Plastic Pollution Solution & Lemony Tarragon Pistou

The snow is receding. The lumps of dirty snow that line my driveway are no longer ten feet tall. Cheery crocuses (or is it croci, I can never remember) are doing their best to pop up and greet the spring. They are not alone. Plastic bottles, cups and whatnots are popping up everywhere. Each layer of melting snow reveals more plastic.

Invented in 1907, plastic was a major modern breakthrough. Plastic is strong. It weighs almost nothing. It’s cheap. It comes in an endless rainbow of colors. If it slips your hands, it won’t land on the kitchen floor in a million pieces. A myriad of uses have been developed for this miracle product.

Unfortunately, this miracle has a decided downside. It is the gift that never goes away. Since its invention, the world has produced more than 9 billion tons of plastic. That’s the virgin, not the recycled, stuff. About 80 percent of it is in the landfill. That’s 5.5 billion, yes billion, tons of plastic. It can take decades, even centuries for plastic to decompose. That mountain of plastic will be sitting around for a long, long time.

Sunday is Earth Day. The first Earth Day in 1970 motivated millions of Americans to think and act differently. The passage of the Clean Air Act was an early victory. The work continued with the Safe Drinking Water Act, Endangered Species Act and Superfunds to clean up hazardous waste sites. This year, the Earth Day Network is asking all of us to think and do something about plastic. They are asking us to be part of the plastic pollution solution.

We’re all guilty so let’s start with an inventory. To find out how plastic gets into the house, we need to check our pantries, cupboards, counters and garage. When and how do we use this not so miraculous product? At my house, it comes in with my groceries, especially in the winter. It holds fresh produce and milk, it is wrapped around meats and poultry and it holds nuts and grains. All that packaging adds up. The average American throws out about 185 pounds of plastic every year.

It doesn’t end there. My dishwashing soap, laundry detergent, lotion, shampoo and deodorant are packed in plastic bottles and jars. I have plastic storage containers. I love my lightweight prep and mixing bowls. Should I mention the half dozen pairs of cheap reading glasses with plastic frames and lens scattered around the house?

In the garage, the blade and handle of my snow shovel are plastic. Looking further, there are several buckets, the dishes I take to the beach in the summer and some adorable but very uncomfortable rain clogs. For heaven sake, even the fenders on the cars are plastic. Most of these things aren’t going anywhere soon. They will remain in the garage until they wear out or break.

For the earth’s sake, let’s all take one small step, maybe two. If you don’t already recycle, start. If you do just a little, do a lot. Even better, stop bringing plastic home. Think about shopping for need and not for entertainment. Image the free time you will have, the savings and the reduction in clutter. When you must shop, bring your own bags. Many, maybe most, of us bring bags to the supermarket. What about the hardware store, pharmacy and everywhere else? I’m also thinking it’s past time I bring re-usable bags to the produce aisle. One small step … maybe two, if we all do it, it adds up. And who knows? Maybe next year we can commit to a zero waste household.

Happy Earth Day and bon appétit!

Lemony Tarragon Pistou
Pistou, pesto and salsa verte – they are all variations of delicious herbs and olive oil. Pesto Genovese is the classic basil sauce, pistou is the French cousin. Fabulously French, tarragon is perfect for an Earth Day sauce. Enjoy!
Makes about 2 cups

Zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch or to taste chili pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 cups loosely packed tarragon leaves
1 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
3 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup or to taste extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Put the lemon juice, garlic and mustard in the bowl of a small food processor, season with the chili pepper flakes, salt and pepper and pulse to combine and finely chopped.

Working in batches, add the tarragon, parsley, chives and thyme and pulse to roughly chop. Add the olive oil, walnuts and lemon zest and pulse to combine. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes to combine the flavors.

Can be made ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Freeze leftover pistou for future meals.

Serving Suggestions:

Drizzle Lemony Tarragon Pistou on any of the following:

Grilled, steamed or roasted asparagus, carrots, green beans, potatoes or zucchini
Grilled swordfish, salmon or shrimp
Roasted salmon, cod or shrimp
Steamed lobster
Grilled or roasted chicken or lamb

Add a spoonful or two of mayonnaise to 1/4 cup Lemony Tarragon Pistou for a creamy sauce for chicken, lobster or potato salad.

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One Year Ago – Asparagus Salad with Reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette
Two Years Ago – Homemade Personal Pizzas
Three Years Ago – Grilled Swordfish with Chimichurri
Four Years Ago – Not Your Ordinary Grilled Ham & Swiss Cheese Sandwiches
Five Years Ago – Peanut-y Chocolate Chip Cookies
Six Years Ago – Thai Curried Shrimp and Green Beans
Seven Years Ago – Asparagus Risotto
Eight Years Ago – Fennel & Feta Salad
Nine Years Ago – Dandelion Salad with Grilled Steak, Potatoes & Asparagus

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Do you have a plastic pollution solution? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Earth Day Turns Forty-Five & Grilled Swordfish with Chimichurri

grasshopperEarth Day turns forty-five tomorrow. That’s Earth DAY, not the Earth itself. It’s a lot older, billions and billions of years older. Anyway, I have this philosophy about birthdays. Every birthday deserves, at the very least, a nod. The ones that end in zero or five deserve a celebration.

So … how will you celebrate Earth Day?

Of course, you could go to the recycling center and carefully sort all your paper, bottles and cans. But that’s nothing new; you recycle all the time. Maybe you’ll think about bringing muffins or cupcakes to the nice people who help you unload and sort your trash. Unlike most New Englanders, I tend to make monthly rather than weekly trips to the dump. With the back of my ancient SUV piled high, I am always very grateful for the help I get with unloading and sorting.

Your neighbors will applaud you if you pick up trash on the side of the road. This winter’s ginormous snowbanks are rapidly disappearing. Unfortunately, more than a few sports drink bottles, coffee cups and beer cans are emerging.

A delicious way to spend Earth Day is to begin work on your garden. There is still a chance of frost so it’s too soon to plant outside. However, you can prep your soil and start seedlings indoors. Not sure you have time for a big garden? Keep it simple with a few big pots of herbs. Not sure what or how? Ask your favorite foodies for recommendations.

Speaking of foodies, here are a few earth-friendly kitchen tips. First, and I hope you agree, we should name a national holiday after whoever invented leftovers. In the spirit of Earth Day, leftovers are a great way to avoid waste by recycling the weekend’s roast into tonight’s curry.

Next, forget take-out. Or at least resist the shops that package your order in Styrofoam and plastic. Instead, sharpen your knife, break out your wok and cook up delicious dishes from around the world. While you’re at it, think about making enough for leftovers! Tomorrow is another busy day. Hey, come to think about it, the wok became THE kitchen tool about the time of the first Earth Day.

Finally, consider the one pot wonder. Let your mind and taste buds wander to a wonderful risotto, comforting stew or delicious stir-fry. Whether you braise, stir or toss, you and the earth will be happy when you have fewer dishes to wash.

By all means, include your friends and neighbors in your Earth Day celebrations. Organize a group walk to pick up all those bottles and cans. After hibernating for most of winter, it will be a great chance to reconnect. Top it off with dinner and continue the fun. To keep it simple and share the effort, cook up some delicious swordfish and ask your friends to bring an appetizer, some veggies to stir-fry or dessert.

Happy Earth Day and bon appétit!

Grilled Swordfish with Chimichurri
Swordfish is a sustainability success story. Headed for the endangered list in the 1990’s, thanks to conservation efforts, Atlantic swordfish have rebounded. Enjoy!
Serves 8Grilled_Swordfish_Chimichurri_01

Chimichurri (recipe follows)
About 3 pounds swordfish
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Make the Chimichurri (recipe follows).

Preheat your grill to hot. Rub a little olive oil on the swordfish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook the fish for about 5 minutes per side or until cooked through and still moist.

Remove the swordfish from the grill and let it sit for about five minutes. Cut the swordfish into thick slices and serve with generous spoonfuls of Chimichurri.

1/4 cup minced shallot or red onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons minced jalapeño
4-6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 lime or 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano leaves

Put the shallot, garlic, jalapeño, vinegar, lime juice and cumin in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Whisk in about 1/2 cup olive oil and let sit for 10-15 minutes.

Stir in the cilantro, parsley, oregano and lime zest. If needed, add more olive oil. Let the chimichurri sit for 10-15 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Makes about 2 cups. Can be made in advance, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Cover and store any leftover Chimichurri in the refrigerator. Serve this versatile sauce with grilled beef, pork, chicken and fish as well as steamed or grilled veggies.

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One Year Ago – Not Your Ordinary Grilled Ham & Swiss Cheese Sandwiches
Two Years Ago – Peanut-y Chocolate Chip Cookies
Three Years Ago – Thai Curried Shrimp and Green Beans
Four Years Ago – Asparagus Risotto
Five Years Ago – Fennel & Feta Salad
Six Years Ago – Dandelion Salad with Grilled Steak, Potatoes & Asparagus
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you spend Earth Day? Feel free to share. Let’s start a conversation.

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

Celebrate Earth Day – April 22nd & Fennel with Feta Salad

Earth Day turns forty tomorrow. That’s the big Four-O. Earth Day was just one piece of the activism puzzle of the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s. There was a lot going on so you might have missed some of those early environmental celebrations. I’m pretty sure I did.

I was in middle school at the time and there seemed to be a bunch of issues which were more challenging, exciting, interesting and tragic than recycling. (How’s that for taking a complex set of issues and ideas and simplifying it down to a single problem?) The evening news was filled with stories about the Vietnamese War and the civil rights movement. Women were making more than a bit of noise about equal rights. There were demonstrations in the park and in the streets and sit-ins were common on college campuses. With all the upheaval, protest and change, the environmentalists were more or less outshouted. Besides, we’d already done our part. My mom had switched to non-phosphate detergent and our once proud whites were dingy.

When I was fourteen, maybe fifteen, I heard social activist and revolutionary Abbie Hoffman speak on the Boston Common. My sister was in high school. She either convinced our parents that it was a good idea or offered up some other excuse for the trip into town. I tagged along. Abbie spoke about the war, the revolution and the evils of capitalism. His speech was sprinkled liberally with words my mother didn’t allow me to use. There was a good deal of cheering and chanting. It felt lot like a party and was terribly exciting. A trip to the dump for a lesson on sorting trash and recycling just couldn’t compete.

Surrounded by noisy and passionate causes, it was hard to pay attention to the environmentalists. Let’s face it, they were scientists and too often seemed to speak a different language! But much has changed. The environmental movement is getting lots more attention and picking up momentum. Living Green has become a part of who we are. Think about it, I’ll bet you practice at least one green act every day, probably more. We bring our own bags to the grocery store, insulate our houses and wear sweaters to cut down on fuel consumption, we recycle, buy energy efficient appliances and light bulbs and on and on and on. You probably don’t do it all. I know I don’t but we do what we can and what we can afford.

Maybe you’ve thinking that you’d like to do a bit more? Here are a few ideas to help you live a little greener and celebrate Earth Day:

Have you considered growing a kitchen garden? Earth Day is a great day to break ground. It’s still a little early for most planting but you can prep the soil and begin some seedlings indoors. Not a farmer, then join a CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture). Support a local farmer by signing-up on Earth Day for a summer full of wonderful fresh produce, dairy and meat. If you have trouble finding a CSA near you, check the list at LocalHarvest. Not a joiner? Well then, how about you commit to do more of your shopping at local farm stands and farmers’ markets.

Earth Day is an excellent excuse to get together with your neighbors for a clean-up. Roadside snow has melted, revealing plastic bottles, fast-food cartons and empty beer cans. Thank the earth by grabbing some trash bags, putting on your boots and gloves and scouring the neighborhood for the debris left by thoughtless litterbugs. After the clean-up reward yourself and your friends by continuing the celebration with a potluck. You don’t need a famous speaker, a rally or a sit-in to bring people together for a good cause. It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort, just a little bending and some enthusiasm. Add a few good friends, top it off with some delicious food and you’ve got a great day.

Enjoy and bon appétit!

Fennel & Feta Salad
A colorful salad is a great way to celebrate spring and thank the earth. Enjoy!
Serves 6

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large bulb fennel, thinly sliced and cut in julienne
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut in julienne
4-6 radishes, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
4 ounces feta, crumbled
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped and toasted

Put the olive oil, lemon juice and garlic in a medium bowl; whisk to combine. Set aside and let the flavors combine while you chop the vegetables

Add the fennel, cucumber, bell pepper and radishes; season with salt and pepper; toss to combine.

Sprinkle with parsley and oregano and toss. Sprinkle with feta and garnish with scallions and walnuts and serve.

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One Year Ago – Dandelion Salad with Grilled Steak, Asparagus & Potatoes

Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Feel free to visit my other, cleverly named blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or website at You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

Celebrate the Planet & Dandelion Salad with Grilled Steak & Asparagus

What will you do on Earth Day? Celebrated every year on April 22nd, Earth Day is a reminder that our planet’s resources while bountiful are far from infinite. The first Earth Day was held in 1970. It was a turbulent time with too many lows and not enough highs. It was a time of protest, with movements for and against a seemingly endless array of issues. There were demonstrations in New Haven, Washington, Seattle, San Francisco and everywhere in between. Is there any wonder that Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was the year’s number one hit?

Reuse, Reduce and Recycle were not yet entrenched in our psyches and we were a long way away from our current widespread interest in Going Green. We were a prosperous, throwaway nation. We drove big sedans, huge station wagons and powerful muscle cars. We guzzled 36-cent-a-gallon gas without a care in the world. Factories were belching clouds of thick smoke and spewing sludge into once-clean rivers. The environment was hardly a concern and was rarely covered on the evening news.

Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin changed all that. An oil spill off Santa Barbara motivated him to launch the first Earth Day. In an era of demonstrations, he proposed the first nationwide environmental protest “to shake up the political establishment and force this issue onto the national agenda.” Americans heard the call and on the first Earth Day, 20 million took to the streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. The issue was recognized across the nation and rallies were held coast-to-coast.

Different groups had been fighting a wide variety of environmental concerns, from pollution, toxic dumps and pesticides to oil spills, dwindling wilderness and endangered wildlife. These groups were fragmented and disconnected. Earth Day brought them together as diverse pieces in one common cause.

Earth Day 1970 was indeed a rarity in American politics. Nelson was able to achieve support and alignment across party lines, from both rich and poor, city slickers and country folks, management and labor. Since that first Earth Day, tremendous progress has been made. Recycling is now commonplace. Most of us are trying to find ways to reduce the amount of trash we throw away and find new uses for the old stuff we used to consider junk. We can breathe a little easier with cleaner air and water and once endangered species like the bald eagle are thriving. But we still have a long way to go.

As we begin the countdown to four decades of going green, the thirty-ninth Earth Day will be commemorated and celebrated on the Mall in Washington and in cities and towns across the country. Earth Day is a wonderful way to greet spring and prepare for summer. Why not attend a rally and learn about new initiatives in your town, across the State and in Washington.

Prefer to spend the day active and outdoors? Make it a festive day with family and friends. Gather up a group of volunteers to help clean up your town or neighborhood. Head to a community park to pick up trash, plant trees and tend gardens. If you live near the water, spend the day at the beach cleaning up winter debris. The snow has melted leaving layers of litter on the roadside. Grab a trash bag and take a cleanup walk around your neighborhood. When the work is done, reward yourselves with a festive, potluck feast.

However you spend Earth Day, enjoy the changing seasons while you celebrate the planet and all things green!

Dandelion Salad with Grilled Steak & Asparagus
A big, bountiful salad is a delicious way to welcome spring and Earth Day. This one dish supper may look complicated but it’s really very easy. (Especially if you use leftovers!). Enjoy!
Serves 4

1/2 – 1 pound asparagus, cut 1 1/2 inches thick
1 – 1 1/2 pound New York strip steak
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil
2 cups mixed greens
2 cups chopped dandelion or arugula
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
8 grape tomatoes, halved
1-2 scallions, thinly sliced
Vinaigrette(recipe follows)
2 ounces gorgonzola, crumbled
1/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts
Garnish: fresh chopped chives and parsley

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. Fire should be medium hot.

Season the steak with salt and pepper. Grill the steak, about 4 minutes per side for rare and 6 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand for 5-10 minutes.

Toss the asparagus with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the asparagus, turning once, until tender about 1 minute per side.

Put the greens, dandelion, cucumber, tomatoes and scallions in a large bowl. Add a little vinaigrette and toss to combine. Arrange the salad on a large platter, sprinkle with about half of the Gorgonzola and walnuts.

Slice the steak. Chop the asparagus. Top the salad with steak and asparagus. Garnish with the remaining Gorgonzola, chives and parsley.

You can prepare the steak and asparagus ahead of time or use leftovers. Remove the meat and vegetables from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving to bring them to room temperature.  

When shopping for dandelion, look for young, tender leaves. If you decide to harvest your own, make sure the area has not been sprayed with chemicals or fertilizers.


2 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece red onion
1  teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Put the garlic, mustard and vinegars in a blender or small food processor, season with salt and pepper and process to combine and chop the garlic and onion. With the motor run, slowly add the olive oil and process until smooth and emulsified.

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Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. 

I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week. 

Feel free to visit my other, cleverly named blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or website at You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good.  ©Susan W. Nye, 2010