I love to see how the vegetables change with the seasons. Here is what I’ve been doing with some of our June produce:
Strawberry Puree: The strawberries are terrific but so ripe when we get them. Most of mine have been eaten over the sink. However, I had some that went over so I combined them with some from the grocery to make puree. I like this one that’s part of the Jenni’s Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream recipe. The ice cream is great, but I always have puree left over. It’s great to freeze and even better to use in this terrific cocktail — The Red and Black — from Smitten Kitchen. strawberry puree and tequila? What’s not to love.
The Essentials of Peas: We have the first peas of the season and they’re gorgeous sugar snaps. Here’s a little primer on peas and whether or not to shell them. Try grilling those sugar snaps, then tossing with goat cheese.
Asparagus and Brie in Puff Pastry: This dish is a winner from Half Baked Harvest. Simply wrap up with some brie (I used goat brie) and add some of the amazing thyme from a couple of weeks ago. It’s so fragrant! I made them in a smaller size for a dinner party (and omitted the honey to pair with a Sancerre).
Garlic Scape Love: Trying to use up those garlic scapes? I like to make garlic scape pesto and a friend told me he purees his, keeps it in the fridge and uses it like garlic paste all summer long. (It’s great in pasta!) I use walnuts instead of pine nuts.
Spinach Pie: I had spinach, I had dill, I had feta cheese, I had phyllo dough — and for dinner that night, I had spinach pie. (I skipped the ricotta.) Be careful with the nutmeg. I used too much and it turned bitter. And you could do fewer sheets of phyllo than the recipe says (and less better). Mine didn’t bake up as crispy in the center as I would have liked. Still, it hit the spot! I sauteed the fresh spinach until it was cooked, then mixed with the other ingredients. I used eggs, but Martha Stewart frowns on eggs in spinach pie, so next time, I’ll try it her way.
Pesto: So, what to do with all of those fresh herbs from the extra bags? I eat a lot of light, snacky dinners in the summer, so it’s perfect with cheese, crackers, and fresh veg. Mix it with goat cheese for a delicious spread. Pesto is incredibly easy and forgiving. As you make more, you’ll get a sense for what you like, don’t like, and can easily substitute. Pesto freezes well — so I usually make several batches, freeze them and use them through the summer and fall. This last batch had a lot of cilantro which was ooooo-so-good!
- Rinse the leafy herbs — cilantro, celery leaf, parsley, dill — and the garlic scapes. (A little mint accidentally made it into some and it was fine.)
- Dry them. You have a salad spinner, right? And you find it gets a good workout with farm share veggies, right? 3) In the bowl of your food processor, put roughly 2-3 cups of whole herbs. Throw a garlic scape in there or a couple of cloves of whole garlic. Then add 2-3 glugs of EVOO, and roughtly 1/3 cup of shredded parm and 1/3 chopped nuts. Pine nuts are good. I use walnuts, but any nuts of combo of them will do. 1 tsp salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a good 1-2 tsps of lemon or lime juice.
- Process. If it looks a little dry, add another swirl of OO. Taste. Adjust.
- Pack in 1 cup plastic containers for the freezer (You know the ones we all have a *ton* of from weeks of takeout? Those.) I like to put a thin layer of OO on top before I put on the lid.
Tip: If you’re like me and have lemons and limes all summer for cocktails, don’t forget to juice them when they start to go south. I keep a small bottle in the fridge all year with lemon/lime juice. Juice those babies, and pour in the bottle. I just keep adding to it.