Simple pesto elevates farm-fresh produce!
I was Out Of My Mind Excited when the Ottawa Farmers’ Market asked me if I’d like to participate in their Farmers Feast challenge. It’s kind of like those black box competitions featured on some cooking shows, except without the time pressure, nor any cameras watching your every move. The premise is simple – a basket of luscious veggies and a few extra treats from the Sunday edition of the Ottawa Farmers’ Market arrived on my doorstep, and I got busy dreaming up what I’d do with the contents.
I’ll be cooking this week with the following goodies from my basket:
- Bryson Farms’ callaloo and heirloom tomatoes
- Hoople Creek Farm’s sweet white onions
- Trillium Meadows Red Deer and Wild Boar’s wild boar medallions
- Guy Beregeron’s snap peas
- Roots Down Organic Farm’s garlic scapes
- Avonmore Berry Farm’s green and yellow zucchini
- Kiwan Gardens’ tender young English cucumber
- Rochon Garden Farm’s baby new potatoes
- Chamomile Desjardin’s Peach Vidalia hot sauce
I have been so eager for this year’s crop of scapes that I knew I wanted to play with those first. In case you don’t know about scapes, they are the curly green tops of garlic plants that are removed so the growth energy goes into the bulbs instead. This simple scape-lime pesto is so fantastic I’ll be making a bigger batch tomorrow and freezing it so I can enjoy a taste of summer during the cold months ahead. You can make the pesto without grilling the scapes first, but I recommend trying the grilled version first as it really adds a lot of flavour.
- 2 cups (500 mL) baby potatoes (halve any that are large so all the potatoes are of a uniform size for easier grilling)
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) sea salt
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) shelled fresh peas
- 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) scapes in 4” (10 cm) pieces (anywhere from 4 – 8 scapes, depending upon size; pack the cut pieces into the measuring cup as tightly as possible)
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) lime juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) grated Parmesan
- Preheat barbeque to medium-hot.
- While barbeque is heating, toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt.
- Once barbeque is hot, using a grill basket or perforated grilling pan, cook the potatoes for about 10 minutes, turning often, until they are beginning to get crispy on the outside and starting to feel tender when pierced with a knife.
- Add scapes which have been tossed in 1 tablespoon olive oil to the grill basket. Cook for about 10 minutes alongside potatoes, turning everything often, until potatoes are tender and golden and scapes are softened and a bit charred.
- Put potatoes in a serving bowl and add the fresh, raw peas. Toss or stir to combine well.
- In a blender or food processor, pulse the scapes, olive oil and lime juice until they come together in a coarse puree. Add another tablespoon of olive oil if the mixture is too thick to spread. Add parmesan and pulse again. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon half of the pesto over the potatoes and peas. Stir to combine and add more pesto as needed so that potatoes are evenly coated.
- Sprinkle the potato mixture with a little finishing salt and serve immediately, or cover and keep at room temperature for up to 4 hours before serving.
- If making the salad ahead of time, cover and refrigerate, then reheat gently in the microwave at serving time, to bring it up to room temperature.
- Remaining pesto can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to 8 months.