Tag Archives: pesto

Summer Solution Pasta

Cherry and grape tomatoes are in abundance by late August, as is fresh corn and herbs. So this “clean-out-the-larder” approach helps you use up some of the excess staples and fresh produce in a tasty way.

It starts with a roasted cherry-tomato sauce that includes garlic, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to add a slightly sweet note. To scale back on the sweetness, switch the balsamic to red wine vinegar and reduce or omit the brown sugar.

On occasion, we have already cooked ears of corn leftover from a previous meal. Here’s a chance to use them up. Cut the kernels off the cobs and add them to boiling water when you toss in the dried fusilli.

Once the pasta is done, plate into a large serving bowl and stir in the pesto—we used a homemade sage pesto* but one made with basil will work just as well. Next fold in the tomato mixture and let guests scoop out a serving, passing the grated parmesan around for topping. A side salad makes a nice companion to the pasta and uses up more of your produce.

*FOR THE SAGE PESTO:
• ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
• ½ cup fresh sage leaves
• ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 oz. (1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra for serving
• Salt and pepper
Pulse pine nuts and garlic in food processor until coarsely chopped, about 5 pulses. Add parsley and sage; with processor running, slowly add oil and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to bowl, stir in Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Summer Solution Pasta

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 1⁄2 lbs. cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried thyme)
  • 1 or 2 ears of corn, cooked with kernels cut off the cob
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh basil or sage pesto (see recipe above)
  • 1 lb. whole wheat fusilli, cooked according to package directions
  • Grated Parmesan for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Mix together tomatoes and garlic in a nonreactive 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
  3. Whisk together oil, vinegar, thyme, brown sugar and salt in a bowl. Drizzle over tomato mixture.
  4. Bake until tomatoes are softened and caramelized, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile cook the fusilli according to package directions, adding the corn kernels in with the pasta when the water starts to boil. Time it so the pasta is done at about the same time as the tomatoes.
  6. Mix the pesto into the fusilli and corn and fold in the tomato mixture.
  7. Serve, passing around the grated parmesan for topping.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Grilled Pesto Chicken Breasts

This pesto chicken recipe takes a three-pronged approach, compliments of Cook’s Country. Starting with a batch of homemade pesto, a portion is thickened with extra Parmesan cheese to make a stuffing for the bone-in, skin-on breasts. A cheese-less portion of the pesto functions as a marinade, flavoring the outside of the meat. Finally, cheesy pesto, thinned out to sauce consistency, is served with the chicken for one final hit of fresh basil flavor.

I am a white meat fan when it comes to chicken, while The Hubs prefers the dark meat which he believes to be juicier. While I can’t always argue with that logic, I do know that with the skin and bones of the breast pieces intact, the more succulent the meat will be.

Our poultry breasts weighed in at 15 ounces or so, a bit more than the 12-ounce pieces listed in the ingredients. In fact, one of them was larger than the other three and actually took an additional 7 minutes to come to temperature, so keep a close eyeball on the internal temps with an instant-read thermometer, especially if they are varying sizes.

Brimming with fresh basil, this recipe was a perfect opportunity to cut it back mid-season from our herb garden, encouraging robustness for the remainder of the season. And while the directions indicate to marinate the breasts in the pesto sauce in a bowl for one hour, I let them get happy in a large glass baking dish for three hours in the refrigerator wrapped tightly with saran wrap.

Results? The Hubs LOVED them! That’s big praise coming from a guy who steadfastly prefers the dark meat of the thighs and legs. He couldn’t believe how moist the white meat remained and how flavorful the overall pesto approach was. “Let’s make this for company” he sang, and I thought yes, let’s!

Note: that the pesto base is divided into three separate mixtures for marinating, stuffing, and saucing the grilled chicken.

Grilled Pesto Chicken Breasts

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. lemon juice, about 1/2 large lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
  • 4 (12-oz.) split bone-in chicken breasts, trimmed

Directions

  1. Process basil, ½ cup oil, garlic, lemon juice, and ¾ teaspoon salt in food processor until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down bowl as needed. Remove ¼ cup pesto from processor and reserve for marinating chicken.
  2. Add Parmesan to pesto in processor and pulse until incorporated, about 3 pulses. Remove ¼ cup Parmesan pesto from processor and reserve for stuffing chicken.
  3. Add remaining ¼ cup oil to Parmesan pesto in processor and pulse until combined, about 3 pulses; set aside for saucing cooked chicken.
  4. Starting on thick side of breast, closest to breastbone, cut horizontal pocket in each breast, stopping ½ inch from edge so halves remain attached. Season chicken, inside and out, with salt and pepper.
  5. Place 1 tablespoon of Parmesan pesto reserved for stuffing in pocket of each breast. Evenly space 2 pieces of kitchen twine (each 12 inches long) beneath each breast and tie to secure breast, trimming any excess twine.
  6. Place stuffed breasts in bowl and add pesto reserved for marinating. Rub pesto all over chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  7. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
    FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn all burners to medium-low. (Adjust burners as needed to maintain grill temperature of 350 degrees.)
  8. Clean and oil cooking grate. Place chicken, skin side up, on grill (over cool side if using charcoal). Cover and cook until chicken registers 155 degrees, 25 to 35 minutes.
  9. Flip chicken skin side down. If using charcoal, slide chicken to hot part of grill. If using gas, turn all burners to medium-high. (Our grill is very hot, so I only turned up the heat to medium.) Cover and cook until well browned and chicken registers 160 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes.
  10. Transfer chicken to platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove twine from chicken and carve meat from bone. Serve, passing Parmesan pesto sauce separately.

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Adapted from a recipe for Cook’s Country

Leftover chicken salad enjoyed poolside.

BTW, if you are lucky enough to have some leftover breasts, make a chicken pesto salad. When cooled, remove the cooked meat from the skin and bones. Either shred it, or cut it up in small chunks (it will still contain the pesto stuffing).

In a mixing bowl, add the chunked chicken, small diced celery, thinly sliced scallions, mayonnaise and more of the pesto topping. Salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use. We served ours the next day for lunch over Bibb lettuce and topped with sliced yellow and red bell peppers and more sliced scallions.

Pesto Alla Genovese and Italian Marinated Grilled Chicken

Genoa, Italy is the birthplace of this dish. It traditionally is made in a mortar and pestle of nothing more than basil, pine nuts, cheese, garlic, salt and olive oil, emphasis on the basil. And to follow that tradition, we did the same. This was perfect at summer’s end because we had a plethora of fresh basil in our herb garden.

Good quality cheese is essential for a rich, full-flavored pesto. Seek out true Italian Parmesan cheese. In place of pecorino sardo, don’t use pecorino Romano, which is too strong. The best substitute is Manchego, a Spanish sheep’s milk cheese, one we love and typically have on hand.

Pesto Pasta

While you may be tempted, don’t toast the pine nuts. In Italy, the pine nuts for pesto are used raw. And don’t add all the ingredients at once to the food processor (or mortar if using). Adding them in stages ensures the pesto has the correct consistency and texture, and that it won’t end up thin and watery, the result of over-processing.

Orecchiette is the perfect pasta choice because all of that creamy pesto nestles into the cupped areas.

Using a mortar and pestle creates a luxurious sauce with a rich, deep flavor and a beautiful, silky texture that’s superior to what a food processor can do. Yes, it takes a bit longer and gives your arms a workout, but the reward of the best pesto you’ve ever eaten is sooo worth it. (FYI, the cheeses will have to be ground in a small food processor beforehand.)

If for some reason you cannot locate, or happen to dislike pine nuts, you can replace them with macadamias, walnuts, almonds or pecans. To store pesto, press a piece of plastic wrap against its surface and refrigerate for up to three days. After that, leftovers can be frozen in a sealed container.

Pesto Alla Genovese

  • Servings: Yields 1 cup
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1¾ oz. parmesan cheese (without rind), chopped into rough 1-inch pieces
  • 1 oz. pecorino sardo cheese (without rind), chopped into rough 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • Kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2½ oz. (about 5 cups lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 12 oz. orecchiette pasta, cooked al dente

Directions

Food Processor

  1. In a food processor, process both cheeses until broken into rough marble-sized pieces, about 10 seconds, then pulse until they have the texture of coarse sand, 5 to 10 pulses, scraping the bowl as needed. Transfer to a small bowl.
  2. In the food processor (or with a mortar and pestle), combine the pine nuts, garlic and ¾ teaspoon salt. Process until a smooth, peanut butter–like paste forms, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl as needed.
  3. Add the cheeses and about ½ of the oil and process until mostly smooth, 10 to 20 seconds, scraping the bowl as needed; the mixture should hold together when pressed against the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  4. Using a chef’s knife, roughly chop the basil, then add to the food processor. Pulse about 10 times, scraping the bowl several times, until the basil is finely chopped and well combined with the cheese mixture.
  5. Add the remaining oil and pulse just until incorporated, about 2 pulses. The pesto should be thick, creamy and spreadable.
  6. Meanwhile cook the pasta as directed on the package for al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water then drain the pasta.
  7. Add a couple tablespoons of pesto to bottom of serving dish, top with pasta, stir. Continue adding pesto and cooking water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stir until dish is creamy. (You won’t need to use all of the reserved cooking water.)

Mortar and Pestle

  1. In a small food processor, grind the cheeses until the consistency of coarse sand, set aside.
  2. Crush the garlic, salt and pine nuts in a mortar with the pestle, smashing and grinding until a sticky, ever-so-slightly chunky, beige paste forms.
  3. Add basil leaves, a handful at a time, and pound and grind against the walls of the mortar. Continue until all basil leaves have been crushed to fine bits.
  4. Add both cheeses, then slowly drizzle in olive oil (it helps to have another person do this), working it into the pesto with the pestle until a fairly smooth, creamy, emulsified, sauce forms.
  5. Meanwhile cook the pasta as directed on the package for al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water then drain the pasta.
  6. Add a couple tablespoons of pesto to bottom of serving dish, top with pasta, stir. Continue adding pesto and cooking water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stir until dish is creamy. (You won’t need to use all of the reserved cooking water.)

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Adapted from recipe by Courtney Hill from Milk Street

Italian Marinated Grilled Chicken

In a pinch I have used bottled Italian dressing as the marinade for chicken, but nothing compares to homemade. If you can, use fresh herbs, however dried is also an option. Use a combination of both white and dark meat if you prefer. It’s best to cut your chicken breast halves in half again so that all pieces are similar in size, and will therefore finish cooking at about the same time.

I cut the marinade recipe in half since we were only grilling 4 pieces of chicken for the two of us.

Italian Marinated Grilled Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp. thyme leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. oregano leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. basil leaves, rolled and chopped into chiffonade
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 3 lbs. chicken pieces, white and/or dark meat

Directions

  1. Whisk together all the ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. Add chicken pieces (white and or dark meat) to a large re-sealable plastic bag. (Cut the breast halves, if using, in half again to be similar in size to the legs and thighs.)
  3. Pour in the marinade, seal and refrigerate for a minimum of 2, and up to 10 hours.
  4. When ready to cook, prepare a hot grill for the indirect method.
  5. Place the chicken on the hot side of the grill, turning them over after 5 minutes to sear the other side, for a total of 10 minutes. Baste occasionally.
  6. Move chicken to cooler side of grill, cover with lid and continue cooking for about another 20 minutes, no need to turn the chicken.
  7. Poultry is ready when the internal temperature reaches 165°-170°.
  8. If desired, serve with an additional drizzle of lemon juice and EVOO.

http://www.lynnandruss.com