Tag Archives: pesto

Fruits of Our Labors: Cookbook Club 101

11 Jan
Image sourced from kcrw.com

Image sourced from kcrw.com

Pesto is much-loved around here — I’ve cooked with it in pasta dishes, as a pizza sauce, and even as an addition to hummus or other dips. And while I’ve enjoyed playing with the basil – Parmesan – pine nut formula by swapping in spinach, kale, cashews, almonds and more, until recently, I had never ventured too far outside of that routine. That is, until I tried Rachael Ray’s Roasted Red Pepper Pesto.

That is, until my DC girlfriends and I created a Cookbook Club.

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Get This Party Starter

4 Apr

Well friends, I’m having a party.

Image sourced from Wikimedia.com. Granted, there's no way my party will be this cool. But hey, a lady can dream.

Image sourced from Wikimedia.com. Granted, there’s no way my party will be this cool. But hey, a lady can dream.

No, this isn’t a party to relive one of the best comedy films of the nineties. Young Kid and Play got me beat on the cool scale. However, this one should be just as fun, because it’s a birthday party! And you, lovely readers, are invited to join in on the fun.

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Meat-Free Fridays: 6 Vegetarian-Friendly Pasta Dishes

1 Mar

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Fun fact: Pasta + veggies = a vegetarian and vegan-friendly feast.

No, but seriously! Any combination of sauce, veggies, pasta and protein / fat can be a fabulous meal, particularly for a Lenten Friday when you’re scrounging around the pantry. The above recipe for Sesame Chick Pea Pasta is only one example. In this post, I’ll share an easy template for vegetarian pasta dishes that work for Lenten Fridays or any old weeknight. Mangia!

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Meat-Free Fridays: 5 Vegetarian Pizza Pies

16 Feb

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A pizza, by any other name, would smell … just as delicious. 🙂

For this week’s Meat-Free Friday, I’m starting the series with an old Lenten stand-by: Pizza! Pizza can easily be meatless — contrary to what any fan of a “Meat-Lover’s” pizza pie will tell you. While meaty toppings are often quite tasty, vegetarian pies on Fridays are such a great Lenten meal. Here are 5 Vegetarian Pizzas to try on a Friday.

Fun Fact: I’ll also throw in a BONUS recipe for whole grain dough that you can make at home. If you’re pursuing healthy eats in general, why not go whole hog (er, whole … vegetarian hog?) and try your own dough? Happy eating!

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Friday Night Dinner Ideas: Easy Shrimp & Tomato Pesto Pizza

4 Jan

ImageIt’s Friday night. You’re on your way home from work. You (and your wallet) don’t want to order take-out again, aren’t interested in nuking any leftovers lurking in your fridge, and can’t stomach the thought of scraping together a meal from the cereal, Planter’s peanuts and instant oatmeal in your pantry cabinet. What’s a gal or guy to do?

Whit up a quick pizza, of course!

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Viva Italia: Four Ingredient Baked Pasta

15 Dec

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What if I told you that a simple, hearty meal could be yours in 30-ish minutes and using only 4 ingredients? You’d be all over that bidness, right? What if I also told you that this dinner creation is as customizable as you can imagine, allowing for creativity, taste preferences, and inventive food adventures to your heart’s content?

If your response is a Howard Dean-style “Yeeeeah!” then you’ve come to the right blog.

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Easy Dinners: Tortilla Pizza

11 Dec

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Love pizza? (Who am I kidding? If you didn’t love pizza, I suspect you wouldn’t be on this pizza-loving woman’s blog.)

Don’t have the time to roll out fresh dough or whip up your own? (I.e. like every 20-something on a weeknight.)

Hunting through your fridge for some semblance of nutritious food, and coming up a bit short? (Again, like a lot of us. Unless you work at Whole foods. I bet their employee discount is ridiculous.)

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Viva Italia! Homemade Pesto & Tomato-Topped Pizza

17 Sep

“And they say pesto, pesto, pesto” — adapted from Michael Buble’s “Cuando, Cuando, Cuando.”

In the spirit of this post from the lovely Ree Drummond (a.k.a. the Pioneer Woman, whose show you should watch and blog you should read. ‘Nuff said), I’ve been on a basil and pesto kick lately. And how could I not be? My basil, shockingly for this whatever-the-opposite-of-a-green-thumb-is lady, is abundant and so, so fragrant. Mmmmm!

Pesto, for the non-Italians, actually comes from Northern Italy’s region of Liguria — specifically, the city of Genoa. Check out this sweet map. What up, MS Paint arrow:

It’s practically Switzerland! (Well, not quite. But hey, you get the idea.)

Its combination of basil, parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil, and seasoning makes pesto an easy and deeee-LICIOUS sauce with Mediterranean flair and earthy flavor. Killer combination of tastes = one of my favorite toppers for pasta, pizza or, um, pretty much anything. Here are some easy-peasy pesto directions if you’re making it at home (note: this is enough for 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup sauce:

The players — the walnuts added such a cool flavor to the mix.

  • Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup basil, parmesan cheese, pine nuts (though I used walnuts recently, and they were molto bene), and some salt & pepper (to taste) to a food processor or blender. Process / Blend at full blast. (WOOOOO! Listen to the whirring noises!)

  • Slowly add olive oil to the mixture as it blends, or add a splash or two of oil and pulse the sauce in your food processor until the pesto reaches a consistency that you like.

  • Eat. Ideally in something else, but I won’t judge you if you eat it with a spoon. Not one bit. 🙂

So how can you use this nectar of the Roman (Er … Ligurian?) Gods? Here are a few ideas that I love:

  • Mix your pesto with mayonnaise, then spread on a grilled cheese sandwich or panini.
  • Dress a pasta salad of whole wheat penne, peas, grape tomatoes and parmesan with pesto. Mix thoroughly for super-tastiness.
  • Stir a little pesto into your favorite tomato-based pasta sauces.
  • Try mixing pesto into unconventional combinations, like with scrambled eggs or as a garnish / topping on a grilled steak.
  • PIZZA! Pizza, pizza, pizza.

I love making pesto pizza — when I did a volunteer teaching program a few years ago, my housemates and I would often whip up this easy pesto pizza for Community dinner in 30 minutes flat. If you have homemade pesto or just bought a jar of the pre-made stuff (still delicious, by the way — no shame in a little convenience), here’s a vegetarian-friendly dinnertime treat for you.

“Community Living” Pesto Pizza — serves 4. Easily doubled or tripled!

Awwww yeaaaah.

You’ll need:

  • 1 batch pizza dough, or 1 store-bought pizza dough (wheat dough is especially good here)
  • 1 jar pesto sauce, or 1 batch homemade pesto
  • 1 small bag shredded mozzarella cheese, or 1 cup freshly grated mozzarella
  • 1-2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Basil and parmesan for garnishing

Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. If you like to use a pizza stone, allow the stone to heat in the oven as well.
  • Roll out your dough to the desired size, and place on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel. (A cutting board works just as well!)

Aaand, glamor shot! Thanks, flash button …

  • Spread the dough with pesto sauce, in an amount that you prefer. Top with mozzarella cheese, sliced tomato, parmesan and torn basil leaves / up to 1 tsp dried basil.

  • “Shimmy” the dough onto the stone by shaking it off of your peel / cutting board. Quickly close the oven and allow the pizza to bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese has bubbled and browned to your liking.

  • Eat. A lot. I also wouldn’t judge you if you ate the entire pizza yourself. Have I done that before? Um …. [she said, glancing awkwardly around the room.]

Not the greatest picture, but still. Now I’m hungry again. As usual. 🙂

  • Note: This pizza can easily be vegan with an alternative crust (cauliflower is popular right now), a cheese-free pesto (use a little Bragg’s nutritional yeast to add salt & flavor), and dairy-free cheese. To add a meat-lover’s twist, try adding grilled chicken or even sauteed shrimp to a smidgen of pesto sauce, then spread on TOP of the tomatoes before baking.

Are you guys and gals “pesto people?” How do you like to use pesto sauce? Do you make your own, or prefer jarred sauces? What else might you add to a pesto pizza?