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Posts Tagged ‘pumpkin seeds’

I am always on a lookout for pesto. I love how you can use any type of a nut or seed along with any type of greens to whirl together amazing sauces. Check out a previous post about the different pesto that I have made… Pesto Galore.

While browsing the smitten kitchen site, I came across the pasta with roasted carrots and sunflower seed dressing. It sounded delicious and easy. I asked Julia if she wanted to help me make it and she enthusiastically said yes.

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The dish is easy to make… you add the roasted seeds, a handful of greens, some lemon zest, some garlic, salt, pepper, and some Parmesan cheese in a food processor and whirl it until it comes together. You then place the concoction into a bowl and then you add some olive oil and lemon juice and mix until it becomes a pesto/dressing.

For the carrots, you just trim, peel, and coat them with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast them until they are soft and somewhat charred. Once roasted, you cut the carrots any way that you wish (she mentions the size of the pasta that you are using).

Finally, you mix everything together into the boiled pasta.

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I have no idea why, but I did not pay close attention to the title and the actual ingredient list (hmm… distracted much!), but I thought that it required roasted pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds… same thing! I have made the dish 3 times already and not once did I use sunflower seeds. Ha! Nevertheless, I love the dish even with the pumpkin seeds. I will have to use sunflower seeds next time to see how it compares. But this is the beauty of a pesto… any seed/nut works!

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The dressing/pesto was a bit dry so I did add some pasta water to thin it, which made it easier to mix in with the pasta. I tend not use a lot of oil, so I always reserve some pasta water whenever I make pesto.

For the greens, I have used kale, lettuce (Boston, mixed greens, romaine), spinach… whatever I had on hand. All of them worked! Of course each probably added their own flavor, but not enough to not work in the dish.

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The end result after adding the olive oil and lemon juice.

The recipe requires some garlic, but I am not a big fan of raw garlic. On a recent trip to the market, I found some garlic scapes. I love garlic scapes, especially roasted or grilled. Adding the roasted scapes to the pesto was great!

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I have no idea (again!) why I have never roasted whole carrots. Aside from setting off my fire alarm each time I roasted them (my oven must be telling me that it needs a bath), they are so easy to make and no chopping required. They taste like candy! I am never chopping them ever again! I have not tried grilling whole carrots before… I am going to try that next time, in an effort to not set off my fire alarm.

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For the pasta, I have used ravioli (Julia’s favorite!), penne, and farfalle and all worked great! Deb mentions a few other possibilities in the recipe list, but I feel like any pasta that allows the pesto to coat works.

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If you are looking for a quick, easy, and delicious pasta, give this one a try! It even tastes good cold.

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Cooking has been a bit difficult lately, especially on a weeknight. I usually get home from work around 5:00, which means that I only have a few hours to play with Julia since her bedtime is 7:30. It also means that I do not want to spend very much time in the kitchen cooking. So I have been searching for quick recipes… I have found a few good ones.

Soup is a good weeknight meal. It usually makes a bunch, which means that you can have it a couple of times during the week. I have been loving this Leek Soup with Dill Oil, which I found on the 101 Cookbooks site. I have altered it a bit… I do not use any butter, I use an extra potato, I leave it chunky, and I do not add any of the items that she suggests (although they would probably be good to add). I have made it numerous times and it’s definitely a keeper. I usually serve it with a pressed sandwich, leftover pizza, or just a few slices of bread.

Gnocchi is one of my favorite foods. It’s comfort food for me, so it is another dish that I make all the time. I love it with pesto, prosciutto, spinach, goat cheese, and either pumpkin seeds or walnuts. I have also made it with a roasted tomato sauce. To roast the tomatoes, you simply slice a pint of tomatoes and add some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, some of your favorite herbs (I use parsley and oregano), and some capers. The capers are key, so do not omit them. The sauce is delicious, especially on gnocchi! :)

Another recipe that is one of my cooking staples is the Matchstick Pasta recipe, which I also found on the 101 Cookbooks site. This is by far the easiest dish to make! During one of my shopping outings I could not find any pomegranate seeds. I was so upset since I was really craving the dish. I decided to try dried cranberries as a substitute… it worked great!

Pizza is another staple… I find myself making it every week. I usually use Bobolis for the crust, which makes it easy. My favorite toppings are pesto, prosciutto, spinach, and goat cheese. A while ago I found this really delicious pepperoni by Applegate Farms, so I decided to try a peperoni pizza. I used tomato sauce, mozzarella, green peppers, mushrooms, peperoni, and a few thinly sliced onion pieces. It was so good! It is now part of my pizza cycle.

In my recent issue of the Whole Living magazine, I discovered a nice quick dish. You simply sautée some garlic with a few sprinkles of pepper flakes, then you add some chopped kale, and sautée it until wilted and cooked through. Lastly, you add some peas and cook them for a bit. Once done, you serve it with some cooked rice and topped with an over-easy egg. It’s so quick and delicious!

Another dish that I would like to mention is the Peanut Sesame Noodles, which I found on the Smitten Kitchen site. I made this dish recently and I was surprised how easy it was to make. I wondered why I do not make it more often. I did modify it a bit. I do not make the sauce in a food processor. I simply whisk it and it works just as well. I do not use tofu… I have topped it with cooked chicken (usually the rotisserie chicken from Wegmans) and shrimp.

If I am really pressed for time, sandwiches with sweet potato fries are my to go dish. I usually keep a bag of sweet potato fries in the freezer… I love the Alexia sweet potato fries. I also keep veggie burgers and fake chicken patties by Quorn. Chicken patties on a bun are a favorite. :)

I hope that a few of these dishes will become some of your favorite weeknight meals!

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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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