I realize these days that you can get almost anything anytime of the year. What we are trying to spread the word about is the importance and value of eating seasonally. But sometimes in the winter you might have a hankering for some blueberries. Yes, the grocery store will probably have some but know that they came from very far away, will probably have no flavor, and will be very expensive. What you should do so that you can satisfy these cravings cheaper and while supporting locally and seasonally: PRESERVE! It is so worth the little time it takes and you will be far more rewarded with good flavor AND you can feel good about what you are doing for the local farmers (supporting them), not supporting the environmentally detrimental transport of foods from far away, and giving your wallet a break! Here are some ways to preserve some berries, onions, and basil! Enjoy!
Wash and thoroughly dry your fresh blueberries. Spread them out on a parchment- lined sheet pan in a single layer. Place in the freezer until frozen solid then store in in a zip lock or freezer safe storage container. Use in smoothies, drop in pancakes, make muffins, cook down with some water and honey into a syrup and use over ice cream or puree and put a spoonful in your glass of champagne!
I know I told you to buy those Vidalia Onion bags and you have too many onions or if you didn’t and you wanna scoop these sweet babies up and stock your freezer with some delicious. Here is a good way to utilize these sweet beauties and preserve them for later.
Olive Oil- 1 tablespoon
Butter- 1 tablespoon
Vidalia Onions- 2 pounds, thinly sliced
Salt- a good pinch
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan over very low heat. Add the onions with a healthy pinch of salt and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour (maybe more), stirring occasionally until the onions are very soft, and a delicious deep brown. You may have to add a bit of water here and there if the onions begin to stick, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, this is flavor! Use immediately with the suggested uses below or freeze in ice cube trays(once frozen store in an airtight container) for easy use later!
Other suggested uses:
--Add warm broth and Parmesan crostini to make a quick French onion soup
--Use in scrambled eggs or a frittata
--Use as a pizza topping or on your burgers
--Make an onion dip by mixing together some sour cream (or Greek style yogurt), mayo, salt, pepper, pinch of garlic powder and chopped caramelized onions. Serve with fresh veggies or chips. Dang! That’s good!
Fresh Basil Pesto Cubes: Makes about 1½ cups
The cool thing about pesto is that you can mix and match or interchange most of the ingredients based on what you have. If you don’t have basil, use cilantro or parsley. Are you allergic to pine nuts? Use almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts. Don’t like garlic? Leave it out. Want something different? Use a mixture of herbs, or a different hard cheese. Add some spice with jalapenos or crushed red pepper. PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD. Make this and freeze in an ice cube tray (once frozen store in an airtight container) for great little cubes of flavor love to add to soups, pastas, or to slather on some grilled meats.
Fresh basil leaves- 4 cups-ish
Grated hard cheese- ½ cup, Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
Pine nuts- ½ cup, toasted*
Garlic- 1 clove
Olive Oil- ½ cup
In a food processor combine the basil, cheese, nuts, garlic and a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper until they form a paste. With the machine running slowly drizzle in the olive oil. You can add more if you want it thinner. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired. Use immediately or freeze in ice cube trays for later use.
* To toast nuts: place nuts in a dry sauté pan over medium heat. Toast for a few minutes stirring occasionally until they turn brown and begin to become fragrant. Careful, if you walk away they can burn easily!
Please Preserve responsibly!