Making Pesto and Other Things

Fresh Kale

Fresh Kale

LAKE MACBRIDE— Summer’s harvest has been bountiful and we are less than two weeks in. Keeping up with the vegetables we grow and get from the CSA, has been a challenge of cooking, preserving, refrigerator and freezer space, and rotation. Thus far, little that was brought into the house spoiled. We are thankful to have enough food to eat in a society where so many people go hungry. Even our small town of 2,037 souls requires a food bank, making adequate food for everyone a tangible, local issue.

Yesterday was the first pick of green beans and we steamed them for dinner. Over the years Asian aphids have been a pest for this annual favorite— to the extent I quit planting them for a while. This year they were pristine in the basket. Not sure what happened, but I suspect row-crop farmers didn’t care for the damage to soybeans, and “did something” during the past few years.

I picked broccoli for dinner, and some Swiss chard. Spinach is ready to harvest, the last before the fall planting. There is also lettuce ready to go and plenty of herbs. The apple trees are still looking good: no sign of dreaded Popillia japonica, or Japanese beetle, which during previous years had made its debut by the first of July. Last year was a horrible year with them, and they are sure to arrive soon.

A summer indulgence is to make pesto. The process is simple. Into blender put a cup of first cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, with equal amounts of chopped garlic scapes, basil leaves and kale leaves with the stems removed. Blend the mixture, adding enough olive oil to make it a liquid, or additional garlic and basil to thicken it. Then add a handful of pine nuts, half a cup of Parmesan cheese and salt to taste. Blend until the mixture is a thick puree. The recipe produced enough to fill Mason jars with pesto for the freezer. I reserved some for immediate use, of course.

The thing about pesto, is it can be made with a number of summer greens and herbs. It’s a way to preserve the summer harvest. The other thing is a person can consume only so much of the delicious spread/sauce at a time. For now, we’re living the high life and contemplating dishes, other than just spreading it on bread, in which to use it. Pesto pasta will definitely be one dish on the menu.

Once one is plugged into the local food system, there is little cost to make pesto, except for the olive oil, which is always a luxury. During the summer harvest, a gardener and cook can live in the lap of luxury, even on a limited budget.

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