Tender Tortellini with fresh pesto made from mint and Thai basil and tossed with crisp sugar snap peas from your own garden.
Nothing beats cooking a dish with ingredients that you have grown yourself. There’s just something so fulfilling in taking something from a little seed that you push into the soil, to a nutritious meal to feed your family.
American Family Insurance joins us this week to encourage you to get out there and experience the satisfaction of eating something you have grown yourself!
When my kids were little, one of my favorite science courses to teach was when we did an entire year of Botany. Teaching them how the plants grow, what the parts of the seeds do, and getting their hands dirty as they took part in the “labs” for the class. It was such a great way to get them involved. I’ve noticed that when they go to all the time and effort of raising those baby plants to completion, even the pickiest of eaters will be happy to eat their veggies!
It was so much fun watching them run out to see if anything had bloomed overnight, or if the tomatoes were red yet. One year my son grew watermelons and learned the hard lesson that nature loves a garden too…deer or rabbits or something had eaten all his babies one night. But he kept at it! The next year a fence went in around the garden.
Being a military family, we move a great deal. But the fact that we moved never stopped me from growing edibles in my yard. Most houses we haven’t been able to have an in-ground garden, but you can bet my entire porch was covered in pots and boxes, and often I had raised beds in the backyard, like when we lived at Fort Bragg.
And let me tell you, it produced like you wouldn’t believe! Here I harvested some herbs and a few potatoes and other goodies one afternoon.
And that’s not all…
One year we even grew corn in pots. Yes, corn!
One of the things about gardening in pots, is that we can take it with us when we move…or like I did when we moved to Alaska, I gifted my neighbors with their own little garden.
I know not everyone has a lot of space in their yard to have a garden, or maybe you don’t have a yard at all. When we lived in Germany, we had a little balcony. I lined the window ledge with window boxes normally used for flower and grew gobs of cherry tomatoes, onion and other goodies.
So whether you want an acre garden, or some potted herbs in your kitchen window, I encourage you to go for it! Do what you can to make it fresh right from your garden.
And what to do with the bounty you have harvested?
We have just the ticket!
For my tortellini with garden fresh pesto, begin by toasting a quarter cup of blanched or sliced almonds. Pop them in a dry cast iron skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring around often until they get a little golden color and are aromatic.
Wash a cup and a half or so of sugar snap peas pods. With a sharp knife, trim off the ends, pulling the hard “vein” off the edges. Cut each pod in half and set these aside for now.
In a pot of water, cook your tortellini according to package directions. Three minutes prior to them being done, toss in the pea pods and let them cook with the pasta for those final 3 minutes. Just before draining the pasta, scoop out a half cup or so of the pasta water. Set that aside.
Meanwhile, let’s make your pesto! Pick a cup of mint and a cup of Thai basil from your garden. You can use another basil if you like, but I like the peppery flavor of the Thai version. Discard any stiff stems. Give them a quick wash, pat dry with a paper towel and toss them in your food processor.
Add in the toasted almonds, 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese, a tablespoon of fresh lemon zest, a half teaspoon of black pepper, a quarter teaspoon of sea salt, and a roughly chopped clove of garlic.
Process this until finely chopped. Scrape the side of the processor as needed.
In a dish, combine 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons of juice from your lemon. Whisk those together.
Turn your processor back on, and slowly pour the oil mixture into the pesto.
Look at all this fresh flavor in here.
Place your pasta and peas in a serving bowl. Add in your pesto and stir it all together. If the pesto is too thick, add a little of the pasta water as needed to help it spread over the tortellini.