From the Garden with Chef Poppy

That’s really what we did last Saturday at our Grey Bears Cooking Class. All of those beautiful tomatoes, basil and squash came from the gardens in the area because they are in season. I was so pleasantly surprised when I checked out the Grey Bears coolers on Thursday to see what was available for our Saturday class. There was enough Basil to make a fresh pesto as well as lots of cherry tomatoes and mozzarella. And that beautiful Mayan summer squash!

tomatoesThank you everyone for coming to class – it was our largest. Next month we’ll rearrange the tables so everyone can visit with each other.  Next class is Saturday, August 27 at 10am.

The recipes from Saturday follow below. Please know that the amounts listed are estimates only. There are always variables. Please email me with your questions or thoughts at poppydegarmo@gmail.com. Until next time enjoy good food and good health!

RECIPES

Pesto*
2 bunches of basil
1/2 cup walnuts (or pine nuts, if you prefer)
2 cloves of garlic
olive oil
salt and pepper

Using a Cuisinart blend garlic and nuts first. Add washed and stemmed basil leaves and add olive oil to bind and make paste.  Blend until smooth and the consistency you want.  You can make the pesto a thick paste and add more olive oil when you are ready to serve. Store with a covering of olive oil to keep pesto from oxidization (it will turn brown if oxidized).

TIP:  After draining pasta, save a bit of pasta water to coat pasta with any sauce (our sauce was pesto)
TIP:  Also, after draining pasta into colander, put cold water on the pasta to stop the cooking, then olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking together

Basil Pesto is not just for pasta.  You can use it on chicken, fish or meat as a sauce. Be creative. Try it with something unexpected!

Tomato Basil and Mozzarella Salad
We used cherry tomatoes that we had on hand from our donations, but you can use any tomato that is in season, and the season is just beginning, so be creative.  Slice heirlooms of different colors. Mix with the cherry tomatoes.

cherry tomatoes
olive oil
mozzarella
fresh basil leaves

Cut cherry tomatoes in half and place in bowl
Drizzle with olive oil
Add salt and pepper
Slice mozzarella  and add to bowl of cherry tomatoes
Cut or tear basil
Let sit for about 30 minutes at room temperature (balsamic vinegar can also be added if desired)

TIP:  Don’t put tomatoes in the fridge. The chemical structure will change and the tomato will lose it’s flavor.

Roasted Mayan Squash
Mayan (or any) squash
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Cut squash into similar sized pieces for even cooking.  Place on a sheet pan and coat with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Cook for about 40 minutes (cooking times can vary depending on the density of the squash and the oven).

Oven Roasted Chicken with Fresh Fennel and Onions
Boneless chicken breasts (this is what was available, but you can use chicken on the bone – it is actually more flavorful).
2 large onions
4 fennel bulbs
Fennel seeds
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees
Cut fennel bulbs and onions, coat with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in the oven. Cool for about 50 minutes or until fennel and onions are brown.
Put chicken breasts on separate sheet pan with olive oil, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. We cooked them separately because boneless chicken breasts seem to put out a lot of water and I wanted the fennel and onions to be browned. With bone in chicken I cook the onions and fennel together with with chicken. Experiment! And do what works best for you.
Add fennel and onions to chicken to last few minutes of cooking.
Serve and enjoy!