Written by Margot Reisner, a summer intern for Saratoga Farmers’ Market, and member of the Skidmore Class of 2014
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market welcomes a new vendor specializing in several varieties of pesto to its Wednesday afternoon markets this season: Mayhem Hollow Organic Farm! Owner J’mae Shemroske and her family have been farming in Greenfield (Saratoga County) for about five years and will be selling their homemade pesto every Wednesday at High Rock Park.
Pesto is a thick sauce traditionally made of ground basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. It is often served on pasta or pizza, but as its popularity has grown, cooks have experimented with how it can be used in other ways. Nowadays, “pesto” is also made from other greens in addition to basil leaves.
So why does Mayhem Hollow specialize in pesto? When she was pregnant, Shemroske started craving condensed, nutritious food and always kept pesto around the house as something she could add to any meal for an easy source of healthful phytonutrients. (Phytonutrients are the natural chemicals occurring in plants and nuts that may help prevent disease and keep the body working properly.) Her cravings for pesto haven’t stopped since, and now she says it is the best way to get her kids to eat lots of greens.
Getting children to eat healthy food can be one of the most difficult tasks for parents and fortunately, the farmers’ market can help! Shemroske’s efforts to feed her four and six year-old children healthy food have been successful and she says that they are really good eaters. Her daughter already eats scallions and kale sprouts from the farm. The children’s favorite meal is a bowl of brown rice with a heaping pile of pesto on top.
Mayhem Hollow offers classic basil pesto, as well as arugula and cilantro varieties. The cilantro pesto is vegan and nut free. All of the greens and garlic are grown on one acre of the farm, which also is home to several goats. The rest of the ingredients (nuts, oil and cheese) are organic. Shemroske says, “I’m proud that we grow part of what we put into our pesto.” She is interested in creating some new pesto varieties such as wild nettle and cucumber.
The motto at Mayhem Hollow is “Farm for our health.” Shemroske says that it is not just about growing the basil plant and eating it that she considers healthy; rather, she values the whole experience (including being outside with her kids), as beneficial for their health. For this reason, she encourages people to start their own gardens at home.
Pesto can be purchased from Mayhem Hollow Organic Farm in 8 ounce jars for $10 each. Pesto will keep in the refrigerator for about three weeks, and will last even longer frozen. Stop by the big white tent closest to High Rock Spring to try a sample!
Gluten-Free Vegetable “Lasagna”
*Items can be purchased at market
4-6 blue potatoes*
1 bunch of carrots*
1 bunch of kale*
5-7 tomatoes*, sliced
1 cup (or more) tomato soup (by Zest Catering, also in white tent) or tomato sauce
Mayhem Hollow Organic Farm Basil Pesto*
Olive oil, salt and herbs to taste
Slice potatoes and carrots thinly. Place in the bottom of a large casserole dish and slather with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or other oil or butter).
Add salt and herbs to taste, such as salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, sage, basil and oregano. Roast in the oven at 350° for about 40 minutes.
Saute kale at medium heat with oil and spices. Heat tomato soup.
Once everything is ready, layer kale on top of the root vegetables in the casserole dish. Add sliced tomatoes on top. Pour hot tomato soup (or tomato sauce) over all. Cut and serve like lasagna, adding a generous dollop of pesto to the top of each serving.
Note: This recipe, created by Margot Reisner, can be modified with just about any combination of vegetables and sauces. Experiment by adding cheese, ramps, asparagus or cilantro pesto!