Monday, 17 August 2015

Seedy Summer Savory Pesto (with Cauliflower)

Summer savory is one of my favourite herbs of all times, as regular readers of this blog will have realized (if there are still any around). It's easy to grow, and it's delicious fresh as well as dried.

I will be yanking it all this week, as it is about to flower, and I want to get it before it does that. Most of it will be dried, but some of it went into this delicious pesto. It was lovely on cauliflower, but use it as you would any other pesto.

6 to 8 servings
20 minutes prep time

Seedy Summer Savory Pesto (with Cauliflower)

1/4 cup summer savory leaves stripped from the stems, lightly packed
1/4 cup coarsely chopped chives
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup hullless pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup cold-pressed sunflower seed oil
up to 1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
the juice of 1/2 lime
2 to 4 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese

Strip the leaves and tender tips from the summer savory, and discard the tough stems. Pick over and trim the chives (they tend to be a little ratty at this time of year), discarding any tough blossom stems. Chop them roughly. Add the herbs to the bowl of a food processor.

Peel and trim the garlic, and slice it coarsely, and add it to the food processor along with all the remaining ingredients, except the Parmesan cheese. Process until well blended, stopping and scraping down the sides several times to make sure everything is evenly blended. Stop when the pesto has the texture you like.

The sunflower and pumpkin seeds can be raw or roasted, salted or unsalted; however, if they are salted hold off adding any more until you have had a chance to taste the pesto. The finished pesto should be a little on the salty side, since it will be seasoning some other food (I assume!) but don't get too carried away. The cheese will also add some saltiness, don't forget.

Toss the finished pesto into cooked, drained cauliflower, pasta, rice or barley, along with the cheese; in general, use it wherever you would use traditional basil pesto.

Last year at this time I made Quesadillas de Flor de Calabacitas.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Green Beans à la Poutine

This is a version of my favourite mushroom gravy, with fresh ingredients since it is summer. I served this dish at a vegetarian lunch, and it was a big hit. Not nearly so bad for you as a traditional poutine, either!  You will likely want a starch with it; boiled potatoes, rice or pasta would all be good.

I'm a little vague about the number of servings, because it will depend on whether you are serving this as a vegetarian main course, or as a side dish.

Actually, when I think about it, I could make this in the winter with frozen beans and canned tomatoes. It won't be quite as perfect, but after all we do still have to eat in the winter.

4 to 8 servings
1 hour prep time

Green Beans à la Poutine

Prepare the Beans:
500 grams (1 pound) green beans

Wash and trim the green beans, and cut them into bite sized pieces. Put them in a steamer or pot with boiling water, and begin to cook them a few minutes after the shallots and mushrooms go into the skillet. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until done to your liking.

Make the Gravy:
1 or 2 large shallots
200 grams (6 ounces) button mushrooms
2 cups peeled, diced fresh tomato
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 cup water
2 tablespoons miso
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Peel and chop the shallots finely. Clean, trim, and dice the mushrooms. Blanche, peel, and chop the tomatoes.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, and gently cook the shallots and mushrooms over medium heat until soft and very slightly browned. Add the tomatoes and mix in well; continue to cook until the tomatoes begin to disintegrate.

In the meantime, put the flour and nutritional yeast in a small bowl, and mix in enough water to make a loose paste. Add the miso and mustard, and mix until the mixture is smooth. Mix in the remaining water, a little at a time to keep a smooth sauce, until it is all in.

Add the sauce to the skillet, mixing in well, and cook until the gravy thickens; just a minute or so. 

Finish the Dish:
125 grams (1/4 pound) cheese curds

Drain the cooked beans well, and add them to the pan of gravy. Let them reheat just a minute or so, then transfer them with the gravy to a serving dish, layering them with bits of cheese curd as you go. Save enough cheese curds to give a good scattering of them over the top. Serve at once.

Last year at this time I made Quinoa Salad with Eggplant & Cucumber, and Lamb Stew with Eggplant & Peppers. This year I am still waiting for my first damn eggplant. Plants look great; they are flowering like crazy... but where are the eggplants?!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Siskiyou Sweet Onion

We got the seeds for this onion from Hawthorn Farm, a couple years ago when we were looking for a replacement for Candy; a Monsanto hybrid. In general, we want to keep our own seeds, and although Candy was a good onion, we did not expect to be able to save seed from it (and didn't like to buy it, because Monsanto). So far, Siskiyou Sweet has made a very good replacement. We did not try them side-by-side so I am not sure how they compare for sweetness, but we have been eating Siskiyou Sweet raw on hamburgers, sandwiches, and salads, and enjoying them very much.

Siskiyou Sweet was selected out of Walla Walla, a famous sweet onion from Walla Walla county, Washington. The Walla Walla name is trademarked, and they are one of the few onions sold by the variety name, as opposed to just generically as "yellow", "red", or "Spanish" onions. Don Tipping of Siskiyou Seeds/Seven Seeds Farm worked with saving seed and selecting for better uniformity and disease and split resistance. There is a good article about him and his work at A Way to Garden.

Siskiyou Sweet belongs to the family of onions known as Spanish, which are large white onions mild enough to eat raw. In general, they are not good keepers, and Siskiyou Sweet are not known as keepers either, although I have kept them into January in our cold cellar without much sprouting.

Walla Walla onions developed out of seed brought from Corsica around 1900, by a French soldier, Peter Pieri, who settled in the area. It is somewhat unusual in being a sweet Spanish type onion well adapted to being grown in the north - most of the well-known sweet onions come from the south, as their Spanish origins might suggest.

In general, I consider sweet onions best for eating raw. They contain enough sugar that they are more inclined than regular storage onions to scorch when cooked, although if you watch them carefully you can prevent that. However, they are so mild that I don't find they provide enough flavour when cooked. Because of this, we grow these sweet onions in relatively small quantities for fresh eating from mid-summer into late fall.