Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Basil Pesto

Ok, so I’m not going to tweek this one much. It's a pretty classic dish. There are so few ingredients, but they're all needed to make this rich, delicious, and versatile sauce.

Basil Pesto

3 cups fresh basil leaves

4T nutritional yeast

1-3 raw garlic clove (depending on how “garlicy” you like it)

juice of 1/2 lemon

olive oil (this is where you use the good, yummy stuff)

In a food processor, blend clean, spun-dry basil leaves, nutritional yeast, garlic, and lemon juice. When blended to a chunky consistency, add olive oil and continue to process until it becomes spread-like. The amount of oil depends on the desired consistency. I've never really measured it, but I imagine it's about 1/2 to 1 cup.

Easy and super versatile, basil pesto is delicious on pasta, a spread on thinly sliced toast, or mixed in with warm, boiled red potatoes. If you don’t care for the basil flavor, try arugala, cilantro, parsley, or a mixture of these greens.

I put some leftovers in an ice cube tray to freeze. Usually, it all gets eaten up, but I made so much this time. Once completely frozen, pop out of tray and store in a zip-top bag. You can also put it in the fridge and poor a layer of olive oil over the top to preserve the color. It tends to turn a darker green after a while when exposed to the air.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pear Walnut Butter Salad

Easy, quick, light. Need I say more?

Pear Walnut Butter Salad

1 head of butter lettuce

1/4 cup raw walnuts, toasted

1T shallots, chopped

1/4 cup and 1t olive oil, divided

1/4 cup champagne vinegar

1T dijon mustard

salt and pepper

1 pear

lemon juice

Chop lettuce into bite-sized pieces, wash and dry. Toast walnuts in a dry pan and remove from heat when they start to brown. Watch they don’t burn. Finely chop shallots and saute in the 1t olive oil until tender. In a bowl, add shallots to vinegar, oil, and mustard. Whisk to combine. (The mustard acts as an emulsifier, so it shouldn't separate.) Season with salt and pepper. Slice pear and drizzle with lemon juice to prevent browning.

To serve, place lettuce on a plate. Top with pear and nuts. Drizzle with vinaigrette. (You won’t need to use all the dressing.)

Like I said, easy, quick, and light. Goes great with Zucchini Pesto Pasta!

Zucchini Pesto Pasta

So, we just got together with the hubby’s family this weekend.  Always a huge event,  loads of fun with tons of food, kids running through the house, and us grown-ups chatting and having a good old time.  To my surprise, we have a couple of gardeners amongst us.  Apparently they’ve grown some beautiful veggies and have an abundance of zucchini.  Well, that got me thinking of some zucchini recipes.   This is what I’ve come up with so far.

Zucchini Pesto Pasta

whole wheat pasta, penne or fusilli

1t olive oil

2T shallot, chopped fine

4-6 zucchini (I’m assuming they’re about the size of the ones you find in the grocery store)

1 1/2 cups frozen peas

1/3 cup basil pesto (store bought or home made)

veg stock

1/4 pine nuts, toasted

parmesan cheese (use a block of cheese, not that god-awful stuff from a container)

salt and pepper (although you probably won’t need additional salt)

Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  (Don't forget to add a good sprinkling of salt to the boiling water.  It makes a big difference.) I prefer more veg than pasta, so I only cook up about 1/3 to 1/2 of the bag.  

Remove the ends of the zucchini and slice into quarters lengthwise, then chop into dice-sized pieces.  Add oil to pan and sauté chopped shallot until it becomes translucent.  Add zucchini and cook for about 5 minutes until tender.  

Meanwhile, in a small pan toast pine nuts, tossing a lot.  Once they start to brown, turn off the heat.  Watch these little buggers, because they burn very easily.  (I always toast extra for future use.)

Add peas to zucchini, mix and cook for an additional minute or two.  Stir in pesto and pasta.  Add enough veg stock for desired consistency.  Adjust s&p and serve up.  Top with pine nuts and shavings of parmesan cheese.  (try using a veg peeler for the cheese.)

Ok, so this one does involve a bit of cooking, but it’ll take 20 minutes, tops!  This one's nice with the Pear Walnut Butter Salad.

Black Bean Corn Salsa

You know when you go to a pot luck or bbq and the host asks you to bring that delicious dish you brought last time, and you know exactly what they’re talking about?  Well, this is one of mine that always gets hit on.  It’s super easy and keeps for a long time, not like those mayo ladened, fattening dishes.  It’s super refreshing and there’s NO COOKING INVOLVED!  

Black Bean Corn Salsa

2 cans of whole black beans

3 cups of frozen corn (no need to thaw if not eating right away)

red bell pepper, chopped (chop to the same size of corn and beans)

1-2 pickled jalapeno pepper, chopped, seeds removed

2-4T pickled jalapeno juice

juice of 1-2 limes

1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1/4t ground cumin


Put all ingredients into a bowl and gently mix.  If it’s not spicy enough, adjust jalapeno and juice.  If you have cucumber, green bells instead of red, or some beautiful tomatoes, use them!  And, if you're like my mom and can't stand the flavor of cilantro, use fresh flat leaf parsley, or leave it out completely.  It will still knock your socks off!

So, there you have it.  A no-cook, easy-peasy recipe that travels well and goes wonderfully with chips or over the top of a fresh green salad!  You can do this one with your eyes closed!