This has been a week of firsts and lasts. The first week of the CSA season and the last week of school for my daughter. I’ve been looking forward to this week for awhile now, I knew that it would be a week full of emotion and excitement, some highs and lows, some ends and some beginnings.
My daughter and I love to go to the Farmers Market together as often as possible. I’ve been taking her along with me since she was a baby, sleeping in her stroller as I shopped from the magnificent farms that brought their crops each week to my neighborhood market in Boston. When we visit other cities, we always go to their markets - New York City’s Union Square Greenmarket and DC’s Dupont Circle Farmers Market are two of our more frequently visited markets when we’re not in Baltimore. For the past eight years or so, I’ve been going to the Kenilworth Farmers Market every Tuesday afternoon to pick-up my CSA share.
CSA, short for Community Supported Agriculture, is a program that allows farms to sell a share of their produce to members for the season. The members buy their share in-advance, which gives farmers the resources and incentives to grow a variety of crops. I’ve been a member of One Straw Farm’s CSA for the past eight years; I’ve been able to visit their farm in White Hall, MD many times, seeing exactly where my vegetables are grown. I love CSA season (June-November), I get the freshest vegetables possible and a variety of crops that I wouldn’t find in the grocery store.
The first week of the CSA season is my favorite week - there’s the excitement of picking-up my produce fresh from the farm! One Straw Farm mainly grows vegetables, but they do have a strawberry patch, providing the prettiest little berries for the CSA members during the first week of the season. The strawberries are super-sweet, unlike grocery store berries. My daughter and I ate our pint of berries right when we got home from the market, they still tasted like the morning dew and sunshine.
Another crop that only appears at the beginning of the season are garlic scapes. These leaf-less stems grow from the tops of hardneck garlic, and are removed by farmers to encourage the garlic plant to direct its energy into the actual bulbs of garlic. I’m thrilled that farmers remove the garlic scapes and bring them to market - they’re one of my favorite plants to eat! Their flavor is garlic-like, but also herbaceous and green, a beautiful combination of earthiness and pungency. I’ve made many recipes over the years with garlic scapes, everything from salads, stir-fries, and simple grilled preparations. But the garlic scape season is so short and I wanted to hold onto the flavor as long as possible. So, I created a garlic scape pesto recipe, which I make every June in mass-quantity, freeze in small jars, and enjoy throughout the year. Today, I’m finally sharing that recipe with you!
This is a very simple recipe, just 5 ingredients! It’s versatile - use the pesto on pasta, stirred into rice or another grain, as a spread on a sandwich or a topping on a pizza. Or make-up your own use for the pesto and be sure to let me know how you enjoyed this delicious spread. Get to your local farmers markets this weekend and bring home the seasonal bounty - and don’t forget the garlic scapes!
Wishing you a relaxing weekend, full of delicious food, health & wellness.
Garlic Scape Pesto
Ingredients: (note - use organic whenever possible)
1/3 C pepitas
1 bunch garlic scapes, chopped into 1” pieces (approximately 1 cup)
2 t freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 t sea salt
Place the pepitas in a small skillet and toast over low heat until lightly browned and fragrant, approximately 5 minutes. Be careful to watch the pepitas, they burn quickly! Once toasted, remove from the pan and allow to cool.
To the bowl of a food processor, add the chopped garlic scapes and toasted pepitas. Process until the scapes are finely chopped. Add the lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil and salt. Continue to process until the mixture is smooth, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary. Taste for seasoning, add more lemon juice or salt, if desired.
At this point, the pesto can be used immediately, or stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
To use, mix pesto with cooking water from pasta, or dilute with some hot water or extra-virgin olive oil, prior to mixing into hot pasta, rice, or potatoes. The pesto is very think and pungent!
Recipe yields approximately 1 cup of pesto
Pesto keeps in a sealed container for 3-4 days in the refrigerator or 6-8 months frozen
Substitute sliced almonds for the pepitas, if desired
Use pesto on your favorite pasta, rice or potato salad, or as a delicious topping to a flatbread or pizza