Tag Archives: pesto

Pesto Pasta with Beans and Greens

The lifestyle indulgences I go in for might seem quirky, I admit.  In some ways I’m frugal: our cars are old, I usually upgrade my wardrobe only when actual holes in my clothing require it, and we’ll probably never update our very-1980′s kitchen.  But other times, I splurge indiscriminately: finding myself in a new grocery bulk section last week, I bought a bag of every unfamiliar dried bean there.

Yellow beans!  Pink beans!  Speckled beans!  Tiny beans!  And more, many more.  I have only one source to blame for this new obsession: Rancho Gordo.   A local shop carries their beans, which have opened my eyes to the wide world beyond black and white beans, familiar pintos and chickpeas.  I have fallen down the dried-bean rabbit hole and I like it here.Pasta with Beans and GreensThat charmer pictured above is Rancho Gordo’s Ojo de Cabra, a meaty beauty of a bean so succulent that I kept plucking them from the bubbling pot despite the peril to my fingertips.  Like all beans, they’re even better the next day, and that’s when I suggest that you make this pasta.

This dish is fine and dandy with drained canned white beans (maybe add a little chopped fresh rosemary in that case), but it is even better as a showcase for an excellent bean if you cook it yourself and use a few scoops of the bean broth to finish cooking your pasta.

Do you have a favorite bean, or an unusual recommendation that I should seek out?  Please tell me! Continue reading

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An Olive Oil-Oregano Sauce to Put on Everything

My fondness for herb-packed olive oil sauces is hardly a secret around here.  We made that parsley salsa verde recently, and the basil oil, and pestos of every stripe (here are cilantro, basil, arugula, and parsley, to name a few).

I have a conviction that good vegetarian cooking means layering flavor into your dishes during each step of the cooking process, and I find that bright herbal flavors, enhanced by olive oil and salt, are a welcome finishing touch to many dishes. Continue reading

Basil Pesto with Whole Wheat Pasta and Tomatoes

I found this picture on the camera the other day:I asked J, “Why did you take this picture?”

J asked me, “Why did you put a glass of basil in the cupboard?”

Well, for about a million reasons, of course!  First, you all convinced me that I should keep my basil on the counter in a vase of water–and hey!  That really works!  Second, the counter was messy and I needed a little more space.  Third…well, ok, two reasons.

When there’s more basil than I have room for, it’s pesto time.  At this time of year, if you have a glut of basil yourself, consider making a big batch of pesto and freezing it in ice cube trays.  (Not because you’d limit yourself to one cube of pesto, of course–just because it defrosts more quickly than if you freeze it in a bigger block.)  And if you’re making pesto to freeze, it might as well double as dinner, right?This is, to me, the perfect pesto.  It’s saucy and flavorful with no one component overwhelming the others.  It tastes like summer, which we’ll appreciate with nostalgia soon.  But for the moment, why not enjoy it with whole wheat pasta and summer’s perfect Sungold tomatoes? Continue reading

Parsley Pesto Toasts with Radishes

I love to cook.  The rhythm of chopping, the aroma dancing up from the pan, the colors and flavors and textures of food transformed by heat and human ingenuity.

I also love to not cook.  The ease of a salad fresh from the garden, a handful-of-this-handful-of-that pesto, a plum I pick from the tree and eat outside.

This flavorful recipe is not-cooking cooking.  It takes less than 5 minutes (including the pesto) and can be lunch or a snack for one, or you can make a platter of these pretty little toasts to serve at your garden party.  Invite me!

You do need a nice hearty bread, thinly sliced and toasted (you could rub it with olive oil first, sure, but I didn’t).  The pesto recipe is mostly parsley, so heap it on there.  Top with lots of thinly-sliced radishes for crunch and zing, and anoint your toast generously with flaky salt.If you’re in more of a cooking kind of mood today, allow me instead suggest these “green tartine” radish top toasts.  Can’t decide?  You could always make both together for a top-to-tail radish tasting.

Tomato, Pesto, and Mozzarella Sandwich for a Crowd

Summertime, with its good weather and long light evenings, always means more spontaneous meals with friends.  The past few days we’ve had plenty of them because my sister and I and a couple of girlfriends took all our many children to some nice little cabins by a beach on an island.  We worked hard all day–the pool! the beach! the playground! roasting marshmallows!–and collapsed at the shady picnic tables at the end of each day for a small feast together.  (Although “collapsed” may be wishful thinking here; moms traveling alone with a contingent of young children rarely get to “collapse” for more than two consecutive minutes, I’ve learned.)

One of my favorite strategies for feeding a hungry crowd is to slice a baguette or two in half lengthwise, stuff it full of delicious things, and cut it into many pieces.  Serve a few salads alongside and voila, an easy dinner for as many people as you need to feed.  (Bonus points if you give the kids popsicles for dessert so they can run off and get sticky while the grown-ups linger over another drink.)

The classic caprese combination (tomato, mozzarella, basil) makes one of my favorite sandwiches.  I find that some versions can get a little dry, though, so I juice mine up by using pesto instead of basil leaves and a generous drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

The order of assembly is important here: pesto on the bottom half of the bread, please, and vinegar on the top, so that the vinegar soaks down into the tomatoes, which should be on top of the cheese, which collaborates with the pesto to keep the bottom piece of bread from getting soggy.  Got that?  Top to bottom inside your baguette: balsamic vinegar, tomato, fresh mozzarella, good basil pesto.  Yes, I spend time thinking about these kinds of things.  I can admit it here because I know that you do, too.  That’s why I’m glad we’re friends.

Continue reading Tomato, Pesto, and Mozzarella Sandwich (click for recipe)

Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Olives and Feta

Make new friends, but keep the old.  Do you know that song?  It’s a round.  One is silver and the other’s gold.

I made a lot of new friends this week.  What more is there to life, really?  I went to the BlogHer Food conference here in Seattle and a few things came to my attention.  First, I like food bloggers just as much in real life as I like them on the internet.  (There is an automatic bond among people who spend the day in serious contemplation of what to eat next, I think.)  Second, I learned some photography basics for producing better pictures than the iPhone snapshots you see here–which I will put into practice some day when I have loads more time, maybe.  And, honestly, I came home refreshed and grateful for my family after spending most of two whole daytimes away from my girls for the first time in more than a year.

I ate plenty of great food this week, but I was glad to be back in my own kitchen tonight.  I used a favorite trick of mine for squeezing more vegetables into our meal by blending broccoli into a pureed sauce for pasta and more broccoli.  I don’t know if this is technically a “pesto” but it is green and saucy, so there you go.  I didn’t use cheese in it, so this dish is vegan if you leave out the feta.

This is an easily-deconstructed meal if you care about that sort of thing: J & I had it all, the girls had plain pasta and broccoli (they declined the green “dip”–I thought I was so smart with that spin!), and the baby had pasta, broccoli, and as many olives as we’d give her.  Go figure.  The broccoli pesto would also be just right dolloped over a pizza or spread onto crostini, or even as a dip for crackers or other vegetables.

Continue reading Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Olives and Feta (click for recipe)