Category Archives: Condiments

Squash-a-palooza: Summer Squash Relish

It’s 80 degrees and sunny in Seattle today.  I’m in Maui right now but cheering on the last warm days before heading into what will surely be a bittersweet, gorgeous Fall.  If you are still harvesting summer squash, there are lots of options to use your glut…don’t toss it!  Today I’ll be posting several recipes, but this one stands out as a way to use up quite a bit.  Also–if you shred your squash (food processor to the rescue here), you can stash it in your freezer for months.

This relish is unexpectedly delicious; slightly sweet and just acidic enough to brighten any meat.  It’s also easy to make.  Grill up the last of those hot dogs and hit ’em hard with this relish…I think you’ll thank me.

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Jerry Traunfeld’s Nasturtium Capers

Adapted from The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfeld (Scribner 2000)

Nasturtiums are true multi-use flowers.  They’re easy to grow and beautiful, and they attract pollinators to your garden to boot.  Both nasturtium flowers and young leaves are edible as long as you grow them organically, which isn’t hard to do.  They provide a peppery punch similar to watercress in salads, and the flowers add a gorgeous splash of color.  Nasturtiums even contain decent amounts of vitamin C.

A regular caper is the flower bud of the Capparis spinosa plant and its seedpod is called a caper berry, which is also delicious (especially in a bloody mary) when brined.  The seedpods of nasturtiums look just like the caper plant’s buds, and they taste similar to capers once pickled.  In my opinion they’re better.  Nasturtiums form seedpods in late summer; you’ll find them attached to the stems underneath the foliage, where they develop in clusters of three.  You want young pods that are still green since mature seedpods turn yellowish and hard.

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Prettiest Pickled Chioggia Beets

How pretty are these?  I didn’t grow up eating beets, but I’ve come to love them–in salads, roasted with other root vegetables, as chips, and especially pickled.  Dan grew a bunch of chioggia (aka “candy cane”) beets in the p-patch and since I rarely turn the oven on during summer, those babies were just begging to be pickled.  I’m certain that this recipe will work well with any kind of beet; I think golden beets would look pretty gorgeous in jars too.
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Garlic Scape Pesto for Everything

Garlic scapes are the soft,  lime-green-colored stems and unopened flower buds of hard-neck garlic varieties.  Scapes have a mild garlic flavor and slight sweetness.  You can find them in late spring or early summer at farmers’ markets, or you can grow your own garlic.  Dan harvested a bunch of from the p-patch, where he’s growing beautiful “music” garlic, which is a cook’s dream.  The cloves are huge, peel and slice easily, and the bulbs store for months.  Scapes are perfect for taking a whirl in the food processor to create a versatile pesto that can be frozen for up to 6 months.  Toss it in pasta, top grilled fish or steak with it, add it to your favorite homemade salad dressing, add a dollop to soup…the possibilities are truly endless and pesto is one of the easiest things to make.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups pesto:

10-20 large garlic scapes cut into 2-3 inch pieces
1/3 cup unsalted pistachios (if salted, use less salt at the end)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1/3 cup high quality extra-virgin olive oil, more or less

Throw everything except the olive oil into a food processor or blender.  Pulse until ingredients are broken up and fairly well blended.  Turn processor or blender on, then slowly pour oil into the lid opening in a thin stream.  Add more oil until the pesto is at the consistency you like; it should be enough oil to create the vortex effect while blending.

Pour into small freezer-safe containers if you want to freeze it, or use right away.  It will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Can’t Go Wrong Guacamole


I see those packets of guacamole mix in stores and wonder why they even exist.  Dehydrated veggies and spice mix?  So unnecessary.  Guac is easy, a crowd pleaser, and pretty foolproof.  I’m even going to let you in on the secret to keep it from turning dark.

Avocados are ready when they yield to gentle pressure, much like a pear.  If you have hard avocados, put them in a paper bag and close it up for a day or two.  If your avocados are too soft/overripe, I can’t help you there–they won’t be much use.  Unless….hmmm….avocado bread, like banana bread?  Must explore.

If you’re an avocado aficionado, you can skip the next section.  If you’ve never cut into an avocado or want to know the quickest, easiest way to go about it, the next few pics are for you. Continue reading

Zesty Arugula Pesto


I loooove arugula.  In salad, in sandwiches, and especially as a delicious spreadable pesto.  It’s hardy in a winter garden and the peppery flavor complements just about everything.  I’ve got a stockpile of this stuff in my freezer, but it won’t last long.  I toss this pesto with gnocchi or pasta, spread it on bread and broil it to take garlic toast to new heights, and stir it into minestrone and mashed potatoes.

This recipe makes about 2 cups of pesto:

6 cloves garlic
2 anchovy fillets (substitute 2 tsp soy sauce or tamari for vegetarian)
1/4 cup capers
1/2 pound young arugula
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
1 1/2 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Put the garlic, anchovies, and capers in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Add the arugula, parmesan, lemon juice, and olive oil, and pulse until the mixture is completely combined, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Freeze any leftovers for up to 2 months; I like to put it in small containers so I can pull a little out of the freezer at a time.

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