Kitchen Sink Pesto, Ginger-Curry Butter, and More Recommendations
'Tis the season to stock the freezer.
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Lately I have been putting things up. I am not a canner—it’s not in my gene pool. But I am a freezer. I like to ferret things away for a later date, like leaving a twenty in a coat pocket in springtime so that you’ll find it in fall, a gift of promise from a former self.
I’ve been traveling a lot, leaning hard into summer, which means that when my CSA haul arrives every two weeks I must calculate what can keep until I’m ready to use it (beets, fennel, onions, potatoes), what should be eaten imminently (lettuce, washed and kept in the salad spinner like this), and what I can easily process and freeze. The latter category has mostly been leafy greens like chard, beet greens, and kale, which I chop then blanch in heavily salted water and store in a zip loc in the freezer once it cools. In a few months when the fridge is bare I will toss it into some soup.
My most recent haul came with hyper-fragrant parsley, jumbo scallions, and a bunch of basil with leaves so big and lush a Vegas showgirl could hide a tit behind one. I picked all this up on a day of stress, when I was worrying about impending travel and chronic over-scheduling and the fall that looms ahead. So I cancelled dinner plans and put my food processor to work.
First I made a basil pesto with sunflower seeds; then a kitchen-sink pesto with sunflower seeds, basil, parsley, and carrot tops1. As a basic ratio guide, I used Samin Nosrat’s recipe in Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat (see below). I spooned each batch into zip-top bags, flattened out so I could freeze them like a sheet and break off the frozen pesto in chunks. Label with a sharpie, always; nobody’s memory is that good. Then I wiped out the food processor for Francis Lam’s caramelized scallion sauce, which keeps in the fridge for weeks, and is an easy way to zhuzh up a bowl of cooked grains.
When I am stressed and my thoughts race, my mind turns compulsively to either my bank accounts or my fridge, and the latter is a more pleasant place to be. I’m planning to take some time off this winter to work on my book, and have been thinking a lot about BUDGETING.2 Stocking the freezer, then, is a choice driven both by a hatred of food waste and the knowledge that I’ll be grateful to pull delicious and already-paid-for things out of the freezer come winter: pesto, more pesto, stock, beans. I am always thinking of what I can stash away in order to alleviate some stress or need in the future. And somehow, after a long day of anxiety, I am stabilized by an evening spent in the kitchen, turning delicate stuff into more durable stuff. Once again, I am laying it on thick with the olive oil.
Here are two recipes that will give future-you a more delicious dinner: Samin’s pesto; and a curry-ginger butter from Preeti Mistry’s The Juhu Beach Club Cookbook, which I recently melted over grilled corn (YOU MUST TRY THIS!!). The pesto keeps for a few months in the freezer; the butter, according to the recipe, keeps for two weeks in the fridge, but I don’t see why you couldn’t pop it in the freezer. Next time I make it, I will.
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