Archive for pesto

Giada’s Pesto

Giada DiLaurentis, we salute you!


 Her Avocado Arugula Pesto recipe got my super finicky son–”Mr. I’ll have a Plain Hamburger, please” to eat a puree of green things.  For that reason alone it deserves an award in my book.

The recipe had been sent to me by my dear friend  Farah Kapoor, fantastic cook and epic hostess.  She had served it to 3 generations of her family, all with various dietary preferences and quirks, and they all loved it.  So I thought I’d give it a try.  Not one to tempt fate, I didn’t even bother offering it to Mr. Burger, for whom vegetarian, green, and flavorful are nearly curse words (can we say teen rebellion?  Remember, his mom is an avid foodie).  When he saw his sister’s plate heaped with fettuccine slathered in green goodness, he asked for some.  After recovering from severe shock, I scooped a generous mound into a bowl for him and away he went.  (Full disclosure, I did not reveal that it contained a variety ingredients that he would normally avoid, just said it was fettuccine with pesto.)


Giada’s Pesto, pre-puree.

I followed the recipe  pretty much verbatim–but I skipped toasting the almonds, just tossed them in as is.  So, thank  you, Farah, and thank you Giada, for this wonderful new addition to our family’s meal rotation.

Have you discovered any fabulous recipes of late?

We all really liked it, although my husband, a traditional pesto devotee, said he’d like more basil and less arugula.   Good news!  In this recipe, there is a lot of potential for variation.  Next time I’ll honor his request.  Farah tells me she is going to try adding fresh spring peas.  And now that the Headhouse Farmers’ Market is open, with a bountiful selection of locally grown green things, I’ll experiment with all kinds of things.  Stay tuned!





How to Make Pizza

Homemade pizza; it’s easier than you think!

As usual, when the husband travels, kids put in orders for creative meals.  Dad was in San Diego all last week, and pizza was requested.  Given how rarely teens willingly spend time with parents, I was more than willing to bash together some dough and procure a variety of toppings for a homemade pizza night.

This recipe makes enough dough for 2 full-sized pies.  In our case, we made 4 half-sized pies to allow greater topping variety.

2 pkgs pizza yeast (regular yeast can be substituted)
2 cups warm water
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
5 cups flour
2 Tbps olive oil
2 Tbsp corn meal for coating pans (optional)

Pour dough into large mixing bowl.  Add water, sugar and salt.  Let yeast begin to bubble and stir.  Using dough hook attachment, add flour gradually until dough holds together.  Cover with kitchen towel for at least 30 minutes, or up to several hours.   Punch the dough down (my daughter looved this part!) and you’re ready to go.

Heat oven to 500.

Grab a hunk of dough, and begin stretching it out.  My kids had a ball here:

I baked our pies on pizza stones coated with a dusting of corn meal, but you can also use oiled baking sheets.

Stretch dough to a thin roundish shape (or oval, square, amoebic, trapezoidal….up to you.)  Top as desired.  We enjoyed the following combos:

pesto with fresh mozzarella
marinara, grated mozzarella and pepperoni

marinara and mozzarella; marinara, olives, feta,  onions, and mozzarella.

When topped as desired, bake in lowest rack of oven for about 10 minutes.  Watch it carefully–it’s done when edges are brown and crisp, cheese is completely melted and when you scrape the underside of the pie with a spatula it feels solid, not sticky and doughy.

 Ok, so it’s a bit more work than dialing for delivery, but it really is a lot better.  Claire, who normally eschews pizza, enjoyed the leftovers during a phillyfoodlovers working lunch the following day. 

Assuming you have power, homemade pizza may be a good way to get through Hurricane Sandy. 

Pesto, the Ultimate No-Cook Dinner

A recipe for pesto is a cook’s best friend when the temperatures rise.

As the dog days of summer arrive and sizzle, we are all looking for ways to avoid turning on the oven.  One of my go-to summer meals is pesto.  My husband is a huge fan–and the poor chap was born in January, so he is never able to have his favorite meal at its best on his birthday, for fresh basil is notoriously scarce in the winter.  But, good news for him now, it’s everywhere these days and I am making batches upon batches to both eat and freeze.  (Pesto is pretty darned good frozen, but there’s nothing like a fresh batch made from just-picked basil.)

We were the recent and grateful recipients of a generous bouquet of basil from our neighbor Elyse’s garden.  But if you are not lucky enough to have a generous basil growing friend, head to Iovine Brothers; their basil is fresh, local and top quality.  I went to work immediately, transforming these fragrant leaves, alchemistically, into my husband’s favorite elixir.  Full disclosure:  I am a pesto fan, too.

Here’s my version, which makes about 2 cups.

Fresh basil, rinsed and ready to go.

Philly Food Lovers’ Pesto

10 cloves garlic (best to have all members of the household partake as it is rather fragrant.)
5-6 cups rinsed basil leaves (I remove the tough, thick stems, but leave the smaller, thinner ones.)
1 cup olive oil
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt
a few generous shakes of red pepper flakes, to taste
4 TBSP pine nuts

Mix all ingredients in Cuisinart, and puree til smooth.

This will keep in the fridge for about a week; beyond that it should be frozen.

Use this glorious goo in any of the following ways:

  • Toss it on al dente pasta (reserve a bit of the pasta water and toss in a tablespoon at a time to distribute sauce evenly.)
  • Slather it on salmon fillets, then roast, grill, or saute.  (NB:  this works best if you only coat the flesh side; avoid the skin side, and cook skin-side down without turning fish.–if grilling use indirect heat.)
  • Grill bread and spread with pesto.
  • Put it in a pretty jar, tie with a ribbon and give it as a very impressive hostess gift or ‘just because’ present.
  • Saute shrimp in garlic and olive oil and top with pesto before serving.
  • Use on pizza instead of marinara sauce.
  • Kind of like the ubiquitous visa card–pesto is anywhere you want it to be–round out the flavor of soups with a scoop of it, add it to any pasta sauce, use it as a dip for crusty bread, a condiment for a savory cheese plate, or with antipasti.

It is entirely possible that my husband has tried it on ice cream and in coffee, such is his love for the stuff.  I restrict my usage to the suggestions listed above.