Tag Archives: pesto

A Sandwich Named Lexi

My college-student son shared his favorite coffee shop, Margie’s Blue Mug, with us on one of our visits.  Besides coffee, Margie’s offers a variety of breakfast and lunch items.  One of those is my new favorite sandwich; the only sandwich I want to eat right now: The Lexi.

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I get it vegetarian/vegan, without the cream cheese and sliced turkey it usually comes with.  My son says it’s spectacular with those things, so if you’re not vegan, I’m sure he’d recommend you add those in to the somewhat quirky ingredients:

the stuff

For one sandwich

  • 1 whole wheat bagel (or bagel of your choice)
  • 1-2 TBSP prepared basil pesto (get or make pesto without Parmesan to be vegan)
  • 1-2 TBSP apricot jam (I used peach today)
  • sliced tomatoes (I used 4 slices from a roma tomato)
  • sliced red onion (I used one thin slice, separated into rings)
  • lettuce (Margie’s uses a greens mix, I had romaine)

Spread pesto on one side of the bagel, and jam on the other.  YES!  This is the quirky part, but what a combo!  These two condiments MAKE the sandwich.  They’re what make me want to make a Lexi for every meal.  Even breakfast.

spread jam and pesto

Put the lettuce, onion and tomato on the bottom half, top it with the lid of the bagel and there you are!  The Lexi!

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WARNING– this sandwich disappears in a hurry.  One second you have a whole bagel sandwich, the next second you have a plate with a crumb or two on it.  Yup.  It’s THAT yummy.

 

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Filed under comfort food, dairy-free, Garden produce, lunch, recipe, restaurants, Vegetarian

Mushroom Ravioli with Asparagus and Parsley Pesto

Oh Spring, how I love your warming weather, the trees greening up, flowers blooming and especially asparagus doing its asparagus thing!  The first fresh-picked asparagus of the season deserves a special meal to help celebrate it!

Amazing yumminess comes from just a few ingredients!

  • wonton wrappers
  • 8 oz mushrooms (I used pre-sliced baby bellas)
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 large shallot, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup parsley pesto
  • asparagus, cut into bit-size pieces and steamed
  • chopped walnuts (optional)

Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil.

Saute mushrooms and shallots in 1 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP olive oil.

When mushrooms soften and shallots are transluscent, place in a food processor and give them a rough chop.

Add ricotta cheese and process to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place 1 tsp-ish of the mushroom mixture in the center of a wonton wrapper.

Wet the edges with water on your finger, fold in half and seal, then fold the long points over, pressing together with water to seal.

Continue with the rest of the mixture.  You’ll end up with 24-30 cute little packages.  Place them in the boiling water. 

When they rise to the top, scoop them out with a spider, allowing them to drain.  Place in a bowl.

Dilute the pesto with a ladle or two of the pasta water and pour over the ravioli.  Top with the steamed asparagus and chopped walnuts if desired.  My parsley pesto is made with walnuts, so I thought they’d add a layer of yummy crunchiness to this otherwise very tender dish.

Place ravioli on plates, top with grated parmesan and enjoy!

These were so spring-time yummerific and totally easy-peasy.  The perfect smooth combination of mushrooms and cheese in tender little pasta packets with a sauce that complimented the raviolis and the asparaus perfectly.

 

 There were even enough for a yummy lunch the next day!  What flavors remind you of spring?

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Parsley Walnut Pesto

Wow it’s been a while since I’ve blogged!  October is a busy, busy month for a band mom–marching events, the state qualifier and a trip to the State Marching Band Competition take a lot of planning and volunteering.  I’m not complaining–I absolutely LOVE our Marching Warriors!  ❤  Marching season is finished, the show has been “put to bed,” and we’re heading into concert band, jazz band and pit orchestra seasons–all a bit less time-intensive for me, so hopefully my poor blog won’t be so ignored.  🙂

We’ve had a series of hard frosts here in Western Colorado.  The first one got my basil–waaahhhh.  No basil pesto this year.  Parsley is a bit tougher plant and withstood the first frost with no problem.  I’ve been covering it to assure at least SOME pesto for the winter.  Parsley Walnut Pesto is a nice substitute for basil pesto, and just as easy to make.

For one batch:

  • 2 cups loosely packed parsley (I prefer flat-leaf Italian parsley.  I think it is more flavor-y)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

I had LOTS of parsley, so I made triple batches.

Remove leaves from the stems–parsley stems are tough and stringy–NOT good for a smooth pesto!

Wash and dry the leaves.  I float the parsley in water in a clean sink, then use a salad spinner to dry them.

Add the measured amount of leaves and corresponding number of peeled garlic cloves to a food processor–a triple batch has 6 cups leaves, 12 cloves.  I highly recommend those little tube garlic peelers if you’re making tons of pesto and therefore peeling tons of garlic.

Give the parsley and garlic a rough chop.

Add nuts, cheese, salt and pepper.  Process on low.

With the machine running, slowly stream in the olive oil. 

Mix until well combined.  You have pesto!  Taste it and adjust salt and pepper if needed.  How easy was that?  No need to pay the big bucks for grocery-store pesto when you can whip up a batch freshy-fresh!

I like to make a lot while I’m at it, package it up and freeze it for the winter. I measure out 1/2 cup amounts and place them in a snack-size ziploc, then place a bunch of the pesto packets in a gallon freezer ziploc, marked with the date and contents. 

Yummy!  1/2 cup is a perfect amount for saucing a pasta, adding to mashed potatoes, or jazzing up chicken

The pesto freezes well and defrosts in a jiffy in the microwave.  My triple batches resulted in five little 1/2 cup bags of pesto.

This recipe is the one I use for basil pesto, subbing in basil for the parsley, pine nuts for the walnuts.  Play around with it according to ingredients you have.  Tree-nut allergies?  Try using sunflower seeds.  I’m thinking pecans would also be yummy…..mmmmmmm!

What will YOU make with your fresh pesto?

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Filed under appetizer, Canning and preserving, dinner, Garden produce, recipe, side dish, Vegetarian

Parsley Pesto Mashers

It’s raining!  A welcome relief after the last few “blast furnace” days.  Here I am, computer on my lap, listening to thunder and enjoying the fresh rain smell.  I had the day off from the greenhouse and ran around doing things I haven’t been able to get to lately…on the list of things to do today:  blog the mashers I promised 2 weeks ago!  Wow–thanks for being patient! 

Parsley and garlic are naturals with potatoes, and the pesto made this side dish super easy.  Have a look at what you need for Parsley Pesto Mashers:

  • 3-4 potatoes, scrubbed, cubed, boiled until fork-tender
  • 1/2 cup parsley pesto (Find the recipe at the end of this post.)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp hard cheese, such as pecorino romano (Or more if you like!)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup half and half  (Feel free to use skim if you want to cut a few calories or heavy cream if you’re feeling decadent!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cube potatoes so they’ll cook quickly and evenly.  Peel if you want; I like the earthy flavor of the peel, so I leave them on. Place in a pot, add water to cover and cook until fork-tender.

Drain potatoes and add back to the hot pan to dry them–the hot pan will cook off excess water that can make your mashers soggy–bleh.

Add half and half and mash with a hand masher.  If potatoes seem too dry, add a bit more half and half….or butter! That would be extra yummy!

Add cheese and pesto, mash together until evenly mixed and desired smoothness or lumpiness is achieved.  Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.

Serve ’em up along side the entree of your choice.  I was a bit worried they’d end up too, too green….but they were just fine!

Next time you’re invited somewhere and asked to bring a side, or if company’s coming and you want to impress, or if you just want a nice, flavor-y, comfort-y somethin’ with your dinner, these mashers are the way to go!

I had leftovers….so the next day, I snuck some out of the fridge, made little patties and fried them in a skillet with a bit of butter.  Yummy!  I got caught, though and had to share–the garlic smell lured Mr16 from his lair!  Next time, I’ll add an egg to help them hold together better.  Maybe I’ll make fritters from the mashers to begin with!

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Parsley Pesto Chicken Parmesan

We’re freshly back from a 4000 mile trip to see friends and relatives in Georgia, North Carolina and Maryland.  That’s 4000 miles driving.  Y’know, I just couldn’t bring myself to blog.  I had some blogging ideas, like something about the snack foods I selected to munch on while we travelled, but decided to spend my time with our friends instead.  Time well spent!  I may get around to blogging my ideas….or not! 

So.  We’re back and there’s not much in the house to cook.  I had some frozen chicken, frozen pesto, potatoes that needed to be dealt with and some nice, sharp pecorino romano….how ’bout a chicken parmesan-y thing with pesto instead of tomato sauce along with some pesto mashers?!  Yup, just the thing.  A way to feed three people with just two chicken breasts.

I gathered up a few things:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 4-6 slices of a sharp, hard cheese–like pecorino romano or parmesano reggiano
  • 1/2 cup pesto  (This is a parsley-walnut pesto made using my basil pesto recipe, subbing parsley for basil, walnuts for pine nuts.  Find the recipe at the end of this post.)
  • 1/2-1 cup bread crumbs, I like Panko
  • 1 egg, beaten with a splash of water
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Cut chicken breasts in half.  One at a time, place each half in a ziploc bag and pound until a uniform thickness of approximately 1/4 inch is achieved.  I have a wooden meat pounder thingie, but you could use a rolling pin or can of soup or a skillet.  (Or any not-terribly-heavy, hard object….get creative!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Set up a breading station of shallow bowls, large enough in diameter to accomodate the chicken.  Add milk to the one farthest from your fry pan, then flour, then egg, and finally bread crumbs in the bowl closest to the fry pan.

Place the fry pan over medium high heat and add 1 TBSP each olive oil and butter.  Wait until butter is melted.  Dip a pounded breast into the milk, then flour–shaking off excess, then egg and finally bread crumbs.  Gently lay in the fry pan, and repeat with another breast.  Be careful to not overcrowd the pan to achieve a nice golden crispiness.  Work in batches if needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remove cooked chicken to a plate lined with paper towels until all is cooked.  Place about half of the pesto in the bottom of a baking dish large enough to bake all the chicken pieces.  Add chicken breasts on top, then the rest of the pesto and cheese slices.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese gets melty and the chicken absorbs the yummy pesto flavors.  I added a bit of mozzerella at the end of the baking time (the romano wasn’t giving me the melty quality I was after) and baked for a wee bit longer–until it melted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serve hot with some yummy pesto mashers (recipe soon!), garnish with some fresh-from-the-garden parsley to make it pretty, and wait for the compliments.  Oh yeah, there will be compliments.  Don’t even think about having leftovers.

Yummy!  Double the batch for leftovers–I’m thinking this chicken would make a killer sandwich…with a tomato…and a crunchy lettuce leaf….maybe a schmear of mayo…mmmmmm! 

I’m using my new phone to take pictures now.  Do you notice a difference?  The camera takes pics in portrait…I’m kinda liking being able to stack two side-by-side.  I’m looking forward to learning this new camera and seeing what sorts of things it will do. 

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Presto Pesto Pasta…with chicken

A couple of years ago, I over-planted basil in the garden and ended up with WAY more than I could use.  What to do?  Learn to make pesto, of course!  I found a great recipe that freezes and keeps well, and that’s the pesto I use for this pasta recipe.  Store-bought pesto would work just as well.

My BFF Becky came up with this recipe.  I can’t remember if she was inspired by something on Food Network or something in a magazine or what.  I just know it’s yummy, and an easy go-to dinner in a hurry!

Ingredients for Presto Pesto Pasta…with chicken:

1 to 1 1/2 pounds of chicken   (whichever cuts you like)

oil for cooking the chicken

salt and pepper

1/2 cup prepared pesto

1 package dried pasta  (I used rotini–I like the way it holds the sauce)

1/2 of an 8 ounce package of cream cheese  (I used fat-free!)

1 package pine nuts

1 cup of “pasta water”  (taken from the pasta before you drain it)

Set a big pot of water on the stove and boil water for the pasta.  (It will boil faster with a lid on it.)  When the water comes to a boil, salt it with a palmful of salt, and add the pasta.  Cook the pasta according to package directions, remembering to retain one cup of the pasta water before you drain the pasta.

Cut chicken into a large dice–about 1-inch pieces.  This is easier to do if the chicken is partially frozen.  (Safety note: always wash your hands before and after handling raw meat, keep a cutting board that is only used for raw meat, be sure your knife is sharp.) 

Set a large fry pan over medium-high heat, and add about a tablespoon of oil in the pan.  When pan is hot, add the chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook until browned on all sides, and cooked through.  Remove from heat.

When pasta is cooked, retain a cup of the cooking liquid–I just use a coffee cup–and drain the rest.  Leave the pasta in the collander and return the pot to the stove.  Reduce heat to low.

In the pot, combine the cream cheese and pesto.  Stir to combine and melt together–this tends to be a bit sticky and gloppy.  Add pasta water a bit at a time to thin and make the sauce less sticky.  (Something about the starch in the pasta water brings this sauce to a nice consistancy.)  Add the pasta and cooked chicken.  Stir to coat with the sauce, add more pasta water as needed.  ( I used about 3/4 of the cup, total.)

Place in bowls, top with pine nuts (and grated parmesan if desired) and serve!

Mr16 loves this pasta.  It would be great with sliced tomatoes on the side, or a caprese (tomato slices, fresh mozzerella slices, basil, balsamic vinegrette) salad.  This recipe would be yummy with shrimp or it would also be tasty without meat, for a great vegetarian alternative!  Usually, I’m in a hurry when I make it and the pasta is the entire meal.  So far, no complaints, because it’s just so yummy! 

For anyone with a bit of time and a food processor, here’s the pesto recipe:

2 cups loosely packed fresh basil

4 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (evoo)

1 cup freshly grated parmesan

1/3 cup pine nuts

salt and pepper

Place garlic and basil in food processor and rough chop.

Add nuts and cheese, process until well combined.

With the machine running, stream in the evoo, add salt and pepper to taste.

Use immediately, storing unused portion in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.  It freezes well–I place 1/4 cup portions in snack-size ziplocs, and then those packages in a gallon freezer bag.   (So nice to have these little packages of summer-time flavor to open all winter!)

Last year I had too much flat-leaf parsley, so I made parsley pesto with walnuts instead of pine nuts.  Yummy!

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