I’ve come to the conclusion that I have serious self-control issues when I’m at the farmer’s market. I’m surrounded with so much fresh, delicious produce, I tend to get a little euphoric and covet everything I see. Fortunately not only are farmer’s market prices nice & low but I have no car, so there’s only so much I can lug back home in my backpack and 87 reusable shopping bags from assorted stores. However, the lack of restraint thing always ends up making me resemble a human pack mule once I’m done shopping, no matter how little I’ve spent. The last time around was no different, especially because all sorts of wonderful summer veggies are starting to show up all over the place. I left with pounds of fresh produce, including the first baby squashes of the season, carrots, and the most ginormous fava beans I had EVER seen (they were even bigger than the ones I got during my Follow the Chef tour!). A ton of fresh herbs, greens and, of course, some sweet summer cherries, and I practically sprinted home to start playing with all this yummy goodness.
The inspiration for this definitely came from the three gorgeous bunches of cilantro I was able to score for just $0.99. They were so fragrant and fresh that I immediately wanted to make a nice pesto with it. But when I got home I realized I had neither pine nuts nor almonds, two of the most commonly used nuts in pesto recipes. I was about to turn my cilantro into something else when I remembered I still had a giant bag of pistachios I could use, and voila! A tasty new pesto was born. It’s refreshing and almost a little tangy, and because this version uses no cheese whatsoever, even my vegan friends & readers can enjoy this.
The pesto recipe will yield far more than what’s needed for the actual dish, but we all know how versatile pesto can be and you can certainly use this in anything and everything you want. I thought a nice place to start would be with some of the vegetables I’d picked up, along with some sort of grain. My first instinct was to serve this with couscous, considering how well regular pesto went with it in my Pesto Couscous Salad from earlier this year. Alas, I was all out, so I used the ever-so-handy Mother Grain: quinoa. When all was said and done, I had a light yet filling dish packed with plenty of protein & fiber from the quinoa & veggies, as well as a ton of flavor from the pesto. This is great as a side but also makes an amazing meat-free entrée that you can enjoy year ‘round. Quick, healthy, and super affordable – gotta love that!
Summer Veggies with Quinoa & Cilantro-Pistachio Pesto (makes 4 servings; total cost per serving ~$1.50)
1 large carrot
1 medium zucchini
1 medium summer squash
1 c shelled fava beans
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
2 t olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 t thyme
Salt & pepper to taste
2 ½ c (packed) cilantro, both leaves & stems
1 c pistachios
2 cloves of garlic
1 c olive oil
3 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 t salt
Combine the pesto ingredients in a food processor (or blender if you don’t have a food processor) and purée until smooth. Set aside.
Slice the carrot, zucchini and summer squash into ½” thick pieces. In a large skillet heat the olive oil and garlic until the garlic becomes fragrant and golden brown. Add the sliced carrots and sauté over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes until they just start to become tender. Add the zucchini, summer squash, fava beans, thyme and salt & pepper and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Finally, add the sliced onions and cook until tender. In a large bowl combine the quinoa and about 3 tablespoons of the cilantro-pistachio pesto and mix well (you may add more if you like a stronger flavor). Place in a couple of bowls or dishes, top with a generous amount of the sautéed veggies, and enjoy!