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.

Baked Salmon Steaks with Ginger Sesame Vegetables

It’s obvious that I like to cook.  I love the creativity and discovery involved and of course I love eating the results.  I also love the idea of cooking for other people, of providing them with a cozy meal and good company.  But the reality of cooking for other people makes me duck and cover.  I get nervous that something won’t turn out.  I’ll burn it at the last minute or I’ll accidentally add too much salt, ruining the whole thing.  Or (possibly worse) they’ll just think my food is kind of mediocre.  This is why you see so many “serves 1” recipes on this site.  I just can’t take the pressure.

And so I got a case of the heart palpitations last night when Jeremy mentioned he was having a client over to do some work at exactly the same time that I was planning on making dinner.  “But I’ve never cooked salmon steaks before!  What if she hates bok choy?  And how am I going to take my food photos without her thinking I’m a total weirdo?!?!”

Well, I solved that last problem by hiding around the corner in the kitchen and snapping some poorly-lit shots before serving the food.  As for the rest?  It turned out just fine.  In fact, I don’t think I could have chosen a less fussy, more rewarding dinner for company.  The brilliance is that everything goes in the oven at the same time and comes out at the same time.  Very little risk of forgetting something and burning it.  And salmon always bumps up the “wow” factor.

I chose to use salmon steaks because there was a killer deal on them at my local market.  One good-sized steak can easily serve 2 people.  Just divide it up after it cooks.  You could easily use another cut instead but your cooking time may be different.

Salmon Steaks with Ginger Sesame Vegetables
serves 4

Ingredients
– 2 salmon steaks (Wild-Alaskan preferred)
– salt and pepper, to taste
– 2 heads baby bok choy, sliced in half lengthwise and carefully washed
– 2 cups green cabbage, thinly sliced
– 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
– 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
– 1 tsp roasted sesame oil
– 1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
– a few Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven to 425F.  Place salmon steaks in a small glass pan and season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.  Set aside.  If you plan on serving this meal with rice, you can get that started now, too.

2. Place bok choy halves in a large glass pan and drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Top with salt.

3. In a large bowl, toss cabbage, mushrooms, remaining olive oil, sesame oil, and ginger together with salt.  Add to the pan with the bok coy.

4. Put salmon and vegetable pans into the oven together.  Bake for 12-16 minutes, depending on the thickness of your salmon.  Stir vegetables about halfway through.

5. Before serving, divide the salmon steaks in half, lengthwise.  Simply slide your knife along the line where the bones are.  Remove the larger center bone and all the smaller bones where you cut.  Don’t worry, they’re not too hard to find.  You can also remove the skin before serving if you’d like.  Serve with rice and top everything with toasted sesame seeds.

* I added this post to this week’s Melt In Your Mouth Monday, Weekend Gourmet, Real Food 101, Fat Tuesday, and Gluten Free WednesdayMonday Mania.