Every year, I vow to make the most of summer fruits and vegetables, and every year when the time comes to get in the kitchen and live up to that vow, I end up taking a nap or a hike or a trip to get ice cream instead.
But this week, motivated by the kind of desperation that only a person who has picked 18 pounds of blueberries and purchased a giant bouquet of parsley can feel, I found the gumption to try a couple new recipes — one sweet and one very, very savory.
Let’s start with the sweet: this small-batch blueberry ginger jam recipe over at Food in Jars. I’ve made jam only once or twice before, with someone else, and this was a perfect recipe for my first solo effort. The recipe has several virtues:
First, if you, like me, have gone a little crazy at the u-pick blueberry farms recently, it will help you use up some of that loot in a hurry.
Second, it is easy.
Third, it is fast.
Fourth, it doesn’t even require pectin.
Fifth, it makes such a small batch, about a pint or a pint and a half, that there’s no need to can it. I am not yet a canner, so I stashed a half-pint jar of it in the fridge and froze two more. Beware: Once the jam was done cooking, my stove resembled a Jackson Pollock painting from all the purple splatter, so maybe factor in a little cleanup time or perhaps be more attentive than I was to the vigor with which your jam is boiling.
And now, the savory: chimichurri. This sauce, made with parsley, oregano, vinegar and garlic, is a bit like pesto but with the flavor turned way, way up. I first learned about it a few years ago when I read Tara Austen Weaver’s “The Butcher and the Vegetarian,” and I’ve been meaning to make it ever since. Now that I have, I wish I’d started making it ages ago. It’s often used as a sauce or marinade with steak or other meats, but, not being a big meat eater, I poured some on my veggie sandwich for the perfect extra kick. It would also be good drizzled on a bean salad, on potatoes, on tacos … I could go on. And on. Instead, how about a recipe?
The Internet is overflowing with chimichurri recipes, and, as far as I can tell, every one of them is different. I ended up tinkering with this recipe at Chow, partly for personal taste, partly because it seemed to call for an overly dramatic quantity of olive oil, and partly because I didn’t have pepper or red pepper flakes and was too lazy to acquire them. My adapted recipe is below. You may wish to double whatever recipe you choose and stash some sauce away for later; much like pesto, chimichurri apparently freezes well. A little goes a long way, so I recommend freezing it in ice-cube trays or very small jars.
2 cups Italian parsley
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled
3-4 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1-2 teaspoons hot sauce (I used habanero sauce)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Wash parsley, chop off the thick bottom stems (the small stems between leaves are OK) and dry it thoroughly. Put parsley, garlic, oregano, vinegar, hot sauce and salt in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Next, with the processor running, pour in the olive oil and process until combined. Store in an airtight container, or pour into ice-cube trays and freeze.