Garlic Scape and Basil Pesto

I’ve been itching to make pesto, but I simply haven’t gotten around to it. Well, it’s a blessing in disguise that it didn’t happen prior to Thursday’s CSA pick up, as this week’s share included garlic scapes. I ended up whipping up some pesto this afternoon, and instead of using garlic cloves as I usually do, I substituted garlic scapes to make it extra special and give it a seasonal flare.

You’re probably thinking, “What the heck are garlic scapes?” Rest assured, I was on the same boat until recently. As it turns out, they’re the flower stalks of garlic plants, and they’re typically detached from garlic plants early on to allow the bulbs to thrive. For whatever reason, they are most often discarded, and quite frankly, it’s a damn shame that they are. Why? Because they are packed with a beautiful, garlicky flavor, although not nearly as pungent as the cloves themselves.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup EVOO
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil, de-stemmed
  • 1 bunch garlic scapes, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • Himalayan salt to taste
  • Cracked black pepper to taste

What you’ll do:

  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor; blend until smooth
  • Pour into a mason jar, and cover with a thin layer of EVOO to ensure prolonged freshness

 

Golden Beet, Rainbow Radish, and Garden-Herb-Goat-Cheese Tart

After months (maybe years?!) of wanting a tart pan, I finally got one. I opted for this guy and it comes highly recommended. Whichever tart pan you decide to invest in, make sure it has a removable bottom! It makes life infinitely easier. Trust me.

Anyway, I love savory tarts and sweet tarts alike, so I’m unsure as to why it took me so long to get one. I’m particularly perplexed because my first ever tart was super easy to make, and that’s coming from a non-baker who decided to make tart dough from scratch. However, this dough was meant for savory tarts in particular, so I guess I can’t get too excited until I’ve mastered dough meant for sweet tarts as well.

Now, as far as this particular tart is concerned, it is packed with seasonal flavors that compliment each other beautifully. In my humble opinion, beets and goat cheese go together as well as peanut butter and jelly. They’re truly a classic pairing. Additionally, fresh lemon juice adds the perfect amount of acidity. Lastly, you know I like to keep it local, so I must note that the golden beets were from one of my CSA shares and the herbs were from my garden.

Note: My dough recipe has been adapted from Williams-Sonoma. It yields enough dough to fill a 12×12 inch tart pan.

PART 1: THE DOUGH

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pure cane sugar
  • 1-1/2 sticks cold, unsalted butter
  • 6 tbsp. ice water

What you’ll do:

  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar
  • Next, chop the sticks of butter into pea-sized pieces and whisk into the flour mixture
  • One tablespoon at a time, add the ice water to the mixing bowl; whisk into the mixture between each tablespoon
  • After all six tablespoons have been added, knead the dough together until thoroughly mixed and form into the shape of a disk
  • Place the dough back into the mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap; chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour
  • After at least 1 hour has elapsed, roll the dough into a 13×13 inch square and place into the tart pan; using your thumb, press the edges of the dough into the ridges of the tart pan border; chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour
  • Once at least 1 hour has elapsed, preheat the oven to 375°F and bake the dough for approximately 10 minutes
  • Remove from the oven and fill the tart shell with desired ingredients; bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown

PART 2: THE TART

What you’ll need:

  • 10 oz. goat cheese
  • 3 tbsp. fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp. fresh oregano
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • Cracked black pepper and Himalayan salt to taste
  • 3 golden beets, peeled and sliced
  • 5 rainbow radishes, sliced
  • 3 green onion strips, chopped
  • EVOO

What you’ll do:

  • Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil; add prepped beets and boil for approximately 10 minutes
  • To soften, microwave goat cheese for one minute; stir in the herbs, lemon juice, pepper, and salt; spread the mixture onto the bottom of the tart shell
  • Next, arrange the beets and radishes as desired; bake as instructed above
  • Just before serving, garnish with green onions and a drizzle of EVOO

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Composting 101

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It all started when I saw this adorable compost bucket on World Market a while back and ordered it on a whim. Well, summer rolled around and I had my compost bucket on my kitchen counter, ready to go. It was not until that moment that I realized that I did not truly understand composting. However, being that I am a very waste-conscious, environmentally-friendly individual, I was determined to make it happen.

I will start off by saying that composting is so much more than an adorable compost bucket on your kitchen counter. Did I honestly think that kitchen scraps would miraculously turn into nutrient-dense, garden-ready fertilizer overnight? As it turns out, my adorable compost bucket serves as A) a reminder to compost my kitchen scraps, and B) a place to store said scraps until I have a chance to take them out to my actual composter.

While compost piles that cost little to no money are completely doable if you have a relatively large yard, I’m an urban gardener. My container garden is in a shared, concrete area outside of my apartment building. As such, a compost pile was completely out of the question. I was momentarily bummed until I did some research and realized that composting bins exist.

Ultimately, I went with this composting bin from Wayfair. It was under budget (by one cent, hehe) and had fantastic reviews. It has yet to disappoint, as it is relatively discrete and highly functional. I absolutely love that it has two compartments, allowing me to start a fresh pile while the other cures. Further, instead of having to manually turn my pile with a shovel, I simply spin the container several times.

So, that’s my story, and those are my tools. Now, onto the nitty-gritty.

What’s Composting?

Merrium-Webster defines compost as “a mixture that consists largely of decayed organic matter and is used for fertilizing and conditioning land,” and that’s precisely what it is. But to me, it’s so much more than that. Aside from enriching soil and, subsequently, the plants and food we grow, it’s fantastic for the environment. Why send “trash” to landfills, thereby contributing to pollution, when you can use said “trash” in a much more productive way? It’s a win-win situation. Your garden will thrive and and your ecological footprint will be reduced.

What to Compost

  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Fruit and vegetable scrapes, peels, and rinds
  • Tea bags and tea leaves
  • Used paper napkins, paper plates (no wax coating), and paper towels
  • Plain cooked pasta and rice
  • Stale cereal, bread, and crackers
  • Olive pits and nut shells (except for walnut shells)
  • Wine corks
  • Toothpicks and bamboo skewers
  • Shells (egg and crustacean)

What Not to Compost

  • Meat and fish
  • Bone
  • Dairy products
  • Grease
  • Animal waste
  • Weeds and diseased plants/roots
  • Charcoal ash
  • Plastic and glass

How to Compost

In researching the wild world of composting, I initially became overwhelmed by the wealth of information that I encountered. There was talk of carbon-to-nitrogen ratios, specific moisture levels, narrow temperature ranges, and adequate aeration. This was not what I signed up for.

Then, I realized that all of these things were fancy talk for a few very basic principles:

  • Chop or tear your kitchen scraps into small pieces to expedite the composting process.
  • The more variety of items on the “What to Compost” list, the better.
  • Add water as needed to keep your pile moist, but not sopping wet.
  • Place your pile in direct sunlight. The more it “cooks,” the faster you will have results.
  • Turn your pile every few days to provide all layers with oxygenation.

I’d love to hear from any and all composters, whether it’s a tip, trick, or lesson learned. Happy composting! And of course, happy gardening! :)

 

Grilled Asparagus, Spring Onions, and Lemon with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts

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Confession: I don’t love asparagus, and I would never think to buy green onions. However, as I’ve said before, that’s the beauty of investing in a local CSA; it forces you to experiment with produce that you wouldn’t otherwise. Moreover, because working with ingredients that you don’t particularly enjoy fosters an environment in which you’re more inclined to think outside of the box, I’ve found that the end result is often a more inspired, more flavorful dish than those I create using ingredients that I use everyday.

Well, this dish was no exception to that sentiment. What was intended to be a side dish ended up being a meal, and I have no shame in admitting that I ate over half of it in one sitting. When veggies are as addictive as your favorite pint of gelato, you know you have a winner.

On another note, have you ever grilled a lemon? If not, I suggest that you do so immediately. Okay, not immediately, but certainly the next time you have your grill fired up. I’ve seen this done on a number of cooking shows (shoutout to my girl Giada), but I had never actually done it myself prior to creating this dish. The results are amazing; the juice is squeezed out effortlessly, and just one lemon adds so much fresh flavor.

Tip: If you don’t own a grill, or at the very least hate firing up the grill when the weather is not so great, I highly recommend investing in a cast iron griddle. Two words: game changer.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 bunch of spring onions, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 2 tbsp. grape seed oil
  • 2 tbsp. crumbled goat cheese
  • 2 tbsp. pine nuts
  • Himalayan salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon, halved lengthwise

What you’ll do:

  • Arrange prepped asparagus and spring onions on your grill/griddle, and turn to medium heat
  • After your grill/griddle has heated for approximately 1 minute, drizzle with grape seed oil and top with desired amount of Himalayan salt and cracked black pepper; cook on one side for approximately 10 minutes
  • Once 10 minutes have elapsed, flip the veggies to ensure that both sides are cooked evenly; cook for an additional 10 minutes
  • With about 3 minutes left, place the lemon halves onto the grill/griddle, pulp side down
  • Once 10 minutes have elapsed, transfer your veggies to a serving dish; sprinkle with goat cheese and pine nuts, and garnish with the lemon halves; squeeze the lemon juice over the dish just prior to serving

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