Flowers, Salads, and Pesto
We have certainly been enjoying this week of cooler temperatures on the farm! It seems like a time to catch our breath before the slide into summer is official. The sky offers dramatic scene changes from puffy white clouds to blankets of grey, and the question of rain lingers in the back of our minds. In the greenhouse, we are in our final weeks of seeding kales and lettuce, and it’s a relief not to be checking on them constantly as they germinate to ensure they’re not drying out. Out in the fields, the plants also seem to enjoy a break from the heat and constant sunshine as they soak up water and grow at a slower pace in the mild weather.
This week has also given me some time to reflect on the parts of summer I enjoy most. I don’t know about you, but at the top of my list are flowers, salads, and pesto! I have several varieties of flowers from the farm in my garden box at home, and the warm temperatures have brought changes in the past weeks. The forget-me-nots, the snapdragons, and the stock are bursting with color, while the sunflowers are growing ever taller and forming buds. The nasturtium and alyssum are starting to spread their sweetness along the edges of the garden box, creeping ever closer to the amaranth and calendula, which are slowly growing taller and fuller. It’s a daily delight to check in and see them bursting with life!
A summer salad is a true gift from the earth. I pile snappy peas and crisp carrots, crunchy turnips and exquisite radishes, spicy arugula and sweet spinach atop a bed of mixed greens – and then turn my attention to the dressing. My recent favorite is a spin on a tahini turmeric sauce from Sprouted Kitchen. I combine olive oil, apple cider vinegar, tahini, garlic, maple syrup, turmeric, salt, a dash of cayenne, and a splash of water to make a light and creamy and outrageously delicious dressing to compliment the abundance enriching my plate. You may already be a salad dressing aficionado yourself or maybe you prefer a store-bought favorite – in any case I recommend expanding your horizons and playing with new flavors!
And finally, I will share with you my undying love for pesto! With endless variations and a plethora of uses, pesto is both a classic and a crowd-pleaser. It adds deliciousness to everything from farro to roasted vegetables to pizza and of course pasta. It’s great as a dip or honestly even by the spoonful! I usually start with the basics and blend basil, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Recently I’ve been adding arugula, spinach, and chickweed too. I usually add pumpkin seeds, pecans, or walnuts – soon I plan to experiment with a friend’s suggestion to add pistachios. Since I don’t eat dairy, adding nutritional yeast is a personal favorite. As I look for adventurous pesto recipes online, I see some less-standard ingredients that I may venture to try soon: Kalamata olives, beets, jalapeno, fava beans, chard, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes. Deliciousness awaits!
I love to imagine the CSA vegetables arriving in your home because of the happy mystery of what will become of them. Out of the 170-plus households, I imagine the endless possibilities of preparing and combining them, of snacking on them solo or feeding a group. Amidst this cool week of relative ease, I wish you a moment to reflect on your favorite parts of the season and how you will nourish yourself through the heat and high energy in the days ahead!