Tortellini with Pesto

It’s the second to last dinner for my eldest before he heads off to college so I picked an old favorite from his childhood. It’s one that we all love and has carried through as the years go by, of course it’s hard to go wrong with homemade pesto. 

When we found out that he was allergic to nuts I went on a mission to find one that I liked that was nut-free. This one has stood the test of time. 

I started with my basil: a mix of Thai and regular basil (any basil works, I had extra since I’m using it in my dessert tomorrow too). Once it was cleaned I pulled off my leaves and separated it out into portions.


The portion for the pesto went into the food processor with a few cloves of garlic. 

      

Then I started the grill and the water. The Italian sausage took 10 minutes so I started those first, then came in and blanched the basil for tomorrow in my pasta water.

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Then I cooked the pasta in the basil water and turned the sausage.

  
I blended up the pesto in the food processor just before the pasta finished, adding salt, pepper, and olive oil after the basil was chopped and finishing with the Parmesan.  

         

While the pasta drained I pulled the sausage off the grill.

  

Then I came in and tossed the pasta – dinner is served and I have a happy boy. 

    

Tortellini with Pesto
Entrées, Pastas, Tested and Approved!

Cook 10 minutes ∙ Makes 4 ∙ Difficulty Easy 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups basil leaves, fresh, packed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup Parmesan, freshly shredded
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1½-2 pounds tortellini, cooked

DIRECTIONS

In a food processor, pulse the basil and garlic until roughly chopped. With the machine on, slowly pour in the oil until just blended. Stir in cheese, salt, and pepper and mix until just blended. 
Toss the pesto into cooked tortellini. 

This can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold.

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Thanksgiving Leftovers – Round 3

Today was indeed leftovers… but they were hard to find in the final dish.

We eat dinner at around 6 on Thanksgiving, so we do have appetizers near the game. Each year I invite both family and friends; one of those friends brought a red pepper and fennel appetizer.


Not only beautiful they were also delicious (and she gave me the recipe!). She made two dozen, and although we had 20 people this was more than enough with the other appetizers and dinner on the way. She mentioned that she had used the leftovers in the past to make a pasta sauce and a soup. The pasta sauce idea stuck with me and we split the leftovers.

When I made my weekly menu, I knew I needed a protein (the men of my house insist); I decided on Caprese Chicken.

Today, I pulled the peppers out of the fridge with my chicken and set to prepping my dinner. I started by making a quick pesto (2 small packages of basil (3.4 ounces each) and 1 minced clove of garlic chopped in a food processor and then process in salt, pepper, and shredded parmesan, finishing with just enough olive oil to spread it). I spread this on my 4 chicken breasts and then baked it at 400 for 25 minutes. While it was baking, I boiled water for pappardelle pasta and set to work on peppers. I used 6 of peppers; my first task was peeling the peppers and then I chopped them before tossing them in a large skillet.


I heated them through while the pasta cooked to al dente. Just before the pasta was done I topped each of the chicken breasts with 2 large basil leaves, sliced plum tomatoes, and sliced fresh mozzarella and returned them to the oven for 5 minutes longer.

I then tossed the pasta directly in the sauce and served.



Roasted Red Peppers Stuffed with Fennel

Makes 8 as a first course
INGREDIENTS

  • 4 large red peppers
  • 2 small bulbs fennel
  • 1 x 14 oz (400 g) tin Italian plum tomatoes
  • 8 dessert spoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 rounded teaspoon mixed pepper berries
  • ¾ level teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • ½ level teaspoon fennel seeds
  • juice ½ lemon
  • finely chopped spring onion for garnish (optional)
  • sea salt

DIRECTIONS

Slice each pepper in half lengthways, cutting right through the green stalk end and leaving it intact; though it won’t be eaten, it adds much to the look of the thing. Remove all the seeds.

Place the pepper halves on the baking sheet, then drain the tomatoes (you don’t need the juice), and divide them into eight equal portions, placing each portion inside a pepper half.

Now pare off any brownish bits of fennel with your sharpest knife and cut the bulbs first into quarters and then again into eighths, carefully keeping the layers attached to the root ends.

Now put them in a saucepan with a little salt, pour boiling water on them and blanch them for 5 minutes. Then drain them in a colander and, as soon as they’re cool enough to handle, arrange two slices in each pepper half.

Sprinkle 1 dessert spoon of olive oil over each one, using a brush to brush the oil round the edges and sides of the peppers.

Next, lightly crush the pepper berries, coriander and fennel seeds with a pestle and mortar or rolling pin and bowl, sprinkle these evenly all over the fennel and peppers, and finish off with a grinding of sea salt.

Then bake the peppers for about 1 hour on a high shelf in the oven until they are soft and the skin wrinkled and nicely tinged with brown.

After removing them from the oven, sprinkle the lemon juice all over, cool and serve garnished with a little finely chopped spring onion or as they are.

Pesto

Cook 10 minutes ∙ Makes 4 ∙ Difficulty Easy

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups basil leaves, fresh, packed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup Parmesan, freshly shredded
  • salt and black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

In a food processor, pulse the basil and garlic until roughly chopped. With the machine on, slowly pour in the oil until just blended. Stir in cheese, salt, and pepper and mix until just blended.

Caprese Chicken

Prep 5 ∙ Cook 30 ∙ Makes 4
INGREDIENTS

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • ½ cup pesto
  • 8 basil leaves, large
  • 2 plum tomatoes, sliced (optional)
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Place chicken in a medium sized baking dish and coat with pesto.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Remove from oven; top with basil, tomatoes, and cheese. Bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Labor Day and into the week

Labor Day itself was classicly simple: burgers, salad, and a side of pasta. Again I believe in easy, possibly oddly this includes leftovers. I have heard many utter the phrase “I hate leftovers”; I love them. No, I don’t think anyone should eat the same thing over and over again. (I get shivers when I hear someone say I made a big batch of “fill in the blank” so we could eat it all week long; YUK!) I love them because they are an opportunity to save time and be creative.

As mentioned, Monday was simple, my boys did little of anything with school looming, the highlight was a good friend of my youngest coming over and cleaning out his closet so that he would be well-dressed in high school. Late last week I made a house favorite for dinner, Tortellini with Pesto (nut-free), since it is just as good cold as hot I made extra, this was our pasta side to accompany a package of organic mixed greens and Spicy Shrimp, Bacon Burgers. I tossed my 2 lbs. of ground chuck into my mixing bowl with salt & pepper, a finely chopped jalapeño, chopped leftover bacon (about 5 slices), and the leftover shrimp from the Low Country Boil (coarsely chopped). I shaped them into 1/3 lb. burgers and cooked to medium rare with a chipotle gouda on top. For the non-pork eating friend, I made a single burger with chopped spinach, feta, jalapeño, and salt & pepper.

Tuesday continued the leftover trend with a meal of barbeque chicken, Cajun potato salad, and Southwestern sauté. Also from the Low Country Boil, I had a leftover andouille, pototoes, and corn (the clams seemed to vanish) so I looked through Epicurious.com and found the Cajun potato salad and my own list of recipes in Paprika holds the Southwestern sauté. While I have included both below as if they were being made from scratch, I did simply cube the potatoes and andouille and cut the corn off of the cob.

And I haven’t forgotten the barbeque chicken, the rub is good on any bone in chicken destined for barbeque and we disvovered this sauce while on vacation in Florida last year.

I may need stock in this company – it’s another empty bottle..

If you haven’t guessed the leftover trick, turn it into something new, use it as an ingredient.

Tortellini with Pesto

cook 10 minutes ∙ makes 4 ∙ difficulty Easy

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups basil leaves, fresh, packed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup Parmesan, freshly shredded
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1½ pounds tortellini, cooked

DIRECTIONS

In a food processor, pulse the basil and garlic until roughly chopped. With the machine on, slowly pour in the oil until just blended. Stir in cheese, salt, and pepper and mix until just blended.

Toss the pesto into cooked tortellini.

This can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Cajun Potato Salad with Andouille Sausage

makes 6 to 8 ∙ source Bon Appétit | July 1999

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon plus ⅛ cup olive oil
  • 8 ounces andouille sausages or hot links, cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 pounds red-skinned potatoes, peeled, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • ⅔ cup sliced green onions

DIRECTIONS

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausages; sauté until brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels and drain.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add potatoes; cook just until tender, stirring occasionally, about 9 minutes. Drain well. Whisk vinegar, pepper sauce and mustard in large bowl. Transfer warm potatoes to bowl with vinegar mixture and gently toss. Gently mix in sausages, bell pepper, celery, green onions, and 1/8 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Southwest Summer Corn Saute

prep 15 minutes ∙ cook 7 minutes ∙ serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon rubbed sage
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 small poblano chili, finely diced
  • ¾ cup sweet corn kernels
  • 1 small zucchini, finely diced
  • 1 cup canned hominy, drained (or full can if you don’t have another use)
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced

DIRECTIONS

Melt the butter with the sage, chili powder and salt in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the onion and poblano chili. Cook and stir until the onion begins to soften at the edges, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the corn, zucchini, and hominy. Cook over high heat until hot, 1 minute. Add green onions, cilantro and additional salt to taste. Serve hot.

Barbecued Chicken

Chicken:

  • 3-4 pounds chicken, cut in pieces (with skin and bones)
  • 2 tablespoons 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub
  • Barbeque sauce

4-3-2-1 Spice Rub (source Bon Appétit | July 2013)

  • 4 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper

Makes enough spice rub for two whole chickens. Double or triple the recipe and use it all summer.

DIRECTIONS

For chicken:

Prepare grill for medium heat. Season chicken with 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub. Grill, turning occasionally, until lightly charred, 15-20 minutes. Continue grilling, turning and basting with barbecue sauce often, until chicken is cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165°F, 8-10 minutes longer.