Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wild Onion and Pumpkin Seed Pesto with New Potatoes

I love summer recipes, especially ones that are a little forgiving and don't have to be served steaming hot. Let's face it - you are hot already unless your space has air conditioning - so a steaming hot meal is not top of the list at dinner time. Finding potato recipes that work well just warm or around room temperature on a hot day are a real find. Wild Onion and Pumpkin Seed Pesto is going in my keeper's file. It might find it's way onto other veggies instead of just roasted potatoes.

I get a lot of my recipes by perusing the Vancouver Sun newspaper's food section. In the end I usually only like about half of them, but everyone's tastes differ, so that is no surprise. I've never had any just fail, but have occasionally tasted a few that made me go, "HUH?" Of those that I end up liking, my family can veto up to another 50%. It doesn't take long to whittle them down. When everyone at least eats without complaint I am happy.

The recipe below is from author/cook Michele Genest - The Boreal Gourmet - who loves to find unique ways to cook interesting Northern ingredients as well as explore the ingredients and techniques found in other cultures. She has a new cookbook out called The Boreal Feast: A Culinary Journey Through the North. It covers feasts for groups from small to large. I love this excerpt from publisher's write-up:
"Genest takes the reader on a journey to Norway, Finland and Sweden to discover what other northern peoples do with the same wild ingredients that live and grow in the North American boreal forest. Part travelogue, the book includes stories of hunting for cloudberries on the Dempster Highway, throwing a birthday party on the Kaskawulsh Glacier, and harvesting trumpet chanterelles in Nordland. Featuring prized northern ingredients, like morel mushrooms, birch syrup, coho salmon, spruce tips and blueberries, The Boreal Feast is a celebration of boreal food and forest. With creations like Solstice-Cured Lake Trout Gravlad Lax and Birch Syrup Panna Cotta with Rhubarb Compote, northern and southern dwellers alike will be inspired."
Michele Genest -The Boreal GourmetI tried this potato recipe one uber hot day. To keep from heating up the kitchen late afternoon, I threw the windows and doors open first thing in the morning, pre-heated the oven, cut the potatoes, drizzled them with oil, sprinkled them with salt and tossed them in to roast. Then I dumped all ingredients for pesto into my waiting Cuisinart (I had set it out the night before along with the pesto ingredients) and pulsed until done. The one change I did make was I added the feta to the cuisinart at the very end and pulsed briefly until it was combined.
The pesto went into a lidded casserole on the counter. Then when the potatoes were finished, I added them hot from the oven right into the pesto and gently tossed everything combined.  On went the lid and it sat on the counter for the rest of the day. At dinner time I heated them to just barely warm in the microwave, but not not too warm as the day was smoking.  Add in a chilled tossed or fruit salad, something seared on the barbeque and some fresh bread from your local bakery. There you have it - a not too hot summer supper.

Note - in later versions I started using nutritional yeast for guests who were dairy intolerant. Guess what, I liked it better. So I have included this option in the notes below.
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Wild Onion and Pumpkin Seed Pesto with New Potatoes
Makes about ¾ cup (180 mL).
Pesto - 
1 cup (250 mL)       chopped green or wild onions
1 clove                    garlic peeled and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup (60 mL)      pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
1/4 cup (60 mL)      canola
1 tsp (5 mL) apple   cider vinegar
1 tbsp (15 mL)        hot water (optional)
1/4 cup (60 mL)      crumbled feta cheese (I prefer using 1/4 - 1/2 cup nutritional yeast)
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine onions, garlic and pumpkin seeds in food processor and whiz to a rough paste. Pour oil through the spout as machine is running. Add vinegar and, if necessary, hot water to loosen the pesto. Pour into bowl and stir in crumbled feta. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate overnight.
Potatoes -


2 lbs (910 g) small new potatoes
Olive oil
Sea salt to taste

NOTE: I personally used 2-1/4 pounds of the super small new potatoes and could have used more. The pesto had lots of flavour. Next time I will try it with 2-1/2 pounds or even a bit more.
Preheat oven to 375F (190C) and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Wash potatoes, pat dry and cut larger ones in half - very small new potatoes can be left whole. Toss with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt to taste and spread out on baking sheet, skin-side down. Bake until surfaces are slightly browned and insides are soft, about 30 to 35 minutes. Toss with Wild Onion and Pumpkin Seed Pesto and keep warm until you’re ready to serve.

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