Spinach Pesto Pasta

I love a good pesto during the summer. In the past I have not had particularly great success with making my own pesto. I just never felt like I got the flavor and texture correct. And now, since going dairy-free, I have to consider pesto without the Parmesan cheese. I decided to mesh a couple of recipes together to create this dairy-free pesto to go over a roasted tomato and white bean pasta dish. It was delicious! And the leftover pesto is great for topping homemade pizza or using for a pita bread dip.

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SPINACH PESTO
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2 1/2 c. baby spinach
1/2 c. fresh basil leaves
1/2 c. walnut pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of one lemon
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 c. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Add the spinach, basil, walnuts, garlic, and lemon juice into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until everything is broken down into small pieces. Add the nutritional yeast, olive oil, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Whirl until the pesto is smooth.

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Soup Pot: Pesto Bean Soup

I loved the pesto insert in the March Food Network Magazine. It had some great ideas! I made the pesto bean soup and it was amazing! We all enjoyed it so much. And it was very easy to put together as well as being healthy.

PESTO BEAN SOUP – March Food Network Magazine
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5 garlic cloves (I used a little less)
pinch of red pepper flakes
Olive oil
2 cans cannelini beans, drained
1 c. water.
3 Tb. pesto
2 Tb. parmesan cheese
3 c. chicken broth
1 c. celery, chopped
1/2 c. olives, chopped (I omitted since we don’t care for them)
1/2 c. roasted red pepper, chopped

Saute garlic cloves and red pepper flakes in a skillet with olive oil. Add cannellini beans and water; simmer until thick, about 8 minutes. Stir in pesto and parmesan.

Add chicken broth and celery; cook 15 minutes. Stir in olives and roasted peppers.

Off The Shelf: Potato Salad

Potato Salad by Debbie Moose is a wonderful cookbook to have on your summer cooking shelf. The book contains 65 different recipes which all have me drooling and wanting to try each and every one!

Check out the names of some of these salads:

Farmer’s Market Salad
Grilled Potato Salad
Sweet Potato Waldorf Salad
Double Tater Salad
Ultimate Olive Salad
Lemony Dill Salad
Sweet Potato Salad
Quick Italian Salad
German Warm Potato Salad
Triple Cheese Potatoes
Sassy Salsa Salad
Smoky Bacon Salad
Sweet Potato Ambrosia Salad
Tart Lemon Pepper Salad
Curry Potato Salad
Tuscan Taters
Hungarian Potatoes
Greek Potato Salad
Blue Moon (using blue cheese and blue potatoes!!!)
Caesar Potato Salad
I tried the Herbs and Garlic Salad which was so good that it will become my go-to recipe for potato salad.

HERBS AND GARLIC SALAD
(Potato Salad)

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 Tbsp. chopped chives
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used green onion)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme

Place the potatoes in a large pot, add enough water to cover them, cover the pot with a lid, and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are pierced easily with the tip of a sharp knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and let cool until you can handle them but they are still warm. Peel and cut into approximately 1-inch pieces.

In a large bowl, stir together the garlic, parsley, chives, onion, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, celery, salt, and black pepper. Crush the thyme lightly with your fingers and stir it in. Add the potatoes and toss until coated. Cover and refrigerate for several hours to overnight.

Serves 6.

I also tried the Pesto Potatoes which is meant to be served at room temperature. It was a nice twist to an old classic, but the cold leftovers were kind of nasty (in my opinion — others disagreed).

However, this Potato and Beet Salad was amazing! I’m a big fan of beets and thought this salad not only tasted great, but looked beautiful too.

And this Sweet Potato Waldorf Salad was an interesting twist on an old classic. I added blue cheese and those of us who like new and daring flavors enjoyed it.

As you can see, trying new potato salads has become addicting.

Counter Culture

My counters have been busy this week: from the stacks of china and glass to be put away after my daughter’s baptism dinner to the mountain of baking on my to-do list, and then the testing of our new ice-cream machine! Yes, we are now the proud owners of a Cuisinart Automatic Ice-Cream Maker!!! This was our first attempt:

The kids decided on mint chocolate chip and we happened to have the chocolate and green chocolate chips to add. We all loved the results and the next night we tried raspberry frozen yogurt — also very delicious. Making one’s own ice-cream means you can control the ingredients, especially the sugar. So far we’ve been using about 1/3 of the amount called for in ice-cream recipes. No doubt ice-cream recipes will begin to appear on The Cooks Next Door.

Getting my CSA each week is something I really look forward to. I love the challenge of using the vegetables we get.

Here’s some of what we’ve eaten recently:

Swiss Chard — I made this Swiss Chard Lasagna and it was so good I hope to make it again soon
Kohlrabi — a relative of the cabbage, I added mine to coleslaw
Peas — we ate the sugar snaps raw and the boys shelled the shell peas to be steamed for dinner
Cabbage — we all love coleslaw and that’s what we did with our beautiful cabbage
Kale — I made an amazing Italian sausage, white bean and kale soup which I plan to make again this week
Mustard Greens — I used these greens in place of spinach in a Greek rice salad
Herbs — we’ve been given a lot of “cutting celery” which I’ve never heard of before. It has the appearance of overgrown parsley but tastes more like celery. I’ve been using it in salads and as a substitute for parsley.
Basil — I came home with a shopping bag full of basil and decided pesto was in order. The recipe I found gave options for freezing, which was perfect for me. Seven little jars found their way into the freezer.

BASIL PESTO
(Food Network)
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2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts (I left these out)
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese

Combine the basil, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.

If freezing, transfer to air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in the cheese.

Makes 1 cup.

Last, but not least, the children and I went black raspberry picking in the nearby woods last week. When we got home we made handpies with the berries we found. It made me think of my childhood and the memories I have of berry picking. Hopefully my children will someday look back and remember the fun we had (even though we all ended up being eaten up by bugs!!).