Showing posts with label oregano. Show all posts
Showing posts with label oregano. Show all posts

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Easy Avocado Lemon Basil Pesto

Loaded with flavor, this creamy pesto made from avocado, basil, thyme, oregano and lemon is meant to be served over pasta. I could just eat it with a spoon!

My friend Kathy Hester of Healthy Slow Cooking has another cookbook on the shelves and I’m delighted to say that I have a copy to give away! This one’s called The Easy Vegan Cookbook (<Amazon affiliate link) and it’s perfect for folks who are short on time but don’t want to skimp on flavor. Typical of Kathy’s books, there aren’t a bunch of weird substitutions for non-vegan ingredients, just great tasting vegetable-centric meals. And who couldn’t use more of those in their diets?

Make sure to scroll to the bottom and leave a comment to enter the cookbook giveaway!

As I mentioned in my Muffin Monday post earlier this week, my younger daughter has been with us all summer. She’s been a good sport about being flexible about what she’ll eat because she is mostly vegetarian, making the rare exception for a good hamburger once in a while. “All hamburgers are good hamburgers” is another of her axioms. But we have eaten more all veggie meals while she’s been here, especially on days when her father is traveling on business. One of her own specialties is pasta with pesto to which an avocado is added just before serving so I knew that Kathy’s Avocado Lemon Basil Pesto would be a hit.

And how! This stuff is good. So good that I just wanted to eat it with a spoon and forget the pasta. But that wouldn’t be much of a meal so I restrained myself and tossed the noodles in it. Still divine - creamy, luscious, bright and beautifully green. We will definitely be making this one again!

Kathy’s instructions say not to let the specialty basil intimidate you. “If you don’t have lemon basil, you can use regular basil and add lemon zest, extra lemon juice or another lemony herb like lemon verbena or lemon balm.”

I couldn’t find lemon basil. Instead I used lemon thyme, adding a few extra sprigs, but I also added the lemon zest along with a little more lemon juice, as suggested.

Recipe ©Kathy Hester from The Easy Vegan Cookbook, included here by permission from Page Street Publishing.

1 medium-sized ripe avocado
1/2 cup (12g) fresh lemon basil leaves (or substitute regular basil)
1 (2 to 4 in [5 to 10cm]) sprig fresh thyme
1 tablespoon (3g) fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon (15ml) lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1/4 cup (59 ml) water plus more if needed
1/2 lb (227 g) cooked whole-wheat angel-hair pasta (I used regular linguine pasta.)

My optional addition: dried red chili flakes

Scoop out the avocado.

Put the avocado flesh, basil, leaves from the thyme and oregano, lemon juice, salt and water in a blender and blend well until the herbs are puréed.

(I used my hand blender instead, pureeing the avocado with the lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, thyme and oregano first.)

(Then I added in the basil and pulsed again until smooth.)

(I completely forgot the water but we liked the thickness of the pesto and it coated the pasta beautifully! Just look at that gorgeous color!)

The creamy avocado lemon basil pesto with just a couple of teaspoons missing! Sooooooo good!

If the purée is still too thick, add 2 more tablespoons (30 ml) of water and blend again. Toss with the cooked pasta.

One more tip: This pesto comes together in minutes, so put your pasta in the boiling water while you make it. The pesto will be ready to toss with your piping hot, perfectly cooked pasta. You’ll be out of the kitchen before the pesto has time to get too hot!

If you’d like a sneak peek at some of Kathy’s other recipes, check out the links in this line up from some other participants in the cookbook blog tour. Good stuff! Make sure to scroll to the bottom and leave a comment to enter the cookbook giveaway! I've been wanting to try the Creole Okra Corn Soup but I couldn't get any takers at my house for anything okra. So I'm just going to have to make that when I'm home alone. Not a problem because I am sure I can eat the whole pot.

Many thanks to Page Street Publishing for generously donating one copy of Kathy's wonderful book for this giveaway. Please be aware that they will only ship to US or Canadian addresses. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Please leave a comment and tell me why YOU should be the winner of this great cookbook full of delicious recipes - Are you cooking for yourself or for friends and family? - then click on the rafflecopter for other opportunities to enter. Not leaving a comment will disqualify your other entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received one copy of The Easy Vegan Cookbook for review purposes. No other compensation was received. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Meatzza for #ForeverNigella

I was browsing through the internet the other day, as you do, (Tell me it's not just me!) and I came across a blog hop devoted to Nigella Lawson and food your family would love.  The original organizer of the blog hop is Sarah at Maison Cupcake, but the host this month is Sally from Recipe Junkie and the Attack of the Custard Creams.  I could appreciate Sally’s attachment to Nigella and baking.  She went through a challenging time when her child was quite ill a few years ago and baking from Nigella's How to Become a Domestic Goddess gave her structure and something she could control.  While my feeling-out-of-control issues are not on par with hers, with all our moving about, I could definitely relate.  If my kitchen is in working order, I am in a safe, familiar place.

I decided to join the blog hop by making a Nigella recipe from her latest book, Nigellissima.  Whenever we have pizza, my motto is always the more meat, the better.  And the thinner the crust, the better.  This recipe goes one step further on both counts.  No crust at all and it’s basically all meat.  I added cooked lentils because 1. I like them, 2. I knew they would taste good and 3. they would make me feel better about eating what is basically a big hamburger patty with tomatoes and cheese.  This is comfort food for sure.  If you are trying to restrict carbs in your diet, this is the perfect pizza, or rather, meatzza for you.

1 lb 2 oz or 500g ground or minced beef
3/4 cup or 100g cooked lentils
3/4 oz or about 20g Parmesan
Small handful fresh parsley
2 eggs
2 cloves garlic
Sea salt
Black pepper to taste
Olive oil
1 can 14 oz or 400g chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Crushed red pepper - optional
1 ball mozzarella – about 4 1/2 oz or 125g – plain or with basil
1 small bunch fresh basil – for garnish

Preheat your oven to 425°F or 220°C.

Chop your parsley and pour your canned tomatoes into a sieve to drain.  (Save the juice for soup or another dish.)

Put your ground beef, lentils, parsley and eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Grate in the Parmesan and one of the cloves of garlic and add a good sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Stir until just mixed through.

Oil a shallow, round baking tin.  For a thinner crust, choose a wider baking pan.  Mine was only about 8 in or 21cm so this was definitely a deep pan meatzz.  Press the meat mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan.

In another bowl, put your well-drained tomatoes, a little sprinkle of salt and the oregano.  Grate in the second clove of garlic and give it a good drizzle of olive oil.  Mix well.

Spread the seasoned tomatoes onto your meat and then sprinkle with some crushed red pepper, if using.

Slice the mozzarella and arrange the slices on top of the tomatoes.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, depending on the thickness of your meat layer.  I was a little bit concerned initially because the meat juices came up and around the tomatoes and cheese, which was not attractive.  But at the end of the cooking time, the top was browned and it was all good.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  Decorate with the basil and cut in wedges to serve.  I served a good wedge along side a salad of arugula or rocket with a simple vinaigrette to complete the meal.

Nigella’s recipe says it serves four to six people but even with a side salad and my addition of the lentils, I don’t think you could stretch this to feed more than four.   It was delicious though and I would definitely make it again.


And again, check out the other #ForeverNigella favorites in the blog hop right here.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Soupe au Pistou #CookforJulia

Julia Child’s first television show was aired in February 1963, just 19 days after yours truly made my world debut.  And yet, this woman has influenced me in tangible ways.  First off, I have learned that fear of failure has no place in the kitchen.  As Julia said, “In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”  Even as medical professionals were saying to avoid butter and eat lower fat margarine, I held to Julia’s belief that butter was not evil.  (And we were vindicated!)  “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”  I have learned to enjoy a glass of wine while cooking, at least on weekends.  I have learned to wing it, as if cameras were rolling, if something doesn’t go the way it should while cooking.  I have learned that we learn best by doing.  A quote from the famous fallen potato pancake episode:  “The only way you learn to flip things is just to flip them!”  Also, "every woman should have a blowtorch."  I agree, Julia, and I do!  I have learned that a cook should never deprecate her own food.  Accept compliments graciously.  And most importantly, share.  Share food, share skills, share recipes.  Thank you, Julia Child, for doing just that.  We have been blessed by your generosity.  Long may your legacy continue!

In honor of Julia’s 100th birthday, folks worldwide are cooking her recipes and PBS, where you can still see her shows, is celebrating one of its biggest stars.  Head over to their site and check out the recipes and cook one in honor of a great lady. 

I’ve chosen a recipe from Julia’s first and most famous book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (mine is the 1971 edition) - a lovely summery vegetable soup finished with a sharp garlic tomato pistou that I believe honors her love of fresh produce cooked into the ultimate comfort food.   Who doesn’t feel better after a bowl of soup?

For the soup:
Good drizzle olive oil for sautéing vegetables
6 oz or 170g onions
7 oz or 200g carrots
10 oz or 280g potatoes
1 tablespoon salt (I used 1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder and 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt.)
7 oz or 200g fresh green beans
14 oz or 400g can cannellini beans
1 oz or 30g spaghetti or vermicelli.  (I used tagliatelle.  Because that’s what I had.)
1 slice stale white bread
A few good grinds of fresh black pepper
Pinch of saffron

For the pistou:
4 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil (I actually used 1 tablespoon dried oregano.  Can’t seem to find fresh basil this time of year in Egypt and because I love the fresh stuff, I’ve never bought dried basil.)
1 oz or 30g Parmesan cheese plus more for serving, if desired
1/4 cup or 60ml fruity olive oil

Peel your onions and dice them finely.  Drizzle a little olive oil in pot big enough to hold at least 5-quarts or 4.75 liters.  Put your onions in to sweat over a low heat while you peel and chop your carrots and potatoes.

Peel the carrots and cut them into small squares.  Pop them in the pot with the onions and give it a good stir.  Give the pot another drizzle of olive oil, if it looks dry. 

Peel the potatoes and cut them into small squares.  Add them to the onion pot and stir briefly.

Add in three quarts or just under three liters of water.  Season with the salt or the stock powder and salt, if desired.  Cook over a medium heat for 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the pistou.  Put your tomato paste into a mortar with your fresh or dried herb and four cloves of garlic.  Bash it about gently until the garlic is no longer visible.

Grate your Parmesan and add it to the mortar.  Mix thoroughly. 

Add enough olive oil to loosen it up a bit – about 1/4 cup or 60ml.   Set this aside.

Top and tail your green beans and cut them into short lengths.  Crush your pasta of choice into small pieces as well.

Crumble your stale bread slice or cut it into tiny pieces with a serrated knife and rinse your cannellini beans and leave in the colander to drain.  (Sorry - forgot to take a photo of the bread!)

When you are about 20 minutes from serving, add the green beans, cannellini beans and pasta to the pot.   Give it a good stir and let it cook for a few minutes.

Add the bread and stir.  Cook for about 15 minutes.  The bread will disintegrate and thicken the broth deliciously.  If it is too thick for your taste, add a little more water. 

Season with black pepper and the pinch of saffron.

Remove some of the broth with a ladle or measuring cup and add it into the tomato pistou.   Stir to loosen. 

Some green beans slipped in.  Not a big deal.  Just try to mix without mashing them. 

Reserve two or three teaspoons of pistou (for garnish when serving) and stir the rest of it into the soup.  Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if necessary.  The Parmesan may have added enough, but it is a good idea to check before serving.

Serve each bowl topped with a reserved 1/2 teaspoon of pistou and some extra grated Parmesan, if desired.   (At our house, extra Parmesan is compulsory.)

Enjoy!  Now give this a try or go to the PBS site and choose yourself a Julia recipe!  Or at the very least, open a bottle of wine and raise a toast.  To Julia!

You might be interested in these other Julia Child recipes I have made:

Rustic Potato Bread - because there is nothing more divine that the smell of bread baking and you can't beat this potato bread for a soft crumb and crunchy crust.  No bread pan required!

and Coq au Vin with Cornish Game Hens - Julia's classic French dish with little birds

and Cherry Clafoutis - Once again, a classic French dessert.  Cherries in a eggy batter, baked to fluffy perfection.

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