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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)

Easy Hollandaise sauce

1 May

Hollandaise

I wanted to make salmon a little differently. I wanted a smooth sauce that was buttery and lemony. I wanted Hollandaise! But I had never made it. One reason is because it always seemed intimidating. Another is that most recipes make a large quantity of sauce, and there were only two of us so I didn’t want to make a lot.

So I did a web search. Some of the recipes described as Hollandaise “for two” called for a whole stick of butter — no thank you! This recipe, which I found on a blog called The Spruce Eats, used only half that – which still seemed like a lot, but more reasonable. The title was “Hollandaise Sauce for Two,”but as you can see from the photo, where the salmon is just about swimming in the stuff, the recipe can easily serve four to six, because a little Hollandaise goes a long way!

It was easy enough to make. If you’re looking for a rich, butter/lemony sauce, give this one a try!

By the way, the black specks in the photo are the fresh-ground black pepper I put on the salmon before I cooked it.

Ingredients:

1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 tsp. lemon juice
Pinch salt
Pinch white pepper
2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
1½  tsp. water

Directions:

Put an inch or so of water into the bottom of a double boiler or a saucepan large enough to hold a metal bowl without it touching the bottom of the pot. The water should not reach the bottom of the double boiler insert or the metal bowl.

Boil the water, then turn down the heat to maintain a low simmer.

In the double boiler insert or bowl, whisk the egg yok, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Set the bowl over the boiling water and whisk slowly but consistently until the mixture starts to thicken.

Add the butter, one piece at a time, whisking until each piece is incorporated before adding another piece. Repeat until all 8 pieces are incorporated. The sauce should be thick, smooth and glossy.

Whisk in 1½  tsp. water. Adjust the seasoning and add a bit more lemon juice if desired.

Remove the pan from the heat. The sauce will keep over the hot water for a half-hour or so as long as you whisk it occasionally.

Pour over vegetables, fish, or poached eggs on toast.

Serves 4 to 6