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Basil Pesto

1 Cup fresh basil leaves
2 to 6 cloves fresh garlic
¼ cup pine nuts, roasted (substitute walnuts or blanched almonds)
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil, approximately ½ cup

Oven-roast pine nuts (or blanched almonds) in a cast iron pan for 15 minutes at 350°.

In a food processor, place the basil, garlic, nuts and pepper.  We generally like the heavier garlic quantity.  Pulse, adding olive oil as you go, to allow processing into a thick paste.    Add the Parmesan and fold in or pulse, adding additional olive oil as needed.

You can substitute part parsley for the basil for a different flavor.  This freezes very well – some people will put a tablespoon of olive oil over the top to seal it from freezer burn for long term storage, but we haven’t found this to be necessary.

This makes a wonderful sandwich spread (turns a cheese sandwich into a delightful meal), or put a dollop in a bowl of mid-winter soup to remind you of summer.  It is most famous, of course, tossed with freshly cooked pasta.  Try it with frozen ravioli for a quick meal too good for anyone but you and me.

Zesty Tomato Bread

What to do with all those tomatoes?!!!  We had bowls of split cherry tomatoes and tomatoes with other blemishes that I just couldn’t throw out.  Then I found a recipe for tomato bread at work (Cardiac Rehab at Mercy Medical Center) and have had a lot of fun adapting it to what we have on hand and trying out new herb combinations.  Here is the basic recipe followed by my adaptations.  The original calls for making the entire bread in a food processor.  I didn’t use ours (it’s pretty old..) and I enjoy making bread with a modified traditional method (ie I use a mixer and enjoy forming my own loaves..) Enjoy!  Joni

Zesty Tomato Bread

1 package active dry yeast 

1/4 cup very warm water

3/4 cup pureed fresh or crushed canned tomatoes

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 Tbsp sugar (or honey)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp each dried basil, oregano, and parsley, crumbled

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 3/ cups flour

1. Disolve yeast in water in a small bowl until creamy, about 5 minutes.

2.  In the workbowl of a food processor, combine tomato, garlic, sugar, salt, basil, oregano, parsley and oil.  Whirl until smooth.  Add yeast mixture and flour, process until dough forms a ball.  Transfer dough to lightly oiled bowl and cover. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake until bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 40 minutes.  Cool.  Yield: 10 servings.

Nutrition Info: per serving:

Calories: 165  Fat  3.1 g.  saturated fat  0.4 g  cholesterol 0   sodium 183 mg

Experiment 1:

First I blended all my tomatoes, which was about 4 cups of puree, to that I added 1/2 cup of garlic cloves.  Then I used:

2 cups of tomato/garlic puree

1/2 cup each fresh basil, oregano and parsley (including the root of the small new parsley)

1/2 cup water

1 Tbsp yeast

1 Tbsp honey

1/4 cup olive oil

2 heaping Tbsp gluten flour (gluten flour improves the texture of whole grain breads)

3 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup pumpernickel rye flour

2 1/2 cups white flour (whatever amount needed to get a nice soft dough)

My method:

Soften yeast in warm water and honey.

Add to tomato puree, oil and blend.  Slowly add gluten flour and rye and whole wheat flour.  Add white flour until a soft dough forms.  Knead 10 minutes in mixer. Allow to rise and bake as above.

Experiment 2:

2 cups of tomato garlic puree

1-12″ stem of fresh rosemary, adding only the ‘leaves’ to the batter (you may want to add more)

1/2 cup warm water

1 Tbsp yeast

1 Tbsp honey

2 heaping Tbsp gluten flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

3+ cups white flour

Same method as above.  I made some of these into rolls, which would be nice for the Fall holidays, some into loaves for sandwiches.

The combinations for herbs is limitless – just keep the liquid and dry ingredients in porportion.

Butternut Squash And Roasted-Garlic Bisque

2 heads of garlic, halved crosswise
1 teaspoon olive oil 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
3 cups chopped onions
3/4 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
4 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Rub cut surfaces of garlic with oil. Put halves back together to reassemble heads. Wrap each tightly in foil; bake until tender, about 40 minutes. Cool garlic in foil.

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and celery; sauté until onions are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add squash, broth and 2 tablespoons sage. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered until squash is tender, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, unwrap garlic. Squeeze from skin into small bowl. Discard skin. Mash garlic with fork until smooth.

Stir garlic into soup. Working in batches, purée soup in blender until smooth. Return to pot. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Refrigerate uncovered until cold. Cover and keep refrigerated. Bring to simmer before continuing.) Stir in 1/2 cup cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer soup to tureen. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon cream.

Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sage.

Makes 12 servings.

Source: Bon Appétit November 2000

Sherry Scented Green Beans with Garlic and Pancetta

2 pounds green beans — trimmed
1/2 pound pancetta — chopped
1 1/3 teaspoons garlic — minced
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper — to taste
2 2/3 tablespoons sherry

Steam green beans for about 2 minutes or until crisp tender. Shock immediately in ice water to stop the cooking process. In a large skillet, sauté the pancetta until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Set aside.

In another skillet, heat the oil and sauté the garlic quickly. Add the green beans and sauté until they are hot. Deglaze the pan with the sherry and
season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve. Garnish with the crumbled pancetta.

Garlic Scented Green Beans

2 pounds green beans — trimmed
1 tablespoon garlic — minced
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper — to taste

Steam green beans for about 2 minutes or until crisp tender. Shock immediately in ice water to stop the cooking process.

In a skillet, heat the oil and sauté the garlic quickly. Add the green beans and sauté until they are hot. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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