As the season's start to change, I get twitchy and nervous at the farmer's market. The lovely vendor who slips me extra peaches whispers "this is this last week for the peaches, so enjoy" and the fall vegetables are starting to come in with loads of crowder peas and winter squash. The air is cooler. In another month most of the local markets will be closed. Something gets into me and I start buying produce like I had a family of ten to feed rather than just me...and then I have to figure out what to do with it so that I don't end up composting all that lovely produce. Hopefully, I can put it up and enjoy some of late summer taste in my winter meals come December.
I went to a new to me market this week, hoping to get some veggies put up before I head down to Richmond to visit some friends. The first order of business is making pesto. At one time, I belonged to a CSA farm that would have all you can eat (AYCE) basil for weeks on end and I would take huge bags of it to make up into pesto to top pizzas and mix into soups in the winter months. Now my CSA is much more conservative about the amount of basil they hand out so when I saw bags of basil for $1, I thought it might be time to make up a batch of pesto. With the aid of a food processor this is an easy project.
After washing the basil and drying it in my salad spinner, I remove any large or woody stems from the leaves and pulse some garlic in the food processor bowl before packing it with basil leaves. I will then pulse this a bit, add the nuts and drizzle olive oil until a paste is formed. I will add cheese at this point or leave it out depending on what I plan on using the pesto for (although books will tell you to add the cheese when you defrost, I have never had a problem with adding it initially). The pesto is then heaped into ice cube trays for freezing.
I also use my ice cube trays to save the bounty of summer's hot peppers. These I will pulse in the food processor in cubes of mixed peppers and spoon into the ice cube trays to freeze. I usually mix milder peppers with the hotter habaneros because the ice cubes are pretty big. I will use these in chili or when making hot pepper and cheddar biscuits or other recipes calling for chopped hot peppers and needing some heat.
Now my freezer is full of the local tastes of summer in the form of cubes that will be added to winter recipes.