Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Week 2 meets Craft Night

In January 2005, I began work as a Family Support Worker for Healthy Families New York. In my office, there were four of us all about the same age, all married for about the same amount of time. We were recently out of undergrad, trying to find our way into careers and adult life. Our office mates called us the Young Marrieds.

Now, it's 5 years later. We all have babies and none of us work for our old office anymore. Though we are no longer facing our mid 20s one lap around the RPI track at a time, nor spending each day working together, it still feels like home and a space to breath when we have the opportunity to sit down in the same place. We started having Craft Nights every Thursday night way back then, and we still generally get together about once every 6 weeks. While we no longer get any crafts done, and we all have our small ones in tow, we still call it Craft Night. Usually, it takes a month to plan and coordinate everyone's schedules. However, when Paula called me up yesterday for bread advice, I said, "Come over tomorrow." Apparently, it doesn't need to be a craft night for us to see each other. Who knew?

I picked up our CSA before folks arrived. This week's share did not disappoint - Kale, a huge head of Lettuce, Scallions, Turnips and their Greens, Strawberries, Broccoli, Basil, and Bok Choy. Since we receive a description of our weekly share the night before, I had a bit of a head start on the meal planning. On the ride home, however, I was still stymied as to precisely what I was going to make and how. In Justine's weekly email, she'd sent out recipes for Garlic Scape Pesto and Lemon Scented Pasta with Garlic Scapes and Veggies. My share was sans the scapes this week, in favor of the turnips, so that cancelled those two phenomenal options out. Ce la vie.

Luckily, the basil was gorgeous, and I had a huge bowl of lemons on my dining room table that had been calling me all week. I scoured my pantry, sent Paula over to the Nisky Co-op, and stared at the ingredients I wanted to use until I had hatched a plan of attack. I landed on making Pasta with Broccoli and Lemon Basil Pesto, served with a Lettuce, Arugula and Turnip Salad and Paula's Oatmeal Bread with Butter. It was a rainy cold day in the middle of June, and this meal seemed to be the perfect blend of comfort food and spring flavors.

Paula had picked the arugula from her garden that morning, and had baked a delicious, hearty bread with a touch of sweetness from brown sugar. Using whole wheat pasta accented the nutty flavor of the pesto, while the fresh lemon kept the garlic from being too overpowering. The lemon juice allowed the pesto to be light instead of over oily and too heavy. The turnips were shaved raw into the salad and the broccoli was steamed in lemon juice.

Bit by bit, I am getting braver about writing my own recipes. Give this a shot, and let me know how it turns out. I tried to measure as I went, and I think these amounts are very close. Taste as you go and adjust accordingly:

Pasta with Lemon Pesto and Broccoli

3/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 cup basil leaves
2 cloves garlic (or 4 garlic scapes - these do not need to be cooked beforehand!)
juice of 1 lemon
olive oil

2-3 cups broccoli, chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
olive oil

1 lb pasta (I used whole wheat capellini/angel hair)
1 T salt
juice of 1/2 lemon

1. Begin to bring water for pasta to a boil. Set a dry sauté pan over medium heat. Toast whole, peeled garlic in the dry pan until fragrant and barely golden brown. Remove garlic from pan.

2. Drizzle olive oil in sauté pan. Add broccoli, salt and lemon juice. Sauté until bright green and tender crisp. Remove from heat.

3. Meanwhile, add walnuts to food processor. Pulse until finely pureed. Coarsely chop toasted garlic or garlic scapes. Add to food processor, along with basil, parmesan, salt and juice of 1 lemon. Process until mixture begins to come together. Drizzle in olive oil until sauce has reached desired consistency, adding more as needed.

4. Add salt to boiling water. Cook pasta according to directions. Add remaining juice to large serving bowl. Add cooked, drained pasta and toss through. Add pesto and broccoli and toss through.

Serve immediately with a simply dressed salad of Lettuce and thinly shaved raw Turnip (use a vegetable peeler or mandoline). Share and enjoy!

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