A green day in my kitchen

May 6, 2013

Worked my way through some of the bounty of green things from the farmer’s market and the co-op on Sunday. After all, processed green things take up less space than fresh green things, right?

If you don't like green, this would be a good time to click on past.

If you don’t like green, this would be a good time to click on past.

First, there was garlic chive aioli. An aioli, if you don’t know, is a mayonnaise you made yourself, and put stuff in. In this instance, garlic chives, which look like nothing so much as young Johnson grass (if any of you are Southern country folk, you know from Johnson grass). But they have a lovely slightly garlicky, slightly chive-y flavor.

You take an egg and crack it in a blender. You add about a tablespoon of lemon juice, a turn or two or three of your pepper mill, a bit of salt, and about an ounce of chopped up garlic chives. And you pulse that smooth. Then you take the little center thingy out of the blender lid, and slowly, with the blender running, pour in a half-cup of olive oil. It’ll emulsify up into a rather thin sauce that’ll set up a bit when you chill it in the fridge, though it won’t be as firm as regular mayo.

It will go wonderfully on some of the Mennonite tomatoes, with some bacon and avocado, on a lettuce leaf or two. Damn the bread, anyway.

With the added advantage of repelling vampires.

With the added advantage of repelling vampires.

Then there was the green garlic pesto. Now, green garlic is a whole ‘nother thing from the regular dried garlic you mince up and use almost daily, if you are me. Green garlic, available for only a few weeks in the spring and early summer, looks a lot like green onions, with the heads starting to form. It smells very, very garlicky, but it doesn’t taste nearly as strong as it smells.

Lop off all but about four or five inches of the bunch of garlic (my bunch was five bulbs and stalks. Save another four inches or so of the leaves of one of the stalks. Toss a cup of nuts (canonically, you should use pine nuts,  but those babies are significantly pricy, and I used walnuts) in your FoPro and chop them fine, but not into a paste. Yet. Roughly chop up the garlic and toss it in; add the rest of the juice from the lemon you used when you made the aioli (maybe two tablespoons), some salt and pepper, and about 1/3 cup olive oil. Process for a while, stop it and scrape down the sides, add oil if it’s too thick, and process until it’s as smooth as you want.

There are a ton of things you can do with this stuff. You can spread it thinly on toasted baguette slices and top with chopped tomatos, or whatever else you wish, for some awesome bruschetta. You can put a spoonful in with your bacon and bacon drippings when you’re preparing to make carbonara. You can mix it with butter and make the best garlic bread you ever ate. You can use it to flavor an alfredo sauce, or a tomato sauce. You can use it anywhere you’d use regular pesto, although I like it better when it’s slightly cooked in some preparation, as opposed to raw. Your mileage may vary. I tend to go to the dollar store and get little quarter-cup plastic thingies and freeze it in them.

Arugula, pre-roasting.

Arugula, pre-roasting.

Still on my green kick, I made arugula chips. Not much to ’em. Wash your arugula — I had an eight-ounce bag, and it made two cookie sheets full — and toss it in the colander. Shake out all the water you can, then dump it out on the table on a bath towel to dry while you do other stuff.

Arugula, after 25 minutes in the oven.

Arugula, after 25 minutes in the oven.

In a big mixing bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon of smoked pimenton, a sprinkle of garlic powder, and a pinch of salt. Add half the arugula and toss, and then spread it out on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, or until it looks fairly dried out. Let it dry and crisp up on the parchment, and then move it to a rack to let it completely cook before you put it in plastic. Nice crunchy, spicy little snack. If you want to up the spice value, add a pinch of cayenne or a shake or two of your favorite hot sauce.

There’s a little more room in my fridge, but it’s still packed. Tomorrow — pickled veggies, for bahn mi lettuce wraps! You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em come on over and enjoy!


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