Pesto & tomato sauces: Make once, eat more than once

11 Apr


Pesto, slightly more greeny under the fluorescent lights of a rented apartment...

I helped teach a little monthly cooking class this week, and the theme of it was learning a couple of tricks to help families (and the cooks!) save some time in the kitchen and make life simpler. People often ask me if I “make everything from scratch.” And I often feel guilty and a little embarrassed for my answer–which is, yeah, I do. Sheepish/embarrassed because yes, it does take time, and I think I might end up looking like a big fat loser-pants who spends all day long in her white trash apartment, waiting for pizza dough to rise while sauce simmers on the stove and I re-organize my spice cupboards. Yes. Cupboard(s). Nevertheless, that’s how I roll. But that doesn’t mean that you have to spend a lotta time to get a lotta loving in your dinner. Let’s talk.

At the cooking class, we focused on learning tomake a couple of simple, simple sauces as a way to cook something once that could very well outline your menu for the week. How great would that be! Grocery list—done. All the ingredients are really accessible, easy-to-find things, and you probably have most of them in your kitchen already.

We did two basic sauces that store well, are good for you (of course!), and stick to a little budget. So, put your wallet away. Your family (or you) will be enjoying some good eating and the Olive Garden will become profanity in your household. Let’s get to it–up, up, and away to the recipes!*

Cheater’s pesto sauce

I call this the “cheater’s” pesto sauce because I dilute the basil with spinach; this makes it much more economical during winter months, when basil is about 3 bazillion dollars for five leaves trucked from another planet. I’ve also omitted pine nuts for the same reason–at $18 to $20 a pound, they don’t come cheaply.

½ C basil leaves
½ C spinach leaves, frozen or fresh
2 cloves garlic, bashed
1 ½ T red wine vinegar
¼ C olive oil
1/8 C parmesan, grated (not the stuff from the can, which is made from my old textbooks, I think)
2 t lemon juice (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Put the basil, spinach, garlic, red wine vinegar, and olive oil into a food processor and pulse until combined. Drizzle more olive oil—you don’t want it dry, but not too runny, either. Add the parmesan, lemon juice (if using) and taste. Adjust for seasoning—add the salt and pepper here.

The simplest thing to do with this is toss it with a bit of whole wheat pasta—simple, fantastic, and bonus points for using an intact food with the whole wheat. Lots of benefits there.

Other things to do with your pesto:

  1. As a dip for roasted or raw vegetables
  2. Drizzled on top of a pea soup
  3. Used on toasted or grilled bread as a healthful alternative to buttery garlic bread
  4. On top of grilled fish—tilapia, cod, halibut, even salmon
  5. On top of rotisserie chicken, mmm, I want to get some now
  6. Freeze it and keep it until inspiration strikes again! You’re ready for a meal. (Don’t forget to label your container—and use the pesto within a few months or it’ll be frosty the pesto man.)

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2 Responses to “Pesto & tomato sauces: Make once, eat more than once”

  1. rachelle June 27, 2008 at 4:18 pm #

    i like you. you’re hilarious! i knew there was something off in parmesan cheese!

  2. esprout June 27, 2008 at 4:23 pm #

    Hey, thanks! I have a friend! Yes, parmesan cheese…like other things, it can either be friend or foe. I prefer to keep it working in my favor. Cheese is generally a good friend to keep around. Hooray for cheese!

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