Summer has definitely arrived in Maine!
While I am a big fan of this sweltering summer heat, it doesn’t really make for great cooking weather. The only thing I can feel any inspiration to make are cold salads or super simple pasta dishes. Thankfully this week’s share was full of beautiful greens so that we could make a bunch of salads for the nights when the cooking just seemed too torturous.
Also, with my new-found obsession with pestos, I was interested to try the Garlic Scape Pesto (I had never had it before). Lucretia said that it was a simple mixture of garlic scapes, olive oil and a touch of lemon juice and salt. It’s perfect as I’ve overdone it a bit on the salty cheeses like parmesan and asiago over the last couple of weeks and while you can add a bit to this mixture, I was happy to have the straight-up garlic scapes without the cheese or nuts.
My dinner consisted of a beautiful salad made with a mixture of the mesclun, tatsoi, and bibb and oakleaf lettuce. On a side note, I have to admit that I have always thought of salad spinners as kind of frivolous. After reading the information included with the farm share a couple of weeks ago, and always being up for a chance to buy a new kitchen item, I ended up going to Now You’re Cooking and picking up a green plastic Oxo salad spinner for $20. While it is not the most exciting cooking appliance I have owned, I WAS impressed with how much nicer our greens looked. Instead of soaking everything in the sink, I just stuck it in the salad spinner bowl with water and ice cubes. I soaked it for 10 minutes, strained it through the salad spinner insert and then refilled with water and ice. Overall, the greens soaked for about 30 minutes and looked totally revived and fresh (they had been in the car a bit longer than expected).
After drying them in the spinner and on paper towels as instructed, we assembled a really simple salad with the greens, fresh tomatoes from Whealden Farm, chive flowers from a friend’s garden and goat cheese. For a dressing, we mixed the Garlic Scape pesto with a bit more olive oil to thin it out. The garlic scapes have such an interesting and robust flavor, that it made what could be a bit of a boring salad into a really refreshing meal.
Admittedly frustrated with my mostly-vegetarian meals, my meat-loving fiance also purchased a steak from Pineland Farms and marinated it with olive oil and some of the garlic scape. After grilling it, he brushed it with a bit more of the pesto for added flavor. I never really think of a pesto as a marinade for steak (although I do love it on fish) – but it gave it a nice summery kick to the meal and he was really impressed with the flavor.
And then there were the strawberries. Like Pavlov’s Dog, I have been trained to immediately think homemade whipped cream every time I see a bright red strawberry. We splurged on heavy cream from Bisson’s Farm (it’s amazing), and I always just add an embarassing amount of sugar and a splash of real vanilla to taste. It’s a bit of an instinctual process for me – passed down from my mother who is the expert – plus it gives me the chance to taste it often to “make sure it’s perfect”. Once you’ve reached the levels of sugar and vanilla that you like, just whip it with a hand-held mixer until stiff.
All-in-all it was the perfectly quick and cold meal that was refreshing to eat and super easy to prepare and really highlighted the delicious greens and garlic scape pesto!