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Homemade Watermelon Rind Pickles 

Will you have a beautiful watermelon for the Labor Day weekend? The white part of the rind makes a delicious pickle! Be sure to take a little time to make some. Not just for a garnish on sandwiches, watermelon pickle is also a key ingredient in my Red Pepper Relish that I’ll share in a future post. The recipe below has won several ribbons in State Fairs over the years.

After the watermelon feast, you’re busy, so go ahead and just save the rinds in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until tomorrow when you have a little time. They will keep just fine, and you’ll be carefully trimming every bit of pink off the white rind and then salting it, so don’t worry about germs, either.

The melon in the picture is an heirloom “Moon and Stars” that we just picked. See the yellow moon and stars on the rind? It’s a small variety, so I’ll count it as a half full-size melon.

Watermelon Rind Pickles Recipe

Rind Ingredients:

• ½ a full size watermelon with a thick white rind, best about ½ inch thick
• 1 cup pickling salt
• 2 quarts water

Syrup Ingredients:

 • 2 quarts apple cider vinegar*
• 6 cups cane sugar
• 1 tablespoon pickling salt
• about 6 inches cinnamon stick
• 1 tablespoon whole black pepper corns
• 1 tablespoon whole cloves
• 1 tablespoon whole allspice
• 1 tablespoon green cardamom pods
• 1/4 cup fresh ginger in 1/4 inch dice or pureed**


Day 1

I have a little folding table that I use for lengthy prep chores like this one; it does save my back!

This is the tedious part: Remove every bit of the red melon from the rind and enjoy.  Make sure there is no pink showing on the rind. I cut the rind into strips about 1 inch wide.

Peel the hard green part off the rind, making sure to get every scrap while keeping the white part as thick as possible. I use an Oxo Good Grips peeler for this. Cut the strips about ¾-inch wide, so you have pieces about 1 inch by 3/4 inch. Try to keep them uniform in size.

In a large bowl or a non-reactive pot, dissolve the pickling salt in the cold water. Add the rind, stir and weigh down the rind with a plate so that it stays submerged. Refrigerate overnight.

If you have animals, the less desirable parts away from the sweet heart of the melon are a nice treat. (Not the green rind, of course.) I used to toss it into a bucket and call my horse to the pasture gate. He loved watermelon! So do chickens, pigs and goats.

Day 2

Drain the rind into a colander, rinse well, then rinse again in fresh water. Put the rind into a large pot (such as a stainless 8-quart stock pot), cover with water, bring to a boil, then simmer about 8 to 10 minutes until the rind is just barely tender. Watch carefully and don’t overcook. The rind pieces will be starting to look transparent around the edges. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop cooking.

In the big stainless pot, mix up the syrup, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove most of the spices, especially all the cinnamon stick. Add the rind and bring back to a boil. Simmer just a few minutes, take off the burner, then ladle the rind into pint canning jars.

Fill to within ¼ inch of the brim with the syrup. Seal and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Store one month before using to develop full flavor.

Makes about 6 pints.

* Note: Be sure to get real apple cider vinegar, usually available only in pints or quarts — never the apple cider-flavored vinegar available in ½ gal and gallon size. Don’t waste all your hard work on cheap vinegar. Use only apple cider vinegar without a “mother.”  Your homemade vinegars are wonderful for cooking, but won’t have the guaranteed level of acidity needed for making these pickles.

** Bonus Trick: How to Save Fresh Ginger for Easy Use

You know how you will buy a nice piece of fresh ginger and sometimes use only a little? The rest then ends up dry and shriveled. Here’s what I do:

About once a year, in early summer, I’ll find some pretty ginger and get a nice hand of it. I roughly peel it, not too picky. Then, I cut it into about ½-inch pieces and toss those into the food processor. I use the Cuisinart Mini, which holds about 2 cups. I do a rough chop, then add about ¼ cup cane sugar, then run the processor to make a lovely juicy puree. I put this into a wide-mouth jar and put it on a door shelf of the the freezer — so the ginger puree is always handy and ready to go.

Because of the sugar, it doesn’t freeze very hard, so you can always dip out a spoonful.  Try using ginger puree in a stir fry or other savory dish, you’ll hardly notice that tiny bit of sugar.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



Packing a healthy lunch is one thing—whether your child eats that lunch is another thing entirely. I grew up in the seventies when whole grain breads, granola and hummus were not common foods—yet. My mother read Mother Earth News and enthusiastically embarked on baking her own bread, making her own hummus, and culturing her own yogurt. We were in rural Arizona where Twinkies, Hostess pies, bologna sandwiches, or frozen burritos were the standard lunches. You can see where this is going. I did not bring those name brand items in my lunch sack. (Oh yes, the sack—we also recycled, and my lunches were packed in random repurposed bread bags from when she wasn’t baking, instead of neat, crisp brown paper lunch sacks. She was ahead of her time.)

In our middle school we were in a classroom with wraparound desks. You know the ones, they are still in use—molded plastic chair with a tabletop that encloses your body usually from the right side. The entire thing is held together by chrome with a chrome basket below the seat in which to store your books and, in our case, our lunches. From this position under my seat my sandwiches betrayed me to the class. Usually by mid-morning my mother’s liberal use of raw garlic was wafting around me like the little cloud of dust that follows Pigpen in Charles Schultz’s cartoons. Pre-teen children are not afraid to point this out with dramatic nose-holding squeals of disgust. When lunch finally came I pulled out sandwiches that looked as if they could be used in a geography lesson on plate tectonics as the hummus oozed through the fault lines of crumbling bread.

So as a parent I am particularly sensitive to coming up with a healthy whole food unprocessed lunch choice that does not feel to my children like social suicide.  Luckily kids love pickled foods and with a little creativity your presentation will make them the lunchroom hit. The best part is that with one afternoon of vegetable preparation you can have weeks of fermented snacks without compromising freshness or flavor.

Fermented Veggie Pickles

I recommend making these “fermentables” lunch pickles with your children. What a great way to involve them in the process and connect them with their lunch. (For extra credit you and your child can buy the veggies from the farmers’ market and talk about local food systems and preserving a bit of the local harvest…)

Pickled carrot sticks can be a child’s gateway into fermented food. They’re crunchy, tasty and convenient, but it doesn’t stop there—for example celery sticks, green beans, and jicama also make fermented finger food pickles that are ready to eat straight or dip into nut butter for a little protein.

This recipe is a general guide to pickling veggies. You and your child decide which veggies—one at a time, a medley, flavored with herbs, or very plain. Cutting the vegetables into sticks is the easiest, but you can have fun with this. The veggies will pickle in any form—medallions, crinkle cut, heart shaped, whatever you have the patience for. 

Ferment the vegetables in a quart jar, or larger vessel. Once fermented divide them into quarter-pint jars and store them in the refrigerator for easy packing in the morning.

Yield: a quart jar — to be divided 


• 1 ½ - 2 pounds fresh veggies such as: carrots, green beans, jicama, turnips, celery, edible pod peas (in season), cauliflower, or radishes (for the spicy kid)
• 1 tbsp pickling spice
• 2 cloves garlic

Optional: instead of the pickling spice and garlic you can simply put in a sprig of rosemary, basil, mint, fresh dill seed heads, or other herbs clipped from your garden. Again the idea is working with your child’s favorite flavors.

For the brine:

• 1/8 cup unrefined salt
• 1 quart unchlorinated water (the chlorine can inhibit fermentation)

1. Cut the vegetables into short spears, sticks, or medallions. Keep in mind the size of the jar you will send them to school in.

2. Place the spices, garlic or herbs in the bottom of the jar. Arrange the veggies in the jar packing them tightly in a way that leaves little space between them. When you get to the top of the jar tuck them under the shoulder in such a way that will keep them wedged under the shoulder of the jar therefor the brine. If you are doing certain shapes, that won’t be possible—use a fermenting weight or grape leaf to hold everything down. You don’t want floating veggies.

3. Mix the salt and water until dissolved. Pour over the top until the veggies are completely submerged. Remember that under the brine everything is fine!

4. Set any extra brine aside in the refrigerator in case you need it.

5. Put a lid on your jar (or a water lock lid if you have one) and go ahead and screw it down.

6. You will be releasing the CO2 daily by burping it when the lid starts to bulge. You will open the lid slightly and hear a slight hiss as the gas escapes. (Kids love this part.) If some brine bubbles out do not worry, just replace with some of the reserved brine when it settles down and make sure the veggies are all still submerged.

7. Keep your jar on a plate on the counter for about 7 days. At this point your brine should be cloudy and the ferment should smell nicely sour. Taste your pickles. They will likely be lightly fermented which might be the perfect place for your child; if he or she would like them more sour, tuck everything back in and let it ferment for another week or two.  Manage it as described above.

When your pickles are delicious, divide them into small mason jars or other non-reactive air-tight containers. Place these in a corner of your refrigerator to be pulled out for lunches.

Kirsten K. Shockey is a post-modern homesteader who lives in the mountains of Southern Oregon. She writes about sauerkraut and life—but not necessarily in that order. She’s written a complete book of Fermented Vegetables and maintains the website Fermentista’s Kitchen.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page. 


Cucumber Pickles 

Have you ever wanted to…
• make your own pickles, but became discouraged and overwhelmed with the amount of work involved with traditional recipes?
• make just one — or two — jars of pickles and not have to deal with canning them?
• introduce more probiotics into your diet, without the time, unpredictability and potential odors associated with fermenting your own vegetables?

Well, here’s a recipe that’s the answer to all of the above. These quick, easy and delicious fermented pickles are made right in the jar. They take very little work or prep time and are delicious, healthful and ready to eat in a week. Not bad for about half an hour of work!

I spent years searching for a recipe that would result in pickles that tasted just as good as the barrel-fermented ones I ate as a kid. “Manufactured” pickles pale in comparison. Like other prepared foods (or embalmed, as I think of them), they’re soaked in artificial ingredients and their goodness has been cooked out of them through pasteurization and high-heat canning processes.

Recently, fermented foods are becoming available at some grocery stores, which is handy if you don’t want the satisfaction of making your own or the privilege of adjusting seasonings to your own liking.

But to me, nothing tastes better than homemade. And nothing tastes better than a homemade something that was also quick and easy to make!

Last summer I finally found a recipe that not only resulted in great-tasting pickles, but also included natural lacto-fermentation plus raw vinegar, which takes the worry and extended wait time out of the fermentation process.

Now, when my garden is just beginning to produce pickling cucumbers and I don’t have enough to start an entire crock, I make one jar at a time using this recipe. You can make more than one quart at a time, just adjust the ingredients accordingly.

Homemade Dill Pickles 

Lacto-Fermented Garlic Dill Pickles

Makes 1 quart

Recipe adapted from A Platter of Figs, David Tannis

Main Ingredients:

• 5-6 medium pickling cucumbers (about 1 lb) - look for firm, unblemished, bumpy ones
• 2 garlic cloves, chopped coarsely
• 1 sprig thyme
• 1 sprig oregano
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 small bunch of dill
• 3-4 small grapevine leaves (optional, but keeps the pickles crisp)

Brine Ingredients:

• 2 tsp coriander seeds
• 1-2 tsp turmeric powder
• 1 tsp fennel seeds
• 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
• 1-2 TB sea salt (I prefer a rounded tablespoon)
• 1-1/2 cups filtered water
• 1/2 cup raw, unfiltered cider vinegar

Pickling Supplies


1. Wash the cucumbers, but don’t scrub them (you want to leave some lactobacillus bacteria on them) and rub off any spines.

2. Trim about 1/8 inch off the blossom end of the cucumbers. This removes an enzyme that can make your pickles limp. I also cut the cucumbers into halves or quarters so they fit together better in the jar.

3. Put the other Main Ingredients in a 1 quart largemouth canning jar and then pack cucumbers in as tightly as possible (try not to bruise them in the process).

4. Mix the brine ingredients together in a bowl and then pour the mixture into the jar to cover the cucumbers completely, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace.

5. Cover with a canning jar lid and band, write the date or day on the jar (a Sharpie works), place the jar in a bowl (to catch any overflow or leakage on the days the jar is inverted) and once a day, for a week, flip the jar over to redistribute the spices that will tend to settle to the bottom.

6. After a week, keep the jar in the refrigerated. Enjoy!

The original recipe said these would keep for a month in the refrigerator, but I have some that are several months old and they are just as crispy and delicious as they started out. Remember that with fermented vegetables, if they look or smell bad or appear slimy, don’t eat them!

Next I’ll be experimenting with this recipe to pickle different vegetables… any suggestions?

Deb Tejada is an urban farmer, foodie, do-it-yourselfer, graphic designer, illustrator and web developer living in sunny Colorado.  When she’s not in the kitchen or garden, you can find her at The Herban Farmer.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


In this post I'm going to cover how to dehydrate:

1. Fresh or frozen fruit

2. Fresh or frozen vegetables

3. Cooked meats

Why "cooked" meats, you ask? It's easy and it's safer. I'm not talking about jerky-making here as that needs spices. What I'm proposing is to use the Sunday dinner's leftovers. I'll continue with the cooked meats shortly.

Dehydrating Fresh or Frozen Fruit

Pardon me for plugging my own website here: Easy Food Dehydrating. In my Fruit section that currently lists the top 14 fruit, you'll see exactly what each fruit needs (prep wise) and at what temperature to dehydrate them at and for approximately how long. Notice that I use lemon juice to deter oxidation (browning) — a prep step — and I use a glass bowl in which to spray and toss the fruit (and veggies). Here are my top five fruits to get you started:

• Apples - peel and slice - spray with lemon juice - lay on trays - dehydrate between 125 degrees Fahrenheit and 135 degrees for 4-10 hours until pliable
• Bananas - peel and slice lengthwise or in coins - spray with lemon juice - lay on dehydrator trays - dehydrate between 125 degrees and 135 degrees for 6-12 hours until they are leathery
• Grapes (for raisins) - rinse and pat dry - slice in half, cut side facing up on the dehydrator trays - dehydrate between 125 degrees and 135 degrees for 6-10 hours until pliable
• Pears - wash them - peel if desired - remove the core and cut into halves, quarters, or 3/8-inch slices (so long as they're all roughly the same size for even drying) - spray with lemon juice - arrange on your dehydrator trays - dehydrate between 125 degrees and 135 degrees for 6-16 hours until pliable
• Strawberries - wash and cut off the top, cut into 1/4-inch slices or into halves - arrange on your dehydrator trays - dehydrate between 125 degrees and 135 degrees for 6-15 hours until crisp and leathery

Even though the "owner manuals" state you don't have to rotate the trays during drying, I do. Those trays closest to the fan are obviously going to dry faster — and it's better to have them all dry at the same rate!

Don't forget to use your dehydrator sheets to keep your trays clean. Check out this post for more information on accessories to use when dehydrating sticky fruits.

Regarding using frozen fruit, you do not have to do any prep steps! In the five fruits I mentioned, their prep steps included washing, slicing, and spraying with lemon juice. When using frozen fruit, any big clumps of fruit can be run under (good) tap water for a few seconds to loosen them (while on the dehydrator tray). If the fruit is still in the bag, thump it on the counter-top a few times to loosen clumps — and don't blame me if the bag bursts — just be careful!

Dehydrating Fresh or Frozen Vegetables

Again, visit Easy Food Dehydrating. In my Vegetable section that currently lists the top 16 veggies, you'll see exactly what each vegetable needs (prep wise) and at what temperature to dehydrate them at and for approximately how long. Here are my top five veggies:

• Broccoli - cut your broccoli florets into even-sized pieces, rinse - blanch for 2 minutes - lay on trays - dehydrate between 125 degrees and 135 degrees for 6-14 hours until brittle
• Carrots - peel and slice in coins — or dice them - blanch for 3 minutes (see note below) - place on dehydrator trays - dehydrate between 125 degrees and 135 degrees for 6-12 hours until they are leathery
• Garlic (regular or elephant) - peel and slice as evenly as possible (mandolines are great for elephant garlic) - place on the dehydrator trays - dehydrate between 125 degrees and 135 degrees for 6-12 hours until brittle
• Onions - peel - slice into rings, chop into slices, or dice (so long as they're all roughly the same size for even drying) - arrange on your dehydrator trays - dehydrate between 125 degrees and 135 degrees for 4-12 hours until pliable and please keep your windows open or run your stove's vent hood to remove odors. Why? Onion odor is poisonous to pets.
• Zucchini - wash and slice into 3/8-inch slices - arrange on your dehydrator trays - dehydrate between 125 degrees and 135 degrees for 5-11 hours until brittle

Note for the carrots: if you don't want to blanch your carrots, you can simply spray them with lemon juice instead. Much faster!

Don't forget you can also dehydrate frozen vegetables just like the frozen fruit.


Back to Dehydrating Cooked Meats

To dehydrate cooked meat, it really is simply a case of cutting up leftover chicken, beef, or ham into pieces that are roughly the same size. Consider dehydrating tubs of cooked meats, or if you have time to stand in line at the deli, ask them to slice your chosen cuts of cooked meat about 1/16-inch thick. When you get home, cut into strips and dehydrate at the higher temperature of 160 degrees F.

In the next post, I'll get into the step that many fans of dehydrating omit. It's a super-important step, especially for mushrooms! It's called "conditioning." Until then, have a super week!

To read all of Susan's posts, please visit this page on MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Since December of 2010, Susan Gast has operated Easy Food Dehydrating, a website dedicated to dehydrating fresh fruits and vegetables, and cooked meats. Susan teaches you how to safely store your goodies toofor long-term food storage. Keep your food pantry fullwhatever the reason or season!

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



My four-year-old has a sticker chart to incentivize learning her memory verses. For every 25 stickers on the chart, she gets to pick a special treat to make with mommy.

Usually I hand her a stack of colorful cookbooks, and she flips through the pictures till something special catches her eye. Sometimes she just comes up with her own idea, and we blaze our own trail.

When she asked to make pistachio cookies last week, I was inexplicably set on using a recipe, but my books were no help. Thus, I sort of adapted (read pretty much ripped off) April Bloomfield’s Pistachio Shortbread recipe, as seen here.

Now these cookies—the version you’ll see below, that is--are not at all what I’d call shortbread. Their texture is a more like a gingersnap: a little chewy, a little crisp.

I add a touch of almond extract, a bit more vanilla, and a pinch of cardamom for a little interest. Also, I roll the edges of the cookies in sugar before baking to perk up the visuals. Conventional wisdom suggests fashioning the dough into a log, rolling the log in sugar, then slicing and baking to achieve this result. I opt to scoop balls, flatten them, and then roll the edges in sugar because it is tough to roll this coarse dough into a tight log without sizeable air pockets.

My family agreed that these cookies deserve a spot in the standard cookie rotation around here. I hope your family will love them as well!

Sugared Pistachio Cookies Recipe


• 1 cup shelled, roasted, salted pistachios
• 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cups sugar
• 1 tsp coarse kosher salt (like Morton)
• 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
• 1/2 cup (I stick) chilled butter, cut into 12 pieces
• 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/4 tsp almond extract
• 1-2 tbsp ice water, as needed
• 2-3 tbsp granulated sugar, for rolling


1. Place the pistachios in the food processor and process 45 seconds or just till finely ground—do not let turn to pistachio butter. Add the flour, sugar, salt, and cardamom and process for about five seconds to combine. Scrape down the sides and around the bottom of the processor, add the butter and extracts and process about 10 seconds to distribute the butter throughout the mixture. With the processor on, drizzle in just enough ice water to bring the dough together.

2. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper, pat it into a disk, wrap it up in the parchment, and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

3. Position your oven racks in the centermost spots, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Place the sugar in a shallow bowl or dish.

4. Using a small cookie scoop if desired, make two-teaspoon-sized balls of dough and flatten with your palm or a flat-bottomed drinking glass (the cookies should be about two inches in diameter). Roll each disk through the sugar as if you were turning a wheel until the edges are well-coated, and space evenly between the two baking sheets.

5. Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or till just beginning to darken around the edges. Allow to cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.

Morgan Crumm is a mother, blogger, recipe-developer, and real-food advocate based in Dallas, Texas. More of her work can be found at Being The Secret Ingredient, a blog about food, life, and love.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



Making corn relish and canning it in a water bath canner is an easy and delicious way to preserve end-of-the-season corn. Open these colorful jars for a taste of summer in the middle of winter.

Getting Started

This recipe comes from Better Homes and Gardens’ America’s All-Time Favorite Canning & Preserving Recipes. I like to use half-pint jars to arrange in holiday gift baskets with homemade pickle relish, mustard and ketchup. I also have had fine results making a half-recipe, adjusting all the quantities by half. (But most experts shudder at modifying canning recipes. Follow recipes in trusted canning guides to ensure safety.)

Yield about 5 pints.


• 12-16 ears of corn
• 2 cups water (for boiling corn)
• 3 cups celery, chopped
• 3 cups chopped red sweet pepper (or mixed red and green sweet peppers)
• 1 cup chopped onion
• 2-1/2 cups vinegar
• 1-3/4 cups sugar
• 4 tsp dry mustard
• 2 tsp pickling salt
• 2 tsp celery seed
• 1 tsp ground turmeric
• 3 tbsp cornstarch
• 2 tbsp water

Prepping the Jars

As always, wash the jars, lids and bands in hot soapy water. Or wash jars and bands in the dishwasher and lids by hand so the rubber seal doesn’t overheat. Fill your water-bath canner with water and bring to boil. You want the water to cover the filled jars by at least two inches.

When the water comes to a boil, lower the clean empty jars into the canner to sterilize while you mix up the corn relish. Pour boiling water over lids and bands in a heatproof dish.

Making the Relish

1. Cut corn off the cobs to measure 8 cups.

2. Combine corn and water in a Dutch oven, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, about five minutes or until corn is nearly tender. Drain. End-of-season corn is just as sweet as early summer’s, but can be a little tougher so making relish is a great way to use it.

3. Return the corn to the pot; add celery, pepper and onion.

4. Stir in vinegar, sugar, mustard, pickling salt, celery seed and turmeric. Bring to boiling. Boil uncovered for five minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. In a separate cup, mix the cornstarch and water, then add to corn relish.

6. Continue to cook mixture until slightly thick and bubbly and time for one additional minute.

7. Remove sterilized jars from the canner and place on a towel by the pot of relish.

8. Ladle relish into the canning jars leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Use a sterilized stainless knife to coax out any air bubbles, wipe jar rims and adjust lids and bands.

9. Process in your water-bath canner for 15 minutes in boiling water, adding minutes depending on your particular altitude. You can find accurate timing information online or in most canning books. After processing, lift jars unto a clean towel and wait for the faithful “ping” of each seal.

You can read more at Dede's website, or in her blog post archive on MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


It’s Hatch Pepper Festival time! The peppers are being harvested in Hatch, New Mexico, now. They have a huge festival there in Hatch, but we don’t have to travel any farther than our local supermarket. The upscale market in Dallas has a lot going on with big mesh roasters going outside. Inside, their chefs think outside the salsa and have put some Hatch into everything from hamburgers and buns to brownies and ice cream. It’s mostly pretty delicious.

If you are lucky enough to come across some Hatch chili peppers and favorite variety of basil, here is a pesto recipe with a friendly amount of spice. Try it atop a Southwest chicken salad and transport yourself to New Mexico. (If you can’t make the festival, you can still make the pesto.)

Southwest Hatch Pesto Recipe

Make your most delicious Chicken-Pesto Pasta with this one. Add this kicky pesto to chicken enchiladas or tacos, stir it into the dressing for a Southwest Chicken Salad (see recipe below), or add it to a fajita platter. It’s absolutely yummy.


• 2 medium cloves garlic, mashed or twice as much roasted garlic
• 1 large Hatch chili pepper - mild or hot, you choose - seeded and cut up
• 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
• 2 cups basil leaves, packed
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


Wash the basil and drain well. If you have a salad spinner, use that or just shake it. Start with the garlic, pepper, and cheese.  Process a minute until well mixed and the pepper is chopped, then start putting in handfuls of the basil. When the basil is incorporated, add the olive oil slowly until you have a lovely grainy texture. If you’re not eating this immediately, put it into a bowl, smooth the surface and coat it with a film of olive oil to prevent darkening.

Freeze in tubs, coated with olive oil.

Southwest Chicken Caesar Salad with Hatch Pesto Dressing Recipe

Try this salad either as individual dinner salads or one huge one to pass around.

Hatch Pesto Dressing Ingredients:

• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
• 1/4 cup Hatch pesto (or more to taste)
• pinch sea salt

Pesto Dressing Directions: Stir up a bowl of dressing, multiplying to allow about ½ cup per serving. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Salad Ingredients:

• Romaine lettuce, half to a whole head per serving, depending on head size
• Cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, nicely sliced or bite-size dice

Additional Salad Topping Suggestions:

• Diced cucumbers
• Tomato wedges
• Sliced marinated dried tomatoes
• Cherry tomatoes
• Avocado slices
• Artichoke hearts
• Radishes
• Barely blanched corn kernels
• Cooked black beans
• Grated Jack cheese
• Peppers, crisp sautéed and cooled
• Black olives

Salad Directions: Season the chicken nicely with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Either sauté, deep fry or bake until cooked through. Chill.

Fill a generous bowl with torn romaine leaves and then top with as many of the above-mentioned suggested toppings as you want. I like to place the chicken in the center and then arrange the others in a pretty pattern around, like a Nicoise salad.

Drizzle on a little of the dressing, then serve the rest on the side, as pictured.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.

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Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.