I love the beginning of CSA season. Spring arrives late in Wisconsin and it takes until June for the vegetables to really start rolling in, and it coincides with my burst of rapidly growing herbs which I planted a few weeks ago. Pesto is a favorite way to combine different flavors and use the herbs in abundance with all of the fresh vegetables. The key for me of course is the combining of different flavors. I like pesto, but we have a dairy allergy in the house AND I don't like drowning myself in mono-flavors. I love making different types of pesto so that there is fantastic variety not only for immediate consumption, but also enough to freeze/preserve for winter. This pesto is a favorite. I grow many types of basil, and no matter what type I have on hand, it works.
This recipe is dairy free and combines fresh zesty flavors such as lime, ginger and garlic. I am also using cashews instead of pine nuts. Not only are they easier to find, but they are nutritious and I always have some on hand (I'm addicted to date/cashew truffles and cashew cream). You will be amazed at the flavor and want to make extra to freeze for winter!
There is nothing better than the taste of freshly homemade pesto with crudités, on grilled veggies, or over pasta. This version is vegan, and combines the amazing flavors of basil, lime, garlic, and ginger. The ground flax and hemp seeds make a great texture subsitute for the cheese -it is so good! GF/DF
First, using a food processor, pulse your raw cashews with the flax meal and hemp seeds until finely ground.
I made a single batch of this today, which will likely only last me a few days. So I am sure I will make some more as my genovese, persian, blue spice, thai, lemon, lime, lettuce leaf, and emily basils grow, grow, grow!
bonus: This recipe is delicious and easy to prepare, but also packed full of good vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, fiber, and protein. Yum+.
Garlic & Ginger
We have long winters here in Wisconsin, so when things start to grow, it is exciting. We also don't have long seasons of items once they do appear. Asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries - all are in and out quickly, so we tend to do as much as we can while they are here. I love asparagus. My husband didn't used to like it so much, but it has grown on him as I experiment and find more flavors it blends with. Asparagus and chives are amazing together. And the smoky richness of sesame oil, the salty flavor of soy, and the crunchy bite of black sesame all meld together to make an awesome asparagus dish. I usually make this as a side dish, but it is also fantastic over a bed of lettuce (or arugula!) with a little soy/sesame oil dressing drizzled over the top.
Chive Blossom Asparagus
Bright green spears of asparagus are among the earliest of garden harvests. The thin, delicate spears work well with many different flavours, and are delicious steamed, grilled, as soup, pickled, and as a side dish. This recipe combines early season asparagus alongside another spring visitor – chive blossoms.
Blanch your asparagus for about 2 minutes in boiling water.
This recipe is quick and easy, but has a lot of flavor. A great way to combine the ingredients of spring into one fantastic dish.
Chive Blossom Infused Vinegar
Chives are a mid to late spring herb that are often overlooked. Chives are delicious in salads, egg dishes, sprinkled over soups, and more. Don’t forget the blossoms either. The delicate pinkish purple flower heads have a lovely onion/garlic flavor. Chive vinegar is a quick, simple way to capture some of that.
Pack a ½ pint jar with (clean) chive blossoms, along with a few chive stems.
Pour over any type of mild white vinegar you like – you can pour over room temperature vinegar, but warm the vinegar first for best results.
Make sure all blossoms are fully covered.
Let sit for a few days in your fridge until the blossoms have turned the vinegar a lovely shade of pink.
Strain out the old chive flowers (add a few fresh ones for decoration if you wish), store in the fridge, and use in salad dressings!
Spring may seem slow to start some years, but when the first greens, herbs and veggies appear we can't get enough. Here is to spring, and fresh food from the garden!
I like quick pickles. I don't have a ton of time to make dozens of jars of the same thing endlessly, and quite honestly I get bored with flavors and really like mixing it up, using what is fresh on hand, and having small batches of a variety of quick pickles to liven up meals, crudités, salads, and of course for snacks. At any given moment year-round I have a few jars of something in my fridge. Right now I have pickled cucumbers and garlic in a slightly sweet brine, and pickled daikon which are amazingly peppery and crunchy. Spring onions are one of the first things in spring that we can find here in Wisconsin, and I like pickling them so that I can spread them out throughout the summer. I like the small green brilliance of their flavor in a pickle and they work on salads, burgers, or with a plate of hummus and tomatoes.
Spring Onion Quick Pickle
Quick pickles are a delicious way to use the bounty of the season to create a variety of flavours and textures. This recipe uses one of the gardens earliest arrivals – spring onions, or scallions.
Heat water/vinegar/sugar/salt/garlic in a pot until dissolved. Let cool to room temp.
Or try this: Add some additional zesty flavor by reducing the white vinegar in the recipe above to 1 cup and add 1/2 cup umeboshi plum vinegar.
Another bonus of having a fresh pickling brine is when all of your salad greens start coming in full blast you not only have some pickled scallions to put on your salad, but you have a tasty brine to use for salad dressings. Simply mix a little pickle brine with extra virgin olive oil, s&p, and a tiny bit of grainy mustard. Stir and boom. Delicious dressing.
I know most of us have the image of a farm woman in her hot kitchen with 422 pounds of one kind of cucumber frantically pickling and canning until 3AM. But these days we can get such a wide variety of seeds and can easily grow such a diversity of herbs, fruit, and vegetables, that we don't need to mono-pickle. Small batch pickling is a quick, easy, and delicious way to preserve the extras, the favorites, and the flavors of the season!
Spring comes so slowly after a long winter, but jumping back into the garden and kitchen to start preserving again feels good. After a long winter it feels pretty much like a big TA-DAAAAA!
I am a certified aromatherapist, herbalist, organic gardener, photographer, writer, designer, artist, nature lover, whole foods maker, and mother of two unschooled boys in south central Wisconsin.
The Gluten & Dairy Free Pantry