Thursday, December 27, 2012

Winter Market, Part III: Saturday, December 29th, 2012

The goddess Persephone
This is it, the last Winter Market of 2012, yet with many more to follow in 2013.  We are just so amazingly blessed to have the freshest, most local, totally organic produce possible!  Many thanks to Devorah for the great job she's doing.  And all in the middle of winter, during the so-called "Persephone period," when plants normally are dormant or dead (see here for Devorah's earlier comments on the Persephone period).  Persephone, the ancient goddess of fertility, was abducted by Hades because she was so beautiful; her mother Demeter bargained to get her back, but the bargain involved Persephone returning to the Underworld for three months each year.  That was the ancient Greek explanation for the vegetatively barren winter months.

What we expect to offer in our little "Persephone work-around" hoophouse on the 29th is arugula, carrots, radishes, kale, chard, scallions, cilantro, parsley, lettuce mix, and--just maybe--our first little bit of broccoli!  There are so many wonderful dishes to make with what we have, and some of the recipes can become the basis of 5 or 6 different meals.

Melinda's Winter-Greens and Basil Pesto Sauce--this is truly a laissez-faire recipe. Feel free to substitute ingredients, change amounts to suit your taste, and so forth.

  • 2 to 4 bunches of winter greens of your choice--chard, any sort of kale, bok choi, arugula, radish greens, turnip greens, spinach, dandelion greens, chickweed--and you can use a LOT, because it all becomes much smaller once you pulse it in a food processor (my last batch, which made enough for several pasta meals, included 2 bunches of kale, 1 bunch of radish greens [which are a little spicy], and a bunch of turnip greens)
  • scallions, if you like, roots removed
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 or more large garlic cloves, peeled (I use a whole small head, but I'm a garlic freak!)
  • about a cup of nuts of your choice--walnuts, cashews, pine nuts, almonds--or more to taste
  • about a cup of olive oil; more if needed
  • about a cup of pecorino or parmesan cheese (or vegan substitute), or more/less to taste
  • 1 tsp salt (or more/less to taste)
  • (Photo credit)
  • about a half cup dried basil--start with that amount, then add more if you think it's needed
Remove tough stems from kale & discard; if you use chard or bok choi, trim and chop the stems into ~1/2-in. chunks. Start with one bunch of greens, add part of the olive oil and the lemon juice. Whiz in food processor till smooth. Repeat with any other greens you're using, including chopped chard or bok choi stems; for scallions, first chop into ~2-in. lengths, then add. Whiz again till smooth, scraping down sides periodically. (If you want a less caloric pesto, you can substitute plain yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese--or even broth or soy milk--for some of the olive oil, though of course these will alter the flavor of the finished pesto.) Add 1/2 cup dried basil, nuts, garlic, & salt and whiz again. Start adding cheese a quarter cup at a time & taste; keep adding till it suits you! If you think the pesto is too thick, add more oil. Put pesto into jars or zip-type plastic bags and refrigerate or freeze. The flavor develops further as the pesto is stored.

The pesto can be used classically on pasta (adding beans is nice too). Or you can coat roasted or grilled lamb chops or beef steaks with pesto and rewarm them in the oven before serving. Or you can start with a whole chicken, gently loosen the skin with your hands (while nevertheless not removing it), and rub the meat under the skin with pesto sauce (rubbing the interior with lemon juice is nice too); then roast the chicken till done. Pesto sauce can also be mixed into minestrone; it can be used on hoagies or grilled cheese sandwiches or vegetarian wraps. Whatever you do, have fun & eat well!

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