3 Shades of Organic Green
For some reason, 3 Shades of organic green food, popped into my head when I viewed this week’s veggie menu. That remarkable chartreuse, eerie green of Romanesco Cauliflower, the Emerald Green of Green Beans and, a rough darker green of Genovese Pesto, made with organic basil and parsley are all good options this week.
Pesto is a familiar word to us today, but not always so here in the United States. In the ’70’s my friends gently teased me when I served them “green spaghetti” until they tasted it, that is. Then, they joined the “pesto-philes”, and eagerly made it for themselves!
Pesto actually means, pounded or beaten; it does not always have to be green. Green Pesto made with organic basil and parsley is the Genovese version, the one we have all learned to love. Nut pesto which is kind of brownish beige and sun dried tomato pesto, deep red, are also popular.
Originally, pesto was made by pounding and smashing the ingredients in a mortar with a pestle. It takes a lot of work to do it the old way. I tried with a tiny mortar and pestle, but was not very successful. You need a larger vessel and a lot of strength in your hand. Even Mario Batali, after giving a recipe for the original pounding says, “The pesto can also be made in a food processor” Whew!!
A far cry from the results of an expert as in the video link that follows.
Now that we know how to make it traditionally, I will give you an easy version made in the food processor. I add some organic parsley to the basil to keep it really bright and green. Basil alone can turn a blackish color when cut.
This recipe may seem strange at first sight. There are 2 starches, potatoes, and pasta, but they do not clash. It is an authentic version of Pesto Pasta from the area where pesto was born. As you drive or walk through the hills of Liguria, the area of Genoa, it is so obvious why pesto became a native preparation. The pine trees soar above where the pignoli grow, the sheep graze on the hillside, perfect for the Pecorino cheese, and basil, parsley, and other herbs abound in the surrounding fields. It’s a natural!
Pasta with Green Beans, Potatoes and Pesto
2 medium organic potatoes, cut into pieces
a large handful of organic green beans washed, trimmed, and cut
about 1/2 pound of fine linguine or other pasta of choice
1/2 cup homemade pesto Genovese
Extra Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino
Boil the potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Do not overcook as they will be mushy. They should be al dente like the pasta. Drain and cool.
Cook the green beans: add to salted boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Remove, drain, and add ice to stop cooking. Set aside.
Cook the pasta in abundant boiling water until al dente (instructions usually on the package). Drain and reserve a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water.
Place pasta in a serving bowl. Add potatoes and beans and toss with pesto and the water. Serve with extra cheese if wanted.
The potatoes and green beans with the pesto are a nice veggie meal or side dish too.
Add some lemon juice or rice vinegar to the pesto for a pretty upgrade to potato salad.
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1-2 cloves organic garlic
1 cup organic basil leaves (packed tightly)
1/2 cup organic Italian parsley leaves (packed tightly)
approximately 1/4- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch sea salt
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese
Process the basil, parsley, garlic, pine nuts and salt in a blender or food processor. Slowly drizzle the oil into the mixture until it is desired consistency, a paste.
Stir in cheese. Use right away or save in the refrigerator with a coating of olive oil on top. It will last for weeks. Can also be frozen.
When adding pesto sauce to pasta, it is always beneficial to add a little of the cooking water to distribute it evenly.
To this pesto, add some cream and lemon zest for a fish, shellfish or chicken sauce.
Add some mayo for a sandwich spread. and lemon juice to dress a salad.
Add lemon juice to dress a salad.
Now to that interesting, many pointed chartreuse object in your box. It’s called Romanesco Cauliflower in the United States. In Canada, it is Broccoli and in Germany, Cabbage. It is not a color variation or hybrid of those veggies, Romanesco is a species unto itself, dating back to 16th century Italy.
Besides having a striking color, its shape is also rare, called fractal, an infinitely repeating design in nature.
More importantly, it’s a delicious veggie, mild and crunchy. The outside stays green if not overcooked. Use it any way you would use broccoli or cauliflower, steamed, roasted or raw.
The following is a Mediterranean style recipe, appropriate for a veg that began in that part of the world. The seasoning is robust because the cauliflower itself is rather mild.
Mediterranean Organic Romanesco Cauliflower
1 organic Romanesco cauliflower, separated into pieces
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces Manchego Sheep’s Cheese, thinly sliced
4-6 black Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
2 teaspoons capers
2 organic garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh oregano
minced hot chili pepper or red pepper flakes to taste
2 organic chopped tomatoes or 1/2 small can diced organic tomatoes with juice
Steam the cauliflower florets and place them in an oiled roasting pan.
Mix the olive oil, chopped olives, capers, garlic, oregano, hot peppers, salt, and tomatoes together in a bowl. Pour the mixture over the cauliflower, distributing it evenly.
Top the dish with slices of Manchego. Roast for about 30 minutes.
Here’s another version of a Mediterranean style romanesco dish. This one uses spicy tomato sauce and raisins. The sweet and sour typical of Sicilian cooking is a keynote of this version. Looks wonderful too!