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
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!
My entire childhood I was dairy-free. Not in the era of coconut yogurt and almond milk and vegan butter. But in the era of everything tastes like cardboard might as well skip it. I remember having horchata in Chicago once which changed my idea of milk-like drinks forever. I had a few years where I could almost tolerate certain types of dairy (if I didn't mind feeling crappy the next few days) and then I was vegan for many years. With my 11 year old it is a severe life-threatening allergy, so we are now very strict about the dairy. We try to keep it out of the house completely, as he reacts severely to even small amounts of contact. Since I didn't grow up on dairy and avoided it for decades, I don't really "miss" anything - but there are some foods I remember fondly and have re-created over the years. Tzatziki is one of those things. It reminds me of my years living in the Andersonville area in Chicago (a neighborhood full of amazing swedish, greek, and middle eastern restaurants ). This recipe is perfect in summer -and is my favorite dairy free tzatziki. It has the texture, taste, and smell. It is delicious with crisp vegetables. Drop a dollop in chilled cucumber soup. It even makes a great salad dressing. The base is cashews, which gives it a rich flavor and a protein boost.
This tzatziki has the creamy tang of a traditional recipe, but is dairy free! Serve with lamb or chicken, as a dip for fresh veggies, with pita chips, or as a dollop over chilled summer soups. Delicious.
To soak the cashews: Put 1 cups of raw cashews in a canning jar or bowl, cover with hot water from your kettle (meaning hotter than tap but not boiling), let soak 1-4 hours. Drain.
To make a dressing, take a few tablespoons of the tzatziki, add equal amount olive oil, and a teaspoon or two of good vinegar. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and then mix well. It is creamy and delicious!
While I like pickles, I like finding other ways to use our abundance of cucumbers throughout the summer. I like to keep a chilled bowl of this in the fridge in season so it is always ready for a snack, with a meal, or over a salad!
I am a certified aromatherapist, clinical herbalist, organic gardener, plant conservationist, photographer, writer, designer, artist, nature lover, whole foods maker, and mother of two unschooled boys in south central Wisconsin.