Tag Archives | Marcella Hazan

Philly Foodworks Partnership + Stinging Nettle Pesto

Philly Food Works Share

Over the years, I’ve participated in a number of different CSA shares. Last year, I had to sit the CSA thing out entirely because I just wasn’t home enough. This year, I’ve partnered up with Philly Foodworks, for a series of blog posts on how I approach a CSA share. The goal is to share recipes for preserves as well as salads, spreads, and other goodies to help you make the most of what’s in your weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly box.

stinging nettles

Once a month, they’ll be dropping off one of their small Farmer’s Choice/Share boxes on my doorstep. When it’s in my hands, I’ll document and then share the ways I cooked, preserved, and prolonged the various bits of produce. If you’re in the Philly area and want to play along, sign up for one of the Philly Foodworks CSA programs. Use the code “FOODINJARS” to get $10 off your first order.

blanched nettles

The first box contained kale rapini, stinging nettles, a head of butter lettuce, 3/4 pound of fat asparagus spears, Swiss chard, a bundle of arugula, a slender bunch of ramps, and a pound of red potatoes. I’ve made several things so far, but right now, want to talk about the stinging nettles.

toasting walnuts

Stinging nettles grow wild in the springtime and are typically foraged rather than cultivated. They have a taste similar to spinach and are bursting with good things, including vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, potassium, and calcium. They can cause a topical rash (hence the stinging) when touched raw with bare skin, so if you do forage them, you want to wear gloves.

If you end up with a big bag of them like I did, the best approach is to bring a large pot of water to a boil and then upend the bag of nettles right into the pot. Cooked for 2 to 3 minutes, they’ll lose their sting and become a possible ingredient for all manner of dishes.

stinging nettle pesto

My freezer stash of pesto has dwindled over the last few months, so it seemed best to transform these nettles into a bright, green pesto to start replenishing the stores. Once my nettles had spent the requisite time in the boiling water, I strained them into a colander and rinsed them with cold water. That made it possible to pick through and remove the tougher stems and any twigs that came along with the nettles. Finally, I gave them a good, hard squeeze, in order to force as much of the cooking water out as possible.

finished pesto and rapini

They went into a food processor with 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, 3 crushed garlic cloves, a generous pinch of salt, and the zest and juice of 1 lemon. I pulsed to help combine the ingredients and then ran the motor while streaming in 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil. I stirred, tasted, added a bit more salt and a few turns of a pepper grinder, and processed for another 10 to 15 seconds (I like a silky pesto).

Once it was done, I smeared a little on a piece of toast for a snack and then packed the rest into little mason jars. The total yield was just under 2 cups. I topped the jars with a thin layer of olive oil (to keep the air out), screwed on old lids and rings (this is where you can reuse lids that have been through the canner), and stashed the jars in the freezer.

I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about the sauteed rapini. It’s a riff on a recipe from Marcella Hazan, so you know it’s good.

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Sponsored Post: Marcella Hazan’s Butter, Tomato, and Onion Pasta Sauce Recipe from Craftsy

tomatoes for craftsy post

As a canner, the next three or four weeks are the pinnacle of my preserving year. While it’s true that there are good things to can all year round, there is nothing better than the moment when local tomatoes are in season, available from local farmers, and sold by the 25 pound box. And that moment is now.

Over the years, I’ve developed a tomato strategy. Sometime in August, I get my hands on about 100 pounds of sturdy paste, roma, or plum tomatoes. I lay a tarp out on my dining room table and I arrange the tomatoes on top. The ripest tomatoes are positioned closest to the kitchen and the least ripe ones get a few days to redden up on the far end.

I then proceed to make somewhere between five and seven different preserves. Whole peeled tomatoes take up the lion’s share of my work, with about 40 pounds going into jars after being cored and peeled. The rest are divided between basic sauce, roasted corn salsa, pizza sauce, tomato jam, and a few precious jars of oven roasted tomato paste.

The reason that so many of my tomatoes go into jars whole and peeled is that they are my most versatile pantry ingredient. I add them to stews, I turn them creamy soups, and I make Marcella Hazan’s Butter, Tomato, and Onion Pasta Sauce.

If you’ve never cooked down tomatoes with butter and a bit of onion, you are in for an absolute treat. The onion is cut in half, so it expresses its flavor into the sauce without overpowering the earthy marriage of tomato and butter. The resulting sauce is magic with pasta, but my favorite way to serve it is with braised kale and these chicken ricotta meatballs.

While I wish I could can the finished buttery sauce and have it ready to go at a moment’s notice, dairy products don’t do well in the canning pot. However, having my own home canned tomatoes on the shelf means that the finished sauce is never more than 45 minutes away.

Get the recipe for Marcella Hazan’s Butter, Tomato & Onion Pasta Sauce Recipe here!

This weekend, Craftsy is also having a sale and all Food and Cooking classes are up to 50% off. If there’s a class you’ve been wanting to take, now’s the time!

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