It took me awhile to adjust to an ingredient-driven culinary approach from a recipe-driven tactic but in the process I learned a lot. I have a curious nature and my natural proclivity is to research like a fiend; I’m a self-professed “infomaniac”. Part of that included stocking up on some key cookbooks that chronicle recipes by their primary ingredient or in my case vegetable or fruit. My faves? Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (I actually have all of his books but when eating seasonally this one is perfect), as well as Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmer’s Markets, Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen and Seasonal Fruit Desserts from Orchard, Farm and Market.
What I’ve grown to love is the easy preparation and flavorful results of simple dishes from my CSA farm proceeds or my own home garden. Pesto is a true favorite due to its versatility (suits my capricious tendencies) and the robustness of flavor. Less than a handful of ingredients and 10 minutes time will yield this beautiful sauce perfect for topping pasta or pizza, saucing a meat or vegetarian dish, adding to a sandwich or tossing into a salad. It is easily frozen for use in the cold weather months too. I own a Foodsaver machine and at the end of summer make loads of sealed packets of one meal-worth of pesto to freeze and enjoy all winter long.
Though basil pesto is what is most recognized, pesto can be made with any greens. Arugula pesto is one of my favorites. Today I decided to make Kale Pesto using some kale that I rescued from a compost pile fate from a community garden being readied for new crops. Transplanted into my garden it has thrived however with hotter temps afoot, it’s time to dine!
Instead of pine nuts I’ve substituted walnuts (toasted) and added some Meyer Lemon Olive Oil to the regular olive oil. I am gluten-free so brown rice pasta is a staple of my GF pasta regime and it has a lovely flavor and texture. My husband is not gluten free and enjoys it also, feeling it demonstrates the best structure for non-gluten pastas (this coming from an excellent cook and gluten-filled pasta lover).
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