Farmers Market Food Geek (and Nettle-Walnut Pesto).

I’m really into cooking lately. It happens in waves. I mean, I cook pretty regularly and enjoy it, but I have been much more excited about it in recent weeks. I mean like food-geek excited where I take photos of what I got and what I made. Like so excited that I text my friend (who is equally as excited about this as I am, by the way) these photos. And then I post them on Instagram after that with plenty of exclamation points!!! [Look!!! Pizza with caramelized onions, balsamic vinegar, canned tomatoes from our garden last summer, asparagus, fresh mozzarella, arugula, and a duck egg!!!] Whooo! I suppose we can conclude that the uber-excitement is because of the availability of delicious, organic/no spray local food right now. The farmers market here is in coming into full swing. I get so super-anxious each year come March or so, pouring over my cookbooks and foodgawker (a great food website!) and making plans and preparations and lists (plenty of lists) for when the first spring harvest shows up at the market and at the food co-op in April. Microgreens, arugula, spinach, stinging nettles, radishes, asparagus, cilantro, baby leeks, onions, oh my…sigh. Why is this so thrilling to me?

I suppose it’s because of the sense of accomplishment I feel when I make something from scratch from ingredients that were grown locally. It feels great to support local people and their hard work. Farmers markets are great fun – it’s so cool to talk to the people who grew or raised the food. Ask them questions and they’ll answer you – and honestly. I mean, how cool is that to actually get your food from people you can see each week and get to know? And to know that the vegetables were harvested within 24 hours? No fluorescent lights. No conveyer belts. No air conditioning. No plastic and Styrofoam-wrapped vegetables that have been sitting there for who knows how long. Sounds like a no-brainer to me. If you can get to a farmers market, that is.

Yes, I am completely spoiled. I am truly lucky and feel enormously grateful to have a farmers market like this where I live. Not everyone gets this wonderful opportunity to shop at a beautiful market like I do.

To celebrate spring and my farmer’s market goodies, I’d like to share a recipe with you. I know, I know. This was supposed to be a blog about art, design, love, and life. But, food can be an art. You can design it (or style it), you can love it (!!!) and it is what makes life. So I guess it fits into my categories quite well. Oh, and my disclaimer: I am not a food photographer. I did my best.

STINGING NETTLES AND WALNUT PESTO (Vegan)

I made this last week and it is delicious. I used some on pasta (I used Jovial brand einkhorn pasta) and froze the rest (some, of which I just thawed tonight to spread on a pan bagnat sandwich). Stinging nettles sort of taste like spinach. They have detox qualities, and are rich in vitamins C and B complex, iron, calcium, and other such good stuff.

INGREDIENTS

1 generous bunch of stinging nettles (Don’t pull these out of the bag with your bare hands, by the way. They are called stinging nettles for a reason – they have little hairs that create skin irritation. Now why would you want to eat these?!? Read on…)

3 – 5 cloves of garlic, pressed (Depends on your love of garlic and how big the cloves are)

½ cup or so of walnuts

Juice of 1 lemon

¼ c. nutritional yeast

¾ t. salt

Olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the nettles (I turned the bag inside out and dropped the nettles in so I wouldn’t touch them). Let them boil for a few minutes. This gets rid of the hairs and therefore the sting. Strain the nettles and let them cool.

Press the garlic into a food processor. Add the walnuts, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and salt. Process until smooth. Add some olive oil (a drizzle or two). Process again.

When the nettles have cooled, remove the big stems. Then squeeze the water out of what you’ll be using in a clean towel. Add to the food processor and process until smooth once again. Add oil as you go until you reach your desired consistency.

Easy! Which is great, because although I like good-quality food, I get impatient if recipes are too involved. I’ve got other things to do too, you know.

Makes enough for 6-8 people for pasta. It freezes beautifully. You can freeze it in cubes (in an ice cube tray) or in a freezer bag.

Be well and happy spring!

H