Fusili with Pesto and Sun Dried Tomatoes

It’s just not summer without fresh homemade pesto. Here’s my recipe paired with pasta and sun dried tomatoes. Grazie.

Fusili with Pesto and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Fusili with Pesto and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Yield: 4 servings

 

For the Pesto

2 ¼ packed cups fresh basil leaves

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (2 teaspoons)

½ cup pine nuts

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, not pre-grated

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

In a food processor, process to combine, the basil, ¼ cup oil, garlic, and pine nuts. Scrape down the sides, then add the remaining ¼ cup oil, and the cheese. Process until the desired texture is achieved, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. For the record, I add about ½ teaspoon salt and a few good cranks of pepper. No need to rush; taste as you go. Take your time and enjoy.

 

For the pasta

¾ pound fusili pasta

2 tablespoons kosher salt

¼ cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped roughly

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

8 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (stacked, rolled and sliced thinly)

 

Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil.

Once the water has come to a rolling boil, add 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Stir the fusili into the boiling salted water and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente (almost done, or “to the tooth”).

Drain (do not rinse) the fusili, reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta water.

Toss with 1/2 cup of pesto, sundried tomatoes and some of the reserved pasta water if needed (to loosen the pesto). Add additional pesto if needed.

Divide onto plates and top with pine nuts and fresh basil.

 

Mint Ginger Watermelon Ice Pops

After using 1 cup of watermelon for the ice pops, grab a spoon and eat watermelon until you consume it all. Yup. This pretty much sums up my summer so far!

Mint Ginger Watermelon Ice Pop

Mint Ginger Watermelon Ice Pop

Yield: 6 ice pops

 

1 cup watermelon, deseeded

1 ½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger

8 mint leaves, finely chopped

¾ cup water

6 tablespoons granulated or cane sugar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

 

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for 1 minute.

Pour into ice pop molds and freeze.

Wild Dungeness Crab Stew

It’s a one pot wonder, it’s delicious, healthy and it’ll serve a family, dinner party or just yourself – for many meals. What more could you ask for?

Wild Dungeness Crab Stew

Wild Dungeness Crab Stew

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

 

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small

1 fennel bulb, cored and diced medium

4 celery stalks, cut into thirds lengthwise and diced small

6 carrots, peeled and chopped roughly

¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning

3 cups corn kernels

2 ½ cups lima beans

2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, spots or greening removed and diced medium

4 cups vegetable stock

5 sprigs thyme, tied together with the bay leaves (use butcher’s twine)

2 bay leaves, tied together with the thyme sprigs (use butcher’s twine)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 pound Dungeness crab meat

Fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, for garnish

 

In a 5.5 quart pot, set over medium heat, add the olive oil and the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are soft, translucent, and lightly caramelized.

Add the fennel and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, until the celery and fennel begin to soften.

Add the carrots, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for 6 to 8 minutes until the carrots begin to soften.

Add the garlic and the Old Bay seasoning and cook until fragrant, approximately 1 minute.

Add the corn, lima beans, tomatoes, potatoes, stock, and herb bundle. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are just cooked through.

Turn off the heat. Add the Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine.

Add the crab, gently stir to combine and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper.

Remove and discard herb bundle and serve stew in bowls garnished with some hand torn parsley.

Crispy Vanilla Meringues

I’ve been making so much ice cream lately that I have quite an excess of egg whites. What to do, what to do, what to do…. How about these light and crispy sweet delights?!

Vanilla Meringues

 

Crispy Vanilla Meringues

Yield: approximately 50 meringues

 

¾ cup granulated sugar, processed in a food processor until very fine, 1 minute

1½ teaspoons cornstarch

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

¾ cup egg whites / 5-ounces (approximately 5 egg whites)

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

 

Adjust two oven racks to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 210ºF.

Whisk to combine the sugar, cornstarch and cream of tartar in a small bowl.

Place the egg whites, vanilla extract and salt in a clean and dry large bowl and whisk on medium speed with an electric mixer (or use your stand mixer with the whisk attachment) until very soft peaks are formed.

Very slowly add the sugar mixture. Continue to beat until stiff peaks are formed.

Dot the four corners of each of two sheet pans with some of the meringue batter.

Line the sheet pans with parchment paper. The dots of meringue batter will help to keep the parchment paper from curling up.

Using a piping bag with a medium star tip, or a good, old-fashioned tablespoon, pipe or spoon 1-inch to 1½-inch circles of meringue batter onto the parchment paper-lined sheet pans. Unlike cookies, meringues won’t spread when baked, so less space is needed between them.

Place the sheet pans in the oven and bake, uncovered, for 2½ hours. After 2½ hours, do not remove the meringues. Rather, turn off the oven and let the meringues cool for 1 hour, just to be sure the meringues are crunchy.

Store meringues in an airtight container, layered between sheets of wax or parchment paper.

Note: After whipping the meringues, bake them right away or else they may begin to deflate and the texture may be compromised. Also, make meringues on a dry, sunny day, not a wet, rainy one. Too much moisture in the air will result in a sticky or tacky meringue, because sugar attracts moisture.

Roasted Eggplant Meatballs

I’m not usually one for a faux meatball: the texture is usually all wrong and flavor bland. That said, this little puppy is darn good. In fact, I wouldn’t even classify it as faux. It stands on its own. Meaty from the mushrooms and eggplant and deliciously herby. And with the added Parmigiano-Reggiano, it’s a mouthful of umami. No meat required. 

eggplantmeatballoverhead eggplantmeatballside

Eggplant Meatballs

Yields 8 2-inch meatballs

1 large eggplant, peeled and diced small

8-ounces cremini mushrooms, diced small

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt, to taste

3 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, not pre-grated

1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped

1 ½ teaspoons fresh oregano, finely chopped

¾ teaspoon ground fennel

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 large egg, whisked

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

Adjust 2 oven racks to the middle position and preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Put eggplant and mushrooms in a medium bowl and mix in olive oil. Toss or stir to combine. Season with salt and stir to combine.

Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Spread eggplant mushroom mixture onto sheet pans.

Bake for 20 minutes. Stir, rotate pans and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Remove sheet pans from oven and let eggplant and mushrooms cool to room temperature.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Place eggplant mushroom mixture and all additional ingredients in a food processor.

Pulse to combine. The mixture should be well combined and still have some texture (not blended into a paste). Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Roll the meatball mixture into equal sized 2-inch balls.

Bake for 20 – 30 minutes, until cooked through and beginning to firm up.

Remove sheet pan from the oven and let meatballs rest at room temperature for 5-8 minutes.

Serve with your favorite pasta, marinara sauce and/or pesto in addition to some fresh basil and grated parmigiano-reggiano.

Toasted Almonds – Your Way

It’s not a particularly sexy recipe, but it makes a world of difference in terms of taste, texture and freshness when you toast your own nuts (heyyyy-o – who said this post wasn’t sexy?!).

Toasted Almonds

 

Toasted Almonds

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spread out raw nuts on a sheet pan in a single layer.

Bake, uncovered, for 15 to 17 minutes, stirring occasionally for even cooking, until lightly colored. Be sure to set your timer. To test for doneness, break one nut in half and check for color. It should be a light golden brown color on the inside.

Remove from the oven and transfer the toasted nuts to a plate to cool, or toss in a bowl with a very light drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a good sized pinch (or two) of kosher salt.