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Creamy Mint Pesto Quinoa Noodles

It’s a weekend night. It has been a doozy of a week and I crash through the door with the intention of dinner in an hour. The catch is there is not a bone in my body really rendering its services for the task. Do we head out in what is the second storm to move through San Francisco in a week in search of hot food and a quick turn-around? Do we hail the almighty delivery person with their promise of pizza in under an hour that might leave us feeling not so great? I would like to say we never respond with either of the preceding responses, but let’s just admit that’s not the case. On this particular night, I got a hankering and as I am wont to do went in search of a way to scratch the itch. Pesto in the winter- it sounds now like a movie Nathan introduced “The Lion in Winter.” In this case, the lion was our stomachs and the winter was the rain lashing gashes into our windows. I scrounged. I coddled. I conquered.

Ah, pantry and refrigerator, how you spoil me with your conquests!

The key to making easy last minute ridiculously good food that gets you a smile, hug and a kiss is a properly stocked fridge and pantry. They are your allies when the going gets tough. If you’re interested, I can go through a pretty rudimentary list of our must-have’s, just leave me a comment and I will be sure to plan on covering the fun topic of the LBD in our fridge and pantry.

Tonight’s secret weapon: quinoa linguine. To go out of the ordinary from regular semolina linguine, you’ll find this gluten free pasta a winner with its combination of organic corn flour and organic quinoa flour. It’s a bit of a departure, but looks familiar.

Now for the Pesto in Winter (see how that rolls right off the tongue)? Pesto is comprised of several key ingredients: basil leaves, garlic, pignola, freshly grated parmesan, and olive oil. In the spirit of my kitchen, we work with what we have which this evening did not include the pine nuts, basil and I decided to forego the olive oil in place of grape seed oil. Instead, I began salivating over the idea of mint and pistachios, which are already salad mates, as picking up the ingredient slack. Then there was the addition of kefir. Let me just tell you, you might be seeing a lot of kefir in coming weeks so we will plan a more formal introduction later. The resulting creamy sauce clung to the al dente noodles. With freshly grated parmesan dusting the top of the dish, I found this too good to keep to myself.

Consider it my St. Paddy’s Day gift to you: a dinner that takes less than 30 minutes on a night where you need a bit of a boost.

VEGETARIAN RECIPES- Creamy Mint Pesto Quinoa Noodles

 

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CREAMY MINT PESTO QUINOA NOODLES 

YIELD: 4 servings

1/2 cup plain organic kefir

1 cup mint leaves

1/4  cup unsalted pistachio meat

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1 garlic clove

1/4 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese plus more as desired for garnish

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

kosher salt, to taste

 

1.  Remove mint leaves from stalk and rinse.

2. Add mint leaves, pistachios, oil, salt, pepper, Parmesan Reggiano, garlic and 1/4 cup kefir. Puree until smooth. Taste and add the other 1/4 cup kefir plus a bit more salt if you want. Puree until smooth. Set aside.

3. Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Then add the quinoa linguine noodles, broken in half and added by dropping them into the pot. Cook for 6-9 minutes uncovered and make sure to stir frequently, as you do not want them to clump. I tend to stir with tongs to make sure the noodles are circulated enough. You want them cooked al dente, so around the 8-9 minute mark, you should be good to go.

4. Drain pasta and reserve 1-2 tablespoons of pasta water. Set aside.

5. You will combine the noodles and pesto in three batches, to ensure coverage. Start by adding 1/3 of the hot noodles to a large pan with 1/3 of the Mint Pesto sauce. Add in 1 tablespoon of pasta water and drag them around in the pesto until covered. Add in the next round of noodles and pesto and drag to combine. Do it one last time and add in the other tablespoon of pasta water if it feels too thick.

6. Serve with freshly grated parmesan Reggiano on top to taste.

 

SERVING SUGGESTION: This would actually go very well with a side salad, and perhaps a nice piece of poached salmon.

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Categories
Recipes

Asparagus Artichoke Basil Rosettes

VEGETARIAN RECIPES- Asparagus Artichoke Basil Rosettes

 

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Asparagus Artichoke Basil Rosettes

YIELD: 7 servings (2 per person based on 14 rosettes)

When it comes to food for celebrations, we want to pull out all the stops. Initially, thinking about making these rosettes had me sweating bullets, but I conquered my fear and these were worth it! The variations and ideas for sauces is pretty limitless. For the filling, I used artichoke bottoms from a can because that’s what I had on-hand, but feel free to try these with steamed artichoke hearts instead.

ASPARAGUS SAUCE
1 pound asparagus

2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped

¼ teaspoon olive oil

2 small cloves garlic, crushed

¼ cup whole milk

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 large egg

Dash of freshly cracked black pepper

 

LASAGNA
1 package curly edged lasagna noodles

 

ARTICHOKE FILLING
½ cup (5) Cento brand artichoke bottoms

½ cup fresh homemade ricotta

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Dash of freshly cracked black pepper

 

1. Set water to boil in a large soup pot. While it’s heating up, chop off the ends of asparagus near bottom of green part and before the pale ends (which can be hard to chew and stringy). Place asparagus in steamer basket in boiling water for about 3-4 minutes until asparagus turns bright green.

2. Meanwhile, drizzle olive oil into small sauté pan and add chopped basil leaves. Simmer until toasted. Remove from heat.

3. Drain asparagus and move spears to food processor receptacle. Add in crushed garlic cloves, basil leaves (and oil from pan), egg, salt, pepper and pour in milk. Puree until almost smooth (a little bit of chunkiness lends something rustic to this dish).

4. Wash out soup pot and then fill with 4-6 quarts of water. Set over high heat and cover until boiling. Add in lasagna noodles and turn heat down to medium. Let lasagna noodle sheets cook until al dente about 8-9 minutes based on package instructions. Stir occasionally and gently, taking care not to break noodle sheets.

5. While noodles are cooking, pour your asparagus sauce into a small serving bowl and then clean out the food processor receptacle. Once clean, transfer the artichoke bottoms and fresh homemade ricotta to the food processor receptacle along with cracked black pepper and kosher salt to taste. Puree until smooth.

6. Transfer artichoke ricotta filling to a small serving bowl.

7. Drain the lasagna sheets in a colander, taking care to rinse them with cold water, to help prevent sticking and also to make them easier to handle.

how to make lasagna rosettes

8. Take 1 lasagna sheet and set on a clean countertop. Take a tablespoon from your cutlery drawer and fill with artichoke ricotta (about 1 T filling per lasagna sheet). Set the tip of your spoon down in the middle of the lasagna noodle and drag it in a straight line, taking care to ensure even distribution. Then pinch the two corners together, like you would folding a sheet or blanket and begin to roll inward like a pinwheel.

rolling asparagus artichoke basil rosettes

making lasagna rosettes

You want to make sure they are tight both as you roll them and tight in the casserole dish. (I used a measuring cup to keep the rosettes from moving in the casserole dish and to keep them tight until enough of them were in the dish.)

tips on making lasagna rosettes

tightly packed in casserole dish

9. Keep rolling until you’ve used up your supplies. (In my case, I found a few of the lasagna sheets were mangled or falling apart so I only used the ones that were perfect which resulted in 14 rosettes. With this recipe, you can easily make 18, but that again is contingent on the shape of the noodles).

10. Once the casserole dish is full, carefully pour the asparagus basil sauce over the rosettes evenly so as to ensure even distribution over all rosettes. Refrigerate overnight.

11. On the evening you’re planning to serve the rosettes, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Once the oven is heated up, cook for 15 minutes.

 

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