Anna’s Pesto Trapanese

Today’s recipe comes from “The Splendid Table“, a public radio show (or podcast) about all things food and cooking.  I guess I decided that the multitude of cooking blogs I follow and the cookbooks that I’m always bringing home from the library just weren’t enough.  Plus, I can’t read cookbooks while I’m jogging or riding my bike.  In my exploration of the world of food podcasts, I’ve found that this is one of the best.  I’m trying out of few others ones right now and may have to share a list of my favorites in a future post.

But for today, I’m just going to focus on this pesto.  This is something that I think will be in heavy rotation in my apartment this summer for a couple of reasons: 1) The sauce does not require any cooking.  No slaving over a hot stove.  2) While most pestos use mostly basil, this one is tomato-based.  I loved the fresh, sweet taste of fresh tomatoes in my pasta.

I’m lucky enough to live near a place that sells freshly made (not dried) noodles and so I served the sauce with fresh angel hair pasta.  You can use any pasta you would like, though.  You could even try spaghetti squash or zucchini ribbons!

Anna’s Pesto Trapanese
makes enough for 4 servings of pasta
adapted from The Splendid Table

Ingredients
– 10 oz fresh, ripe cherry tomatoes
– 8 basil leaves
– 1/4 cup almonds, toasted
– a few slices of peperoncini
– 1 tsp sea salt
– 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
– 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano or Gran Padano cheese

1. Place tomatoes, basil, almonds, peperoncini, and salt into a high-speed blender or food processor.  Blend for about a minute until you have a fine puree.

2. Turn the blender or food processor on low and slowly add the olive oil until incorporated.

3. Toss the pesto with your noodles.  Add cheese and toss again.

* I added this post to this week’s Fat Tuesday and Tasty Tuesday.

Portland Porch Salad

Last weekend was beautiful here.  This weekend looks to be cool and chilly with a good chance of rain.  I’m grateful for the sun we did get, but I’m ready for more!  On the warmest, most beautiful day last week, I decided it was time to move away from the carb-y comfort I’d been instinctively reaching for in favor of something lighter.  Hence the Portland Porch Salad.  Which I did eat on my porch.

Check out my cool countertops.

Close-up.

It was inspired by lettuce wraps of the same name from the Post Punk Kitchen but mine quickly turned into a salad when I realized that I never have and never will be able to gracefully eat a lettuce wrap.  Maybe I’m using the wrong king of lettuce or maybe I just get greedy and overload the poor leaves with filling.  Whatever the reason, I’m much happier heaping everything onto a plate, grabbing a fork, and calling it a day.  I’ll probably be making this again next weekend when the forecast promises us another wave of springtime weather!

Portland Porch Salad
makes 2 huge salads

For the edamame pesto:
– 2 cloves garlic
– 1 cup fresh basil leaves
– 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
– 10 oz package edamame beans, thawed
– juice from 1 lemon
– 2 Tbsp olive oil
– 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
– 1 tsp salt
– water as needed for consistency (I needed about 3/4 cup)

Place all ingredients except water into a food processor or high-powered blender.  Add water a bit at a time until you have a thick but pourable consistency.

For the salad:
– 1 Tbsp olive oil
– 2 shallots, thinly sliced
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/2 lb asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces on the diagonal
– a handful of cooked chickpeas (or use more, I just had a handful leftover from something else)
– 1 large peach or nectarine
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1-2 cups lettuce per person

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add shallots and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook another minute or two.

Add the asparagus and chickpeas and cook for another 5 minutes over medium-high heat.  Add the peach or nectarine and cook until liquid has been released and the whole mixture is bubbly.  Season with salt and remove from heat.

Wash and dry the lettuce, tearing it into bite-sized pieces.  Toss with several tablespoons of edamame pesto (3 or so per serving should work), plate, and top with warm asparagus and peach mixture.

* I added this post to this week’s Wellness Weekend, My Meatless Mondays, Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, and Mix It Up Monday.

Freestyle Cooking: Roasted Carrots and Fennel + Baby Potatoes with Carrot-Green Pesto

I’m one of those people who is almost incapable of making a recipe without tinkering with it in some way.  It’s not that I’m necessarily trying to improve upon the original…it mostly comes down to what I think is going to be the healthiest/easiest/most economical way to get something to the table.  If a recipe calls for a tablespoon of sour cream and I happen to have plain yogurt in the fridge, you can bet that I’m going to be making the substitution.  Or maybe I forgot to buy something that the recipe called for (or I accidentally bought parsley instead of cilantro, dang it!)  Or perhaps there were some beautiful bunches of local carrots and baby potatoes on sale at the co-op this week.

My lunch today was a tribute to the “waste not, want not” philosophy that I try to employ in my kitchen.  Why toss away those beautiful, delicate carrot greens when they can be transformed into something just as special as the roots?  I did a little bit of google-ing before putting my plan into action, though, because I vaguely remembered hearing once that carrot tops were poisonous.  It’s not true.  I think the origin of this piece of misinformation is that carrot greens resemble hemlock, which was famously used to poison Socrates.  Now that that’s cleared up, I’m never throwing my carrot greens into the compost again.

I call this “freestyle cooking” because I didn’t use exact measurements.  I think it can be empowering to walk into the kitchen with an armful of ingredients and the confidence that you will be able to turn them into something great without consulting a recipe for each step.  I was inspired by Green Kitchen Stories for the roasted veggies but the pesto was an experiment…one that turned out quite well.

Now that the bounty of spring is starting to creep into the produce section, I encourage you to challenge your creativity by freestylin’ in the kitchen now and then.  I’ll bet you come up with some fresh, delicious meals that will save you money.  Don’t forget to drop by and let me know how it goes!

Roasted Carrots with Fennel
from Green Kitchen Stories

Ingredients
– a bunch of whole carrots, peeled and sliced lengthwise if they are large
– a bulb of fennel
– olive oil
– fresh sage, torn into pieces
– anise seed
– salt and pepper
– goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 375F.  In a large pan, toss carrots, fennel, and olive oil together until vegetables are coated.  Sprinkle with sage, anise seed, and salt and pepper.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour.  Add goat cheese about 5 minutes before you take the vegetables out of the oven.  Serve warm.

Baby Potatoes with Carrot-Green Pesto

Ingredients
– a few handfuls of baby potatoes, washed
– a bunch of carrot greens, tough inner stalks removed
– fennel fronds (optional)
– 1-2 cloves garlic
– a handful of walnuts
– juice from half a lemon
– olive oil to reach desired consistency
– salt, to taste

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.  Cook the baby potatoes for 15-20 minutes, until tender.  Drain.

While the potatoes are boiling, place remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Start with 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and add more as needed to reach the consistency you are looking for.

Spoon pesto over potatoes or use it as a dipping sauce.  It would also be great with pasta.

* I added this post to this week’s Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday, Hearth and Soul Hop, Whole Foods Wednesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Real Food Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked, and Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.