Sometimes it looks like everything I buy is always about to go bad. I don’t know how it happens, but there is always some sort of green or vegetable or meat or diary product or whatever that I should really cook before it goes bad or it expires… So today it was the green beans. And the parsley pesto. Which was quite lucky, as pesto and green beans is a pretty good combo. So out of necessity, this was the result….
AKA my favorite summer dish. It is simple which helps when it’s hot and you don’t feel like cooking for ages, it is good, it is light and can be prepared ahead and served cold. What else would you want from a summer dish?!?! Oh is pretty as well: I sometimes press it into a bowl lined with slices of tomatoes and I can assure you it looks pretty good!
It is grilling season and I have been doing quite a bit of grilling lately. I even grilled pizza with great results. By the way I have to grill pizza again and take pics and write a post. It turned out so awesome I must share it with you guys!
Anyway another thing that I have been grilling a lot are eggplants. This last time I roasted half eggplants and marinated them in a spicy oil, chili flakes and caper marinate. We ate some at the barbecue dinner but were left with a couple, so I decided to transform them in a great sauce for my pasta. All I had to do was to blend them and add a couple of pine nuts: et voila’ a great sauce!
By the way this was my favorite recipe for July and I am sharing it on YBR: please stop by Nancy’s site and sign up with your best recipe! And don’t forget to check out the round up on the 31st and have a look at all the wonderful recipes posted for July!
Before eggplants disappear from our pantries for the season, I’ll give you a simple recipe for an eggplant pesto inspired by the eggplant and walnut creamÂ proposed by Giulia on her wonderful website Alterkitchen.
I used thai eggplant and used it to dress cheese tortellini. It is a rather delicate pesto, that is a good spin on the traditional walnut sauce traditional in Liguria and usually used to dress past or very simple ravioli filled with cheese and herbs. Don’t use it to dress tortellini with elaborate fillings or even simple ones with a distinctive flavor. You want the sauce to complement the filling not overpower it, and while the sauce works for cheese filling, it wouldn’t work for meat fillings or even for spinach and cheese.
In the past month or so I have been volunteering for these cooking classes at this awesome place called Kitchen in the Market at the Minneapolis Midtown global market. I always have a great time there. Even when I’m doing dishes. So today I went and took one of their classes. It was a class about “preserving the bounty” and Chef Scott Pampuch and Stephanie Mayer from Fresh Tart taught us a bit about pickling, salting, blending and otherwise preserving all the wonderful vegetables we will get in the next few months.
And the class was great fun!
We learned about making flavored salt with ramps and nettles and morel mushrooms. We learned about “passive” and oven drying. We learned about pickling liquid and how long we can store pickles. We learned about preserving radishes in butter and about making pesto. And we learned that the best place to buy the necessary gear for pickling is fleet farm.
Then we got to work and we produced the bounty you can see here: from top ramp salt, pickled ramp, arugula pesto and pickled radishes. And we all got samples of everything to take home with us.
Now, if you are in Minneapolis, and you are interested in learning about storing and preserving, check out the Kitchen in the Market website. They will offer two more classes for this series and they seem to be well worth your time. I for one am planning on heading to fleet farm to get the jars and then start canning.
Of the things we did during class, I was responsible for arugula pesto. As usual when it comes down to cooking I cannot bring myself to follow a recipe. I might read the list of ingredients, but ultimately I use the recipe much more as a guideline than as real instructions. And with something like pesto you should do too!
So I made arugula pesto. I started out with the arugula and added the other ingredients try the pesto after every addition. At the end of the whole process there was something missing. The pesto was just too grassy and herby. I was kind of at a loss. And then chef Pampuch came to the rescue and suggested to add lemon zest which gave it a bit of brightness and then some honey which took away some of the bitterness from the nuts. And then we let it sit and develop its flavor. And then it was awesome spread on flat bread.
I only have two pieces of advice for pesto: 1) keep it pasty it is healthier, cheaper, tastier, stores better and you can always thin it out when you serve it; and 2) go easy on the garlic. For the rest is just add everything a bit at a time starting from the herb you use as a base or the pesto.