Garlic Scape Pesto

It’s always fun to try a new recipe. I cook with garlic garlic scapes

all the time. May through June we cut off the sinuous young garlic scapes from our rocambole garlic and stir-fry or grill them with a touch of olive oil. This last week my friend Signe introduced me to Garlic Scape Pesto. The last of our scapes had flower tips that were drying and stems were a little firm. Sigrid showed us how to peel way the outer skin with a paring knife or vegetable peeler. We discarded the flower heads and cut the stems into 1 inch lengths to run in the food processor. For one cup chopped scapes add 1/2 cup olive and run in process until it’s chunky and add 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. It was shockingly good, It’s not unusual to add basil, nuts or sunflower seed. I’ve taken to adding fresh dill and spearmint. So far we’ve enjoyed this was grilled salmon and chicken couscous. The couscous was a real surprise on one of those rushed workday evenings when guests are coming and the rhythm is not quite right in the kitchen. I had not made harissa sauce, a spicy sweet pepper sauce usually accompanying a chicken/vegetable couscous. We served pesto and surprise, we all kept eating eating a bite of couscous and a dab of garlic scape pesto. so if you still have scapes in the garden clip them off and if they still have a bit of tenderness try this recipe. The scapes only occur on the hard neck rocambole garlic varieties. The flowers this garlic produces is invariably sterile. Scapes are lovely in flower arrangements.

Garlic Scape Pesto

1 cup chopped garlic scapes-trimmed and peeled as necessary                                          1 half cup olive oil                                                                                                                        1 half cup Parmesan cheese, shreddedgarlic pesto

Place chopped scapes and garlic oil in food processor until coarsely chopped then add cheese and process only until well mixed. Pesto is good with the additions of herbs, spearmint, dill or basil. Blanched chopped almonds, cashews, walnuts or sunflower seeds are other possible additions. I no longer recommend pine nuts because there have problems with some nuts from China and the price is now exorbitant.

Salad of Swiss Chard, Beets and Fruit

Swiss Chard and Beet SaladCooked greens make a delicious salad base. This was an evening to find a purpose for accumulated ingredients. We had leftover multi-colored Swiss Chard which was braised in a little olive oil and garlic. The stems and garlic were cooked for three minutes before coarsely chopped leaves were added.

Our other ingredients were also ready:
2 medium baked beets
1 orange, peeled
1 mango, peeled
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
1 tablespoon walnut oil
1/4 cup crumbled goat or feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt to taste

Slice beets, orange and mango into a dish. Dress with vinegar and oil. Layer over greens, sprinkle first with parsley and then cheese. A few added walnuts would be good. Another version for  beet and salad would be sliced pears and a sprinkling of dried cranberries.   Fresh tarragon would be a good herb along with parsley.

Our Neon chard is large leaved and quite beautiful in mid spring. This is from last year’s planting and chard makes great regrowth once spring arrives. Chard belongs in every garden and is pretty enough to add to a flower bed. Leaf miner can be a problem in some areas and now is safely controlled by using organically approved spinosad applied as a light spray.  We use and offer it as Monterey Garden Insect Garden Spray.

Easy “Mole” Sauce

A turkey cooked in Mole Sauce is a delicious option for Thanksgiving dinner. This is the recipe Nichols Garden Nursery uses with Mole/Poblano Pepper seed. It is a simple traditional mole sauce. The Mole Pepper is a typical elongated  semi-spicy Pasilla type pepper. As they mature the color changes from green to chocolate brown. Seed starters should think about getting peppers into a starting mix the month of March and keep the sown seeds warm until germinated. As soon as you see sprouts remove from bottom heat.

Moles often include chocolate and a mixture of peppers, spices, broth and are delicious with poultry or pork, serve over rice or fold into burritos. Try this recipe and don’t be afraid to add a few other peppers to smooth out the heat or jack it up to your standards. You can make large batches to freeze.pepper-holy-mole

“Easy Mole” Mole

3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

2 cups Chopped Onions

8 Red/Brown ripe Mole Peppers,

deseeded & chopped

2 cloves garlic peeled & chopped

1/4 cup raisins, chopped

4 tsp Chili powder, hot or mild

3/4 Tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon Ground cloves

2 cups Chicken or Turkey Broth

1 16 oz. can Diced Tomatoes or 2 large chopped, peeled tomatoes

1 oz. dark unsweetened chocolate

2 Tbsp. Peanut Butter

1 Corn tortilla, lightly toasted and shredded

Heat oil in a large skillet, add onion, garlic, pepers and raisins. Saute’ until onions are slightly transparent. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer 20 minutes. Puree sauce in food processor or blender until smooth. For chicken, turkey or pork mole, add precooked meat to sauce. Serve with rice.

This sauce without added meat freezes beautifully and it’s worthwhile to have several pints stocked away. One year we made a fantastic roast turkey basted with mole, defatted and cut into joints and bathed with more mole.A fantastic holiday meal!

Three Sisters Layered Casserole

The tradition of the Three Sisters in Native American Gardening Three sisters casserolerefers to the practice of planting a mound of soil with 5 to 7 corn plants in the center. After the corn grows 6” tall 7-8 beans are planted around the corn which supports the beans. A week later 7 or 8 squash or pumpkin seeds are planted around the outer edge of the mound. The beans provide a nitrogen boost for the corn and the broad squash leaves suppress weeds and conserve moisture. Additionally, the three vegetables form a nutritional compliment.

After buying a few bags of fire roasted chiles at our local farmers market I wanted to make something new and special with them and use up some odd bits in the refrigerator. The result, featuring corn, beans, and squash is reminiscent of both a chile relleno casserole and stacked enchiladas.

6 roasted chiles
4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried, crushed oregano
4 corn tortillas, quartered
2 cups grated jack cheese or 1 cup jack & 1 cup cheddar
1 cup cooked, cubed, winter squash
1-2 cups drained black beans
1/2 cup or less diced chicken or meat (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove skins and seeds from roasted chiles, slice lengthwise into 1” strips. Whisk together, eggs, milk, flour, cumin and oregano. Take a 10″ glass pie plate or shallow casserole and lightly oil. Arrange half the tortilla pieces in bottom of casserole. Then lightly layer with half the cheese, ½ the peppers, followed by 1 cup beans and ½ cup cubed squash and all the chicken. Cover with 1/2 egg mixture. Give the dish a gentle shake so ingredients are evenly layered and tortillas begin soaking up egg mixture. Repeat layering beginning with tortilla pieces followed by remaining ingredients. Reserve 1/3 cup of cheese to sprinkle over the top as the last step. Bake on middle shelf in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Serves 6.
My beans were seasoned with salt, onions and garlic so I did not include salt, you may wish to add ¼ teaspoon.

Blogging Again

It seems I forgot to do something this summer. Caught up in gardening, harvesting, guests, travel and cooking my blog has been sadly neglected. We still are bringing in trays of produce and pleased to have discovered some new varieties for our 2008 catalog. Our current favorite summer squash is a tossup between the delicious, prolific Salman F1 Zucchini

Salman F1 Zuchini

and the Italian heirloom Tromboncino.

Tromboncino Summer Squash

I’ve been slipping zucchini into everything I can manage, omelets, soups and even some seemingly rich chocolate cupcakes. I’ll try to post that recipe later as I didn’t do a great job measuring the ingredients. If you find you have too much zucchini to deal with right now shred it and measure out two cups into a zippered plastic bag and freeze. They will retain a fresh flavor for at least three months.

Our fall garden is already producing, kale, lettuces, arugula and spinach. Just a step outside and I have wholesome fresh greens for our household. The beauty of this is we can keep planting for a few weeks more.

It’s not too late to sow Misato Rose radish.

Misato Rose Radish

It is so beautiful with a bright rosy interior. To serve peel, slice, and add a simple dressing of lightly sweetened and salted rice wine vinegar then watch the color bloom. At their best during cool weather, I usually harvest these when between two and four inches. They are also known as watermelon radishes. In Northern China they are often served as street food. The entire radish is peeled, placed on a stick and swiftly sliced into a multi-petaled rose.

Mesclun mixes and salad blends can still be planted. Collect your seed packets from spring and sow out remaining lettuce seeds or order new seeds. Lettuce will slowly and steadily grow through winter in most areas. I like to clip plants after the second set of true leaves appear and harvest just what I need for the table. Next time I clip back another area. You can expect at least three pickings from this Cut & Cut Again technique. Lettuces clipped back seem more resistant to winter cold and frost. A plastic tunnel or covering of polyspun fabric will hold in warmth and boost yields. Lightly fertilize every few weeks, liquid seaweed is my usual favorite.

It’s sunny outside and the garden beckons.