Thursday, May 23, 2013

Whole Hog Meets Good Earth

Whole Hog Produce Bin - May 10, 2013

Tomatoes, butter lettuce, bok choi, green beans, salad greens, apricot, kiwi.
Thanks to this bin, meal planning was once again a breeze. Everything came together perfectly on paper. Then real life happened, and the plan fell apart. Then it came back together. Then it collapsed once more. 

In spite of ever-changing plans, we ate very well. Fortunately, for weeks like these, we have some favourite go-to meals. This time squash pesto came to our rescue when things went all pear-shaped. Or rather butternut-shaped.

Yep. You heard me. Squash pesto.

Heather of Good Earth Farms first told me about squash pesto four years ago. She kindly shared her recipe when I couldn't resist buying an abundance of squash from her at the Farmers' Market. It was an instant favourite. Now we make squash pesto regularly, and as the recipe freezes well, it is perfect for those nights when a quick meal is needed. Toss with pasta. Top with cheese. Serve with a green salad. Dinner in minutes. Couldn't have planned it any better. 

Thanks to Heather for many delicious, easy meals and for allowing me to share her recipe with you.

Good Earth Farms' Squash Pesto

Notes in brackets are Heather's

(Based on Martha Shulman's recipe in "Vegetarian Feast".)

(I use a basil pesto recipe from one of my many cookbooks as a guideline. I never follow it exactly, and always have a great result. Simply substitute cooked squash for the basil, and continue as normal. I also use sunflower seeds in place of expensive pine nuts. I buy raw sunflower seeds and toast them in a dry (no oil) cast-iron pan or a frying pan until they are golden. They have a great flavour.)

2-3 cups cooked squash
1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic (We love garlic, and I always use more in sweet squash pesto.)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (I leave the cheese out if I plan on freezing the pesto.)
2 tsp lemon juice (Again, use a little more if needed to offset the sweet squash.)
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup sunflower seeds - toasted

Combine first 3 ingredients in a food processor. Add the cheese. Blend until you have a homogeneous paste. Add the lemon juice. In a slow stream add the olive oil. Finally add the sunflower seeds and blend to a uniform paste. Taste while still in the food processor and make adjustments as needed, ie. salt, lemon juice etc.


My Notes:

I used a small butternut squash from an earlier Whole Hog bin which I baked then pesto-fied. The squash was very orange and very sweet, so I used Heather's suggestions and upped the garlic and lemon. (Three cloves garlic and the juice of 1/2 a lemon.) The baked squash was quite moist, so I only needed 1/3 cup of olive oil to get the consistency I wanted. I later thought I could have roasted a head of garlic when I baked the squash and used it in the pesto. Next time.

To bake squash:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds.
  • Place squash cut-side down in an oven-safe pan. Pour about 1/2 inch of water into the pan with the squash.
  • Bake until squash is tender and easily pierced with fork. (For my small squash it only took about 40 minutes.)
  • Scoop cooked squash from the skin. Discard skin. 
  • Make pesto!

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