Search results for 'pesto'

A Sunday Twofer: Zucchini-Tomato Salad and Pesto

9 Aug

zucchini tomato pesto salad

A friend had given us a giant zucchini, one that will probably feed us for at least three meals, and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. She had also given us some lovely tomatoes. And I had half an onion in the fridge. So I was really happy to see a recipe in the paper just a day or so ago for a zucchini, tomato and basil salad.

Problem was I had no fresh basil. Another friend had given us a big bag of basil a few weeks earlier, and I had already turned it into pesto! No worries; I decided to make the salad using pesto and a little red wine vinegar instead of the basil and vinaigrette. It worked great!

I also discovered I had already run the tomato, zucchini and basil salad recipe, or one very much like it, in 2013, the year I started this blog.

I figured if I’m now going to give you the variation using pesto, I should give you the pesto recipe as well, because it’s so easy. So the basil recipe follows the salad recipe. I usually make half a batch, using two cups of basil, and then freeze the pesto in small amounts (enough to make a nice pasta sauce for two to four people). Freeze it in an ice cube tray, if you have one, then save the frozen cubes in a plastic freezer bag.

Of course you can use store-bought pesto if you don’t want to make your own.

In 2013 I also wrote about what to do with too much basil. It was one of my earliest pieces for this blog. You can find it here.

Zucchini and Tomato Salad with Pesto

Ingredients:

2 – 3 small zucchini or an equivalent amount from a large zucchini, sliced or diced
3 plum tomatoes or an equivalent amount of cherry/grape tomatoes, chopped
½ small onion, sliced thin
1 Tbs. fresh parsley or 1 tsp. dried parsley
2 Tbs. pesto, homemade or jarred
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for at least an hour before serving.

Serves 4

Basic Pesto

Ingredients:

4 cups packed fresh basil leaves
½ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
¾ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
6 cloves garlic, or more to taste
¼ cup olive oil
Warm water as needed
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In the bowl of a food processor, combine all the ingredients and pulse until smooth but not a paste. Adjust seasonings and pulse again to mix. Add a little bit of warm water if it seems too thick.

If you don’t want to serve it all at once, freeze it in small quantities (an ice cube tray is a great way to do this).

Serve either warm or at room temperature. You might want to thin the pesto with a little milk or cream before using it as a sauce.

Makes 2 cups (enough to serve 8 or more as a pasta sauce)

Tuscan Bean Salad

18 Oct

bean salad Tuscan

My daughter made a salad similar to this this for Sukkot, when we were visiting with her family in New Jersey. I didn’t have a chance to get her recipe when I needed to make it for a potluck, so I went online and found this recipe from Wegman’s, the wonderful grocery store we got to know so well last summer when we were at Chautauqua.

Miriam’s recipe and the Wegman’s recipe call for prepared pesto that you can buy in the grocery. But I had some homemade pesto from last year’s basil harvest in my freezer, and this was a perfect way to use it.

The Wegman’s recipe also called for Wegman’s basting oil, which is a terrific product we tried over the summer. It’s olive oil infused with a variety of herbs and is very tasty. But I didn’t have any, and there’s no Wegman’s in Michigan. If you happen to have this  product on hand, use it instead of the olive oil, garlic and oregano in the recipe.

The recipe also calls for green and red pepper. I don’t like green pepper so I used a mixture of orange, red and yellow peppers. Feel free to use any kind of pepper.

You can also play around with the ingredients, adding black or kalamata olives or sliced artichokes if you like.

You can cook the barley ahead of time since it needs to cool before you mix it up with everything else.

The salad is good after a few hours but it’s even better a day or two later, when the beans have had a chance to soak up all the herb flavors.

(Note: after making this and letting it sit for a few days, I felt it was a little dry, so I added more of the dressing ingredients. Twice as much was too much; just a little more would probably be just right. And the full recipe made a LOT. In future I will use about three-quarters the amount of dressing but only half of everything else, unless I’m making it for a big crowd, in which case I will add about 25 percent more dressing. If you like a rather dry salad, stick to the original amounts; it’s still very flavorful!)

Ingredients:

1 cup pearled barley
2 cans (15½ oz. each) great northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans (15½ oz. each) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 red, orange or yellow pepper (or use two different colored half-peppers), cut in ¼ -inch dice
3 or 4 green onions, sliced thin (or use half a medium red onion, cut in ¼ -inch dice)
7 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (about ½ cup)
3 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley (or 1 Tbs. dried parsley)
⅓ cup prepared pesto
⅓ cup white or red wine vinegar
3 Tbs. Wegman’s basting oil (or use 3 Tbs. olive oil and ¼ tsp. garlic powder and ¼ tsp. oregano)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Bring barley and 2½ cups water to boil on high heat in large saucepan. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes until barley is tender. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Combine barley, beans, pepper, onions, dried tomatoes and parsley in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl, combine the pesto, vinegar, oil and salt and pepper and mix well. Pour the dressing over the barley and bean mixture and mix well.

Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

Serves 12

 

Tuesday Tip: A Bonanza of Basil

10 Sep

Basil freshI bought a pot of basil at the beginning of the summer, separated the three little stalks in the pot and plonked them in my garden. As they grew, I cut off the growing tips so the plants would branch out. They became bushy and lush! But there’s only so much caprese salad* one can eat.  And I already made and froze some pesto — I’ll give you that recipe later.

So what do you do at the end of the season with all that basil?

Here’s a tip that I got from my sister-in-law Rhonda that works for basil and just about any other fresh herb. We’ve done this very successfully with parsley and rosemary as well.

Pick the nicest leaves — avoid any that are bug-eaten or discolored — and put them in a brown paper lunch bag. Don’t fill the bag more than half-full. Roll the top down to close it, but leave as much air space as possible in the bag. Put the bag in the bag of your refrigerator and forget about it — except once a week or so, take it out and give it a shake.

Basil driedAfter about three weeks, the basil will have dried. (If it’s not completely dried, put the bag back in the fridge for another week.) Crumble it up on a piece of wax paper and store it in a plastic or glass spice jar.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of ways you can use fresh basil.

*For a caprese salad, slice a couple of large, ripe, red tomatoes and lay them out nicely on a plate. Slice some fresh mozzarella cheese and place over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place several perfect fresh basil leaves on the top. Drizzle with olive oil and enjoy.

Another thing I like to do with fresh basil is serve it with pasta. Boil up some spaghetti, toss it with a bit of olive oil after you drain it, then add some basil leaves cut into thin ribbons, fresh chopped tomatoes, a clove of chopped garlic and cubed or shredded mozzarella.  Season with salt and pepper. I’m not providing quantities because you can really play it by ear .

Lentil-Veggie “Meat”balls

14 Feb

Veggie Lentil Meatballs in panI’m running this recipe — which was featured as one of the best vegetarian recipes of 2012 by Huffington Post — on Valentine’s Day, because  it’s a good one to make to show someone how much you truly care! It’s not that it’s particularly difficult to make, but there are a lot of ingredients and a lot of cooking and then cooling, so it takes a lot of time and some effort — and dirties a lot of pots and bowls in the process.

It also makes an enormous amount, something I didn’t consider when I made it for the first time. We ate our fill and froze the rest. Freeze them in a single layer, and after they’re frozen, you can pop them into a quart-sized freezer bag. Thaw and serve at room temperature or reheat in the oven or microwave.

These tasty veggie balls are good plain or with a sauce. I served them with a dab of store-bought pesto and oven-roasted sweet potatoes.

Ingredients:

2 cups lentils
¼ cup plus 1 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbs. fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. tomato paste
8 oz. mushrooms, wiped clean and chopped
3 large eggs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup bread crumbs
½ cup fresh parsley (or 2 Tbs. dried)
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts

Directions:

Combine the lentils and 2 quarts of water in a medium stockpot and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft but not mushy, about 25 minutes. Drain the lentils and allow them to cool.

Add ¼ cup olive oil to a large frying pan and sauté the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and salt over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown. Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes more, until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and cool to room temperature. When the mixture is cool, add the lentils, eggs, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, parsley and walnuts. Mix thoroughly until everything is incorporated. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Veggie Lentil Meatballs with pestoDrizzle the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the surface. Roll the lentil-veggie mixture into round golf-ball sized balls, packing the mixture firmly. You may need to periodically wet your hands. Place the balls in the prepared dish, leaving ¼-inch of space between them. Roast the balls for 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes, until they are firm and cooked through. Allow the balls to cool in the dish for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 8 or more