Spring in the Land of Mud & Artichoke Pesto

end_ski_season_01It’s over. The ski season that is and I am bereft. It’s Mud Season but don’t bother moping. It won’t do any good. We’re stuck with it; sometimes figuratively, sometimes literally. We might as well do what we can to enjoy it. Okay, I get it; I should probably change that to endure it.

So what can we do to both grin and bear mud season?

Go to the movies. It’s the cheapest vacation going. For ten bucks or less, you can spend a couple hours in London, Vienna, India or even a galaxy far, far from here. To soften the return to reality, go for dinner afterwards. Something from a warmer, sunnier clime, maybe Thai or Mexican.

Do the biannual closet migration. Instead of waiting until Halloween, run the parkas, ski pants, hats and gloves through the wash. Weed out the ratty-tatty turtlenecks from the pack and put them in the rag bin. (You’ll need them when it comes time to wash all the mud and salt off your car.) Get those heavy sweaters into plastic bins and up into the attic. It’s time to get out the t-shirts, capris and pastel flats. (You might want to keep a pair of jeans and boots handy for the inevitable spring snowstorm.)

Get your running shoes and bicycle out. Unless you really like mud, most trails are too sticky for a hike. Living in a college town, I am already starting to see herds of young runners. The cyclists are never far behind. If you are out and about, you will want to beware of potholes. A few are deep enough to swallow a Mini Cooper.

Go to the library or dust off that pile of books you got for Christmas. Especially on rainy days, there’s nothing better than a good book. And let’s face it, that rhyme about April showers is based on fact not myth.

Put on your decorating hat. In the fall, you are too busy hiking and having fun. In the winter, you are too busy skiing and having fun. In the summer, you are too busy having fun at the beach. Mud Season is the perfect time to paint your bedroom or sew some pillows for the family room. Get your Martha on and go for it.

flower_flip-flopsCan’t wait for May flowers. Keep channeling Martha and get creative. Decorate a wreath with dried or silk blooms or spruce up a pair of flip-flops with fabric flowers and ribbon. While you’re at it, start seedlings in a sunny window. Better yet, get out of the house and take a flower-arranging workshop. What could be more Martha than that?

Watch the ice-out. It has already started on Pleasant Lake. On quiet mornings, you can hear the gurgle of water under the thinning ice. Pools and ribbons of open water are starting to appear. Before you know it, you’ll be out in your kayak.

Celebrate with a party. It’s the ultimate way to defy the mud and gloom. Whether you are the host or a guest, there is nothing like party to cheer you up. Take the initiative to bring friends together for a festive evening. Go all out with multiple courses and extravagant ingredients or share the effort with a potluck. Experiment with new recipes or stick with the tried and true. Whatever you do, your friends will thank you. Profusely. We’re all in this mud season together.

This too shall pass. Bon appétit!

Artichoke Pesto
This versatile pesto is great on crostini for a quick appetizer. Serve it with grilled chicken or fish or toss it with pasta for dinner. Enjoy!
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Artichoke_Olive_Pesto_01Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
2 tablespoons capers, well drained
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
8-10 ounces oil-packed artichoke hearts, well drained and roughly chopped
8-12 large brine-cured green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1 ounces (about 1/2 cup) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or a mix of Parm and Pecorino Romano

Heat a little olive oil in a small skillet, add the onion and anchovy paste and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes more. Cool to room temperature.

Put the onion and garlic in a food processor, add the lemon zest and juice, parsley, walnuts and capers, season with salt and pepper and process until finely chopped. Add the artichokes and olives and pulse to chop and combine. With the machine running, add enough olive oil to reach your desired consistency and process until well combined.

Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the cheese. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.

For crostini: spread on toasted baguette slices, serve at room temperature or warm in a 350-dgree oven for about 5 minutes.

For pasta: cook the pasta according to package directions, reserving a little of the pasta water before draining. Return the pasta to the pot, add enough pesto to generously coat and toss. If the pasta seems dry, add a little pasta water and toss again.

For grilled chicken or fish: top each serving with a dollop of room temperature pesto or let everyone help themselves.

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One Year Ago – Quinoa with Sweet Potato & Spinach
Two Years Ago – Runners’ Chicken with
Three Years Ago – Bananas Foster
Four Years Ago – Tapenade
Five Year Ago – Lavender Infused White Chocolate Crème
Six Years Ago – Lemon Tart
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you survive Mud Season? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

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4 thoughts on “Spring in the Land of Mud & Artichoke Pesto

    • Shalilah – There has been some news coverage on your drought. Very worrying – i’m sorry we can’t send you some of our snow. My sister-in-law wore capris and bright green flats to work last Friday and then came up here for the weekend and found a driveway full of snow. It’s slowly warming up … I’m busy with my taxes but plan to tackle the garage in the next few weeks. Take care, Susan

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