Vegan (or not) Garden Pesto

20180212_183537.jpg

By Corinne

Basil is amazing. I am so in love with basil in the summer I can hardly help myself from adding it to everything. Basil in every salad, basil on sandwiches, basil gently rubbed between my fingers just to smell every time I go outside on my deck… Ah! Well, enough with this summer reverie. It’s February and the days (while getting longer) are still short and dark and cold and we’ve just had two weeks of -20C without a break. I’m craving summer in a bad way!

This pesto is infinitely versatile- in the summer I use much more basil than other greens, but in the winter good basil is hard to find and pricy! Tonight when I made it, I used about 15g of basil and 15g of parsley(a small handful of each)- the rest was spicy arugula, so I omitted the pepper.

While I’ve historically always used cheese, I decided to give nutritional yeast a try for this recipe. I probably could have thinned it out a BIT more, but it actually emulsified easier than the cheese version, was smoother, and as a bit of a shock to both myself and my taste tester, was the preferred version!

20180212_171821.jpg
Time: under 10 minutes

Makes: about 1/2- 3/4 of a cup 

You will need:

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil or other oil of your choice (I used sunflower oil)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, outer skin removed
  • 1 ½ cup(lightly packed down) fresh herbs such as basil, parsley or greens such as spinach, kale or arugula
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp salt – to taste
  • pepper – to taste

In a food processor or using an immersion blender(I usually use my immersion blender as this is a relatively small batch and I have a large food processor), combine the herbs/greens and garlic and process for 15 seconds.

With the food processor still running, add the oil SLOWLY until the mixture is smooth – you want it to emulsify. The mixture should look almost matte, and not oily. If your pesto looks oily you rushed the emulsification process and added too much oil at once.  You are looking for the mixture to be loose, not chunky but not watery or runny at all.

Add the nutritional yeast or cheese and process for ten seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

You can see in the picture that I did a better job of emulsifying the one version on the left than the one on the right today. I’m going to blame using a different container than I usually use!

20180212_174255.jpg

Toss with warm pasta, put on pizza, spread on a pork tenderloin or chicken… pesto is delightfully easy to use! This will stay good in the fridge for about a week. 

20170909_191837.jpg

 

Advertisements

Pasta with Shrimp (or without!) in Tomato White Wine Sauce

By Corinne

If you live in Thunder Bay and haven’t tried Big Lake Pasta you should track some down at your earliest convenience. This pasta dish could probably be made with any pasta, but the Saffron Campanelle really did give it an extra something special.

Speaking of special, you may have noticed a real lack of fish and seafood posts from me on this blog. That’s because when I make them, it’s only as something special for my husband or company that I really love as I have a fairly severe allergy to them. Full disclosure, I was told that the shrimp were really good, but I didn’t (and can’t) actually taste them myself. I have the feeling that three of these large prawns would have been a fine serving, but since it’s a special treat, hubby got all six. Obviously this isn’t vegetarian if you use shrimp, but I ate it without and didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

Serves: 4 (though you would need more shrimp for 4 people, there is enough pasta and sauce for 4)

Time: about 1 hour including simmering time for sauce

You will need:

  • 1 medium/large onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 2 tbsp olive or canola oil
  • 1 dried chili pepper or about 1/2-1tsp of chili flakes
  • 2 cups of white wine (preferably dry, preferably Chardonnay)
  • 1 can of San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped for garnish
  • wedges of fresh lemon
  • 350g fresh pasta, preferably Big Lake Saffron Campanelle

For the shrimps – I used tiger prawns and serving size will depend on the size of your shrimp!

I used this amount of butter/spice mixture for 6 large tiger prawns (probably 2 servings)

  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 large clove of garlic minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp minced flat leaf parsley

In a large pot over medium heat, add about 2 tbsp olive or canola oil. Add the onion to this and stir around for about 10 minutes until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and chili pepper and stir for about 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add 2 cups of white wine, slowly at first to scrape up any browned bits from the pan. Then add the can of tomatoes and paprika. Allow to simmer for about 45min to 1hr. Taste after simmering for a while, and add salt and pepper to taste.

While sauce is simmering, prep the butter mixture for the shrimp. Rinse and clean shrimp if necessary and slide onto bamboo skewers. Baste with butter sauce before putting on BBQ, and if you have enough, one more time when you flip them over.

The shrimp will take less than 10 minutes on the bbq, so when you are ready to put your pasta in the boiling water that would be the time to put them on.

Serve with a sprinkle of fresh chopped herbs (parsley or basil) and squeeze a wedge of lemon over just before serving.

 

 

Left-over Chicken Fettuccine In A Light Cream Sauce

The other night I made some delicious Turkish Chicken and have been having a creative food-fest with the leftovers.  Yesterday I made some Chicken Salad and today, pasta!  Yummy, yummy pasta.  I have to start by telling you I don’t really like Alfredo sauce.  I find most of it sweet and rich and too thick.  I have never really had an Alfredo Sauce that made me stop and swoon the way I’ve seen some of my girl friends do.  Hence, I’ve never made it.  This sauce is sort of like Alfredo, but since it doesn’t use heavy cream it is not as sweet and rich and also not as fatty.  You’re very sad, I know.  I like light sauces, I almost always pick a tomato based sauce over a cream sauce, with the exception of some white wine creations which I love.

Don’t have any leftover chicken?  Slice and saute a chicken breast and set aside before starting.

You Will Need

  • 10oz of fettuccine
  • 2 tbsp pasta water
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 cups of sugar snap peas
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 leftover chicken thighs, chopped
  • 100g of smoked Gouda (or any other favourite)
  • 1 cup of half and half cream
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Prepare pasta as per package directions, reserve 2 tbsp of pasta water, then drain the pasta and set aside.  Heat butter and olive oil over medium heat and add onion and a pinch of salt.  Cook 2 or 3 minutes until softened, add peas and red pepper.  Cook until tender crisp, about 5 minutes, add garlic and cook 1 min more until fragrant.  Add cheese, cream, pasta water and chicken and bring to a simmer. This needs some salt and a generous amount of ground pepper.  Don’t be shy with the pepper, you won’t be sorry.  Add pasta and simmer until slightly thickened.  Serve immediately and garnish additional Parmesan.

 

Linguine with Fresh Grape Tomatoes and Basil

By:  Julie

Serves: 6

Time:  20 min

My favourite smell on earth, next to my freshly-bathed baby’s hair, is basil.  It’s floral and sweet and divine.  I really could eat a plate of linguine with some basil and olive oil and call it a day, but my family would look at me funny, so to appease them, I will add something tomatoey.  This dish is super fast, fresh and delicious.  I like to use pretty multi-coloured tomatoes but whatever you have is just fine.

You Will Need

  • 1.5 lb of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 lb of linguine
  • 3/4 cup of basil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp chile flakes (optional)

Cook the linguine according to package directions, and reserve 1/2 a cup of the pasta water.  Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in an extra large saucepan or pot over medium heat.  Add the tomatoes and cook for 4 minutes.  Add garlic, chile flakes, salt, pepper and basil and cook for a further 2 minutes.  Add the pasta water and the linguine and toss to combine.  Top with additional basil if desired.

 

 

 

Corn and Tomato Pasta Skillet

By Corinne

I love fresh summer sweet corn and am always looking for ways to appreciate it while it is in season. This is a simple supper with a short ingredient list that comes together quickly. We had it as a vegetarian main, but if you wished it would go well with a serving of sliced Italian sausage or smokey.

Time: 5 min prep, 15-20 min cook

Serves: 2 generously

You will need:

  • 2 ears of corn, remove kernels from cob
  • about 1.5 cups of mixed cherry tomatoes (I just used what I had, a few more would have been welcome)
  • 2 tbsp garlic infused oil (or regular oil)
  • 2 cups uncooked pasta of your choice – I used orecchiette but any similar sized pasta would work
  • juice of one lime
  • handful of fresh cilantro
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper if desired

Boil water for pasta, pasta water should be salted for optimum flavour. While water is boiling, shuck corn and remove kernels from cob. In a cast iron or other heavy bottomed skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. When water is boiling, add pasta to water, and corn and tomatoes to skillet.

Stir vegetables every couple of minutes, allowing some of the corn and tomatoes to brown/blacken a bit. When pasta is finished(about 10 min), drain and add to skillet with corn and tomatoes. Mix and add 1 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar, juice of one lime and fresh cilantro. Serve garnished with additional cheddar and cilantro if desired.

img_3930

One Pot Chicken Rigatoni with Rosé Sauce

By Corinne

I happen to be all into a gardening adventure this year, and as some of my cayenne peppers are ripening up, I’ve been itching to use them!

Upon tasting my peppers they are SO good! Now this is one of the things about fresh produce, peppers are going to vary a lot in heat. I used two whole peppers in this pasta, and it was only maybe a medium heat. But taste your sauce and your peppers. It’s always easy to add more for additional heat than it is to try and reduce it if you’ve added too much.

If you are looking to up the veggie count, this pasta and sauce is delicious with the addition of snap peas, asparagus, or broccoli- simply cut and add to pot for the last 5 or so minutes of cooking time.

img_3652

Aside from gardening,  I’ve been reading “Consider the Fork- A History of How We Eat and Cook” by Bee Wilson.  Interestingly, “…  most domestic cooks from the Bronze Age until the eighteenth century had to make do with a single big pot: the cauldron (often called a kettle or kittle).”Another historical tidbit, Hitler took advantage of the nostalgia that many people in Germany had for the “Eintopf”, the one-pot meal in his propaganda, encouraging people to put aside one Sunday to eat this frugal meal and save their money to donate to the war effort.

Today, the one pot meal is generally lauded because of our poverty of time rather than a poverty of pots. It doesn’t have to be a matter of, “Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold, Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old”. While we generally have the utensils available to us, there is a lot to be said for a lovely one-pot meal.

Serves: 4-5

Time: 5-10 min prep, 30 minute cook

You Will Need:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp oil- canola or olive oil
  • 1 28oz can of tomatoes, diced or whole
  • 2 fresh cayenne peppers finely minced
  • 3 cloves garlic smashed and chopped
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 lb rigatoni noodles **gluten free if you use gluten free noodles – I find the corn ones have the best texture, especially for being cooked in the sauce and still holding their shape
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp dry basil
  • 3 tbsp fresh snipped basil, + some for garnish
  • 1 cup asiago, parmesan or romano cheese + more for garnish

In a large pot heat oil and add chicken pieces. Cook over medium high heat until browned, but they don’t have to be fully cooked. Add garlic and cayenne and stir around a bit, a minute or two until fragrant, but don’t let the garlic brown. Add wine, scrapping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Let reduce about 5 minutes.

Add can of tomatoes, dry basil, 1 1/2 cup of water and noodles. Cover pot and bring to a simmer, stirring every 3-5 minutes. You may need to add more water, I did, but again, it’s one of those things where it’s easier to add a bit more than to try and deal with too much liquid.

When noodles are al dente and the liquid is mostly absorbed, add 4 tbsp of butter, and stir until melted. Add 1/3 cup of heavy cream,  fresh snipped basil, and 1 cup of shredded cheese. Stir until cheese is melted and cook for another 5-7 minutes until sauce has reduced to desired thickness.

Serve garnished with additional cheese and basil.

 

Pulled Pork Pasta

By Corinne

Even though I always halve the roasts I buy for pulled pork, I find I still end up with a LOT of leftovers since it’s generally just the two of us. This has caused me to need to be creative when it comes to uses for leftover pulled pork. This recipe has become a favourite, it’s dead simple, takes only a few minutes of active time to put together, and is great reheated for lunches. It works well with just about any shape of pasta, pictured is both oricchiette and rotini.

Time: 5-10 minutes prep  40 minutes cooking (pasta + oven time)

Serves: 4

Oven: 400F

You Will Need:

  • 4 cups uncooked pasta – rotini, mini shells, macaroni, orricheite
  • 1 large bell pepper, thinly sliced or diced if you prefer- you can see from the pictures I switch it up 🙂
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups leftover pulled pork
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400F. Cook pasta to al dente. Add pasta, bell pepper and pulled pork to 8″x8″ casserole dish – you can see I’m still using a pretty old school one 🙂 Mix pasta, pork and peppers until ingredients are relatively evenly distributed. You can reserve a few peppers to sprinkle on top if you wish.

Top with cheese and pop into the oven for about 25-35 minutes until heated through and cheese is getting crisp. If you like your noodles/cheese as a crispier top, turn on the broiler for the last 3-5 minutes.

Serve with a simple garden salad.