The Onion Grass is Always Greener

This spring has been a temperamental one, no doubt about it. Gardening ventures have been unsurprisingly stymied by unexpected cold fronts and unreliable rains. Even so, by mid-May, it’s reasonable to expect some sort of visible progress out there in the vegetable patch. Nearby friends boast impressive flowers and a few hearty vines, bearing the promise of a fruitful harvest soon to come. All we have are chives. But oh, what lush, long, and prolific chives we have! Shooting up faster than they can be mowed down, these edible weeds are beginning to present a real threat to the surrounding plant life. Choking off sunlight for the smaller sprouts while edging closer into their territory, they’re the only things that seem to be thriving in spite of the elements. Even after plucking a bushel of the slender green blades, a whole field still remains to be eaten, so it’s high time those chives get put to proper use. If the other seedlings are ever going to break through the earth, I had better start making space!

Initially whipping the fine onion grasses into a basic pesto formula, it dawned on me that I had no idea what to do with it next. Should I just spread it on bread and call it a day? Would it be better mixed into pasta? Still in the teeth of final exams, complicated preparations were out of the picture, which brought me to my favorite default option: Soup. Keep it chilled for those warmer days or throw it on the stove the next time a frost warning comes along, since it tastes just as bright, fresh, and comforting either way. The whole thing comes together in a matter of minutes, and since it utilizes a bare minimum of ingredients, it’s the perfect spring soup, no matter how pitiful the growing conditions.

Yield: Makes 3 - 4 Servings

Chive Pesto Soup

Chive Pesto Soup

Starting with chive pesto, adding liquid and vegetables turned this bright green blend into an ideal spring soup.

Ingredients

  • 2.5 Ounces Fresh Chives
  • 2 Tablespoons Prepared or Finely Minced Fresh Horseradish
  • 1/4 Cup Raw Sunflower Seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 3 – 5 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • 1 3/4 – 2 Cups Vegetable Stock
  • 2 Cups Cooked Beans*
  • 1/2 – 3/4 Teaspoon Salt

Instructions

  1. Snip the chives into short 1-inch lengths and toss them into your food processor. They need to be broken down somewhat before you start to blend, because I find that the long pieces will just wrap themselves around the motor without getting chopped otherwise. Add in the horseradish, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice as well.
  2. Pulse the machine repeatedly to combine. Pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically, ensuring that everything gets incorporated.
  3. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture is emulsified and fairly smooth. It doesn’t need to be a perfect puree, since a bit of texture will add more body to the soup, but make sure there are no remaining whole seeds or long strands of chives remaining.
  4. At this point, you can transfer the pesto to a jar and save it for up to a week, if you’d like. To proceed with the soup, place it in a medium pot and whisk in 1 3/4 cups of the stock. Stir in the beans and salt, to taste.
  5. Adjust the amount of liquid if you’d like the soup to be slightly thinner. Either chill for 1 hour before serving for a more refreshing bowlful, or pop it on the stove for about 5 minutes to heat through, to serve it warm.

Notes

*I used one 12-ounce package of Trader Joe’s Melodious Blend, which includes green garbanzo beans, red lentils, and brown lentils. Any blend or single varietal will work just as well though! I would recommend either white beans or regular chickpeas as my second and third choices, personally.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 346Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2182mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 8gSugar: 12gProtein: 11g
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Biscuit Eater

Biscuit-making and -eating is not in my heritage; I can’t recall having these savory, flaky quick breads on my dinner table even once throughout my childhood. It’s a shame, really, because they’re such a tasty and effortless side that perfectly compliments almost any meal. Traditional or “authentic” southern biscuits may be beyond the scope of my abilities, but I do know that I like mine tall, tender, and fluffy, with more flavor than just plain flour can bring to the table. Fresh herbs and a healthy handful of vegetables liven up this simple staple, making it ideal for serving with soups, smothered in gravy, or just eaten solo.

Yield: Makes 6 – 8 Tall Biscuits

Garden Herb Biscuits

Garden Herb Biscuits

Fresh herbs and a healthy handful of vegetables liven up this simple staple, making it ideal for serving with soups, smothered in gravy, or just eaten solo

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt or Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Chopped Parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Chopped Chives
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme
  • 1/4 Cup Vegan Butter
  • 4 Ounces (1/2 Package) Vegan Cream Cheese
  • 1 Cup Finely Grated Carrot or Zucchini (or a Mix of Both)
  • 3/4 Cup Plain Non-Dairy Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Additional Melted Vegan Butter (Optional)

Instructions

    1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or piece of parchment paper. Set aside.
    2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. Make sure the greenery is well distributed throughout the dry mixture.
    3. Cut the butter and cream cheese into tablespoon-sized pieces before adding them in next, and use a fork or pastry cutter to further incorporate the two. Once you achieve a coarse consistency where there are no chunks of fat remaining that are any larger than peas, toss in the carrot and/or zucchini shreds.
    4. Finally stir in both the non-dairy milk and vinegar at once, and mix with a wide spatula just until the thick batter comes together. If you’re into the old-fashion way of doing it, you can also mix by hand, of course.
    5. On a very lightly floured surface, pat out the dough to about 1 – 1 1/2 inches tall. Use a 2-inch round cookie cutter to cut out the biscuits, and space them out equally across your prepared baking sheet. Gather up any scrapes, pat back into shape, and cut again, until the dough is all used up. You should get 6 – 8 tall biscuits out of the mix.
    6. If desired, brush a small amount of melted butter across the tops of the biscuits for an extra rich flavor, and then pop them into the oven. Bake for 18 – 22 minutes, until golden brown all over. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before eating, just so that you don’t burn your mouth!

Notes

For savory flavors that would be right at home at any Thanksgiving feast, consider swapping out the chives for a mixture of fresh rosemary, sage, and tarragon. Finely grated sweet potato or parsnips would make great substitutes for the carrot or zucchini, too.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 279Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 614mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 6g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimates.

Minty Fresh

Sparse vines reach weakly upward towards the sunlight filtering in between the thick blanket of leaves above, gently yellowing despite their youth. Choked out by the tall trees overhead that greedily suck down all the rich solar nutrition, our fragile, immature tomato plants never had a chance. Careful weeding and daily watering be damned- Not a drop of those efforts show. For reasons unknown, this will be our worst harvest ever, if you can even call it a “harvest.” It would be a joy to pull even a solitary ripe, red orb from those sagging knots of greenery, but I’m not so optimistic about even that kind of yield.

While I can only look on with envy as friends effortlessly produce vegetables of all colors and shapes from their own backyard gardens, I have but one tiny success to brag about: The mint. Known for being aggressively prolific, spreading like a weed and reseeding itself for years to come, ours finally broke the curse of our sad patch of dirt and actually followed suit. Sprouting and outgrowing the small patch originally allotted to them, the herbaceous leaves now cover nearly half of the paltry expanse, growing like a full, unruly mane of hair, much in need of a trim. And so, with no vegetables to temper my enthusiasm, trim I did.

After batches of mint chocolate sorbet, mint tea, and minted snow peas, the mint still kept coming with no end in sight. Fully confident that the supply would not run short, I went for the gusto and gathered as much as I could before the rainclouds above burst once again, snipping off every viable leaf to make up a fresh take on pesto. Before that quick spread could even finish whirling about the blades of the food processor, I already had a full recipe planned out to put it to work.

Borrowing from a Middle Eastern palate of flavors for inspiration, pomegranate proved to be a perfectly tangy match to this bright and herbaceous paste. Not only do the crunchy arils make an appearance to lend textural contrast, but the foundation of the salad itself, chewy pearls of Israeli couscous, are cooked in pure pomegranate juice as well. Cool, crisp cucumbers punctuate the mixture, lightening the whole dish considerably- And because, as we’ve established, I can’t go a single summer day without getting my cucumber fix.

Even if you don’t have ground cover of mint threatening to take over your entire yard, it’s well worth the effort to forage through the farmer’s market to make the pesto, if not the whole couscous salad. Consider tossing it into potato salad, spread it over crostini, or pack it into sandwiches. The recipe makes enough for leftovers, so you can easily spare enough explore all those delicious options, and then some.

Pomegranate Mint Couscous

Mint Pesto:

1/4 Cup Roasted, Unsalted Sunflower Seeds
1 – 2 Cloves Garlic
1 Teaspoon White Miso
Zest of 1/2 Lemon
2 Cups Loosely Packed Mint Leaves
1/2 Cup Loosely Packed Basil Leaves
1/4 Cup Flax or Hemp Seed Oil
Big Pinch Cayenne Pepper
Salt, to Taste

In a food processor, pulse the sunflower seeds and garlic lightly to break them down a bit, and add in the miso and lemon zest to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and introduce the mint and basil. Pulse again to incorporate, and then with the machine running, stream in the oil. Puree until mostly smooth but still slightly coarse in texture, and season with cayenne and salt to taste. Use right away, or store in airtight container in the fridge. The mint pesto can be made ahead of time refrigerated for up to a week.

Makes About 3/4 Cup

Pomegranate Couscous Salad:

2 Cups 100% Pomegranate Juice
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Dry Israeli Couscous
1/2 Cup Frozen or Fresh Green Garbanzo Beans, or Frozen Green Peas
1/3 Cup Mint Pesto (See Recipe Above)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil, if Needed
1 Cup Diced Seedless Cucumber
1/2 Cup Pomegranate Arils
Pinch Ground Black Pepper

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the pomegranate juice and salt to a boil. Add in the couscous, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the green garbanzo beans or peas while the pasta is still hot, thawing or gently cooking the beans with the residual heat. Transfer to a large bowl, and thoroughly mix in the pesto. Add in the oil if needed to loosen up the pesto and more evenly distribute it throughout. Toss in the cucumber, arils, and season with pepper to taste. Stir well, and chill thoroughly before serving.

Makes 6 – 8 Side Servings

Printable Recipe