A day in the garden.
Does this pasta look like it was born in a garden. Fresh basil and parsley from my garden, fresh spinach and English peas.
This year I was co-chair (with my friend, Linda) for arranging programs for our garden club. We had been told about this garden up in Conroe, Texas, Hope Farms Gardens and knew we just had to see it. Barbara Lopez opens her home gardens for one month in April/May for people to tour and buy her plants. Her gardens are a fun place to shop because you know exactly where the plants belong. If the plants for sale are placed in her shady parts of her yard that means they belong in the shade. Same for the sunny parts of her yard and that will be where she has the plants needing sun during the day.
So, we decided to see if our Hospitality Chairperson would like to take a look at her gardens to see if she thought our members would like to have our end-of-year lunch there instead of a restaurant or country club. Everyone agreed so for all of last year I had been thinking about what I wanted to do for lunch.
After a trip to the dollar store, I came away with 45 $1 rectangle baskets perfect for our French inspired luncheon. I have literally hundreds (not really) French looking cloths (I do have about 175 cloth napkins though that I accumulated while working at Williams Sonoma). The menu started taking shape about a year in advance with the baskets to hold all the goodies. Nancy’s Chopped Salad from Smitten Kitchen caught my eye early on and I knew I wanted to put this in a wide mouth pint jar. I also knew I wanted to do a fruit crumble dessert in the wide mouth 8 oz. jars. This Pesto Pasta with Peas is a recipe I have been thinking about for a while because I knew I wanted to use these tinsey tiny bow tie pasta noodles. Homemade focaccia bread and some baby bell cheese rounded out the basket.
The day started with some mimosas, cheese straws and some nice melon and prosciutto kebabs picked with a cute flower skewer I picked up at Pier One. We had rocks with members names painted on them along with blue bonnets (name of our garden club) to use as placecards. So after we all finished eating, said goodbye to outgoing officers and hello to incoming officers for next year, we set about Barbara’s yard to shop. (I had been the week before to do my shopping because I knew I would be very busy the day of the luncheon.
I hope you enjoy looking at some of our lunch pictures and also pictures of Barbara Lopez’s Hope Farm Gardens.
I stuffed my food processor with the spinach, parsley, basil and other ingredients. Drizzled in the oil and, presto – pesto in a few seconds.
See how easy that was.
Stir in as much pesto as you want. This was a triple recipe and I ended up using all the pesto recipe (just one recipe of pesto for three boxes.) Then add in the frozen peas.
- 1 box mini bow tie pastas
- 1 10 oz. bag frozen peas
- 1/2-1 c. Pesto (homemade or purchased)
- 4 c. baby spinach
- 2 c. basil
- 2 c. parsley
- 1/2 c. toasted almonds
- 3/4 c. olive oil
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- Juice of 1 lemon plus zest
- 1 c. parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Make the pesto 1-2 days ahead.
- For the pesto, put the spinach, basil and parsley into a food processor along with the toasted almonds, parmesan, lemon juice and lemon zest. Process until finely minced.
- With the motor running slowly drizzle in the olive oil and continue to blend until you have a nice looking pesto. Add salt and pepper to taste. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
- Cook the pasta in salted boiling water for 7-8 minutes or al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of the cooking liquid from the pasta. Drain the pasta then put in serving bowl along with some of the pesto and pasta water. Stir until everything is coated with the pesto. Add in 1/2-1 bag of the frozen peas. Serve immediately or chill and serve as a salad.
- You can use the larger bow tie pastas but the mini ones are just so cute. I found mine at Walmart.
This is Barbar’s Gardens. Can you imagine waking up to this every morning. See that pink, Peggy Martin Rose over the arbor, I bought one of those.
Our basket lunches consisted of the Pesto Pasta Pea Salad, Nancy’s Chopped Salad (from Smittenkitchen.com), homemade focaccia bread, Baby Bel cheese, Berry Crumble served in small Mason jar and a Roasted Provencal Chicken Skewer.
These were really cute cantaloupe and prosciutto kebabs with very cute flower picks. Cheese straws in the background was one of Paula Deen’s recipes. Of course we had mimosas to go along with these little bites.