Friday, June 10, 2011

Pac choi, basil, pesto recipe, lettuce

One of you responded to yesterday's email by asking, "I grew pak choi for the first time this year. Can I harvest the outer leaves and let the inner still grow or should I harvest the whole plant?"

Outer leaves only, please! A pac choi plant will yield for months if you just take the outer leaves and allow the plant to regenerate. This technique is basic to my year-round harvests. I use it with Chinese cabbage, collards, lettuce, celery, and parsley, among other crops. Never take more than you will eat today! (I've read that half of the food purchased in this country is thrown away, but gardeners don't throw away their yield lightly.)

another asked about raising basil. I raised enough in my kitchen greenhouse window this spring for salads, but have dozens of plants outdoors with which I make pesto. We enjoy it in the summertime and it freezes well for easy winter dinners. She then asked for the recipe. I gave it some other year (last?), and quite a bit of discussion was generated about adaptations and similar recipes, but I'll give mine again.

In a food processor, whiz together 2 cups of carefully washed basil, 2 tbls pine nuts, and 1/2 cup good quality olive oil. When thoroughly mixed, add 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese and whiz again. Serve over pasta.

She also asked whether I raise beets. I bought seeds, and she reminds me that I haven't planted them yet. It's been a frantic year for gardening! Beets don't thrill me as carrots and parsnips do, but they do do well in this climate and I often raise them. I wonder if they would survive frost under plastic bags of leaves. Has anyone tried that?

This morning I sowed my fourth crop of lettuce outdoors this year, the first crop of "summer lettuce." I transplanted and thinned the third crop earlier this week with fingers crossed, but it really liked last evening's rain and looks very happy this morning. Aren't we all relieved about today's weather?


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