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: 346 Total Fat: 22g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 18g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 2182mg Carbohydrates: 33g Fiber: 8g Sugar: 12g Protein: 11g
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Cool as a Cucumber

Five months later, after languishing in the back hall closet unboxed and completely untouched, the spiralizer that I got for my birthday finally made its debut appearance. It’s not that I didn’t want it- I had put it on my wish list after all- But between a lack of time and a leaning towards heartier, simpler, cooked foods, such a frivolous contraption seemed utterly out of place in a winter kitchen. Amazing how things change! Now that the temperature is pushing 90, with humidity enough to swim through the air, the idea of raw vegetable noodles sounded too appealing to resist. Seizing the opportunity to finally play with my new toy, a cool and refreshing dish made almost entirely of cucumber sounded utterly perfect in the heat of midday.

Almost too simple to even mention, but absolutely too delicious not to, into my bowl went one spiralized English cucumber (peeled), a dollop of homemade walnut pesto, a handful of grape tomatoes, and a light drizzle of avocado oil to bring it all together. Lunch was ready in 5 minutes flat, and I was astounded at how satisfying my bowl of green was.

Replicating these noodles without a fancy gadget would be no sweat, too! Just use a regular vegetable peeler to make thin, flat noodles, or step it up a notch and break out a julienne peeler to make something more akin to spaghetti.

The secret to speeding through this dish is making the pesto in advance and freezing it in cubes. I use a really small tray of ice cube dots, so it’s very convenient to grab 3 or 4 for a dish of cucumber noodles, or just 1 to spread on toast. It’s nice to have the flexibility to use exactly as much as it takes to cover the job.

Though I hardly feel that the world needs yet another pesto recipe, just in case you’re curious, this is the way I do it. Forever petrified of getting pine mouth, I tend to avoid pine nuts, and thus lean on walnuts to take their place here. A tiny drizzle of olive oil might be necessary to get the mixture smooth, but just play it by ear; I found it to be the perfect consistency without any added fat.

Yield: Makes About 3/4 Cup

Walnut Pesto

Walnut Pesto

Homemade pesto that swaps traditional pine nuts with walnuts for an earthy, homey twist.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 Cup Walnut Pieces
  • 1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 2.5 Ounces Fresh Basil, Rinsed
  • Juice of 1 Lemon (About 1/4 Cup)
  • Tiny Pinch Ground Nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper, to Taste

Instructions

  1. Toss the walnuts, nutritional yeast, and garlic into you food processor or blender first, and pulse for 30 seconds or so to combine. Make sure that no large chunks of garlic remain, and scrape down the sides of the bowl thoroughly before proceeding. Add in the basil, and pulse to break down the largest leaves before slowly drizzling in the lemon juice. Continue to pulse until the mixture is a fairly rough puree. Add in the nutmeg, salt and pepper as desired. Incorporate a tablespoon or two of oil if needed to achieve your desired consistency, or just leave as is.

Notes

Use immediately or freeze into ice cubes. Once frozen solid, transfer the cubes into a zip-top bag or air-tight container. Will keep in the freezer for 3 – 4 months.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 26 Total Fat: 2g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 27mg Carbohydrates: 2g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 0g Protein: 2g