Tag Archives: Broccoli Pesto

Pesto Fest: Summer’s Best Staple

Broccoli Pancakes with Pesto. Seriously, these were delicious. One of my favorite blogs, Beyond the Peel, came out with a recipe for 3 Ingredient Savory Pancakes, and I had to try them immediately, largely out of disbelief that

  • 2 cups chopped broccoli,
  • 4 eggs and
  • 2 Tbsp. of ground flax

zapped together in a food processor could turn into a game-changing pancake batter. They cooked up in a skillet with a little oil, just like a regular pancake.

Topped with warm pesto, we had the pleasure during dinner of  experiencing something truly new under the sun. Gluten free to boot. Great for dinner, I can’t wait to serve these for a brunch and convert a whole new crew of doubters to the concept of a broccoli pancake.

No where is pesto more perfect than on a broccoli pancake.

 It’s fairly recently that I’ve  started pushing the envelope of pesto possibilities, stirring in a tablespoon of pesto here, spreading it liberally there, and discovering more and more reasons to love pesto.

Pesto is simply amazing.  Packed with more flavor per square centimeter than any other item on the savory shelf, it also serves as a vehicle for some of the finest superfoods out there — garlic, olive oil, fresh herbs, walnuts, lemon juice. One could almost make an argument for popping a pesto capsule on days when it did not make it onto the plate.Basil, parmesan, garlic, olive oil, lemon

What we’re talking about here are dishes that incorporate pesto — not recipes for pesto. But first, a few words on pesto itself. Earlier this year, I experimented with a Basil Arugula Parsley Pesto, which became my standby.  Recently, I took a crack at a Basil Almond Pesto, and even though I’m thinking that might be my new  go-to, I’ll never tire of  new pesto possibilities. My only rule when making pesto: make a lot. A refrigerator that’s stocked with this wildly versatile standby tends to spark the creative juices.

Lots of Pesto. Lost of Possibilities.
Lots of Pesto. Lots of Possibilities.

Here are some more of the ways that pesto has managed to spice up our lives lately.

I bought a few ears at the Farmer’s Market. Shucked them. Immersed them in boiling water for a few minutes and was about to bring them to the table with a stick of butter and a shaker of salt — like I’ve done since I was 10 years old — and I stopped myself in my tracks thinking, “I wonder what a little pesto would be like instead.”  There are those who would advocate mixing half butter and half pesto, and that’s one way to go. We went for straight pesto and loved it.

A new twist on a 4th of July favorite.
A new twist on a summer favorite.

Pesto Pilaf. A side dish doesn’t get much easier (or better) than this: One cup of brown rice, 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until the water is fully absorbed. Stir in 2 Tbsp. of pesto. Top with toasted, sliced almonds. Perfect.

A little pesto and a 30-second rice makeover
A little pesto and a 30-second rice makeover

Cheese and Pesto Sandwich. A cheese sandwich began as a very blah lunch-on-the run until I eyed some pesto in the fridge, spread some pesto on a slice of whole wheat bread, and added a slice of cheddar along with a few arugula leaves. The transformation to an entirely new sandwich stratosphere was immediate.

The next day, Sarah took the same concept and grilled it. Even better.

A cheese sandwich is something entirely different when pesto enters the picture.

Pesto/Lemon Dressing. Equal parts pesto and fresh squeezed lemon juice. That’s all it takes to unseat the standard Dijon vinaigrette.

A fresh and flavor-intense salad dressing with a twist
A fresh and flavor-intense salad dressing with a twist
A perfect summer salad
A perfect summer salad

 

Pesto Frittata. Fun with frittatas — brunch, lunch or dinner — is a big theme around our kitchen these days. A recent addition of a tablespoon of pesto into five beaten eggs, took a  potato, onion and tomato frittata up several notches.

The tastes of summer in a simple frittata
The tastes of summer in a simple frittata

Pesto Omlette. And next we have the obvious extension of the pesto frittata. Two large eggs, a tablespoon of pesto spread in the center, and about a half tablespoon on top.

2 eggs, a little pesto and a perfect start to the day

Baked Salmon with Pesto. Once again, pesto comes to the rescue. 30 seconds is all it takes to transform a plain plank of salmon into a perfectly moist and flavor-packed filet.  Spread about 2 Tbsp. of pesto across the skinless side of a 1 to 1 1/2 pound salmon filet. Wrap in foil and bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Preparation time: less than a minute
Preparation time: less than a minute

Pesto Salmon Cakes. I’m a big proponent of always having a can of wild-caught sockeye salmon on the shelf  (as well as a container of pesto in the fridge),  because it means that Pesto Salmon Cakes will always be an option. One 14 1/2 oz. can of red salmon, 3 Tbsp. of  pesto, 2 eggs and 2 slices of whole wheat bread ground into crumbs, and that’s it.

Canned red salmon and pesto are the basis for the best-ever salmon cake.
Canned red salmon and pesto are the basis for the best-ever salmon cake.

Pesto Croutons. Bill could not be a bigger fan of homemade croutons and pesto couldn’t be a more perfect crouton mix. Combine 2 cups of cut up cubes of bread with 3 tablespoons of pesto mixed in with additional olive oil to ensure that the pesto spreads evenly. Toss gently until all of the bread cubes are coated and toast in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minute. Toss again after about 10 minutes and monitor closely to ensure croutons don’t burn.

So tasty that they may not make it onto a salad or into soup.
So tasty that they may not make it onto a salad or into soup.

Pesto Pasta. Serving as the poster child of this blog’s Auto Pilot page, pasta with pesto is where my love of pesto began — and the point from which is did not stray for many years.

Back to the pesto basics: Pasta, pesto and a little parmesan
Back to the pesto basics: Pasta, pesto and a little parmesan

Broccoli Pesto. And for a variation on the basic pasta with pesto, steam broccoli for a good seven minutes and mash it with a fork along with a few tablespoons of pesto. Mix with hot pasta and top with parmesan.

Pesto mashed in with a few tablespoons of well steamed broccoli and voila: broccoli pesto
Pesto mashed in with a few tablespoons of well steamed broccoli and voila: broccoli pesto

 

Fast and Easy For When the Cupboard is (Nearly) Bare

What to cook when there’s no time or energy or food

 

I’ve had many a night, when I’m out of ideas or energy or the cupboards are bare, and the last thing I’m feeling inclined to do is consult a cookbook or search online for some ideas.

With a half blue heeler at my side, who is my loyal companion whenever cooking, in hopes that a tasty morsel might fall to the floor, the image of Old Mother Hubbard is one that I try to avoid.

That’s why I’ve managed to sharpen my winging-it skills with dishes that I can pull together on auto pilot — dishes that call for just a few ingredients, require no measuring, and pass muster with a hungry and sometimes cranky crew.

Despite my love for super foods that promise all sorts of fabulous benefits as they course through the digestive tract, the arteries and the like, most of these dishes don’t promise carry any particular health claims. In fact, it’s because of some of these dishes that super foods are particularly appreciated when they do make it to the table.

Case in point is the dish that tops the list:

Pasta Alfredo

Cook time: 10 minutes     Prep time: 2 minutes

Fettucini Alfredo

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. Fettuccini (Penne or other short pasta will do. Spaghetti isn’t optimal, but it works fine in a pinch.)
  • About 1/2 cup half and half (heavy cream or whole milk will work, but NOT nonfat milk.)
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the same pot. While the pasta is still piping hot, butter, cheese and half and half. Toss gently until butter is melted and cheese is evenly distributed. Serve hot.

For a lower cholesterol and (some might say) taster variation on the above concept …

Pasta with olive oil and garlic

Cook time: 10 minutes        Prep time 3 minutes

Pasta with olive oil, garlic and fresh tomatoes

Ingredients

12 oz. spaghetti
3 Tbsp. olive oil
4-5 large cloves of garlic
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Fresh herbs, fresh, spinach, chopped fresh tomatoes (optional)

Directions

Cook 12 oz. of pasta (spaghetti works best here) according to package directions
Heat 3 Tbsp. of olive oil in a skillet and add minced garlic. Heat on medium high for about 2 minutes, watching closely to ensure the garlic does not burn.
Drain pasta and add to the skillet with the garlic and olive oil. Toss gently and top with Parmesan cheese.
OPTIONAL: Add chopped parsley and/or basil, or a few handfuls of fresh spinach leaves or a few chopped tomatoes.

Pasta with Pesto

Pasta with Pesto and BroccoliA

Pesto  is easy to make, but since I’m not always up for getting out the food processor and then cleaning up all the interlocking parts and pieces, I shoot for twice or even three times as much pesto as I’m going to use whenever I make it. A container of pesto in the fridge is a wonderful thing. It’s delicious mixed in with salad dressings, mixed with mayonnaise, or as a sandwich spread all by itself. And the greatest thing about having leftover pesto in the fridge is … when a few tablespoons are tossed with hot pasta, you have yourself a dinner. If broccoli is on hand, steamed broccoli can be added to the mix and dinner now includes a vegetable. Awesome.

And then there’s the option of broccoli as the actual base for the pesto.

Broccoli Pesto

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

Steam 2 cups of broccoli florets until they are very well cooked (about 7 minutes). Drain the broccoli, returning it to the same pan and add 3 Tbsp olive oil, 3 cloves minced, garlic, and 1/’3 cup of Parmesan cheese. Mash together with a fork, and toss with hot pasta

And depending how one is inclined to define “easy” on any given evening …

A  delicious batch of Pesto Salmon Cakes can be whipped together in a flash with 1 14 oz. can of red salmon, 2 eggs, 2 Tbsp of pesto and breadcrumbs.

Best ever salmon cake recipe

Crustless Quiche

Prep time: 5 minutes     Cook time: 40 minutes

Mushroom onion quiche

Prep is a snap, cook time not so much, so if FAST is the main goal, consider a big omlette instead.

Ingredients*

  • 4-5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups Monterey jack cheese (Almost any cheese or combination of cheeses works. My original recipe called for 1 cup shredded Swiss and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.)
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (optional)

*A plain quiche is perfectly delicious. When I have the time, or the ingredients on hand or the desire to take it up a notch, I’ve added: Canned or leftover salmon; or sliced tomatoes and basil; or sauteed greens; or sauteed mushrooms and onions; or frozen spinach, thawed in the microwave and drained in a colander with the excess liquid squeezed out and mixed into the quiche along with 1/2 tsp. of freshly ground nutmeg.  If time is not a at a premium, or there’s some leftover, cooked brown rice in the fridge, a Beet Green Quiche in a Brown Rice Crust adds a whole new dimension to quiche concept.

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Coat a 9″ pie plate with cooking spray.
  • Crack eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk together with milk and Dijon mustard.
  • Combine shredded cheese. Pour into prepared pie pan.
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until quiche sets
  • Can be served hot, warm or cold

Tortilla Pizza

Yep. Just like it sounds. A tortilla as the crust for a pizza.  I’ve tried a sauce-free Margherita Pizza with just mozarella cheese, basil (or dried oregano), red onions and fresh tomatoes. And then there’s the more standard option of pasta sauce topped with mozarella cheese, possibly mushrooms. Once the shredded cheese and any other ingredients are assembled on the tortilla (which is on a baking sheet), just place it under the broiler on a low setting for about 4 minutes — stand by and watch closely to ensure it doesn’t burn.

Tortilla Pizza

Quesadillas

Essentially, we’re talking grilled cheese, using tortillas instead of bread. A little non-stick cooking spray or vegetable oil on a skillet. A tortilla, a layer of shredded cheese,  another tortilla. Grilled on a medium heat and flipped when the cheese appears melted or the first side is a little crispy. Plain quesadillas are quite tasty. And of course, there’s all kinds of options for taking it up a notch: fresh spinach or grilled onions, red or green peppers or mushrooms. Fast, filling, and crowd pleasing any way you slice it. Pictures here is a plate of sauteed vegetable quesadillas with pico de gallo and guacamole on the side, that Sarah made for some friends.

vegetable quesadillas