Like a dancer rehearsing tirelessly for a performance, the Urban Farmer has worked and worked for this day. Excitement, jitters, second guesses, strokes of confidence and last minute preparations culminate in today’s performance. Today the Urban Farmer delivers his very first CSA!
A CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) is the consumer’s way to invest in a farm. It’s a way to support principled farming practices with dollars and cents. It’s a way to share in the highs and lows, the bounties and the dry spells. It’s a means to understanding the seasons, the gambles and if all goes well, it’s a way to understand one of the best gifts of locally grown food: fresh, intense flavor!
Much like an Iron Chef challenge, a CSA arrives weekly with surprise ingredients. If your glass is half empty, the lack of choice and control will be a burden. What am I going to do with kohlrabi?! If your glass is half full, the array is a creative challenge and just the motivation you need to break with culinary monotony. Hopefully, you’re the latter.
The Urban Farmer could eat radishes (and just about anything from the ground) like grapes, but for many of us, the spicy, bitter and crisp radish is more perplexing. These bright red beauties emerge with a bouquet of greens, which we often overlook, tossing them into compost piles without a second thought. With so many radishes emerging from the field, my creative challenge was to harness more potential from these French Breakfast varieties: enter pesto!
In true S.A.T style, when I say “pesto,” your immediate association is probably basil, and the word nerd in me wondered, why is this? Is it a rule? Are pesto and basil inextricably linked?
In an intense research effort, I consulted Wikipedia, and I found my excuse to break with basil traditions:
The name [pesto] is the contracted past participle of the Genoese word pestâ (Italian: pestare), which means to pound, to crush, in reference to the original method of preparation, with marble mortar and wooden pestle. The ingredients in a traditionally made pesto are ground with a circular motion of the pestle in the mortar. This same Latin root through Old French also gave rise to the English word pestle.
I respect European traditions enough not to assign names sacrilegiously, but Wikipedia permitted me to extend the idea of “pesto” to the ingredients of the very first CSA and fulfill my radish challenge. Whether you’re receiving the Urban Farmer’s very first CSA or a fresh bunch from another farmer, here’s to new ways of using the freshest, local offerings.
Radish, Chard & Leafy Greens Pesto
About this Recipe: Crunchy and garlicky, use this farm-fresh pesto wherever you would use the traditional basil version. The chard and large, leafy greens yield far more than their basil equivalents. Whether I used broccoli or cauliflower greens will be determined soon, when more of the vegetable protrudes from the ground. You can use turnip greens, kale or more chard as a substitute if need be. The main objective is just to use as much of the vegetables as possible. I left the texture of my pesto rather coarse, preferring to add more oil based on the application. The thicker consistency works well for these chèvre, back pepper and radish crostini. I skipped the cheese, preferring to add cheese with the application as well. The result is a vegan-friendly pesto with lots of healthy raw nutrients!
Radish, Chard & Leafy Greens Pesto
yield: ~3 cups
1-2 Tablespoons organic avocado oil
1 bulb garlic, peeled & cut in halves
crushed black pepper, to taste
6 large radishes & leaves (French Breakfast Radishes featured)
4 large rainbow chard leaves
4 large broccoli or cauliflower greens
a handful of basil (add more for a more traditional pesto flavor)
2 lemons, squeezed
1 cup olive oil
Heat the avocado oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and crushed pepper. Heat until the garlic is soft and lightly browned. Remove from heat, and set aside.
Rinse all the greens and radishes, making sure to remove any dirt around the radish root. Cut the radishes into large chunks (to make it easier to put in the food processor), and chop the greens.
Add the radishes and chard to the food processor. Pulse until paste-like. Add the remaining greens, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and remaining oil. Note: If you have a large capacity food processor, you can probably add all the ingredients at once.
Pulse until desired consistency. To store, place in an airtight container and cover with a thin layer of olive oil.