Wednesday, October 6, 2010

When the CSA Box Hands You Spinach …

I love spinach. It’s one of my staples. During the winter I buy one of those plastic tubs every week. So when I saw a bag of fresh spinach in my CSA box yesterday, I was excited. I don’t remember eating the green since last spring.

I usually make a salad of it, along with feta cheese, walnuts, balsamic vinegar and oil. I had that for lunch today, even though I was craving the pesto cavatappi from the Noodles down the street.

By dinnertime, my pesto craving hadn’t subsided and I knew I had to take care of it. My own basil plant had withered up and died weeks ago and there hadn’t been basil with a vegetable delivery in a while. Without any basil in sight, and not wanting to dip into the pesto I had preserved in the freezer, I almost found myself at the store buying a jar of the pre-made stuff.

Luckily my guilt got the better of me. How could I justify buying something off the shelf when I had a load of fresh produce at home? As I whizzed past the grocery store (and Noodles) I told myself I could make something better at home. And, if it had to be pesto, it was perfectly acceptable to dip into my winter stash in early-October. But back at home, I wasn’t giving up so easily. I wanted to satisfy my craving, but I also wanted to come up with something creative on my own, without the frozen stuff.

The answer, of course, was spinach pesto. Just because I was used to making my recipe with basil that didn’t mean it was the only way to make it. I had seen plenty of recipes for pesto using other ingredients, from arugula to sun-dried tomatoes.

So before I knew it I had exactly what I was craving, if only in a different way. I used the spinach as well as the same-old garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese, added a little leftover parsley and substituted ground almonds for the pine nuts.

After processing it all together, it looked pretty much the same as my old recipe. The only difference I could see was that it was a brighter shade of green. It definitely looked better than any jarred pesto I’ve seen. And on top of whole-wheat penne, it definitely satisfied my craving and tasted pretty close to Noodles.

I also felt pretty satisfied with my little exercise in problem solving. I think that’s one of the best parts about a CSA share. No matter what the box gives me, I get a chance to make something good with it.

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