Cilantro/Coconut Pesto (ChimiChurri)

For two seasons now, we've gotten more cilantro than we can possibly imagine finding useful in our farm share. Last year, in an effort to figure out what to do with it, I made this sauce. Served over salmon or steak, it is impossibly tasty.

You make it pretty much the same way you would pesto - although you want it to turn out a bit more liquid than a pesto. The key to this is the acid - you want a bit of citrus and vinegar to cut the cilantro.

To make it: 

1 bunch of cilantro, stems removed

3 garlic scapes, chopped roughly

1/2 tsp good dried chiles (Aleppo or Chipotle work, although I used a Mediterranean pepper)

pinch of salt

juice of 1 orange

juice of 1 small lime

about 1 tbsp rice vinegar or red wine vinegar

1/4 cupish coconut oil

 

Put everything but vinegar and oil into a mini-chopper or food processor. Process everything until relatively smooth, then add coconut oil in a slow stream. Add vinegar towards the end to taste.

Serve over salmon or steak, but it's also amazing on chicken or tofu. 

Harissa

I got this recipe fromThe Vegetarian Table: Franceby Georganne Brennan, and I swear to you, it’s brilliant. Harissa is a spicy chili-garlic paste that’s North African in origin, but apparently popular in France. This version is modified slightly based on what I had available (couldn’t find dried Anaheim chilis, and I added a couple of things), but it’s really good.

You don’t need much of this to make your food good and spicy, but it typically goes with couscous, and even went well with the Endive Au Gratin that I made for tonight’s dinner.

To make it: 

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 dried Chipotle peppers
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp good olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth

Start by removing the stems and seeds from the Chipotles. Cut into smallish pieces and grind along with mustard seeds in a coffee/spice grinder.

In a small chopper, add garlic, spices and turmeric and pulse until garlic is well-chopped. Add oil and continue pulsing until combined - then add broth and do the same.

This will store in a tightly covered container in your refrigerator for up to 5 days. Use it on couscous, in tomato dishes, and soups. Be warned, it’s spicy - so you don’t need a lot unless you really like your food hot. It’s also great in hummus.

Pesto 3 Ways

One of the benefits (and challenges) of getting a farm share is dealing with all the produce and herbs that you get in your share. One of the more common things I do is take all the basil and/or arugula from the share and make a batch of pesto with it, freeze it in ice cube trays and then store the cubes in Zip-loc bags for use throughout the winter. Thanks to the good folks at Drumlin Farm and my basil-happy share, I now have enough pesto to last me until 2012.

But the beauty of pesto is that it doesn't actually have to be just basil - it can be any herb, any type of nut, any cheese, etc. So here's three different ways to make pesto. All freeze beautifully, and are incredibly useful to have in the freezer for just about any meal. Try throwing a couple of cubes into a big pot of veggie soup, or mixing a cube or two with Greek yogurt and a bit of mayo to make a dressing for potato or macaroni salad. One twist that I take with all my pesto is that I put a bit of vinegar or lemon in it - it keeps everything nice and green, adds a bit of punch to the flavor, and cuts a large amount of the olive oil (which makes it much less fattening).

To make it: 

Classic Basil Pesto

  • 1-2 bunches of basil (just leaves)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted slightly
  • 1/2 cup romano cheese, grated
  • 1-2 garlic cloves salt and pepper to taste
  • white wine vinegar (about 1-2 tbsp)
  • good olive oil (about 1-2 tbsp)
  • water (about 1-2 tbsp)

Pack leaves, garlic, and nuts with a bit of salt and pepper into a food processor. Add a bit of vinegar and a bit of water and start the processor working - you should have enough liquid that the leaves start getting chopped pretty quickly. Once leaves are completely chopped and the whole thing's a paste, add cheese, cover and start the processor again, drizzling in about a tablespoon or two of olive oil - just enough so that you have a smooth paste.

Basil Arugula Pesto

This is almost exactly the same as the Basil pesto, but you'd do half arugula, half basil. You can also do it with all arugula, but I suggest leaving out the pepper and using almonds instead of pine nuts if you want an all-arugula pesto. You could also substitute Gruyere for the Romano cheese.

Cilantro-Hazelnut Pesto

Oh my, but this is some tasty stuff. Try it on grilled salmon or chicken.

  • 1 bunch of cilantro (just leaves)
  • 1 big clove of garlic
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed
  • 2 tbsp Trader Joe's Orange-Muscat vinegar (if you can't find this, you can also use a tbsp of orange juice and a tbsp of cider vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts
  • a bit of salt

Pack everything but oil into a food processor and work it up, drizzling the oil into the mixture as it processes. For all three, use immediately, or load into a covered ice cube tray and freeze overnight. The next day, pop the cubes out of the tray into a double zip freezer bag - they'll keep for at least 6 months.