Friday, July 29, 2011

Grilled Veggies with Basil Pecan Pesto

These pictures do not do this dish justice. I grilled the veggies just a tad too long this time which doesn't make for a beautiful presentation :), but it still tastes so good. It is a great side dish and can be served hot or cold.


1 cup packed basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ cup pecans
¼ cup parmesan cheese
½ cup olive oil
a pinch of kosher salt

Vegetables: (whatever you like, but here is a suggestion:)
2 zucchini, cut in quarters lengthwise (or half if they are on the small side)
2 yellow squash, cut in quarters lengthwise (same as above)
1 red onion, cut in wedges from root to stem, leaving stem intact (so they don't fall apart because you don't want these guys slipping though the cracks!)
1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into thick strips
2 tomatoes, cut in half (any kind will do)

1. Prepare your grill to cook at medium heat. Cut your vegetables and cover them all with a bit of olive oil. The vegetables will be cut into bite size chunks later. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt.

2. Place the vegetables on the grill. After the first ones laid down have cooked for about two minutes rotate them about 45 degrees without turning them. Cook for another minute or two and then flip or turn them to another un-grilled surface. Cook for another 2 minutes and rotate them again. Continue grilling the vegetables until they are are cooked but still somewhat firm. The tomatoes will get very soft and that is OK. Remove all of the vegetables from the grill and set them aside to cool.

3. Using a food processor or blender, process the garlic until it is coarsely chopped. Add in the basil, nuts and cheese and pulse a few times. Add the oil in a slow stream through the feeder tube until it is all incorporated. Season to taste with salt. Feel free to add more olive oil if you want.

4. When the vegetables have cooled, cut them all into bite sized pieces. Smash and chop the tomatoes. Combine the vegetables in a large bowl. Add the pesto to the vegetables and stir to combine. Season with additional salt, if necessary. Place the vegetables into a serving bowl and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Avocado Fries

Here is something a little different to try. These guys are crispy on the outside with that lovely creamy texture of avocado on the inside.

1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 firm ripe avocados, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
canola oil for frying
salt and pepper
grated parmesan

1. Heat oil in a large pan (enough to cover avocado slices, 1/2-1 inch).
2. Mix flour and salt in bowl. Beat 2 large eggs in another bowl. Place breadcrumbs in a third bowl.
3. Sprinkle avocado slices with salt and pepper. Dip in flour, then egg, then the breadcrumbs. Once oil is really hot, fry avocado for about 30 seconds (or until golden brown). Remove to a serving plate and sprinkle with grated parmesan.

serves at least 4

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Antioxidant Orchard Salad

I love candied pecans! This version is healthier and super tasty.
Ingredients: (these are approximate amounts, so adjust ratios to your own taste)
1/2 cup pecans
1-2 tsp. agave nectar
pinch of salt

12 oz mixed baby greens          
1 cup grapes, halved
1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced
1 cup English cucumber, diced
1/4-1/3 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 heaping Tbsp. fresh mint leaves, chopped

3 Tbsp. pomegranate juice
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar (optional)
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. olive oil

For the agave-roasted walnuts: 
Toss pecans in agave and a pinch of salt. Bake at 300, turning to cook evenly, until the nuts caramelize (about 15 minutes)
For the dressing:
whisk together pomegranate juice, lemon juice, balsamic, and olive oil,
For the salad:
Combine all remaining ingredients and toss with dressing. Top with pecans.

Grains and Fruit Summer Salad

1 cup lightly packed fresh basil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
4 gloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
2 cups cooked grains (quinoa*, wild rice, and/or brown rice) I did half wild rice and half quinoa
1/2 cup sliced green onions
4 cups mixed salad greens (I used spring mix)
2 cups blueberries
1 cup cantaloupe cubes
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small zucchini, sliced very thinly lengthwise
1/2 cup walnut pieces toasted (I drizzled them with agave nectar and toasted at 300 until done, mixing a few times)
1/3 cup snipped fresh herbs (dill, basil, and/or mint)
4 oz grilled meat or fish (optional)

1. For basil dressing, in a blender or food processor combine the basil, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Cover and precess until nearly smooth. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl stir together cooked grains and green onions. stir in about 2 Tbsp. of the dressing.
3. For the salad, line a large bowl with greens. Top greens with grains mixture, blueberries, cantaloupe, tomatoes, zucchini, walnuts, and meat (if desired). Drizzle with remaining basil dressing; toss gently. Sprinkle with fresh herbs.
*for 2 cups cooked quinoa, in a fine strainer rinse 1/2 cup quinoa under cold running water; drain. In a small saucepan combine 1 1/3 cups water, quinoa, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Let stand to cool slightly. Drain off remaining liquid and fluff with a fork.

makes 8 side dish or 4 main dish servings