Crunchy pesto green beans

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….

Crunchy pesto green beans

Ingredients

  • green beans
  • pesto
  • plain bread crumbs
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • anchovies
  • salt
  • EVOO

Directions

  1. First I cleaned my green beans. Then I boiled them for about 10 minutes. The boiling process went as follows: first I brought water up to a boil, then I added salt and the beans. I cooked them until they were soft but still bright green, as I said, about 10 minutes. I then drained them and mixed them with some parsley pesto (you can use basil pesto too). I then put a some oil in a pan and heated it up. Added 2 crushed garlic cloves and a couple of anchovies. When the garlic was well browned and the anchovies had dissolved in the oil, I added 2 or 3 table spoons of plain bread crumbs. Let them brown for a while and then added the beans to the pan. Mixed everything up and served up as a side.
  2. Pretty good way of making green beans less boring (I have to confess I inherited a dislike for green beans from my mom)

Barley with pesto recipe

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!

Ingredients

  • 3-4 oz barley per person
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • 1 tomato
  • Salt

Directions

  1. Cook the barley in salted boiling for about 20 minutes. It is ready when it is soft but still has some bite. Meanwhile, cut the tomato and put it in a dish or in a bowl add the two spoons of pesto and mix everything up. If needed add some water from the boiling barely to loosen up the pesto. When the barley is ready, drain it and mix it with the pesto and the tomato.
  2. Enjoy it warm or cold.

Pasta with spicy roasted eggplants pesto

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!

Pasta with spicy roasted eggplants pesto

Pasta with spicy roasted eggplants pesto

Ingredients

Directions

For the roasted eggplants:

    1. Start by cutting the eggplants in half lengthwise and then score the pulp with diamond shaped cuts. Salt the eggplants and put them cut side down in a colander to drain some of their liquid. Let rest for about 30 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, warm up some oil and add in the chopped garlic with the anchovies the chili flakes and the oregano. Let it cook until the garlic is well roasted and the anchovies have dissolved in the oil. Put the oil in a shallow container that can hold the eggplants in a single layer.
    3. Squeeze the water from the eggplants and place them in the aromatic oil. Let rest for 5-10 minutes and then start grilling.
    4. You can roast the eggplants in the oven or on the grill. Just place the eggplants cut side down on the grill and let them cook until they become soft throughout (10-15 minutes). Take them off the grill and put them back in the container with the marinade.
    5. You can enjoy the eggplants hot, warm or cold and you can even preserve them in a jar covered in oil. Or you can use them for this great pasta sauce.

For the pasta

  1. Cook the pasta according to box instructions. I usually use fusilli or rotini because they can hold well a thick sauce. While the pasta is cooking prepare the sauce by blending the eggplants with their marinade, the basil, and the tzatziki. If the sauce is too thick add a bit of water from the boiling pasta.
  2. When the pasta is ready drain it and dress it with the eggplant sauce. For a bit of crunch, toast a spoon or two of pine nuts and sprinkle them on top of the pasta.
  3. Enjoy!

Eggplant Pesto Recipe

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 cream 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.

Eggplant pesto

Ingredients

  • thai eggplants (or regular eggplants)
  • 1/2 cup mixed nuts
  • 1 bunch basil
  • salt
  • olive oil

Directions

  1. Start by cutting the eggplants in half and roasting them in a 400F oven until tender. With the thai eggplants you will only need about 10 minutes, with regular eggplant you will need 1/2 an hour or so.
  2. Blend the eggplants with the nuts (I used a mix of cashews, almonds and pecans) and the basil. As you blend, add some oil an water to smooth out the pesto. Salt to taste and use to to dress pasta or, as I did, cheese tortellini.
  3. You can freeze any leftover for later use.

Arugula pesto and cooking class

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.

Arugula pesto

Ingredients

  • 4-6 cups arugula
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2-3/4 cups pecan nuts
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1 lemon (zest + juice)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Start blending the arugula with 1 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp of pecan nuts. Keep blending until you have an arugula paste. If necessary add another bit of oil, but you want it to be a paste.
  2. Add about 2 spoons cheese and keep blending. Taste and adjust adding more nuts/parmesan as needed.
  3. Add the lemon zest, half of the juice and the honey and blend again. Taste and add more lemon if needed.
  4. Salt to taste and use to dress pasta or spread on bread.
  5. Preserve in the freezer or in the fridge covering with a bit of oil to avoit it getting dry.