Spring Blossoms

Rose Vinegar

We have been blessed with an early, sunny and warm Spring in the Pacific Northwest. Tons of rain interspersed with sun has left our yard loaded with blossoms. My new rose bushes are absolutely bursting at the seams, which means that every room in our house is loaded with fresh, fragrant bouquets. 

The house is filled with roses.

The only problem, is that I’ve found it really difficult to part with the still beautiful, nearly spent petals. They are too pretty to dump in the compost. So, I decided to make use of them!

There are tons of ideas on the internet and lots of ways to make roses into edible masterpieces. Most importantly, you need to make sure that your roses are spray free. You don’t want to poison yourself with pesticides;) I decided to start with rose vinegar, because it was the simplest.

Rose petals!

I filled a clean jar with a hefty handful of fresh rose petals and thyme blossoms, filled the jar with champagne vinegar and let it sit for 1-2 weeks. No measurements needed!

Thyme blossoms

Within the first day, the vinegar had already started to turn a beautiful shade of pink. I turned the jar upside down every so often for good measure and after about 2 weeks, strained the petals and blossoms and poured the gorgeously fragrant vinegar into a clean jar. I’ll keep it in the fridge, just to be safe, but I have the feeling it will be gone by the end of the day:))

 

Rose Vinegar

Rose Vinegar
Make use of your beautiful excess rose petals, with this easy vinegar recipe.
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1-2 cups of organic, spray free rose petals
  2. 2 cups of champagne or white wine vinegar
  3. 3 sprigs of fresh herbs, or herb blossoms of your choice
Instructions
  1. Place petals and herbs into small glass jar or mason jar. Cover with vinegar. Seal jar and let it sit at room temperature for no more than 2 weeks. Strain vinegar, removing petals and herbs and place into a clean mason jar. Store in refrigerator and use for salad dressing.
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Pesto 101

Making use of all of my summer greens

I absolutely love pesto! I fell in love with it years ago as an easy condiment to keep in the fridge to use and nibble on throughout the week. It’s tasty, easy to make and it’s adaptable! The most basic version of pesto is basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, EVOO and a pinch of salt (I add a bit of balsamic vinegar, as well)! I quickly found myself adapting the basic recipe, mostly because I was missing one ingredient or another. The best part about creating your own pesto, is that THERE IS NO RECIPE NEEDED! Just a simple combination of your favorite ingredients, a blender or food processor, and you are set!

A jar of homemade pesto!
A jar of homemade pesto!

Here is what you need to make your own, personal style of “pesto”:
-Any kind of greens or herbs or combinations of the two (basil, cilantro, mint, tarragon, thyme, kale, spinach, etc).
-Any kind of nuts (pine nuts, almonds, pepitas, macadamia nuts, cashews, hemp seeds, etc).
-An allium (garlic, shallot, onion, scallions).
-Any kind of hard cheese (feta, cotija, Parmesan, manchego).
-An acid to add flavor and retain color (vinegar, lime or lemon juice).
-Extra flavor additions (olives, capers, peppers, chilies, etc).
-EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
-Salt

Once you get familiar with the flavor combinations you like, you can perfect the ratios of each ingredient. I love my pesto, super nutty and chunky, so I hardly use any oil and I just pulse the ingredients together, lightly. Sometimes I have tons of extra greens on hand, so I’ll make the pesto more green, with hardly any nuts. Macadamia nuts and cashews, are very rich and creamy on their own and do not require any cheese. These are great to use if you want to make a DAIRY FREE pesto. You really can’t mess this up! If you need extra flavor, add more acid, salt or cheese. Just play around with it!

Unlikely pesto ingredients....surprise yourself!
Unlikely pesto ingredients….surprise yourself!

Here are examples of some of the pestos I made this week! This pesto was made as a seasoning for some grilled chicken and shrimp. It’s really light and simple! No cheese or nuts were needed:) I guess it’s more of a paste, than a pesto:) I used leftovers to make a yummy salad dressing and to add a dash of flavor to my eggs:)

Salad greens
Lemon
Garlic
Thyme
Chives
Red pepper flakes, EVOO, salt

This pesto was made from the abundant supply of fresh and unfamiliar herbs I received from our CSA box this week:) (Be sure to remove the thick stems on the thyme, as best as you can, using just the leafy greens!) This pesto came out super lemony and fresh tasting. It would be perfect simply tossed into some fresh pasta, but being gluten free, I have my own plans! It will be used as a marinade for seafood later this week, added to tuna salad and used as a base for a tasty vinaigrette.

Making use of all of my summer greens
Making use of all of my summer greens

Thyme, Thai basil, Chives
Lemon
Purslane (a lemony succulent)
Macadamia nuts, Parmesan cheese
EVOO, salt

This pesto is Spanish inspired, with extra vinegar and tons of flavor. It is much richer in flavor. I’ll use it as a marinade for beef or pork, add it to a quinoa salad for extra flavor and use it as a base for a tomato salad dressing.

Spanish pesto ingredients!
Spanish pesto ingredients!

Kale
Shallot
Almonds
Manchego cheese
Sherry vinegar, EVOO
Espelette pepper powder, salt

As you can see, the combinations are endless! Have i inspired you to give it try? Make sure and let me know what you create! I’m going to experiment with using root vegetables next! Stay tuned….

Balsamic Tomato Jam

One of my favorite summertime indulgences is a vine ripened tomato. Unfortunately, we don’t get the best that our local farmers offer, until later in the season. I keep buying tomatoes and getting disappointed. They just aren’t so good, quite yet. 

They look so pretty....
They look so pretty….

So I needed to come up with a way to use all of these tomatoes! I’ve always loved the bold and zesty flavors of sundried tomatoes. They are a household staple, always providing an instant burst of flavor, to an otherwise, dull meal! So I came up with a way to capture this zesty flavor, in a spreadable, adaptable ‘jam’. 

I sliced my tomatoes into quarters, added a little olive oil to my sauce  pan, heated the pan to medium heat and tossed the tomatoes with a hefty pinch of salt. I stirred, every few minutes, as the heat broke down the tomatoes. This is what they looked like after 10 minutes….

Reduced tomatoes

At this point, I added 2 small spring onions, sliced thinly. You could add any onion or even a clove of garlic. I decided that I really wanted to rely on flavor of the tomato, so I kept it simple!

 

Beautiful, local, Spring onion!
Beautiful, local, Spring onion!

So, I continued to let the tomatoes simmer for another 10 minutes. As the liquid cooks off, you can smell the concentrated scent of the tomatoes. You have to be patient and really get these cooked down, or else you’ll just end up with tomato sauce! 10 minutes later, I added some balsamic vinegar for added flavor and depth of color. And some fresh basil, thinly chopped. The fresh basil compliments the tomato flavor perfectly. Salt to taste.

Balsamic vinegar added
Balsamic vinegar added
Fresh basil!
Fresh basil!

Keep stirring! You’re almost there! In these last 10 minutes, the color really intensifies, the onion is breaking down and the liquid is almost completely gone. Give it a taste! Add more salt, if needed. Reduce heat, to avoid burning. Cook down so it looks like this….

Looking good!
Looking good!

At this point your jam should be tangy, flavorful and thick. I immediately used it as a condiment for a savory crepe, adding crumbled goat cheese, roasted asparagus and topped with some local greens! Pure heaven! Feta would also pair nicely with tanginess of the tomato.

You can't see it, but the crepe has tomato jam on it!
You can’t see it, but the crepe has tomato jam on it!

As the week progressed, I experimented with using the jam in other ways. I used it as the base for a yummy salad dressing. Super simple and delicious! But, the best use is as a condiment for a wrap or sandwich. 

Prosciutto wrapped asparagus:)
Prosciutto wrapped asparagus:)
GF crepe with tomato jam, roasted asparagus and prosciutto
GF crepe with tomato jam, roasted asparagus and prosciutto

We enjoyed it all week long! It stores well in the refrigerator for about a week….but it won’t last that long;)

Yumminess in a jar!
Yumminess in a jar!

 

Balsamic Tomato Jam
Yields 1
An easy way to use up tomatoes that aren't quite ripe;)
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
50 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 tomatoes
  2. 2 tbs EVOO
  3. 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  4. 2 small spring onions or 1 small shallot
  5. 1/4 cup of fresh basil chopped
  6. Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Quarter tomatoes. Add EVOO to small sauce pan and heat to medium. Add tomatoes and a hefty pinch of salt. Get tomatoes to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add spring onion. Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and basil. Salt to taste. Continue to reduce, for 10-20 more minutes, lowering the heat if needed. remove from heat, once the flavor is to your liking and the jam is nice and thick. Salt as needed.
Notes
  1. Can add a clove of garlic or other herbs for a change in flavor! Use it as a sandwich spread, a garnish for a cheese plate, a base for salad dressing, etc! Keeps in the refrigerator for a week. Enjoy!
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Chimichurri Sauce

So much gorgeous summer produce, so little time! Here is a recipe for something a bit different than the average summer pesto! It’s fast and easy to make and you can enjoy it all week long, In a variety of dishes:))  It’s a beautiful green sauce called chimichurri! Have you tried it?! It’s very tangy! It’s a bit garlicky! It’s not too spicy! It’s adaptable!

Yummy!
Yummy!

 

Originating from Argentina, chimichurri is used as a condiment with grilled steak, chicken and seafood. Traditionally, it is made of finely-chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, and white vinegar. In Latin American countries outside of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, the dominant flavoring is parsley, garlic, red pepper flakes and fresh oregano.

Odds and ends from the farmers market!
Odds and ends from the farmers market!

I didn’t have some of the traditional ingredients, so I improvised;). In addition to the vinegar, I added a squeeze of lemon juice. Instead of parsley, I used a new green that I discovered at the farmers market called mizuna. It’s in the same family as dandelion greens and has a light, peppery flavor. Really, most greens would work here. So experiment with you favorite:) In addition to the garlic, I added a couple small spring onions. I also added some cilantro and arugula. Other than those changes, it’s pretty close to a traditional chimichurri….but better!

Ready to blend!
Ready to blend!

Place all ingredients into food processor and blend with EVOO and salt to taste. That’s it! You are done. Store in a mason jar, the fridge for up to 5 days! Besides grilled meats, the chimichurri can be used on top of eggs and makes an incredible base for salad dressings. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Chimichurri Sauce
A tasty, tangy, garlicky sauce to amp up the flavors of your next BBQ!
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups of your favorite greens (parsley, mizuna, arugula, etc)
  2. 1 cup fresh cilantro
  3. 2 small garlic cloves
  4. 1/2 small shallot or 2 small spring onions
  5. 1 TBS crushed red pepper flakes
  6. 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  7. 1/2 lemon juiced
  8. 1/2 cup EVOO
  9. Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in food processor! Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days.
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