Posted on June 22nd, 2010 3 comments
Fresh Arugula Pesto
In my For Life! personal chef business, I really focus on making my clients’ meals from seasonal and local produce and products. Well, you cannot get much more local than one’s own backyard! I don’t have a great place for a garden bed. Where there is room, there isn’t full sun. So, I have a couple small garden boxes. Sadly, only one of them is productive at the moment, but, as always, in the garden, there are plans and time for planting the other one. Today I noticed that my arugula is starting to bolt ( flower) and is getting eaten by some critter, so it needed to be picked and eaten. Not a difficult or painful task. I do eat a salad every day but I wanted to do something a bit more interesting with today’s harvest. Aha! Arugula pesto. The word “pesto” comes from the Latin, meaning to crush. It is Italian in origin though they have a version, called “pistou” in France. It is usually made from basil, but essentially any green herb will do. I have made pesto from basil, arugula,parsley, or cilantro. It is combined with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. You can substitute any nuts. When I used the cilantro, I used macadamia nuts and it became ” Hawaiian Pesto”. Walnuts are excellent to use in this way, especially if you are a vegetarian and want to ramp up your Omega 3 fatty acids. Originally, pesto was crushed with a mortar and pestle. Thankfully now we have food processors. If I had an Italian nonna ( gramma) by now she would be rolling over in her grave as she sees me moving away from the traditional basil/pine nut blend. I will shock her further by telling you that is is perfectly ok to leave out the cheese and make it dairy free. Mamma mia!
2 cups fresh arugula, washed and dried
1 garlic clove, smashed and roughly chopped
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts ( you can toast them in a dry skillet over medium high heat. Watch carefully, and toss them around a few times. It doesn’t take long)
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil ( use the best organic oil that you can find)
1/4 c. grated Parmegiano Reggiano cheese ( grate your own. it tastes ever so much fresher)
Place all of the ingredients except the cheese in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped and blended. Put in a bowl and mix in the cheese.
Pesto is so versatile. Have it on a salad. It is a great topping for meat ( steak as I did, or chicken, fish). Toss it with some pasta. Use it in an omelet or as a pizza topping. I so appreciate recipes with multiple applications. If that Italian nonna has gotten over her shock, I am sure she would tell us to “Mangia bene!” Eat well, and enjoy the freshness of good healthy local organic food. And don’t worry about garlic breath.
Posted on June 15th, 2010 2 comments
Early Summer Salad all wrapped up!
Burritos, eggrolls, crepes, summer rolls, sandwiches in a flour tortilla… food in its own edible package. These are all so yummy and so not on my list of foods to eat. There be gluten, Captain! ( my favorite Star Trek movie was the one about the whales. This is my homage to the scene where Mr. Scott, always my favorite, managed to beam these beautiful whales aboard the ship. Sorry, I digress ) Why not wrap it all up in a vegetable package. Collard greens fit that bill nicely, due to their size and “toughness” and as a side benefit they are packed with good nutrition and mostly can be found fresh year round.
The only limit to the possibilities here is your imagination and what you have available. Use seasonal vegetables. Add beans. Get creative with the herbs and spices. Don’t like chicken ? I was wishing I had some shrimp. It certainly can be vegetarian or vegan with the addition of tofu or cheese.
Early Summer salad Collard Wraps
one serving ( I could have eaten another one), just multiply by how many people you want to serve
2 large collard greens leaves, trimmed and steamed ( cut out the tough part of the stem, you want to be able to fold it), cooled ( i used a pinch of salt in the steaming water)
for the salad:
Total of 1 – 1 1/2 cups of the following ingredients – thinly sliced fennel, mung bean sprouts, sunflower sprouts, daikon radish, grated carrots, scallions, basil, mint. ( go wild! celery would be good, summer squash, peas, red radishes, bell pepper. just keep the pieces small)
4 oz. chopped cooked chicken ( oh please make sure you used pasture raised, free range chickens. They may be hard to find but oh so worth it!)
for the dressing:
2 T. tahini
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. raw honey
1 T fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
for the dipping sauce:
1/4 c. whole milk yoghurt
curry powder to taste ( again, use your imagination. chili powder ? cilantro? rosemary or thyme? garlic ?
Lay out the steamed collard green on a clean surface. Smear a Tablespoon or so of the tahini mixture across a portion of the green. You will need a bit at the top of the leaf to help seal the final fold. Top that with a handful of the salad mix. Top with 2 oz of the chicken. Fold in the sides of the leave and roll from the bottom. I only got one fold . It works a bit better if the leaf is still damp from the steaming. Make it tight and neat to keep the filling in.
Dip into the sauce and eat. Easy! Delicious and good for you!
This post is part of the Tuesday Twister on GNOWFLINS .
Posted on January 21st, 2010 1 comment
Personal Chefs cook from the Pantry continues still.
This has been a great challenge. My freezer is empty of what should have been discarded. I am in the middle of cleaning and organizing the pantry. I have eaten really well this week without shopping until today. I needed some produce, eggs, and after tomorrow, I will be cleaned out of protein to eat this week, so I bought some chicken. Nothing went in the pantry or freezer though. I am seeing how much food I waste by either buying too much or storing it improperly. Time for me to practice what I preach to my personal chef clients! And it has been great to see my personal chef community take on this challenge and come up with some really creative meals. At the end of the post I will list some blogs where you can read about this.
Tonights dinner was a salad even though it is really not salad weather. It is still quite blustery here in Santa Cruz, not cold but wet! But, I received an excellent recipe in my email box last week and I had enough of the ingredients on hand to make a riff on Lynn Rosetto Casper‘s Pineapple and Winter Greens Salad with Warm Chili-Coconut Milk Dressing. Sticking closer to the recipe would have been better. Having peanuts would have been better, but they are off my diet for now. Napa cabbage as Lynn calls for would have been better than arugula. I will make it again. The sauce is lovely! Here is my version.
Shrimp with Greens and Pineapple with warm chili coconut milk dressing
a big handful of greens/lettuce
2 celery stalks
1 roasted red pepper
1/2 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
1/2 c diced fresh pineapple ( use canned if you have to)
1/2 can coconut milk
1 tsp. fish sauce
1 T chopped ginger
2 cloves minced garlic
1 T good chili powder ( I used Rancho Gordo’s new mexican chili pwdr) or more to taste
Arrange the greens and other vegetables on a plate, along with the pineapple. In a saucepan, combine the coconut milk, fish sauce, and herbs and spices. Bring to a simmer and add the shrimp. Cook until pink and firm. While still hot, place shrimp on the salad and drizzle/pour the sauce over the salad.
Simple. Healthy. Good. The shrimp came from the freezer. The red pepper was from a jar taken from the pantry earlier in the week, as was the coconut milk. Everything else except the greens which I bought today, I had on hand.
Check out these personal chef buddies who are blogging about the challenge and are delightful to read on any day.
Tami of Dine in Diva
Amy from Eats! a personal chef service
MaryBeth Brinkerhoff of For Goodness Taste
From Ladle to Crave in Newport
Martha of Simply Delicious