Tag Archives: 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