Farm Fresh: Garlic Scape and Swiss Chard Pesto

Boyfriend and I signed up for our first CSA this year. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it is a market system in which people invest money in a farm at the beginning of the season which helps to fund the initial supplies and planting, and then receive shares of the produce throughout the growing season. Today, our first shares came with such wonderful treats as beets, spring onions, Swiss chard, and garlic scapes. Each week, as I open my surprise bag of produce, I’ll be working on a creative way to use it up and will post the results of the experiments in posts labeled “Farm Fresh.”

Our first CSA share! Isn't it beautiful?

Our first CSA share! Isn’t it beautiful?

This week, I was thrilled to see both swiss chard and garlic scapes in the bag. I once had the good fortune to taste Swiss chard and garlic scape pesto, and it was amazing! In my search for ways to fill my new chest freezer, I began searching for the recipe for that pesto. I’ve been waiting since February for the opportunity to try it, and that time is finally here. The original recipe was handed out by the Nutrition Center stand at the local Farmer’s Market two years ago which means that, sadly, I do not know to whom I should give the credit. I’ve made a few minor changes to suit my personal preferences. Boyfriend rates this one 3.5 forks.

Pesto Ingredients

This pesto is relatively mild with a slight tang, perfect on pasta, tossed with steamed vegetables, or spread on a bit of crusty french bread. The addition of Swiss chard and almonds also pump up the nutritional value.

Delicious pesto with sauteed chicken over rice noodles!

Delicious pesto with sauteed chicken over rice noodles!

1/4 Cup roasted almonds, unsalted**
5-7 garlic scapes
1/2 bunch Swiss chard
1/8 Cup lemon juice
1/8 Cup olive oil
1 Cup Parmesan Romano blend or Quattro Formaggio (Parmesan, Asiago, Fontina & Mozzarella)
salt to taste

Clean garlic scapes and Swiss chard. Chop the garlic scapes into smaller pieces and remove the stems from the Swiss chard leaves. Set aside the stems for another use.

Place the garlic scapes into a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the Swiss chard leaves to the food processor and process until finely chopped.

Add the lemon juice, olive oil, almonds and salt to the food processor and run for another minute. Add the cheese to the food processor and chop until everything is finely shredded and mixed well.

**Walnuts or pine nuts may be substituted for the almonds.

Honey Vanilla Almond Butter

Almond Butter 1

Yesterday, I decided to make a recipe that I found on Pinterest a while ago. I’d forgotten all about it until it popped up on my facebook feed over and over and over again these past two weeks. The recipe was for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites (no flour, oil, or sugar added). *I’ll be posting that one in a day or so.* The recipe calls for natural peanut butter, but with Boyfriend’s peanut allergy, that makes me nervous. He can handle some peanut products (generally the heavily processed ones) like Reese’s and processed creamy peanut butter, but other things like whole peanuts or chunky peanut butter send him into anaphylaxis. Not wanting to kill him (yet), I decided to make some homemade cashew butter to use instead, and my obsession with nut butters began.

Can you call it an obsession after only two days? Actually, I’m not really sure. After making the first batch of cashew butter and adding it directly to the cookie dough bites, I decided that I wanted to make a batch just to have for spreading on things, so I pulled out the blender again last night and got to it. When I put the remaining cashews back into cabinet, I realized that I had almonds just sitting there begging to be useful. I couldn’t just close the door and forget about them! So, when I got home from running errands today, I decided that it was time to try my hand at almond butter…Honey Vanilla Almond Butter, to be exact.

Creamy, sweet, and slightly salty, it is delicious on its own or spread on just about anything. (Yes, I admit it, I scraped the blender jar clean and ate it straight from a spoon.)

Almond Butter 2

1 Cup unsalted roasted almonds (slightly heaping)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp honey (to taste)
1/8 tsp salt (omit if using salted almonds)
Canola oil (as needed for blending)

Add almonds to a food processor or blender. Blend on the slowest speed until finely chopped (almond meal). Add the vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of the honey. Continue to blend until the almonds become smooth and creamy. Taste the almond butter and add another tablespoon of honey if necessary.

If you cannot get the almonds to the creamy stage, add 1 teaspoon of canola oil at a time. Mine were old and a bit dry, so I had to add 2 teaspoons of oil so the blender could finish the job. Once the almonds are completely creamed, add the salt and blend for a few seconds more until fully incorporated.

Store your almond butter in the refrigerator. It will keep for at least 2 weeks.