It's that teasing time of year, sunny days when Summer is close (so close) yet here, there is still chilly mornings and evenings, and we daren't plant any tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, squash, eggplant or chillies. You know why? Frosts, I tell ya. Frosts will come lurking from the shadows when you least expect them. I have potatoes in bags this year, they are sprouting well, little green leaves poking out... I covered them with more mulch and even some pine tree leaves, lest they get wiped out by frost. I am harvesting turnips, little mis-shapen swedes and loads of Winter greens (they like frost). I am checking the broad beans daily to see if some little pods might grace us with their presence. The garlic is growing, the comfrey returning, the weeds going nuts (they like frost too). We are busy, busy little beavers, so much going on at this time of year, preparing for a bumper season of the aforementioned frost-intolerant Summer goodies. And of course, there is rocket. Aragula to some. Roquette, rucola, rugula, eruca to others. The rocket grew over Winter, we ate it (we could have eaten more) and it pretty much filled a garden bed, squeezing in with the mustard, kale and bok choy. And the Doughnut Peach tree and Cox's Orange Pippin apple. Then it started flowering (the bees love it) and little seed pods are forming. That's good. I will no doubt save a whole heap of rocket seed to plant again next year! However, I decided to eat some darn rocket. Why grow so much of it each year, only to have the occasional rocket salad, rocket in a wrap or omelette? I decided that I didn't need to wait until I had big bunches of basil to harvest, I could have pesto now! Inspired by this recipe, I set forth to create delicious green-ness!
Large amounts of fresh rocket was harvested (believe me, this didn't even put a dent in the field of rocket in our backyard). Then I washed it, stripped the leaves off (about 6 to 8 cups, I guess?) and put them in the salad spinner.
I took pretty photos, put the leftover rocket stems in the compost, and admired the pretty rocket flowers on the way back in too.
First I processed the parmesan cheese (250gm), garlic (one super large clove) and macadamias (255gm), then I processed the rocket, adding the cheese/nut/garlic mix and virgin olive oil (375mls) to help it blend better. I tasted it, decided it was a bit too rockety- then added about 6 to 8 leaves of silverbeet. Then I decided it was a bit too 'green' and added a good amount of freshly ground salt (several teaspoons). It tastes good now, but next time, I will toast the macadamias, and use English Spinach instead of silverbeet. Doh. It will be good once 'heated' a little, as in on top of pasta, or pizza.
It made approximately 10 cups (a lot). I froze most in ice cube trays (that I keep for freezing food portions, because it will probably make them stained green and taste of green too). You can use frozen portions in risotto, soups, casseroles, or defrost them easily to use on pasta, pizza, baked potatoes etc. The other I put into my cute new (quite indulgent) Mason Ball Quilted mini jars! Then I took more photos.
So, go forth and make your own Spring pesto. You could experiment with adding other sorts of greens which are ready in Spring, like sweeter kales, turnip or radish greens, herbs like flat leaf parsley, or garlic greens. I recommend toasting the nuts. I also say don't expect this to be like basil pesto, or you will be disappointed (just like thinking those first warm days in Spring means Summer is close)! Hard goats cheese would work too.
Are you getting creative with in season produce? What ya been making?