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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sage and Walnut Pesto,oh the savory blessing of winter!

   Winter was a cold and not so kind season to my herb garden.We brought the pots of herbs in on the screen porch,covered the outside of the porch with plastic sheeting and hung florescent lights and hoped for the best.I knew that the herbs that made it through the winter in their instant greenhouse would really do well  when spring came around,well I hoped they would. So spring arrives,we clean off the porch,remove the plastic sheets and take down the florescent lights and welcome in spring.My sage plant  made it through the winter,took off this spring...and we're only a month or so into the season! I noticed that the simple,blueish grey leaves were really coming out of their shell and knew the one recipe it was time to make,sage and walnut pesto. I have had the recipe for a while, needed a quick idea for dinner... we ate well. Here's the recipe:
                                        
                                

Sage and Walnut Pesto:

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups packed sage leaves
   1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
   1/2 cup walnut halves,coarsley chopped
2 cloves garlic,roughly chopped
1tsp kosher salt,1 tsp gr. black pepper
juice and zest of half of a lemon
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
    -Put the sage leaves,parsley leaves,walnuts,garlic salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor,pulse to finely chop and combine.Add in the lemon juice,lemon zest and parmesan cheese into the bowl and pulse to combine and mix in well. With the food processor running,pour a slow and steady stream of olive oil into the tube. This recipe will make 1 cup of pesto. If you are going to use right away,you can: pour into a dip bowl and serve with fresh cut veggies,stir in with softened goat cheese for a tasty spread for crackers,mix 2TBL into mashed potatoes or even drizzle some onto your scrambled eggs for a savory breakfast. We cooked up some rigatoni,browned 4 links of sweet italian sausage and tossed for a tasty,rich dinner tonight.It was the quickest dinner I've made in a while and every bite was just delish!

If your not going to use it right away,you can actually freeze pesto in ice cube tray,BUT don't add the cheese in the bowl of the food processor,when ready to use,shred your parmesan and mix in at that point.
I really enjoyed this recipe and even more thrilled my sage plant made it through the winter!
        
  

Sunday, April 25, 2010

And It All Came Together...






Oh the salty,fishy goodness of anchovies...I love them a little more than the Cheetos I consumed earlier today. The caesar salad is the stage the anchovies shine on and that salad is what brought it all together for me.I made the caesar salad as an accompaniment to a spicy tomato bleu cheese soup(more on that another day) I served to my family one Sunday afternoon.I knew it would be a little work,what I didn't know is how much I would enjoy that one perfect salad and all it's parts.

The inspiration came from curiosity and hunger. The recipe came from New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman. You can find the recipe for this fantastic salad on page 96 in his cookbook How To Cook Everything and a couple pages back on page 82 is the recipe for the Garlic Croutons that really rounded out the salad for me,perfction really.Thanks Mark.

Here's the recipes for the salad and croutons, enjoy and if you need a friend to help enjoying this caesar salad with you,as my grandmother used to say I'm available Jones!

Caesar Salad Time: 20 minutes

1 clove garlic,cut in half
2 eggs
2 TBL freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 TBL extra-virgin olive oil
2 TBL minced anchovies,or to taste
dash worcestershire sauce
salt and black pepper to taste
1 large head romaine lettuce,trimmed,
washed,dried and torn into bits
1/2 to 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1.Rub the inside of your salad bowl with the garlic clove;discard it.
2.Bring a small pot of water to a boil.Pierce a tiny hole in the broad end of the eggs with a pin or a needle and boil them for 60-90 seconds;they will just begin to firm up( they will also be fairly hot coming right out of that water,rinse with cold water,it'll help a little). Crack them into the salad bowl,making sure to scoop out the white that clings to the inside of the shell
3. Beat the eggs with a fork,gradually adding the lemon juice and then the olive oil,beating all the while. (this step is crucial to mixing together well the olive oil INTO the dressing)
4. Stir in the anchovies and the Worcestershire. Taste and add salt if need( the anchovies are pretty salty and the parmesan cheese will add salt too,so you be the judge) and plenty of pepper.
Toss well with the lettuce;top with the croutons and Parmesan,then bring to the table and toss again. Serve immediately and enjoy!



***Garlic Croutons*** Now you can use store-bought garlic croutons,they will work just fine too. This recipe is a great standby for croutons in any other salad.
4 TBL extra-virgin olive oil,butter or a combination
4 cloves garlic,peeled
4-6 thick slices any bread,cut into cubes if you like
salt to taste

1. Place olive oil in a large skillet and turn the heat to medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook it in the oil,turning occasionally,until it is lightly browned. Remove the garlic and reserve it for another use or toss it in a salad or soup;it will be very mild.
2. Turn the heat to medium and cook the bread in the oil,turning occasionally,until brown all over. Remove and sprinkle lightly with salt. Store in a covered container at room temperature for up to a week.

The flavors of this caesar salad really brought home for me how important all the parts of a recipe work together and made for a full belly and a wide smile on my face after the meal. Again well done Mark Bittman.