or container. They are also perfectly tasty when raw so feel free to snack on them in their natural state.
Garlic scapes. Much like a garlicky green bean, the flowering stalk of a garlic plant is a delicious farmer's market favorite. Store garlic scapes in a plastic bag lined with a paper towel in the fridge. Kept this way, they often store for over week. Before using, rinse under cold water and proceed with your recipe. They are extremely versatile; you can chop them and use as a replacement for garlic in any recipe, make pesto, or make dill pickles with them.
Rhubarb. Remove and discard the leaves as they are poisonous. Cut the rhubarb into 1-inch pieces, and either store in a paper towel-lined container in the fridge or partially freeze on a parchment-lined baking sheet before transferring to an airtight container.
Red Russian kale. Red Russian is a very mild and sweet kale that can be used both as a salad green or as a cooking green. Remove thick, woody stems. Briefly submerge the greens in cold water to remove any residual soil and to refresh the leaves. We recommend blanching kale right away in preparation for cooking later. To do this, lower the greens into (optional: salted) boiling water for 30-60 seconds until their color becomes very bright and vibrant, then immediately plunge into an ice water bath. Gently lift the greens into a colander to drain excess water. The cooking liquid contains some nutrients and may be stored as a base for homemade chicken or vegetable stock. Refrigerate in a lidded container for up to 3 days or freeze. Substitute for raw greens in recipes or smoothies by using half as much as is called for (i.e. ½ cup blanched greens in lieu of 1 cup raw greens).
Summer crisp lettuce. Cut the root end away to make loose leaves. Briefly submerge the greens in cold water to remove any residual soil and to refresh the leaves. Gently lift the greens into a salad spinner to remove as much excess water as possible. If you don’t have a salad spinner (though we really do find a big difference in storage time when a salad spinner is used instead) you can also place the greens on a paper towel-lined cooling rack, then pat dry with more paper towels. Store in a lidded container lined with a layer of dry paper towel.
Radishes. Remove the radish tops from the radish root. Wash and blanch the greens (boil for 30 seconds, then shock in a bowl of ice water) if you plan to eat them, then store in a container in the fridge. Line a zip-top plastic freezer bag with a moist paper towel, then place the radishes inside. Remove all of the air from the bag and put it into the crisper drawer. Radishes typically store for 2 weeks in this way. My neighbor's mom recently shared that her mother used to prop them in a cup of cold water to rejuvenate the roots.
Parsley & lemon balm. Place each bunch of herbs in its own mason jar or cup and add a few inches of clean water, just enough to cover the bottom couple of inches of the stems of the herbs. Drape a plastic bag loosely over the top of the leaves, allowing some air to circulate. If your kitchen is warm, put them in the back of your fridge. If you won't use them within a few days, freeze chopped herbs into ice cube trays topped with olive oil.
Garlic Scape Pesto
1 bunch of garlic scapes, washed and dried
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil (we recommend you use one that isn't bitter when uncooked)
the juice of 1 lemon
1 c Pecorino Romano cheese
salt and pepper to taste
optional: 1/2 c fresh herbs or greens i.e. basil, arugula, kale
Puree the scapes, oil, and lemon juice (and optional herbs) in a food processor until it reaches your desired consistency. Add the cheese and freshly cracked pepper and pulse until combined. Pecorino Romano is a very salty cheese so before adding any additional salt taste the pesto and see if it is to your liking. This pesto freezes exceptionally well; we typically fill an ice cube tray so we have little pesto nuggets ready to toss into recipes on the fly.
tossed with pasta
combined with whole-fat Greek yogurt for an instant white sauce for pizza
sautéed as an aromatic base for soups, stews, and braises
combined with softened butter for garlic scape compound butter
added to homemade hummus as a garlic clove/lemon juice substitute
added to marinades for chicken, fish, shrimp, or tofu
combined with mayonnaise for a zesty sandwich spread