Revenge Served Cold: Nettle Pesto

Growing up in England nettles were a large part of my childhood, whether I liked it or not — and I generally didn’t. This wretched plant caused many a tear in my household, its stinging leaves leaving immense pain that lasted for hours, with little sympathy from my parents as I was usually up to no good in the garden or local park, causing said sting.

When I saw nettles at the local farmers’ market here in D.C., I jumped at the chance to fight back, to serve justice to this leafy plant once and for all. There’s very little you can actually do with nettles, the most obvious was soup, but in these late spring months it seemed a tad too warm for that. I settled on pesto, a simple and versatile sauce that I could use in many dishes.

We’ve cooked basil brownies and avocado milkshakes, now it’s time for the nettle pesto.


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5-Hour Energy Lasagna

On my first day off from cooking in about six days, I was wondering what to do with a free day. Those taxes still needed to be done, but that didn’t sound stimulating. I finally settled on doing some cooking and eating of my own after finding the sharpest, most bad ass knife at the Asian Market for $4.99 (seriously!!). It will be a strong competitor to my $135 Shun. Taxes can wait. And after all, a killer knife is somewhat like a new outfit: it’s impossible not to use immediately.

Since cooking rustic Italian food at my new job for the last month or so, lasagna sounded pretty divine. I have no doubt that you ES-ers love some good lasagna. But if you have your own secret lasagna recipe, I would like you to add one thing to the ingredients: one 5-Hour Energy shot. No, not to put into the lasagna…to drink before commencing said lasagna making. I’m a Red Bull girl, but this 5-Hour Energy is pretty stellar. You can do jumping jacks or wrestle on the couch when it is in the oven to burn off some calories, if you’re planning on eating half of the lasagna like a champion (which I would never do).

You should also add the following to your secret family recipe for lasagna: home made pasta (I challenge you to think outside the box of lasagna noodles), good tunes (forget Sinatra, My Morning Jacket is great lasagna making music), fun stories about Friday Fuck Ups, and some box wine (Bota Box Old Vine Zin perhaps) so you can’t tell how much you’re actually drinking. Please take note that you should not cook lasagna on an empty stomach (or without an energy drink). I always like to eat an opposite-type cuisine for lunch when I’m going to cook dinner. That way your palate has been awakened and will not be dulled with the same flavors. Thai food would go nicely in this instance.

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Thursday Three: Arugula Recipes

Spring is officially here! Which doesn’t explain why I see snow on the ground and there still isn’t a goddamn thing worth buying at the farmers’ market. Seriously, screw you apples and potatoes. I’m done with you. Because arugula was basically the only thing providing a shade of green at the far mar this weekend, here are three vintage ES arugula recipes to get you through until we start seeing some serious spring veggies.

1. Feta and arugula spring rolls

2. Arugula pesto

3. Zucchini boats with arugula, black beans and mini tomatoes

Remember, you can find all kinds of vegetarian recipes in the ES recipe index.

One Last Warm Breeze


Editors Note: My neighbor Kashou Bennett who blogs at The Straight Torquer has been bragging about his garden for months. As we wrap up our outdoor activities, Kash gives us one more remembrance of warmer days.

The leaves are turning, the wind is getting chillier, and I have finally retired my garden.

I had harvested most of the vegetables a few weeks ago, but my basil plants this year just kept on kicking. It was a small garden, not difficult to keep weeded and tended to, just a tidy patch of tilled earth in the front yard of my house in Columbia Heights, Washington DC.

The reason I kept those last hardy basil plants around as long as I could was that the little group of plants represents more to me than just a place from which I can get a bit of food.  My garden was a public statement — and when I say public, I mean front yard public — of organic living and self-sufficiency that I was inspired to undertake by Michelle Obama’s organic garden in the backyard of the White House.

Sure, I could have avoided some sidewalk casualties had I protected my pepper plants in pots on the back porch.  Several times I rescued the fragile flora from incoming threats of various nature.  From inebriated friends staggering through the yard and just not realizing what they were standing in (hey man, watch out!), to the daily assaults coming from the games of the kids who live on my block. 

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Perfect Pattypans


Hey ESers, did you miss me? I missed you!  I’m afraid I’ve been gallivanting about for about a month and I have severely neglected ES in the meantime (and cooking in general).  I’ve been back for a week, and I must admit that my brain is a bit rusty and my cooking thus far has been less than inspired.  Does that ever happen to you all after a long time away from your kitchen?

I mean I was missing my kitchen the entire time I was gone, but my cooking muses seem to have expired during my brief journey, leaving me with only enough energy to cook a few stir-fries and throw together some salads.  Ugh….  Cookers’ block.

However, lucky readers, before I left for travels, I was struck by no such affliction.  In fact, just before I left I hosted a dinner party for which I pulled out all the stops. With my favorite summer ingredient at the ready  I made my most delicious  and complex pattypan dish yet:  Chickpea and Pesto Stuffed Pattypans:

stuffed pattypan with chickpeas topped with pesto

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When There’s Nothing Left to Do Besides Saucin’ It


As much as I’m like *oooomigawd I LOVE the farmers’ market* or whatever, and I totally do love it, it sometimes overwhelms my judgment.

I love it too much. It’s like a freaking social for me. I’ve become BFF with one of the vendors, Jaci, who always makes fun of her farmer family and talks shit about picking vegetables. She’d never been more grateful than when she found out she was allergic to bees and therefore couldn’t harvest the crops with her uncle and grandfather.

And then there’s the market director, Rebbie. She’s tall and beautiful and may or may not have magenta hair on any given Saturday. Plus she’s nice as shit.

I also run into my neighbors and now fellow ES bloggers, Maids and Bliz.

There’s Mike, who I met when I interviewed him about his group DC Homebrewers, who has since quit his job to work full time for Tree and Leaf Farms. He now bags my ever changing order of greens (it was a mix of kale this week) and I’m not so secretly jealous that he’s out composting during the day while I’m staring at a computer screen.

Anyway, I’m so distracted by my market friends, and of course all of the food, that I always over buy. In my fridge right now I have too many herbs and veggies to deal with: asparagus, kale, squash, shelled peas (holy crap all you do is pull this little cord and open up the shell and then eat the peas like candy—so delish), and then there’s this other purple thing that starts with a “K” but I can’t remember the name of it. I will thank Jaci for that impulse buy. And then there’s sage, garlic chives and garlic scapes. Good christ.

Now this is not a bad thing, of course. I just need to find new and exciting ways to digest all of these veggies, especially on nights that I don’t feel like full-out cooking.

Jessica Seinfeld-esque sneak attack post jump.

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