Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pestos and Pastas

The Fall season is my party time. I mentioned this before, but not in much detail. When I party, it isn't always having lots of people over and doing loud, fun things. Sometimes it just means that I am doing fun things I like and not spending very much time doing things for other people.
Take socks, for instance. Most of the year I am so hot that I can't wear socks or long sleeve shirts. In the Fall it is cool enough to dress in wooly things, at least in the mornings and evenings. So I have started knitting some nice socks with the wool I washed and spun earlier this year. I have taken my sweaters to the cleaners. I am getting ready for some serious cool time.
This time of year is also good for baking bread and pastries. It is good for roasted meats and chicken. There are things I make ahead so that I have them ready as I need them. I make pestos. Right now, I have harvested the basil and completed "Sun Dried Tomato Pesto" and the regular "Green Pesto". This is great for stuffing mushrooms or tossing with Pasta and left over cooked chicken. It can turn a regular boring meal into something quite special.
Recipe time:
Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
1 small can tomato paste
2 oz dried tomatoes
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
1 (up to 2) cups fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
5 cloves garlic

I like to cut the dried tomatoes into strips with the scissors. Add all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Some people like less basil so that the pesto is redder.
For regular "Green Pesto" add 1/4 cup more olive oil and leave out the tomatoes and tomato paste.

After you have made this, you need to store it. You can keep it in the Fridge for about two weeks with olive oil covering the pesto and a lid over the top to keep the air off. You can also freeze it in 1/2 cup portions for about 6 months- thaw in the fridge over night.

And you need to use it. The standard pasta with pesto works as a side dish. I mix 2 tablespoons of it with 1 cup bread crumbs, 1 egg, finely chopped veggies and then stuff large mushrooms- bake for 20 min. 350f. Then there is stuffed chicken breast (slice open breast to make a pocket and fill with tomato pesto and a slice of prosciutto or ham. I also sometimes just melt a bit over the top of a piece of meat or chicken. When I get lazy, this is how I make nice dinners with very little fuss. Try it also as an appetizer. Make a little pie dough tart with a teaspoon of pesto and a teaspoon of cream cheese- bake 350f for 20min. Green and red comes in handy in a couple of months. Put a cooked shrimp in there, too. Really fancy. See, very easy and mostly already done.

So now it is party time. Bye- gotta knit some socks.

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