Garlic Scape Pesto

Posted on May 31, 2012. Filed under: easy, garden, healthy, recipe, Uncategorized, vegetable | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Garlic scape pesto with garden-fresh snow peas.

One of my favorite things about my gardening hobby is that it has offered me a world of new challenges (and I love a good challenge). It’s not always a joyous introduction, as was the case of my hostile introduction to the spinach leaf miner. They are, ironically, eating my beet greens while the spinach sits, undisturbed, only three feet away. Happily, most of the learning opportunities are positive. Recent example: answering the question, “What Does One Do With Garlic Scapes?”

Last year, I grew garlic for the first time. It was a modestly successful attempt, certainly encouraging enough to try again this year. I planted the bulbs from the largest head last autumn, and (not so) patiently watched as the plants grew up this spring. I’d learned last year that you need to cut off the scape (the immature flower) when it begins to curl, so that the garlic plant could put all its energy into bulb development. I also learned that the scape was edible–it has a mild, chive-garlic flavor. What I didn’t learn last year was what to do with the edible scapes, so I just chopped them and added to whatever I was cooking. They certainly enhanced the flavor of a dish, but I wasn’t highlighting the flavor.

Last week, my friend, writer Sherrie Flick, suggested making a pesto. I’d already made ramp pesto (miss you, dear ramps) this season, and that was a success. So, why not try scape pesto?

5 Garlic Scapes
Slightly less than 1/4 Cup Roasted Almonds
(Soak almonds in water for 10 minutes before blending, add 2 Tsp of the water)
1/8 Cup Grapeseed Oil
1/8 Cup Parmesan cheese
Pinch of salt

The pesto is terrifically versatile. I used some on grilled chicken. But the real highlight was tossing the pesto with some garden-picked snow peas and a teaspoon of bacon fat. The dish tasted like springtime bathed in rich butter; yet it was fairly low in calories and cost less than a dollar to make. Win!

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Spring Garden: Spinach, Snow Pea, and Scape Stir Fry

Posted on May 26, 2012. Filed under: easy, garden, healthy, recipe, Uncategorized, vegetable, vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

I feel like for the last few months I’ve been beginning nearly every post with an apology for not writing very often: “So busy with school,” “other writing projects,” “traveling,” etc. I probably need to reorganize this space in a better way, too. Point is, so sorry for not writing here for over a month, I’ve been very busy finishing school (I’m a master of studying food now), with writing projects (stories on food & the environment for The Allegheny Front, a weekly column in Pittsburgh City Paper), and traveling (mostly around Pittsburgh; it’s been beautiful here). I’ve also been spending a lot of time in my garden, and now I have some delicious treats to eat.

Ramps might be the first edible sign of spring, but spinach is one of the first garden crops to really pop from the ground. I’ve been eating from my spinach patch for three weeks now, and that’s forced me to be awfully creative; one can only eat so many spinach salads or lightly wilted spinach. Luckily for me, my garlic started to scape (see my post on harvesting garlic for more information on garlic scapes), and the snow pea plants are producing (a bucket-load) of pods. That sounded like a promising start to a new recipe, so I rode my bike down to a wonderful little market called the Lotus Food Company; they sell house-made tofu, and it’s ridiculously inexpensive. I also purchased a bottle of black vinegar enhanced with “fruit and vegetable juice.” That’s about all that was written in English on the label! It’s a wonderfully complex vinegar with apricot and spice flavors. All in all, I had the makings of a terrific stir-fry.

Add 1 Tsp. Vegetable Oil to a medium-hot pan.
Pan fry Half-Pound of Firm Tofu, cut into 2-inch squares until brown.
Set aside.

While the tofu is cooking, mix:
1/4 Cup Chicken or Veggie Stock
1 Chopped Garlic Scape
2 Tsp. Soy Sauce
2 Tsp. Mirin
2 Tsp. Black Vinegar
1 Tsp. Minced Ginger
1 Tsp. Corn Starch
1/2 Tsp. Toasted Sesame Oil
Set aside.

Wash and pat dry:
4 Cups Spinach
(Spinach should be loosely packed. Also, I didn’t measure this precisely.)

Wash, and halve:
Two Cups Snow Peas

Two Garlic Scapes

Saute the spinach, snow peas, and scapes for 2-3 minutes over medium-high heat.
Return tofu to pan.
Add sauce mixture.
Cook for 1.5 minutes, remove from heat, and allow dish to rest for 1 minute before serving.
Top with Toasted Sesame Seeds

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Substitution: Walnut Pesto

Posted on May 26, 2011. Filed under: chicken, easy, pasta, recipe | Tags: , , , , , , , |

 I don’t have a “signature” dish, per se. I like to play, I like to make new discoveries. But I do have a few standby dishes that I know and love. Penne pesto with chicken breast is one of them. Trouble in River City: I wanted to make the dish, but someone I was cooking for has a pine nut allergy. Pine nuts are an integral component of my pesto. Oh boy. It was time to experiment.

Sometimes you have to change a dish a little bit. Perhaps someone you’re cooking for is a bit finicky, or, as in this case, they have a food allergy. This can freak out people with limited experience in the kitchen. People with a lot of experience might scoff at the idea of messing with what they know is the “right” way. This is stupid. A good cook shouldn’t be snotty about his or her recipes. Look at it as a chance to experiment. Change the flavor profile a little bit. That’s why I did with this. Goodbye pine nuts, hello walnuts.

For the pesto, blend:
1 4oz. package Basil
1/4 Cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
1/2 Cup Toasted Walnut Pieces
3 Cloves Garlic
1/8 Cup Olive Oil
1 1/2 Cups Milk
Mix into cooked pasta and Super Simple Chicken.
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Posted on October 26, 2010. Filed under: easy, fruit, recipe, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

I went apple picking a few weeks ago, and greatly overestimated how many apples I could actually eat. Beautiful as they were, a glut of apples in the refrigerator becomes annoying after awhile. So I decided to make applesauce.

Applesauce is stupidly easy to make. Cut apples, boil in a little bit of water, mix in sweetness & spice, and then mash. What makes a difference is the apples you use.

Many of the standard grocery store varieties aren’t going to make the cut. They’re either too sweet or too flavorless. Some, such as braeburn and pink lady would make a good addition to the mix, but stay away from the flavorless red delicious and the horibleawefulstickysweet honeycrisp. Most of you will have access to a nice variety of apples at the farmers’ market. The best thing to do is to ask the apple dude which apples work best for saucing. Or just experiment. The important thing is to use several types of apple. I used a combination of McIntosh, JonaGold, and Pippin.

I boiled:
9 Apples, peeled and cored
1.5 Cups Water

1/3 Cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon + 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
Pinch Salt
After boiling for 20 minutes, I ran it through a food mill, but you can totally use a potato masher if you want it a little more chunky.

*Sugar and spice content is going to vary with the apples you use, and how much spice you like. So add a little bit at first, and stir more in after mashing if necessary.


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Beet and Quinoa Soup

Posted on October 15, 2010. Filed under: easy, healthy, recipe, soup, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

I was going to defrost lasagna for dinner. And then I realized that I’d eaten a cheeseburger for lunch. When you break it down, there really isn’t much difference between the two. The might taste (deliciously) different, but ground beef, cheese, and white flour are major players in both. Since I’d just returned from nutrition class, I figured it was in my best interest to make something different.

But what to make? There wasn’t a lot in the kitchen. Luckily, I’d just turned in the World’s Most Boring Paper, so I was feeling the urge to be creative. I encourage you to do the same, because it can lead to some wicked good meals. Like this soup:

Add to a pan:
2 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
2 Carrots, cut into 1 inch rounds
1 Beet, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 Onion, cubed
1-2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Pinches Ground Sage
1 Pinch Celery Seed

Bring to just the boiling point, and cook for 15 minutes.
When 15 minutes is up, wander around your kitchen looking for more things to put in.
1/2 Cup Quinoa (washed)
1/4 Crown Broccoli (broken into florets)
1/4 Cup Tomato Puree
2 Pinches Dried Thyme
Another Pinch Celery Seed
Pinch of Black Pepper
Pinch of Sugar

Let that cook for another 10 minutes.
Add salt if necessary.
Finish with 1/8 Cup Chopped Parsley.
Pat yourself on the back for being creative and making tasty soup.

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So Sweet

Posted on September 29, 2010. Filed under: easy, recipe, vegetable | Tags: , , , , , |

When I go out to eat with friends, a few of them always go gagagagaga over sweet potato fries. I get it. Personally, I’d rather have a really well made steak fry, but I get it. They look pretty. But frying can mask the depth of the sweet potato flavor. Plus, even though I’ve been telling you for ages to get a deep fryer, you don’t seem to be listening to me, so how are you going to make them at home?

Well, there is a way. And the way is easier and much more flavorful than what you’ll get at the local pub.

Peel Two Sweet Potatoes.
Slice them into rounds that are 1.5 inches thick.

Rub the rounds with Olive Oil and then lightly sprinkle with Salt and Pepper.
Bake in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Gently press the tops the sweet potatoes with the back of a fork.
If you’d like (and you’ll like) put a tiny piece of Butter on each slice.
Sprinkle slices with Cinnamon, Garlic Powder, Brown Sugar, and Coriander.
Bake for 5 more minutes.

So good.
Try it with your own spice blends, too. You never know what you’ll come up with.

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Watch: This Man’s Kitchen Baked Ziti

Posted on July 13, 2010. Filed under: easy, favorite, pasta, recipe, Uncategorized, video | Tags: , , , , , |

Hey hey, it’s an all new episode of This Man’s Kitchen. You too can make baked ziti- it’s super tasty!

For more This Man’s Kitchen videos, check out the collection on Vimeo.

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Yogurt Grilled Chicken

Posted on June 10, 2010. Filed under: chicken, easy, grill, poultry, recipe | Tags: , , , , , |

A simple yogurt slather will do wonders for your grilled chicken. Yogurt’s combination of mild acidity and calcium work to tenderize the meat. You’ll be able to mix a lot of flavor in, too. Serve the chicken as is, or add it to a salad or flavorful curry.

The mix below is what I used. It was lovely. But feel free to choose your own adventure. Let me know what you come up with!

1/3 Cup Plain Yogurt
1.5 Tablespoons Honey
2 Teaspoons Curry Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Coriander
1/4 Teaspoon Powdered Ginger
1/4 Teaspoon Chili Powder
Pinch of Cumin

Rub mix on to:
Two Chicken Breasts

Let the chicken sit at room temperature 1-2 hours, or refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

Remove most, but not all, of the marinade.
Grill 6 minutes per side, over high heat.

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Super Simple Corn

Posted on June 2, 2010. Filed under: corn, easy, recipe, vegetable | Tags: , , , , |

I’ve been making so many super-involved dishes like home cured bacon recently, I thought it was time to post something a bit less complex. And by a bit, I mean totally. This is one of the easiest side dishes you’ll ever make. You’ll make it often, because it’s fantastic.

Frozen corn is perfectly fine to use for this. Most of the year, it’s actually a better choice. Wait until hot hot summertime for ears of corn.

10 minutes, start to finish.

Add, to a hot pan:
2 Tsp. Butter
1 Cup Corn Kernels
1 Shallot, diced

Cook for 5 minutes, and then add:
Salt, to taste

That’s it.

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Spicy Snow Peas

Posted on April 15, 2010. Filed under: easy, recipe, vegetable | Tags: , , , , |

I left town for a week. While I was gone, my garden went mad with snow peas. Apparently, it’s not a good idea to plant all your snow peas at one time, unless you plan on eating a mountain of them for several days in a row. I steamed some, chomped some raw ones, made chicken with snow peas, and even gave some away. But still, more snow peas. I had to get creative.

So I decided to make them spicy. I’m glad I did. The cool, grassy flavor of the snow peas balanced wonderfully with the hot sauce and subtle curry notes. And I felt pretty swell using my creativity to make a dish I hadn’t thought of before. Too bad I’m nearly out of snow peas now.

Add to a hot pan:
One Teaspoon Olive Oil
One Pound Snow Peas
1/2 Red Onion, diced

Cook for two minutes, and then add:
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Curry Powder

Cook one minute, and then add:
1/4 Cup Tomato Sauce
1 Teaspoon (or more!) Sriracha or other hot sauce

Cook one more minute. Serve hot.

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