Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Power Pesto Obstacle Course

I love my farmer's market. I visit friends who retired and inherited family land. They turned it into an organic farm. Other vendors sell flowers my black thumb can't grow, grass-fed beef, eggs and shrimp from the coast. Half the time I don't know what I'm getting til I get there. My ingredients determine the recipes for the week ahead. Every week is an adventure but I didn't expect the adventure to turn into an obstacle course.
This week's Farmer's Market haul.
At the top of my list of how to use this week's haul was pesto. I love it. Not only is it full of flavor but it is so versatile. A dab makes a plain sandwich into a gourmet lunch, squash noodles more than a paleo substitute for egg noodles, and ramps up any sort of salad dressing.

My ingredients

Obstacle #1: I bought some basil this week but realized I didn't have enough for all the on-line pesto recipes I was reading. What to do? What to do? Hmmmm, I had leftover power greens from last week. And sure enough, I found plenty of recipes featuring power greens like kale, chard and spinach. So I threw a couple of those in for good measure AFTER I made sure to remove the bitter stems.

Obstacle #2: Pesto traditionally is made with pine nuts and healthier versions are made with walnuts. And this girl who is allergic to everything is also allergic to the omega packed walnuts. ManO is not a nut person. Again, what to do? Parmesan cheese is an ingredient already so I added some more to make it a bit thicker.  I added more flavorful olive oil. If you aren' t allergic to certain nuts like I am but don't want the nut texture, you can use a tablespoon of nut flavored oils. They are all over the marketplace now.

Obstacle #3: ManO is not a garlic fan and pesto without garlic is my nightmare. So I just added one clove. Sniff. I really want to protect ManO's immune system with a bunch but he doesn't believe me for some reason. And he was around to make sure I didn't sneak in more than he could stand.   

Obstacle #4: I forgot to buy some meat for dinner. In reality, it was more "forgot." I'm really trying to reduce our meat, especially red meat, consumption. But I remembered turkey spaghetti sauce in the fridge.

Obstacle #5:  I also "forgot" to buy spaghetti.  Poor ManO, now he doesn't even get gluten-free rice pasta. I go for veggies as the base of the sauce. YAY! I grabbed my Farmer's Market golden zucchini and made "noodles."  Just slice any kind of squash with a veggie peeler, lay on paper towels to drain, and saute for a few minutes. I added a dollop ( a very technical cooking term, ya know) and stirred. Perfection.

      
Well, I made it through the obstacle course and this is what we had for dinner:


Power Pesto (Nutless version)

2 cups basil with stems removed
1 cup power greens (or spinach) with stems removed
1 clove (or more) minced garlic
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon (or to taste) sea salt
1/2+ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon flavored oil (optional)   

1) Place garlic in food processor and mince or mince beforehand.
2) Add salt.
3) Add greens and mince fine.
4) Add Parmesan. Do not mince yet.
5) Put on processor lid and pour oil (including flavored oil if used) slowly through opening while processing.
6) Check consistency and add more cheese or oil if necessary.
7) Put in container, cover and refrigerate.

Bonus tip: You can apparently freeze pesto by covering small containers of it with olive oil. I am such a fresh fan but may try this idea. If you are overwhelmed by basil this summer, I can totally see putting some pesto up to remind you of summer in the cold, dark winter.

Are you a pesto fan? Have you tried to make alternate types of pesto? What is your best necessity-is- the-mother-of-invention substitution when it comes to recipes? Have you every tried to make a meal and find yourself running an obstacle course?

 





26 comments:

  1. Such a creative idea! And DH like squash more and more, so I may try these noodles. I think substitutions are a part of cooking. Does anyone ever have the exact ingredients for a recipe? Unless it's baking--you can't fool with that...;) great post Julie!

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    1. Thanks, Piper. Good on hubbies whose tastes expand over time.

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  2. Replies
    1. Do you know how much Vitamin K is in the dry stuff? It's crazy! No comment on cheating.

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    2. ok where's the cheat stuff at in the store? pickle olive section?
      Susanna

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    3. Soup aisle. I can't believe all these folks who cheat!

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  3. I don't think I've ever had pesto- or would even know what to do with it if I had it...if it doesn't spread on crackers then it's 'fancy'! I've at least heard of it though! I thought it was parsley with a little other stuff thrown in..maybe I'm thinking of something else. I cant believe you managed to get by with no meat and no pasta with your hubby! my dad would've had a FIT - my mom only had one meal she could do without meat and that was the 'country' meal and it was pinto beans, cornbread and okra and/or squash aunt jemima'd and fried in Crisco and soft fried potatoes soaked/fried in Crisco..so still not healthy! chicken and dumplings were a close 2nd but it took YEARS to get away from frying chicken to go with them and even then she couldn't put that on the table too often once the fried chicken flew the coop.

    gosh does everyone have a clean kitchen but me?! I'm happy I finally got one section pretty clean and it's amazing how one meal messes it all up

    Susanna

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    1. He still had turkey in the sauce. As far as a clean kitchen, it's a trick of the camera. You can't see what's out of the frame!

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    2. my dad only counted turkey if it was whole slices LOL! and a holiday! think it was the only meat he'd eat back then that wasn't fried- but they'd cut the baked ham and fry slices of that!
      Susanna

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  4. wow got a couple hours' sleep - gotta get back to sleep since I'm 2-3 more night shifts. I started Mindy's book (finally!) and finally figured out I bought it through kobo and hadn't been reading kobo (found lotsa goodies on my kobo account LOL!) and realized ipad has an app!! but started reading and had to make myself put it down and try to sleep I am NOT a fan of hidden baby themes at all but this one seems to have caught my attentionLOL! (and after Brenda Minton's latest or next to latest this is all mild drama in comparison!at least so far...) also got Tina's downloaded though got sidetracked with another book about a doctor stuck in a cabin delivering babies - thought I wanted to read that one first but darn it was pre-order :-( gotta wait a couple more months. so it's up after Mindy's (lucky me for night shift hee hee)

    Susanna

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    1. Susanna, I'm always getting sucked into books like that! Read way into the night sometimes.

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    2. I'm afraid to read it at work tonight- if it's busy and I get sucked into a story I find myself being a bad coworker (and worse I get cranky when I'm interrupted!
      when do you have another one out Missy? the last one I remember is the one with the yarn shop and the preacher - I loved that heroine and wanted to see what happens with her poor brother in law married to her idiot sister ha ha didn't like the sister much and felt really sorry for her hubby! though something similar happened at least twice at the church I grew up in. sigh...
      Susanna

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    3. Susanna, I actually set my next story in a nearby town. So I won't be revisiting the sister and hubby. :)

      Next book comes in October. It's called The Guy Next Door. I'm excited! It's been ages since my last book.

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    4. I know it's been a while Missy! I'll just have to assume the heroines sister straightened up lol! I rally liked the heroine though
      Susanna

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  5. Julie, I wrote my post last night and also used a photo of my produce shopping this week! :)

    I don't think I've even made pesto. But I love this idea of doing it with some greens. You have an amazing container of basil! Our store only has small amounts that cost a fortune, so I would need to add something else like you did.

    Those squash noodles look amazing! I can't believe how they look like real noodles!

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    1. It's crazy. I've seen recipes with spinach greens too. At the farmer's market the basil is around $3 for that huge container.

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  6. Wow -- you are a super ninja cook. I would have stuttered to a stop at the first obstacle. I've never tried squash noodles either. I didn't know you could make them from any squash -- thought it had to be spaghetti squash. And I haven't tried making pesto either. It's the whole cooking for one thing but now that I know you can freeze it maybe I'll give it a try.

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    1. Just dive into any zucchini or summer squash with your peeler and you'll be good. To me, spaghetti squash is a major production after I learned this way.

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  7. Ok this is bugging me! I KNOW I read a love inspired or other category romance where the heroine makes pesto o r something like it cause seems like the hero and his son love the stuff...don't know why I remember that scene but I do just can't remember the bool!
    Susanna

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  8. I love Pesto, thanks to my daughter. A few years ago she came home raving about it after going out to lunch with her friends and ordering it. Hmph. She was 14 at the time and dining out at a higher frequency than my husband and I. But that's a whole different story. Like Tina and Missy, I buy the Knorr package. But this looks pretty straightforward to make from scratch. Thanks Julie. Next time I'll just take a deep breath and dive in.

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    1. And the little child shall lead them! :-) Go for it Belle, you will be glad you did.

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  9. I love pesto - thanks for the recipe!

    And on the Trim Healthy Mama facebook group, I heard about this gadget called a "Spiralizer". It's supposed to make noodles out of veggies like zucchini, and it's supposed to work great. I've thought about getting one.

    Here's the link (sorry, you'll have to copy and paste): http://www.amazon.com/Paderno-World-Cuisine-A4982799-Tri-Blade/dp/B0007Y9WHQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1403710368&sr=1-1&keywords=spiralizer

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  10. Thanks for the tip, Jan. I love gadgets!

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  11. Sorry so late. We switched internet providers, which meant we were without Internet most of the day.

    Last year I made my own pesto, complete with pine nuts and loads of garlic, but my basil isn't fairing well this year. I know I could buy it, and probably will, but I've been avoiding the produce section this last month or so. HOWEVER, pesto was my saving grace when I moved to soft foods. I'd buy the Classico brand in a jar. Honestly, it tastes as good as what I made. But like you said, so much flavor, and that's what I was craving. I'd toss it with some well-cooked noodles and finely chopped chicken and I'd be in heaven.

    By the way, guess whose doctor said they could return to real food? :) Salad has never tasted so good.

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    1. So good to know!!!! So glad to hear it, Mindy!

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