Travel Eats

Entries in pesto (6)


Pasta 'n' Pesto

No, the rolling pin in the background was not used to roll the dough.  I am not that crazy.  However, this particular batch of pasta was a little obstinate--I think the semolina was a little drier.  Hence the need to sprinkle with a little water and roll fairly flat before feeding it through the KitchenAid. Ultimately it succumbed to my iron will and became some silky fettucini.  I used Mark Bittman's recipe for all egg pasta dough: 2 whole eggs, 3 egg yolks, 2 cups semolina and 1 tsp salt.  Process in food processor and chill at least 30 minutes.

I remember being the first family on the block to have an Atlas pasta maker circa. 1976.  My mom was a foodie when they used to call them "gourmets".  We had a drying rack just for pasta.  I remember the first batch we ate with butter/garlic and parmesan. Subsequently never ate another Spaghetti-O.

If you are going through the trouble of making homemade pasta, keep the sauce simple and preferably homemade.

Yes, I know the Italian grandmothers didn't own food processors, but they also didn't have to drive 25 miles each way to work everyday. 


3 cups basil leaves

1 cup walnuts

1 tsp kosher salt

2 cloves garlic

olive oil

Put all ingredients in the bowl and process til a thick paste forms.  Drizzle in the olive oil til it looks like this:

 Store in refrigerator.  When ready to use put ~1/3 cup in saucepan and add ladle of pasta cooking water.  Heat til warmed through and combine with pasta.  I don't add cheese to the pesto because I prefer some freshly grated parmesan on top.



Hatch Chile Pesto

What? You haven't heard of Hatch chiles?  Even though they are from New Mexico, we dig them here in Texas.  Every year Central Market has a Hatch green chile festival complete with lots of samples and of course, fire-roasted chiles for sale.  I am more than happy to pay a little extra for someone else to fire-roast my chiles for me.

I did toast my own pepitas.

Hatch Green Chile Pesto

1 small bunch cilantro (I used the whole thing, stems and all)

3/4 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds for you gringos)--I just toasted on the stovetop in a large saute pan over medium heat with a little oil and salt.  Watch out, they pop!

1/2 cup grated parmesan

3 medium roasted chiles

1/4 cup- 1/3 cup grapeseed oil

salt and pepper

Combine all in food processor til a smooth puree forms, adding additional oil as needed to achieve desired consistency.

Central Market was sampling their own Hatch pesto with sauteed grouper--delightful.   We just swirled ours into the leftover cauliflower soup.

 Ian didn't mind leftover soup.  He was happy not to be eating sausage for the 6th time this week.  The perils of a geographic bachelor in Costco.  Also nice to have someone to toast with.....

He wanted to catch up on all the new cocktails that had been created in his absence...the Aviation was a hit.

 And the Gibson was as good as he remembered.  Happy Labor Day! 


Green with Envy

Why can't my pesto stay green like Costco bananas?  I am not complaining about the taste, it's delicious, but it looks like goose turds.  This batch is particularly dark, probably because I used a mix of purple and green basil.  

Is it because I used walnuts instead of pine nuts?  Did my basil that I raised from seed turn on me because I refused to pay $23 for a pound and a half of pine nuts at Costco? When they realize they are not mixed in with pignoli do they say, "Dude, it's walnuts again, blend in!" and go brown like a chameleon does when it's stressed out?  No matter, it will still do nicely with the tomatoes.


a mess of basil leaves--about 3 cups worth

1/2 cup grated parmesan

salt and freshly ground pepper

2 small cloves garlic

1 cup walnuts

extra virgin olive oil

Combine all in food processor and puree til finely ground, then add olive oil with machine running until it loosens up into a saucy consistency.  Adjust seasonings.  Don't be afraid to add more salt--parmesan is salty but some more so than others.  I tend to go light on the garlic so it doesn't overpower things.  Makes about a cup.  If yours is still green at this point you can put in jar and cover with a thin layer of olive oil--should help it stay green.



A Little Corny

Happy Father's Day a day late!  For all those corny jokes your dad told you, mortifying you in front of your friends, I give you this fresh corn salad.  The hardest part is getting the corn off the cob, but remember that little trick I taught you?  And you will need a food processor or a blender to make the pesto.

Fresh Corn Salad with Cilantro/Pepita Pesto

Kernels from 6 ears corn

1 medium carrot, cut in a 1/8" dice


1/2 cup cilantro pepita pesto

Mix, season to taste.


Cilantro Pepita Pesto

1 bunch cilantro, rinsed and spun dry

1/2 cup pepitas toasted in a skillet,  shaking frequently, until lightly browned

Grapeseed oil

Place cilantro and pepitas in food processor and puree.  Add grapeseed oil in a thin stream until desired consistency.

I served this salad with leftover BBQ chicken and melon for an easy summer dinner.  It also is great as a salsa on quesadillas.  Maddy asked me recently, "where can I buy pepitos."  Pepito is the little boy in the Madeleine books, pepitas are shelled pumpkin seeds--usually available in bulk section of a good grocery store or Latin market.  If you buy them roasted and salted adjust seasoning accordingly and skip the toasting step.



Salad Days

With all the homemade pastry in our house it was time for some lighter fare.  We used some of our farmer's market bounty to create a couple of salads to round out our leftover BBQ.  Pictured above are some locally grown tomatoes with a basil/pistachio pesto, and below a composed salad of roasted beets and sunflower sprouts with goat cheese and pecans.  Sophie was quite disappointed as she has always hated tomatoes unless they are a tomato sauce (preferably on a pizza) and has not even tried beets.  She said they tasted "like soil," but conceded that she would rather eat them than tomatoes.

Basil/Pistachio Pesto

1 cup basil leaves

1/2 cup shelled,roasted pistachios 

salt and pepper to taste

extra virgin olive oil

Put basil, salt/pepper and ~1/2 cup olive oil in blender or food processor and blend.  Add pistachios and more olive oil to thin.  I actually added a little water to get things moving.  I purposely didn't add garlic or cheese as I wanted the tomato flavor to shine.


Roasted Beet Salad

3 beets, scrubbed and greens cut off--do not peel

extra virgin olive oil


4 oz. goat cheese

1/2 pint sunflower sprouts (they taste like sunflower seeds--crazy, I know!) or other micro-greens

1/2 cup chopped pecans

sherry wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place beets in roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast 45-60 min (depending on size) until tender.  Allow to cool.  At this point the skin should come off easily.  Slice into 1/8'' thick rounds and cool completely.

To serve, arrange beet slices on plate, drizzle with sherry wine vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Top with crumbled goat cheese, pecans and sprouts.