Monthly Archives: July 2009

Basil Pesto Dip with Pita Chips

basil pesto dipCooking Light is one of my favorite magazines.  They have all of those cool exercise activities that may be tried once, but it feels so good just to be looking at them. No longer do they put yogurt in everything, and butter is even allowed.   The big plus to me is the seasonal dishes that are approachable on a week night.

One little recipe in the July issue looked like a great ditty for this family that loves its chips and dips when friends are over.  Taking a closer look at the recipe, it became clear that it is basically fresh pesto with some light sour cream and lemon juice.  Oh yes, I can do that!  The only part that took a bit of planning was the pita chip bake.  Summer has totally arrived on the delta, and that oven does not get turned on after 8:00 AM. Just baked these little pita lovelies in the morning and all was well.

Is this really yummy, or just healthy, you ask.  Umm, after three days, we’re on our second batch!  Yummy?  Oh my yes!  Healthy? Let’s just not discuss portion control right now.  😉

Basil Pesto DipLon's herbs

1 cup light sour cream

1/4 cup basil pesto

2 tsp fresh lime juice

Directions

1.  Mix all ingredients and chill for 30 minutes.

Pita Chips

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.  Split pitas, cut each half into 8 wedges.  Place on a baking sheet, spray with olive oil, and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt.  Bake for 11 minutes or until crisp.

Notes:

*  Our sour cream was a mixture of regular and light and it held up to the lime juice just fine.  My hunch is that light sour cream with the lime juice would be too runny.

*  The original recipe called for lemon juice, but I’m just on a lime kick these days.

*  Truly, this is addicting!

*  The pesto was made with basil from Lon’s farmstand.

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Basil Pesto trifecta

Lon's signSummer is here and the livin’ is easy.  My strategy this year is to not only enjoy the local bounty today but to also save some for a rainy day.  So many years we just gorge ourselves on the local produce, and honestly think we never want to see it again.  Then the winter months arrive, and surprise, surprise, we’re ready for a taste of summer.

At our local Farmer’s Market and in Lon’s farm stand, basil is ruling the roost.  So, pesto it is!   A few batches of pesto creates treats for months to come.

The Cooking Light magazine has bunches of wonderful summer time treats in the current issue, go figure, but several with pesto caught my eye.  This was not one of those nicely planned, hmmmm, I’m making pesto, what else can I use it in this week kinds of things.  Oh no!  This was one of those, I want to make this, and that, and that other thing, and oh my, what a surprise that they all involve basil pesto.  And at this point some people have their radar way up, considering the word “craving” and may I just stop you right now.  No, nope, nada.  This is really just about the love of the green.  Really.Pesto in food processor

Warning, this is another recipe that will make measuring mavens crazy.  These proportions worked for three hefty bunches of basil.  But really, pesto is forgiving … you can do it!

Enjoy the basic basil pesto along with the sandwich pesto mayo and pesto dip options!basil pesto trifecta

Basil Pesto

Ingredients:

3 bunches basil, leaves removed

8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 1/2 cups pine nuts

4 oz parmesan, grated

1/3 cup olive oil

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Directions:basil pesto in food processor

1.  Add add basil leaves, garlic and pine nuts to food processor.  Pulse several times until roughly chopped.  It should look like bulgar at this point.

2.  Add parmesan and pulse processor again.  Slowly add olive oil until it gently puddles at the top of the pesto.  More oil may be needed depending on the temperature that day.

3.  Taste.  Add salt and pepper as needed.

Notes:

*  The parmesan adds a bit of saltiness, so do taste the pesto after adding the cheese and before adding the salt.

*  Don’t get frightened of salt here .. up to a point it just makes the flavor burst!

Linguine with Spinach Pesto and Shrimp

Linguine with Spinach PestoAnother crazy long day at work, and my family was off at water polo scrimmages and would not be home until late.  If my solo dinner was going to happen at all, it had to be super simple and tastey enough to make it worth even that much effort.  Mmmmmm, spinach pesto was in the fridge and some shrimp were in the freezer.  Add a little pasta for comfort.  Perfecto!

Sometimes we buy those bags of frozen shrimp and just make them all up in one perfect low country boil kinds of meals, but lately, we’ve just kept frozen shrimp in the freezer to use a small handful in this or that.  Makes us feel pampered and like we’re “all that.”

The pesto made with just barely enough oil had me a bit worried about whether or not it would properly coat the pasta.  The resolution was a to spoon some spinach pesto into a mixing bowl, add a bit of pasta water before dumping the pasta in the colander, and voila, success!

Linguine with Spinach Pesto and Shrimp

Linguine

Spinach Pesto

Handful of Shrimp

oil

Parmesan, grated

Directions:

1.  Boil water for linguine and cook according to package instructions.

2.  Thaw a handful of shrimp.  Heat a saute pan over medium heat, add a bit of oil to coat the bottom.  Dry the shrimp and add to the pan when it is hot.  Flip over each shrimp after 1 minute, cook for another minute, and turn off heat.

3. Place 3 TBS spinach pesto per serving into a mixing bowl, and add 1 TBS pasta water as pasta finishes cooking, and mix.

4.  Drain pasta and place in bowl with pesto.  Gently mix to coat the pasta.

5.  Plate the pasta, top with shrimp and parmesan.

Snapper with Spinach Pesto and Corn Salad

spinach pesto and corn salad

Greetings once again!  Do know, you have not been forgotten in any way, but amazing projects at work have me coming home late every evening, followed by research and writing papers for a set of classes I’m taking.  Currently I’m in survival mode, which means … time to cook!

Spinach pesto has been on my mind since I read it in someone’s blog awhile back.  In looking for a balanced, light meal, some spinach pesto over whatever fish looked good that day sounded like a good plan.  Has anyone seen the Ask Aida show on FN?  While the format is a bit odd for my preference, she is someone who comes across as trustworthy and the calmness of the show is welcome these days.  Turns out she has a corn salad recipe, so I gave it a go.  Good decision making on this meal all around!

Spinach pesto

5 oz pkg baby spinach

2 handfuls pine nuts

2 limes, juiced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1.  Put the spinach, lime juice, pine nuts and garlic in a food process or and pulse until smooth.  Add olive oil and parmesan cheese and process a few seconds.  Taste.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Corn Salad

For the dressing:

  • 1 1/2 cups packed fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the salad:

  • 4 ears cooked corn, kernels removed (about 3 cups)
  • 1 1/2 pounds grape tomatoes, halved (about 3 cups)
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, diced
  • 2 medium avocados, diced

Directions:

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a large bowl, using 2 teaspoons salt, and pepper to taste. Combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Let sit at least 15 minutes before serving, or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Pan fried snapper:

Heat a pan over medium heat until nice and hot.  Add 1 TBS oil, and let warm.  Add snapper.  Flip after one minute, or when fish is opaque a bit on the bottom edges.  Cook for one minute.  Turn off the heat and allow fish to finish cooking with the residual heat for about 4 more minutes.

Notes:

* The pesto is meant to be very spinachy and not very garlicky.  If you just can’t handle that notion, just double the garlic as you always do.  (You know who you are!)

* It was a warm day meaning that the pesto likely required less oil, so I stopped adding olive oil just when the first little puddle of oil gathered on top of the spinach.  Lately, I’m just not into pesto that is crazy oily.

*  I cut the snapper into portion sizes before cooking to make the flipping part easier.

* Corn salad of various sorts is a common dish around here during corn season, but the addition of fresh mozzerella was a new twist for me.  Yummy!