Not sure if you are aware of this, but this time of year in New Hampshire is the beginning of the CSA season. CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture.” Basically, you pay your local farmer in advance to, not only support their farm, but to secure yourself a spot in a multi-week amount of fresh picked produce. Each farm that runs a CSA varies on what is available and how long their season lasts. Our CSA is at Holland Farms in Milford, New Hampshire. I don’t mind giving them a plug because they are awesome. They do it “old skool” on an old farm and everything is pretty amazing there. They even have goats!
These last couple of weeks we had a pretty good bounty of items; from mixed baby greens to bok choy, we are gathering all sorts of great stuff. Of course, there are those other benefits that one gets from being a part of a CSA and that’s an abundance of rare produce items. In addition to an armful of Thai basil and hand-cut flowers, we got a pile of garlic scapes to play with.
Garlic scapes are the flower bud of the garlic plant. The bud is removed to encourage the bulbs to thicken up. Garlic scapes taste just like garlic. They can be used in exactly the same way as garlic in any recipe. Of course, that would be too easy for me. I have so many of these things I could hardly use them in stuff only “like garlic.” Having done a bit of research, I found that people are making pesto out of these things. Interestingly, I found it to be a bit too strong and not as useful by itself. But, since we also have a ton of fresh peas, mint and basil, I thought, “Why don’t I create a pesto that celebrates the late spring/ early summer harvest?” This is something I could make a lot of and freeze, enjoying it for the rest of the year.
Here is what I came up with. A garlic scape, green pea and mint pesto. It’s bright green, garlicky with a hint of mint to pop in behind those sweet peas. Not only is this a great flavor combo, but it’s a great way to preserve a fridge full of extras you may be getting bored with. I mean, we can only eat so many peas or basil leaves, right?
Fresh Summer Pesto
This is a simple recipe you can toss into your food processor all at once, drizzle some olive oil into it for a good emulsion and you're done. I like simple. Especially if it keeps me from tossing out all this beautiful bounty.
Simmer your fresh peas until soft but not mushy, cool and set aside.
Fresh garlic scapes, woody ends removed. Cut them down to manageable pieces to fit in the food processor a bit better.
Flat leaf parsley, remove and large stems.
Get the freshest basil, helps to cut them down into thin ribbons called "chiffonade" before placing in your food processor.
Fresh mint really pops in this recipe. Like with the basil, it's best to cut into thin chiffonade before placing into your food processor.
This is what it should look like. This insures that you're not over chopping and bruising your leaves. This will keep your pesto green and fresh-looking.
Place all ingredients into your food processor (you can also use a blender, but be sure to add your olive oil first and start the blender off on a slow speed or pulse until your mixture starts to come together).
If your summer pesto sauce needs more olive oil, go ahead and add a little more. You want it to look like a nice liquid but not too thin as it will break or separate. You are basically binding together your ingredients with olive oil to make a sauce, you're not going for a thin dressing like consistency.
Pour it into small plastic containers and freeze for later. It will also keep in the refrigerator for a couple weeks on the ready to spread on sandwiches. I like to mix mine with a touch of house-made mayo.
Of course, freezing it into cubes in an ice cube tray, popping them out and storing them in freezer bags is a great way to have some ready on those busy nights.
Whatever you do, don't forget to label your containers! If you're like me, you will do a lot of preserving and it's tough to remember all the great things we made!
This is a great way to use up your bounty of the early summer harvest. The sweetness of basil and peas with the crispness of fresh mint is great as a spread on picnic sandwiches or tossed in your favorite pasta dish. It freezes well so you could make a lot and enjoy it long after the season. I like to pour some into ice cube trays for easy use later on. Just freeze the cubes solid, pop them out and store them in large freezer bags. Don't forget to label your bag!