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Posts Tagged ‘almonds’

While browsing through the current issue of the Whole Living magazine, I came across an article about snacks. Avocado with Black Bean Salsa, Sharp Cheddar, Hummus, and Sprouts, Dry-Roasted Edamame with Cranberries, Chocolate Apricot Nut Bars… I don’t know if I was hungry at that particular time, but all of them sounded super tasty. No?!? I decided to make the Chocolate Apricot Nut Bars.

The recipe is super simple. You pulse 1½ cups of apricots with ½ cup toasted almonds, 2 teaspoons of toasted coconut flakes (I used a lot more since I had shredded coconut), and a pinch of salt until finely ground. You then add the mixture into a dish lined with parchment paper, and spread it pressing firmly to form it into a block.

Lastly, you remove the formed bar from the dish, drizzle it with 2 ounces of melted chocolate (I used unsweetened chocolate), and sprinkle it with a bit of toasted coconut flakes. Before cutting it into bars, refrigerate it until firm, about 15 minutes. That’s it! So simple, but so delicious!

As I was making the bars, I thought of other different dried fruits that I can experiment with. Dates, figs, raisins… the possibilities are endless!

If you are looking for a good snack, I highly recommend these bars. I look forward to eating them throughout the week. (Except that Joel informed me that they will be gone in 2 days. HA!)

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As I wandered around the downtown public market last Saturday, I stumbled upon the most beautiful bunch of basil. “Ooo… I can make pesto!”, I told my friend Kathy who joined me for the market outing. Pestos are some of my favorite dishes to make.

They are super simple, and the result is just delicious. Also, each batch usually makes a fair amount, so you can use it for multiple dishes. It also freezes really well.

My all time favorite pesto is an arugula pesto. My friend Bruce brought me an amazing cookbook from a restaurant that I hope to visit one day. It’s my dream. The restaurant is called Hell’s Backbone Grill and is located in Utah. The restaurant grows all of their vegetables onsite and seeks all of their meats and dairy from local farmers. How amazing is that!! And to add to that, the restaurant is owned by two women. Even more amazing!! :) The cookbook is called With a Measure of Grace: The Story and Recipes of a Small Town Restaurant. I never thought about making pesto with arugula, but it was just delicious! The pesto includes arugula, spinach, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, and salt and pepper. That’s it. It is definitely a favorite.

Toasting the pumpkin seeds.

Another favorite is the pistachio pesto, which is used in the Matchstick Pasta recipe from 101 Cookbooks. I have written about the recipe not too long ago (Matchstick Pasta post). That particular pesto does not require any greens, but it is just as delicious.

Throughout the years, I have experimented with different nuts and greens. The different nuts are what make the pesto more interesting, perhaps more so than the greens. You can use any nut, really. I have tried walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, macadamia nuts, pistachios, and pecans. The possibilities are endless! Also, due to my lactose intolerance, I no longer include cheese in my pestos. I really do not miss it at all. I think that they are just as good without it.

Back to the beautiful bunch of basil… For this particular pesto, I decided to use basil, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and of course olive oil and salt and pepper. I believe that a key enhancement to any pesto is to toast the nuts that you are using. It really brings out the flavors. I also do not like my pesto very oily, so I usually do not use the typical amount of oil. I use just enough to hold it all together. The pesto made a great sauce for a pasta that was topped with grilled chicken and goat cheese. We savored every bite!

I was lucky to find more basil and a bunch of arugula at the market this week. I foresee more pesto in the near future!

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