Saturday, August 10

Poor Mans Pesto

Where is that crusty bread when you need it?

I've been feeling a bit like the kid who wasn't invited to the party. I'm wondering why someone didn't tell me about this sooner. It was a bit sad really. But then I looked on Pinterest and noticed that most people probably don't realize how amazing, delicious, delectable, this actually is either. And so... I had to pick up the ol' blog and talk about it. It is after all summertime. Usually at this time of year I have two things on my mind: Tomatoes and Pesto. Well, the Tomatoes haven't quite arrived yet and the Pesto is waiting for my basil to grow a bit more before making the third batch this year. But I discovered today something that might just carry me through the rough patches when there is no basil to be had. It might even carry me through the middle of winter when the basil is long since frozen because turnip greens will last through frost like basil never will.

It all happened this morning while tending to my much neglected garden. The weeds from the carrot patch lay in the path where I left them three days ago. Beets are nodding their heads at me from under tall thin leafs speckled with insect bites. I see that my turnips need some thinning. So I set out to weed the green foxtail grass without injuring the tender stalks and pluck baby turnips from overcrowding neighbors and make room for expanding bulbs. Ada joins me and wants to help, so as I pull up each thin root next to bulging brother turnip, I hand her the half dozen stalks and greens. To my amazement she lays them softly in a basket and returns for more talking about how this is for dinner and she is helping and for once she could be right. As I find another bunch she bends down to watch and help exclaiming "Oh Mom! Pink!"  She's spotted the top of a healthy turnip whose roots bare into the soil for more water and nutrients.

I hand her a bunch with a small bulbous root at the end and she adds it to the others with a renewed appreciation for the garden, amazed that something such a lovely shade would grow in her very own dirt. Before we're finished Ada excitedly carries the mornings stash to the kitchen as she does with nearly every pile of weeds she helps me collect out in the garden. 

The catch is this: usually the tufts and stalks that Ada piles on the counter are in fact inedible, at least unpalitable. This is the first time she's made a pile of something that might be consumed. And I don't know what to do with it. It's my first time growing turnips. I look to Pinterest and a million happy pinners to see if there's something that would make this pile of fresh peppery foliage work for me. I find recipe upon recipes with deliscious looking images for cooking these crisp healthy greens in bacon fat and mixing them with cheese, puried for dipping etc. But my kitchen is uncannily empty and I don't want to let them wilt before whipping up something nice, preferably edible. I find one pin with a description that could fit my fancy, but I'm doubtful as it isn't filled with fat and distracting flavors. I click anyway. This is what I found: Poor Mans Pesto I don't have any walnuts or cheese but I go for it anyway and I score. In the end I feel like I should throw a party for myself just for having made the discovery. The only real tragedy is that with such an empty kitchen, I have no crusty bread to break and smother in this garlicky goodness.

Poor Man's Pesto

Five simple ingredients:

Turnip Greens, as many as will fit in your food processor
Garlic, 1 small head from the garden or 5-6 cloves.
Kosher Salt, 1 Tbsp
Olive Oil, 1/2 Cup
Pistacio nuts, 1 handful (in my case, whatever is left in the bag)

Though this has been delicious all by itself, I think I might go to the store today and while buying some nice artisan bread, buy myself some good hard cheese to mix into the puree.

Afterthought: This "Pesto" grow stronger in flavor as time goes by, so don't get too hasty unless you love a good hot mustardy flavor. It DOES benefit from a good strong cheese being processed into it like a traditional pesto. Perfect for sandwich spreads.

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