Cleaned up the garden this weekend…

How I turned this:

into this:

 

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So technically I didn’t turn the kale into anything…but I did freeze it!  This is the first time I’ve tried freezing kale without blanching, so we’ll see how it turns out.

Here’s the story behind these beautiful “after” photos.

Dried oregano & Dried parsley

I spent a little bit of time trimming my plants in my vegetable garden this weekend.  It’s getting hot here in Texas so I pretty much trimmed everything off of my arugula and kale plants.  They were starting to flower so I wanted to salvage as much as I could before the spring weather says move on out to my winter plants.  I also trimmed my parsley and oregano plants because they were getting too big and blocking sunlight from some of my other herbs.  Normally I throw out the herbs that I trim because there’s just no use for that many herbs, but this time I decided to try something new.  Mostly because I spent $8.00 on a jar of organic dried oregano at the grocery store the other day.  $8.00 for herbs?!  I (begrudgingly) paid for it since herbs are definitely on my list of things that I buy organic whenever possible.  As I trimmed away my garden fresh organic oregano, I had en epiphany.  Why can’t I dry my own herbs?  So I did it.  And here’s how.

I started by washing the herbs well, of course.  As you can see I had pretty big piles that I refused to let go to waste.

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Just pick all the leaves off, and put them on a microwave safe plate over two paper towels.  Cover them with another paper towel and put them in the microwave for 40 seconds.  You can check them but they won’t be done yet.  By microwaving them in short bursts, you are taking the water out (and effectively “drying” them) without burning them.  So resist the urge to just pop them in for 5 minutes.  It’s a little bit tedious but you’ll have a better result this way.  Then you start microwaving them in 20 second spurts.  Mine were taking about 8-10 times before they were dried out.  Just keep checking them, and when they are nice and dry they will crumble easily in your fingers.

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Then just crumble away, and voila:  dried herbs.

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Arugula Pesto

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I’ve made basil pesto before, but right now what I have a lot of is arugula; so arugula pesto it is!

  • 4 cups packed arugula (or 4 ounces if you want to weigh it)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup olive oil

You start by pulsing everything in the food processor except for the olive oil, and the result will look like this.

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Then just slowly add the olive oil in while pulsing until you get a good consistency.

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And here is the finished result!

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This pesto has a tons of flavor so you definitely don’t need a lot of it – the arugula gives it a peppery bite that you don’t get with a traditional basil pesto.

 

Freezing Kale

I don’t need a lot of directions here.  Basically you want to wash the kale, and remove it from the stem.  Tear or cut it into bite sized pieces.  Then let it dry, really, really well.  When you freeze it you want to be able to take out a little bit at a time, so if you freeze it wet you’ll end up with one gigantic clump of kale.  I label and date everything that goes into my freezer or it will get lost in the same oblivion that socks in the dryer disappear off to.  As I said this is my first time doing this, so I’m hoping the kale keeps its flavor and doesn’t get mushy.

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And there you have it!  All in a day’s work!

 

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