What is it about growing food in your backyard that makes it so much better than store-bought produce. Does all the attention you give your garden contribute to the intensity of flavor. Well maybe, they do say talking to your plants is beneficial. Or is it the environment of the soil that makes them better. I tend to lean towards the latter.
My sense is there are three contributing factors to the superiority of homegrown vegetables.
- The soil in your garden is richer in nutrients and has a healthier mycorrhiza (bacterial diversity) than the soil in a commercial farm. The flavor intensity of vegetables and fruit increases as their nutrient density rises. This is why we are drawn to better tasting foods. Our tounges evolved to seek out foods that will provide us the most nutrition.
- We typically plant a variety of foods in our garden that mimics more of a natural biodiverse environment than a mono-crop farm. This diversity is less intense and again helps support a robust mycorrhiza that supplies minerals to the plants in exchange for carbohydrate from the plant’s roots. It’s a symbiotic relationship similar to the one we have with the bacteria that live in our digestive tract.
- Shorter time from harvest to plate. Who knows how long its been since the produce from your grocery store was picked. On the other hand, it’s usually less than an hour from garden to fork when we eat from our own little backyard farms.
In our garden this year we have our first crop of sweet potatoes growing nicely. I’m so excited! Look out for a post on that later. This weeks recipe utilizes another plant from our crop from our garden boxes… basil. I don’t know about you but when I think of basil the first recipe that comes to mind is pesto.
Your standard pesto is made with basil, garlic, pine nuts, a good olive oil, and parmesan cheese. Food sensitivities to dairy and nuts make this standard recipe not so appealing to me so I’ll show you my workaround. A few of the techniques I use came from the folks at Americas Test Kitchen. I love their methodical approach to improving recipes. You should check them out sometime. Ok I’m hungry too, let’s cook
Garden Fresh Pesto
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup raw shelled hemp seeds
- 3 medium garlic cloves unpeeled
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, reserve 1 tablespoon for cover (see below)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tablespoon coconut flour
- Food processor
- Rolling pin
- Spread out the basil leaves on a flat surface over a layer of parchment paper, plastic wrap, or in a plastic bag. Run the rolling pin over the leaves until they are all bruised. This will bring out the intensity of the basil
- Leaving the peeles on the garlic toast them in a skillet until they start to brown and become fragrant. This will reduce the intensity of the garlic and create a more balanced pesto
- Peel the garlic and put all the rest of the ingredients “except the coconut flour” in the food processor
- Pulse a few times to get things mixed up. Scrape the sides down then run for 10 seconds or until you get a smooth consistency
- Add the coconut flour and pulse until fully mixed in the pesto
- Use right away or store in the fridge in an airtight container with a thin layer of olive oil covering the top