ZUCCHINI NOODLES WITH SUNDRIED TOMATO PESTO

One of the best acquisitions for our kitchen was the spiralizer. It is the type of gadget that requires a little bit of getting used to. When I first got it, the idea of dragging it out of the cabinet, setting it on the countertop, and getting my technique right so that the strands would be uniformly gorgeous… seemed a bit much. But trust me, the more you use it, the better you’ll be and the more you’ll fall in love with it. Now I don’t even blink, grab it, and try it on all sorts of veggies, broccoli stalks being the most recent. Stay tuned for that one… Should I call them “broodles?” Yeah, broodles. Mind. Blown. But anyway, zucchini is probably the number one veggie that everyone uses. They have the perfect shape and give super long and beautiful strands. Plus, they marry well with so many sauces: Oriental style like soy with peanuts plus a little fish sauce to hip-it-up, tomato based sauces, cashew cream, real cream, pesto, browned butter… Today I am sharing a recipe from a favorite food blog of mine. I’ve cooked many dishes from  The Iron You. Mike raved about the combination of sun-dried tomato pesto and zoodles. He is one smart cookie. It is superb! You must try it.

ZoodlesSundried11

ZUCCHINI NOODLES WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATO PESTO
(adapted from The Iron You)

for the sun-dried tomato pesto:
½ cup  oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
⅓ cup roasted almonds
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese
small bunch of fresh basil leaves
salt to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil

for the noodles:
6 medium-large zucchini

In a food processor (or blender) add roasted almonds and basil and pulse until roughly chopped. Add sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and Pecorino Romano cheese and process until a uniform paste has formed. Season with a little salt. With the food processor (or blender) running, stream in the olive oil and continue blending until the olive oil is emulsified into the pesto and the sauce looks uniform. Pesto can be stored in the refrigerator with a thin film of olive oil on top.

Using a spiralizer create zucchini noodles using your favorite blade, thin or thick, whatever you prefer.

Boil the zoodles in salted boiling water for 2 minutes, drain and mix with the pesto sauce while still very hot.  Sprinkle with additional Parmigiano cheese before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

comp1


Comments:
Talk about a tasty pesto!  The texture of mine was not as smooth as the one Mike made, at least from the photos, but I don’t think that matters that much. If you prefer a smoother texture, process further and maybe add a little more olive oil.  I used roasted unsalted almonds, so I adjusted the seasoning with salt. Mike used salted almonds and he also used garlic, which I am sure most of my readers will enjoy too.  I fully agree that it was a match made in heaven with the zoodles.  We enjoyed it as a side dish with grilled pork tenderloin, but of course you could make it into a fully vegetarian meal if you add a few more goodies on the plate, like roasted asparagus, a big salad, or a crostini with a smear of goat cheese run under the broiler. Yeah, that sounds about right!

served11

Dinner is served!

 

Zoodles with Sundried Tomato Pesto

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Caprese Salad with Toasted Walnuts

TWO YEARS AGO: Oh, my God! I think I saw something!

THREE YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with Hoisin-Grilled Chicken and Soba Noodles

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Manhattan Project

FIVE YEARS AGO: Carrot “Nib” Orzo

SIX YEARS AGO:  A Sticky Situation

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  The Garden

THAI-STYLE PESTO WITH BROWN RICE PASTA

As someone who owns a disturbingly high number of cookbooks, subscribes to several cooking magazines, and downloads cookbooks on her iPad on a regular basis, I am aware that those should be my main source of inspiration for dinners. Surprisingly, one more time I will blog on something seen on FoodTV.  Go figure. Rachael Ray enticed me with this pesto, especially through her description of how floral and complex-tasting Fresno peppers can be.  I had most ingredients around, all I needed to grab at the grocery store was the bright red Fresno pepper.  Quick to put together, this turned out as a very delicious pesto.  Not sure about the floral, though. Read on…  😉

Thai-Style Pesto

THAI-STYLE PESTO WITH BROWN RICE PASTA
(adapted from Rachael Ray)
.
1 pound brown rice spaghetti
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh baby arugula leaves
5 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons tamari
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lime, juiced
1 Fresno chile, seeded
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water, add the pasta, and cook until al dente.Place the basil and arugula leaves, 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, tamari, garlic, lime juice, and chile into a food processor. Pulse into a paste. Drizzle in the extra-virgin olive oil. Pour the pesto into a large bowl and reserve.  If the pesto seems too thick, reserve a little bit of the pasta cooking water, and use it to thin the pesto right before incorporating into the cooked spaghetti.
.
Drain the pasta, add to the pesto, and toss to combine. Garnish with the remaining 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds.
.
ENJOY!
.

to print the recipe, click here

ingredients

Comments: Rachael Ray’s title for this show was “Thai Tonight”, and she served the pasta with a stir-fry of chiles and chicken over shredded iceberg lettuce.  I had some iceberg lettuce in the fridge, but went with grilled flank steak.  I simply seasoned the lettuce with lime juice and a tiny bit of grapeseed oil, added some Campari tomatoes that were feeling ignored and risking the cruel fate of a compost pile. The grilled steak rested on the bed of this improvised salad.  A simple main dish to allow the pasta to shine.

meat

I did not have a lot of basil available, so I used baby arugula to compensate, I like its sharper nature. Now, let’s address the floral component of a Fresno chile.  When I plated the dish, I told Phil that next time I would use two peppers to make it more colorful, because “Fresno is all about flavor, not real heat.”  After the second forkful of pasta, lips burning, taste buds fried, we were both grateful that I used only one!   😉  Either Rachael’s tolerance for heat is a lot higher than mine, or I managed to pick a mutant pepper with unusually high levels of capsaicin at the grocery store. But, the interesting thing is that after a while we more or less got used to the heat and the sweat dripping from our foreheads, and thought the level of spice was just right.  So I say be brave, grab a Fresno (make sure you seed it) and go for it!

Rachael used brown rice pasta as the starch component.  Traditionally, one would choose the regular, white rice noodles associated with Thai cooking, and of course they work great for this type of dish.  But I loved the slightly firmer texture of the brown rice spaghetti.  Nowadays I use whole wheat pasta almost exclusively, but both brown rice and quinoa pasta have their spot in the Bewitching pantry.

platedDinner is served!

.

ONE YEAR AGO: Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce

TWO YEARS AGO:  A Simple Appetizer (Baked Ricotta)

THREE YEARS AGO: Sour Cream Sandwich Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pasta with Zucchini Strands and Shrimp

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: LINGUINE WITH CAULIFLOWER PESTO

Linguini Cauliflower Pesto

A sensible person evaluates a situation and chooses a path of action that is compatible with it.  For example: a sensible food blogger whose kitchen is undergoing renovation would take a break from The Secret Recipe Club to be back once she actually has a place to cook.  I did consider that option for a while, say… 5 seconds.  😉 So, throwing caution to the wind, here I am to join once more the virtual party in which bloggers are paired in secret to cook recipes from their matched blog.
.
Last month was my 2nd anniversary with SRC, so this post opens my third year with the group. And what could be better for an “old-timer” than to be paired with a new member?  I was assigned Vintage Kitchen Notes, hosted by the beautiful  Paula, who just joined SRC. She cooks and blogs from Argentina, right next door to my home country. Paula blogs in English, but she also keeps another blog in Spanish – talk about blogging stamina!  I actually tried to include recipes in Portuguese for a while, but quickly realized it was too much of a struggle for me.  So, I am in awe that Paula can do it all!  Her photography is beautiful, I had a wonderful time browsing her site. Let me share a few of her concoctions that were particularly tempting to me: 8-Hour Cheesecake with Roasted GrapesLimoncello-Glazed Citrus Poppy Seed Cake, Chocolate-Hazelnut Mini-Bundt Cakes (gorgeous!), Pastel Azteca (gotta make that sometime), Roasted Radicchio and Provolone Risotto (go drool over the photo, will you?), and just to tempt my bread baking addiction, she has more than 40 different bread recipes listed on her index.  I will just mention one: Soft Pretzels with Spicy Beer Cheese Sauce.   I’ve always wanted to make soft pretzels at home, but that will have to wait for calmer days.
.
Since our kitchen looks like a war zone.  I ended up choosing a very intriguing recipe that required only the food processor and one pan to cook the pasta.  Seemed doable under the circumstances.  So, I am delighted to share with you my first experience with a cauliflower pesto!

closeup

LINGUINE WITH CAULIFLOWER PESTO 
(from Paula, at Vintage Kitchen Notes, originally adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)
.
1 pound (450g) fresh cauliflower
1 medium shallot, quartered
pinch of red pepper flakes
½ cup toasted almonds
2 oz. (60g) Asiago cheese
4 sun-dried tomatoes, dried-packed
1 Tbs drained capers
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil (I used 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (I added 2 tsp)
1 pound linguine
.
Cover the sun-dried tomatoes with boiling water in a small bowl and let them stand for 5 to 10 minutes to soften. Drain well and chop them coarsely. Rinse the cauliflower, cut off the leaves and hard stalks.  Cut the rest into chunks, and add to a food processor, processing them until they are more or less the texture of couscous. Transfer to a large bowl and reserve while you prepare the other ingredients.
.
Add to the food processor the pieces of shallot,  pepper flakes, almonds, cheese,  sun-dried tomatoes, capers and parsley. Process until they´re as fine as the cauliflower. Season with salt and pepper. Add oil and vinegar and pulse until a paste forms. If you feel it´s too dry for your taste, add another tablespoon of olive oil.
.
Transfer to the bowl with the cauliflower, check the mixture  for salt and pepper and add more if necessary.
Cook the linguini until al dente in plenty of salted boiling water.  Reserve some of the cooking liquid, and drain the pasta, transferring to a serving bowl.   Add some of the pesto and mix gently.  If necessary, add some of the reserved cooking liquid. Add the remaining pesto, sprinkle with grated cheese, a few parsley leaves and serve immediately.
.
ENJOY!
.
to print the recipe, click here
.

composite11

Comments:  You might remember that Phil is not too wild about cauliflower, so I  was hoping to prepare the pesto while he was doing something outside, maybe playing golf or trimming tree branches.  My plan almost worked but not quite. I had cleaned all the “remains” of the cauliflower from the crime scene,  but he caught a glimpse of the processed cauliflower, and…

What is this? some exotic type of rice?

This? No, not rice.
(quickly moving the bowl away from view)

Hummmmm… couscous?

 No, not really…

What IS it?

I cannot quite tell you.  It’s a surprise. It’s going to be a pesto..  A surprise pesto..    

Pesto? Great, I love pesto!

😉 😉 😉 😉

served

Verdict: Two very enthusiastic thumbs up for this pasta! I can understand why Paula made this dish twice in  the same week. One could imagine the raw cauliflower to be too sharp and omnipresent in the pesto, but it’s not.  It is just a perfectly balanced dish, with the capers, the vinegar, the sun-dried tomatoes, the parsley,  a real winner.  I divulged the “secret ingredient” of the Secret Recipe Club concoction to Phil, and he was amazed.  The heat of the pasta slightly changes the texture of the cauliflower, taming its raw taste.  I highly recommend you try this recipe.  If you use the reduced amount of oil I did, make sure to save some of the pasta cooking liquid to adjust the consistency at the end.  If it still seems too thick, swirl a little olive oil right at the table.

Paula, it was great to get your blog this month, I hope you had fun stalking and cooking from your assigned site!

For a delicious collection of tasty dishes prepared by my friends from Group D of SRC, click on the blue frog at the end of the post…

ONE YEAR AGO: Carriage House Apple-Walnut Pie

TWO YEARS AGO: Chicken Marsala

THREE YEARS AGO:  Home, sweet home

FOUR YEARS AGO: Levain Bread with Caramelized Onions

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: PENNE WITH TRAPANESE PESTO

noname
Not sure how we made it so fast to the end of May, but here we are!  And the last Monday of the month brings with it the Reveal Day for The Secret Recipe Club.  Bloggers are paired in secret, stalk each other’s site for a nice recipe, and blog about it on the same day.  This month I was paired with Erin, from The Spiffy Cookie.  She is a graduate student working on her PhD in Microbiology and that immediately puts us both in a similar page.  Granted, I probably had my PhD before she was born, but still… I know what it takes and how frustrating it can be to get there.   As I always say to the students in the lab, “science is not for sissies“.  But, I digress.   I spent quite a bit of time on her site, tempted by many of her recipes. A few examples for you:  Chicken Burgers with Garlic & Rosemary Yogurt, Apple Oatmeal Breakfast MuffinsNutella Mousse (that almost made my final cut), and Nutella-Swirled Banana Bread Snack Cake (do I need to say anything more?).  But, in the end, my heart was set on Penne with Trapanese Pesto, because it seemed like the type of recipe Phil and I would love.  Plus, the almonds in the sauce take me to a Persian aura that is quite welcome in our kitchen these days. So, without further ado, my contribution to the SRC this month…

Sally(photo kindly optimized by an angel called Sawsan…)

PENNE WITH TRAPANESE PESTO
(slightly adapted from The Spiffy Cookie)

2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
1/3 cup almonds, lightly toasted
1 clove garlic
12 basil leaves
1-2 anchovies filets (or to taste)
2 tsp capers
1 pinch crushed red pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, almonds, garlic, basil, anchovies, capers, crushed red pepper, cheese, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse a few times to get it going. With the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream. Taste it. Add a little more salt if needed.

Meanwhile, cook your pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain and return to pot.  Pour the pesto over the pasta and toss to combine.  Store whatever is left in a sealed container in the fridge for a week. Serve  with more cheese and basil.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

ingredients
Comments: I made two small modifications in the recipe, adding capers and anchovies to the pesto. Now, for those who personally know me, it will be shocking to learn I added anchovies were anchovies were not called for.  Yes, indeed, I don’t like anchovies, but have been working on improving our relationship.  For one of those virtual coincidences, a food blog I recently fell in love with (Chef Mimi Blog) had a post on Trapanese Pesto, and she added anchovies.  Being a certified anchovy-wimp, I added only 1 small filet, carrying it with the tip of the fork, arm extended as far as I could to avoid its pungent aroma…   🙂  Capers seemed like a natural partner for all other ingredients,  so into the pesto they went.

This was a delicious meal! For my taste, Trapanese pesto beats the Genovese by a long shot.  Less oily, less pungent.  The recipe made more sauce than needed for our pasta dinner, leftovers will keep in the fridge for a few days.

composite
Erin, it was great to stalk your blog for recipes and get to know your site better (although I’ve visited your blog many times before) through this month’s adventure with SRC.  For those who want to see the full collection of recipes posted by members of our group, click on the funky frog and have fun!

ONE YEAR AGO: Superman

TWO YEARS AGO: Spring Pasta

THREE YEARS AGO: Ice Cream Melts for Mango



THE MANY FACES OF KALE

The other day I bought a huge, and I mean HUGE bunch of kale with the firm idea of making a frittata with it. As the afternoon moved along, I changed my mind on our menu, and the kale transmogrified into a light gratin.   But I also  toyed with the idea of simple kale chips (which I love), only to drop that and settle on a salad.  Maybe settle is not quite right.  By the time I jumped on dinner preparation, the kale ended up as pesto. Flip-flopper? Who, me?  😉

FARFALLE WITH KALE PESTO
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 big bunch of kale, stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
1/4 cup of walnuts, toasted
pinch of red pepper flakes
olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper
1/4 to 1/3 cup yogurt

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil.  Drop the kale leaves and blanch them for a couple of minutes.  Immediately drain, and rinse briefly in cold water. Drain well, then place in a salad spinner to dry the leaves as much as possible.

Add the toasted walnuts and red pepper flakes to the bowl of a food processor, and process for a few seconds.  Add the blanched kale and process together with the nuts until a paste forms.  Season with salt and pepper.  Squeeze lemon juice all over. Close the processor, and add the olive oil as a stream.  Once the oil is incorporated, stop to scrape the sides of the bowl, add yogurt and process until everything is smooth.   Taste, adjust seasoning, and reserve.

Meanwhile, cook farfalle pasta until al dente, reserving some of the pasta cooking water.  When the pasta is cooked, mix with the pesto, and add the reserved cooking water to thin the sauce, if necessary.   Serve with plenty of parmigiano-reggiano cheese grated on top.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  I’ve seen recipes for kale pesto in which the raw leaves are processed with the usual suspects (garlic and olive oil).  I decided it would be too harsh for our taste, so  I took the extra step of blanching the leaves.  If you are a garlic lover, add a couple of cloves together with the walnuts.   I loved this version of pesto,  and even used some as a spread for a ham sandwich at lunch next day.   All amounts are a bit eye-balled,  if you like the flavor of olive oil to be more pronounced, use more and omit or reduce the yogurt.   Don’t leave the lemon juice out, though – it adds that citric brightness that is a must in this recipe.

For additional kale inspirations, a small sample of recipes from the internet:  

Kale Gratin … A nice recipe from Taste Food,  she used spinach, but I think kale would be great too

Kale Salad with Butternut Squash… from Eats Well with Others

Kale Frittata... from My Kitchen in the Rockies

Golden Chard Pie… from the early days of my blog

Kale Chips… from not so early days of my blog

and for an interesting twist on this great veggie, take a look at these cute Quinoa and Kale Patties

ONE YEAR AGO:  Short and Sweet

TWO YEARS AGO: Ciabatta, a Classic Italian Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: Magical Lamb Stew