Peach season is here in the northeast! Amanda and I went peach picking at Wilkins Fruit and Fir farm in Yorktown Heights last weekend, just as some of the trees were ripening. They should be in full-swing now. 🍑
If you went peach picking over Labor Day weekend, have plans to go this week, or just have a bunch of peaches from the store to use, here is what we did with them:
When I was in Charleston a few weeks ago, I drank some peach bourbon in an Old Fashioned. It held up well, so I thought it would be fun to make some at home.
I know from experience that infusing liquor with dried fruit is better than fresh fruit, which gives off liquid and dilutes the final product. I diced up two peaches, put them on the dehydrator overnight, and then tossed the dried pieces in a mason jar with around 800ml of Old Grand-Dad Bonded for a week.
BONUS: Cook the bourbony peach pieces down into a syrup with some sugar and water for a wonderful ice cream topping or the sugar component in your Peach Old Fashioned. 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, and the boozy dried peaches. Bring to a simmer and stir for 3 minutes, then strain.
3. Peach, Burrata, Basil, and Balsamic salad
I was mindlessly surfing Instagram Stories one morning last week and came across a great idea from Black Sparrow Press: Peach, burrata, basil, and balsamic. We love burrata and had basil on-hand, so I caramelized some peaches in cast-iron and put together a salad. It was so good we made it a second time this weekend for breakfast. The second iteration had fresh mint and honey on it, too.
Today was the first pickup we’ve had in the thunderstorm. Thank goodness for a storage shed nearby that we could use as a pickup location!
Here’s what we received this week:
Fennel – The licorice taste of fennel is great in a salad. I like to thinly shave it and toss with some lettuce, parsley, bell pepper, radishes, lemon juice, and olive oil. You can also braise it with stock and white wine, but I prefer it fresh.
Squash, Japanese eggplant, basil, and garlic scapes – I added this to a pasta dish tonight with chicken sausage and the spinach from last week. I let the flavors shine with olive oil and fresh grated pecorino instead of a tomato sauce. We’ve been using a red lentil pasta from Trader Joe’s to cut down on carbs.
Italian Eggplant, peppers, and garlic scapes – I love charring the skin of the eggplant and then roasting the eggplant whole along with a hot pepper, an onion, and some garlic (scapes will do!). Purée everything in the food processor with some fresh oregano and eat it with pita chips or tortilla chips.
Eggplant is also great sliced and roasted or grilled. Combined with the squash it could make a nice ratatouille.
Kale – Just like the past few weeks, I’ll make a frittata with the kale and some sausage. I also toss in any leftover garlic scapes.
Carrots and squash – Both are great for roasting for a quick side dish. Cut the carrots into quarters along their length and the squash into 1-inch thick discs along their width. Roast for 20 minutes at 400F with olive oil and your spices of choice. I like garlic powder or paprika for the squash and cumin for the carrots.
Spinach, lettuce, scallions, and cucumber – Lunch salads! You’ll probably read that all summer long.
Bibb lettuce – We didn’t chop this for salads. We’re keeping it whole and using the leaves for taco wrappers.
Basil – I used this tonight in round two of the Vietnamese pork and cold rice noodles dish. I made enough for two meals and needed another set of fresh herbs to chop up and throw in there.
Bok Choi – I’m going to stir fry it with quinoa and chicken.
Turnips and kohlrabi – Earlier this week I pickled turnips and kohlrabi. It turned out great. This week I’ll chop them up into roughly finger-sized sticks and roast them with olive oil and minced garlic.
Garlic Scapes – I’ll chop up some of the garlic scapes and use them in salads. The rest we’ll throw in a frittata with spinach and sausage on Saturday for breakfast.
How we prep greens for salad
Here’s what we do every Tuesday night to make our week easier:
Wash all of the greens in a bowl in the sink, a batch at a time. If it is a head of lettuce, we separate the leaves from the head.
Chop the big greens, leave the small ones like spinach and arugula alone.
Spin the greens dry in a small salad spinner we picked up a few years ago.
Store the greens in gallon-sized ziplock bags that we leave unzipped. We put these bags in the drawers at the bottom of our fridge.
Everything usually keeps for about a week, but we prioritize eating the chopped greens first, since they wilt faster. Prepping the greens ahead of time makes putting together lunch salads a breeze.
Week two came just in time! We finished our greens from last week’s share with today’s salad lunch.
Here’s what we’re doing with this week’s share:
Lettuce, spinach, radishes, and scallions – These will make up the bulk of the ingredients for our lunch salads this week. I’ll cook some chicken or flank steak for the protein and add cheese, bell peppers, and some light dressing.
Kale and Basil – I used both of these in tonight’s dinner. I made pasta with pancetta, sausage, garlic, olive oil, black pepper, Parmesan, kale, and basil. I also made enough for us to have for lunch tomorrow. (We’ve been using chickpea-based and lentil-based pastas for the last few months to cut down on carbs.)
Turnips – I usually enjoy small, early turnips like these by halving them and roasting them with grapeseed oil for 20 minutes at 400F, usually with other root veggies. This week, though, the CSA newsletter included a recipe for a Turnip Puff. It intrigued me, so I’ll probably make it this week. Perhaps with ribeyes.
Bok Choi and Kohlrabi – I have two possibilities for these and I’m not sure which one I’ll pick.
1. Stir fry. I’d shred the kohlrabi and rough chop the bok choi, add a protein, ginger, soy sauce, and serve it all over rice.
2. This bok choi and kohlrabi pizza. My mandolin would make quick work of slicing the kohlrabi, we have enough bok choi for the pesto and the toppings, and we love making pizza on our baking steel. We have dinner plans with people multiple nights this week, so this would make a weekend lunch.
Alternatively, the kohlrabi would make a great addition to the roasted turnips if you peel it and dice it in one-inch chunks. The bok choi I made last week was great, or you could add it as another salad green as long as it isn’t more than 1/3 of the total greens. It is a little bitter and stands out in a salad. Keep it minimal.
We are on the Whole 30 again this month, so we are limiting our use of these veggies a little bit. I added some non-Whole 30 options so that you don’t have to suffer with us.
Green Leaf Lettuce – Once again, this is getting turned into salad for lunches and a dinner side. 2 heads should last us all week.
Cucumbers – These will get chopped up for salads and turned into spears for snacks. If you are having dairy, I suggest slicing these and making a salad with sour cream, dill, and onions.
Carrots – We’ll shred a few for salads and then probably roast the rest. I might grab one for an afternoon snack. If we weren’t on the Whole 30, I’d use the tops to make some pesto and eat it with burrata cheese.
Basil – We cut half of this into a chiffonade and put it in the zucchini noodles with the cherry tomato sauce. We’ll use the rest for pesto or adding to a fresh vegetable salad. We are on the Whole 30 again this month, so we’re foregoing putting this on homemade pizza or caprese salad.
Scallions – We’ll include the scallions in salads, in breakfast bowls, or in carnitas bowls.
I posted last year about making pesto in the food processor. I’m writing now to say that I’ve changed my ways.
I use a large mortar and pestle instead and make it by hand. I really enjoy slowing down for a few minutes and methodically grinding the ingredients together while I take in their fragrance. I feel like I appreciate the final product more.
My preference for ritual aside, pesto made by hand covers pasta much better and has a better blending of flavors. See Dan Gritzer’s post on Serious Eats for a side-by-side comparison. His was the first article I found when looking for a mortar and pestle pesto recipe after I bought a huge granite one to make guacamole in. Dan’s recipe is a great place to start experimenting from.
The exact recipe changes every time, but the method stays the same:
Work the garlic and salt into a paste.
Crush the nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, pistachios, or whatever you want to experiment with) and work them into the paste.
Grind the basil against the edge of the mortar a handful at a time.
Add the cheese and olive oil.
Here are some ideas for experimentation:
Try different varieties of garlic. I like Rocambole and Spanish Roja.
Try garlic scapes in late spring
Things you can substitute for the pine nuts: Walnuts, pistachios, or pumpkin seeds
Try other herbs with (or in place of) basil: Parsley, cilantro, arugula
Test out different hard cheeses in place of the Pecorino and Parmesan
Use different olive oils and note the flavors they add: Peppery, buttery, green
There are so many variations of pesto these days that it is almost a catch-all title for green sauces. I’m not against that, but it is hard to know what to expect when someone says pesto. I prefer the simplicity of the classic version, both in taste and ease of preparation.
Classic pesto is made with fresh basil, garlic, pinenuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil all ground together with a mortar and pestle.
I don’t have a mortar and pestle large enough to do this, so I use my awesome food processor to make it. You could also use a blender.
2 cups fresh basil leaves
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup raw pinenuts
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Put the fresh basil leaves, garlic, cheese, and pinenuts in the food processor, put on the top, and turn it on. Slowly pour the olive oil in through the drip hole while the food processor is running. Stop the processor and scrape down the sides with a spatula if needed. After the pesto looks like a paste, turn it off and add in the salt and pepper. Pulse it a few times to combine. If the pesto is too thick, add some more olive oil.
Pesto is best made fresh and consumed right away. If you do need to save it for a few days, put it in a jar and put a 1/4 inch of olive oil on top of it to protect it.
How to use it
Toss with pasta and cherry tomatoes
Toss with zucchini noodles and grilled chicken (what Amanda and I did with the pictured pesto)