Friday, June 17, 2011

Arugula Pesto

Pesto is an easy and delicious sauce with myriad uses. It's traditionally made by grinding fresh basil leaves with garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil using a mortar ans pestle. However, pesto can be made from almost any fresh herb or spicy green. Arugula certainly fits that bill. Replace the mortar and pestle with a blender or food processor and you can make wonderful pesto in a matter of minutes.

The proportion of the ingredients is, to a certain extent, a matter of taste. So, feel free to adjust the ingredients to your liking. Here are a few things to consider: Don't let the garlic overpower the fresh taste of the herbs. You might want to consider using milder green garlic or even roasted garlic for a mellower taste. Always, always toast the nuts, no matter which nuts you use. Toasting brings out the flavor of the nut. Use the very best extra virgin olive oil that you have. Olive oil is such an important component of the pesto, you'll want to use your best oil for this.

Arugula Pesto

1-2 cloves garlic
1/4 C toasted pine nuts or walnuts
1/2 - 1 t salt
2 C packed arugula leaves (no stems)
1/2 to 2/3 C extra virgin olive oil

Blender or Food Processor Method: Place the garlic and nuts in the processor or blender and process until finely chopped and nearly a paste. Add the salt and arugula leaves and process until chopped. With the motor running, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream and process until the mixture has an even consistency and resembles a smooth paste. You may need to stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl or blender once or twice.

Mortar and Pestle Method: Chop the garlic and nuts coarsely. Grind them in the mortar with the pestle using a circular motion until they resemble a paste. You can add a little olive oil to make the grinding easier. Stir in the salt. Coarsely chop the arugula leaves and grind them into the garlic nuts paste, one-half cup at a time, adding olive oil as needed, until you've incorporated all the arugula and oil and the mixture is a smooth paste.

Once made, you can use your pesto as a pasta sauce - just stir it into freshly cooked hot pasta with 1/2 c (or more) freshly grated parmesan cheese. As an alternative, you might try substituting crumbled chevre (goat cheese) for the parmesan. A little grated lemon or orange zest adds a little zing. You can get an even bigger zing from some red pepper flakes.

You can also use pesto as a spread on sandwiches such as fresh mozzarella (or chevre) with sun-dried tomatoes on focaccia. Omnivores will find pesto to be a delicious relish for grilled steak, chicken, and fish. Best of all, if you have any left over, you can cover it with a thin layer of olive oil and keep it in your fridge for at least a week, or you can freeze it for months.

The beautiful green color of fresh pesto doesn't last very long. If the darkening of your pesto bothers you, you can avoid it by eating your pesto soon after you mix it up or by blanching the leaves in a pot of boiling water for just a few seconds before grinding. Be sure to dry the leaves as best you can before grinding.

Today's bounty included the following:

From Underwood Family Farms: Yukon and Norland potatoes, blood oranges, strawberries, blackberries, green leaf lettuce, purple carrots, Easter radishes, mizuna and arugula.

From Cottage Grove Farm: Romaine lettuce, cherries, asparagus, and white nectarines.

From Drake Family Farms: Plain or Herbs de Provence chevre.

Thank you Julie, Rachel and Jordan (pictured above) and Amanda, Nik and Willow, for helping distribute the bounty at pickup.



Friday, June 10, 2011

Stuffed French Toast

If you happened to get some of those super ripe white peaches this afternoon and you don't eat them up in the car on the way home, you might want to use them to make this lovely dish over the weekend.

Stuffed French Toast is a simple and delicious treat that makes a wonderful breakfast or brunch dish. This version uses the peaches from today's box, but you can substitute your favorite fruit. If you don't have any fruit, you can substitute jam; and if you want to make this dish even richer, you can add a few crumbles of cream cheese or goat cheese to the filling.

For 4 servings:

Start by preparing the fruit for the filling. If you're using peaches, peel 1-2 peaches with a knife or use the blanching method described in last week's recipe on Peach Clafouti. Thinly slice the peaches and set them aside.

4-5 large eggs
1/2 C whole milk
1/2 t vanilla
pinch salt
butter for frying

1. Beat the eggs with a fork in a small bowl until well blended. Beat in the milk, vanilla, and salt.

2. Pour this mixture into a shallow flat-bottomed dish. Arrange 4 slices of bread in the dish (or work in batches - 1-2 slices at a time).

3. Place several thin slices of peeled peach on top of each slice of bread. Cover fruit with another slice of bread.

4. When the bottom slice of bread has become well-soaked with the egg mixture, gently flip each piece so that the top slice of bread can soak up the remaining egg mixture. Be sure each slice of bread is soaked through.

5. Melt 1 T butter in a large skillet. Using a spatula, gently place as many pieces of stuffed French toast in the skillet as will fit without crowding. Fry on medium heat until the bottom is brown. Gently flip and fry until the other side is brown. Add more butter if necessary to fry the remaining pieces of stuffed French toast.

Serve hot with syrup or powdered sugar.

This recipe is wonderful with slightly mashed bananas and/or berries instead of peaches.

A Few Thoughts on Goat Cheese

There are so many things you can do with goat cheese:

  • Crumble it into salad (it's great with roasted beets)

  • Crumble it into an omelet (it's delicious eith asparagus)

  • Stir some crumbles into hot pasta with cooked crumbled Italian sausage and/or your favorite sauteed vegetables

  • Spread it on little toasts and top with chopped fresh herbs for a delicious crostini

  • Make wonderful sandwiches such as goat cheese with roasted red pepper and basil pesto on your favorite bread

Here's today's harvest:

From Underwood Family Farms: red leaf lettuce, green cabbage, Japanese turnips, yellow carrots, Texas sweet onions, zucchini, mizuna, French radishes, leeks, and blackberries.

From Cottgae Grove Farms: white corn, asparagus, pluots and peaches.

Chevre from Drake Family Farms; and mustard microgreens and edible flowers from Silver Lake farms.



Friday, June 3, 2011

Peach Clafouti

Don't be daunted by the name of this wonderful dish. A clafouti is a lovely, fruity, custard-y dessert that's great plain or with a scoop of your favorite ice cream. It's easy to make and works well with many fruits. In the fall, it's often made with apples or pears. In the summer, stone fruit such as cherries, peaches and apricots are delicious with this batter.

It's best to peel the peaches for this dessert. The easiest way to accomplish this is to blanch them in a pot of boiling water for about 60-90 seconds. Drain. When cool enopugh to handle, remove the skins. If your peaches are hard, they may require slightly longer blanching or you just may want to wait until your peaches have ripened a bit. Don't use peaches that are super soft; between the blanching and the baking, they'll just disintegrate.

1-2 t butter
1/3 C + 1 T granulated sugar
4-6 medium peaches, peeled, pit removed, and sliced into eighths
3 large eggs
1 t vanilla
1 C whole milk or half and half
pinch salt
1/3 C flour
1 t amaretto (optional)
powdered sugar

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Generously butter a 9" pie pan with 1-2 t butter and sprinkle 1 T sugar over the bottom of the pan.

3. Arrange the peeled and pitted peaches artfully in the bottom of the prepared pie pan.

4. Beat together the eggs, vanilla, milk (or half and half), salt, flour and amaretto. You can do this in a blender, or in a bowl with an immersion blender or an electric mixer, or simply by hand, beating vigorously until the ingredients are very well combined to make a smooth batter.

5. Pour the batter over the peaches in the pie pan and bake until set (when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean) - about 35 minutes.

6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before serving. Dust the top generously with powdered sugar before slicing and serving.

If there's any leftover, it's great for breakfast, too.

Here's today's bounty:

From Underwood Family Farms: romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, orange carrots, sugar snap peas, arugula, bok choy, Easter radishes, Napa cabbage and blueberries.

From Sage Mountain Farm: yellow carrots, Swiss chard, Tuscan kale, fresh green garlic, baby leeks, collard greens, and green onions.

From Cottage Grove Farms: strawberries, peaches and apricots.

From dear SLF friend Zan: lemons and tangerines

and from Silver Lake Farms: mustard and arugula micro-greens.

Tara says: Welcome back Rachel and Katy-Kate-Kate and welcome on board Nik! To Sherry, our conductor: you are THE BEST! Thank you for finding Cottage Grove.

Middle pic: Rachel and Sherry (R)
3rd pic: Nik



Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Track 1 bi-weekly CSA shares available now !

We have some Track 1 bi-weekly CSA shares available. Pickup dates: 6/10, 6/24, 7/8 & 7/22. Share value: $100 (pro-rated).

Would you like one? Come and get it!!

Track 2 bi-weekly shares sold out - yay!!

See blog and facebook for an idea of what to expect each week.

We offer separate bread and cookie programs. For bread, check out this article in LA Times. For cookies, contact Marilyn at

Happy Wednesday!