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Spring Recipe: Asparagus Pesto

asparagus hazelnut mint pesto


Why wait to make pesto when the basil is abundant. You can put to work those long-awaited bundles of asparagus. You can pesto just about anything using a basic recipe as a guide and substituting similar ingredients. Here in the Northwest, I like to substitute hazelnuts for pine nuts to give dishes a more local flavor. Mint makes this pesto even more bright and springy.

Asparagus Hazelnut Mint Pesto Recipe Read more

Happy First Day of Spring

The other day, it snowed in Portland and it was 80 degrees in Illinois. Yesterday, it rained four inches in Austin. But the flowers know what to do anyway. Taking a cue from this quote by Emerson, we should remember to keep our sense of humor and do what we’re meant to do, no matter what gets thrown at us. If Earth laughs in flowers, what you laugh in?

When life gives you asparagus

Despite thinking the other day that I should build an ark, the frequent heavy downpours punctuated by bold sun and dramatic clouds hardly has me down. One reason is that farmers market season is in full swing and, once again, I can make my weekly pilgrimage in search glorious produce.

One twist this year is that, having just moved into a new place with a large organic garden bed, I find myself holding back on planting too much for fear that I won’t need to visit the market. It’s an activity that is part errand, part community spirit, part sensory stimulation…the colors, the sounds, the smells. It’s woven naturally into my life.

The new King market opened last weekend at NE 7th and Wygant. I was asked to take photos and was happy to see a huge turnout, not to mention a bit of sun. Needless to say, the asparagus tent was one of the more popular. And now begins the Spring asparagus feeding frenzy that started with making never-ending asparagus risotto (recipe link below).


The folks at EcoMetro Portland, and creators of the Chinook Book, wrote a useful article on how to understand organic certification. This is something I often wonder about because I know certification for small farms can be costly. But one reason I choose to shop at our farmers markets is that I can talk to farmers. The lack of anonymity in a venue likes this means you can feel more comfortable with your shopping choices. You can learn about a farmer’s growing practices, whether they’re certified or not. Personally, I want my produce to be at least pesticide free; I’m more interested in buying local and I trust who I’m buying from.

The article also has a link to a wallet-sized pesticide guide that will help you understand which produce is more harmful than others if grown with pesticides. Produce that you peel is less harmful, for example, than a strawberry.

A side note: During the month of May, the PSU market has bike workshops each Saturday to help you get your bike market friendly, So, get thee to the farmers market.


Risotto alla Primavera

This recipe is from Bon Appetit via Epicurious.com.

It’s easy to underestimate how much risotto expands, as well as one’s waistline if you made as much as I did. I’ve eaten it for the last five days, once for breakfast with a fried egg on the side and another as pan-fried risotto cakes. Wet your hands a little, form a cake, pan fry in a little olive oil and serve with a side salad.

I didn’t have enough parsley so I added thyme instead. I also added shiitake mushrooms which I probably would have sauteed a bit first, but I threw them in as an afterthought. They added a nice complexity.

I might have added half as much more asparagus than the recipe calls for to add a bit more green.