Monday, February 25, 2008

busy weekend eats

this weekend was one of those full force ADD weekends, running around spastically jumping from one project to the next, to the next to the next. a little crazed, but mostly productive, i had some interesting and some strange ideas, and actually saw several things through to completion. usually days like this mean that i eat cereal and frozen veggie burgers supplemented with emergen-c and coffee, but somehow i managed to find time to wash my filthy hands and cook a few times this weekend.

i think i've mentioned that our garden is in a, ahem, transitional state right now, so there is little to eat, some tiny lemons, a little chard and kale, a few herbs... and a ton of flourishing arugula and nasturtiums. i had seen a recipe in the millennium cookbook for arugula pesto, and thought i'd give it a try and put a little spicy nasturtium spin on it. i used the millennium recipe as a jumping-off point and then changed mostly everything. it came out way too bitter for my taste so i added basil to counteract it and that worked pretty well, although i still wasn't wholly convinced i had come up with a winner. the next day i made soup, which began as orangette's celery root soup, but quickly became celery root/sunchoke/potato/leek soup. the soup turned out great, rich, but subtle, but i kept thinking that it needed something a little fresh, you know, a little green to bring it all together. eureka! i put a spoonful of the pesto into a bowl of soup and voila... yum yum yum.

here's the recipe (although i should probably start calling these 'guess-ipes' because, i won't lie to you, i make up the measurements. unless it's baking, i've made some too flat muffins and too puffy pancakes, so i'm fairly true to the measurements of baked goods). Also, I think of a 'bunch' as what you could hold if you put your two hands together and made a cup. highly scientific, of course.

arugula.nasturtium.basil pesto

2 bunches of arugula
1 bunch nasturtium (if you don't have nasturtium you could add spinach or parsley or more arugula/basil depending on whether you like more bitter/more sweet)
1 1/2 bunches basil (a little less than the arugula)
1/2-3/4 c. toasted nuts (pine nuts are standard, i used a mix of pine nuts, walnuts and almonds dry toasted in a frying pan on med-low heat)
3 tbs olive oil
1/2 c. water
salt and pepper to taste

put all the leaves and nuts (cooled) into a blender or food processor and chop it up. keep it chopping and stream in the olive oil through the top like they do on the cooking shows. stream in the water through the top until it gets about the consistency you like (i like mine wet-ish so i used it all). add the salt and pepper.

rooty good soup
2 tbs. olive oil
2 celery roots (peeled and chopped)
5-8 sunchokes (peeled and chopped)
2-3 small or one large potato (chopped)
2 small leeks (mostly the white part, chopped then washed)
1 sm/med onion (chopped)
2-3 cloves garlic (sliced)
1 stalk celery (chopped)
3 c. veggie stock
salt and pepper to taste

Heat up the olive oil in a good sized pot, wash, peel and chop all your veggies. you're going to want to wash the leek after you chop it to get all the grit out from between the layers. throw it all in the pot, i'm sure there's some order that would be appropriate but i don't know it, so toss it all in at once, or toss it in as you chop it. cook it in the oil until it starts to smell delicious or the onions become translucent. add the veggie stock, bring it to boil and then turn it down low to simmer. put a lid on it and simmer until all the root veggies get soft enough that you can easily smash them with a fork, about 40 minutes. blend in batches (carefully, with an open top) til pureed smooth. add the salt and pepper. serve alone or with a dollop of pesto in the middle to be stirred in by the lucky recipient.

(organic generic brand cheez-its, for real.)