Avocado Pesto: A Chicklets in the Kitchen Post

Avocado Pesto

I was scrolling through the channels the other day and landed on Food Network’s Trisha Yearwood’s show, Trisha’s Southern Kitchen. She had a vegetarian guest on and they were making Avocado Pesto Toast (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/trisha-yearwood/avocado-pesto-toast). I didn’t copy the recipe down and I didn’t go back to look it up when I made this for dinner but my recipe and hers is pretty close.  Next time I’ll remember the lemon. That would be even better.

Why avocado pesto? Some people, my daughter included, find a full basil pesto too much. Basil is a powerful flavor and it can be overwhelming. Cutting down on the basil with avocado (or Swiss Chard, Spinach, Arugula, Asparagus, or some other green) is a really good alternative. The avocado lends the sauce a smooth, rich mouth feel and is good for you too!

The best thing is that this is a no cook sauce and serves 2 – 4.

the ingredients

Hardware

Blender

Serving Bowl

Pot for Spaghetti

 

Ingredients

2 oz package of pine nuts

1 package fresh basil (about 1/2 cup) stems removed

1 cup shredded parmesan

1 4oz package avocado (guacamole that is just avocado) (or 1 whole fresh avocado)

1 Tblsp minced garlic

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Lemon juice (2 Tblsp Optional)

In a large pot, cook 12oz spaghetti according to package directions.

It’s All in the Blender

While the water comes to a boil and you cook the spaghetti, add the pine nuts, cheese, garlic, basil and guacamole to the blender.

Add the oil and pulse to puree.

Blend until smooth drizzling in the olive oil. Add the lemon juice if you so desire. If it’s too thick, add up to 1/2 cup of water. Adding more oil can make the pesto too greasy and the avocado is already pretty fat.

It’s smooth and creamy!

(Note: I probably should have spun the dry pine nuts a few times to break them up first, then added the basil, then the rest but, it all worked out in the end.)

Time to Mix it Up!

Drain the cooked pasta, put in serving bowl, add the pesto and toss to coat.

Enjoy.

My hubby loved the meal. He didn’t find the basil overpowering and the avocado gave the meal a nice rich feel.

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Do you have a favorite pesto supper? Please tell us about it in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Mysteries, and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

Swiss Chard and Basil Pesto

Swiss Chard, Basil, Pesto

Swiss Chard and Basil Pesto

Last month I talked about all of the fantastic fresh vegetables you can get at the Farmer’s Market. That’s still the case in July but also in July your home gardens should be producing like crazy. That’s when you want some recipes to use all of that wonderful fresh, organic bounty.

Pesto is just such a recipe. Traditional pesto calls for all basil as the green along with pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan cheese. I have found, however, that all that basil can be a little overpowering. So, the best way to tone it down is to mix it with another green. You can use spinach, arugula, beet greens, anything you have on hand. The best thing about a pesto spaghetti dinner is that it’s nearly no cook. The pesto is a raw sauce, just add hot pasta and you have a lovely meal.

In this case I had an abundance of parsley and just enough basil and chives in my garden, all I had to do was buy some Swiss Chard at the Farmer’s Market to make a delicious meal. I know, I did a Swiss Chard recipe last month. But it’s so good and if you have it growing in your garden, you want to use it, right? So, here’s how you do it.

Ingredients, Swiss Chard, Basil, Pesto, Connie Cockrell

Ingredients for Swiss Chard, Basil Pesto by Connie Cockrell

Ingredients

1/2 pound of Swiss Chard, chopped, leaves and stems

1 small bunch basil,

1 handful chives

1 Cup parsley, picked from stem

1 4oz pkg pine nuts (or walnuts if you prefer)

Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes to taste

1 1/2 lb Gluten Free Pasta

1/2 Cup olive oil

 

Heat the water for the pasta while you’re chopping the vegetables.

Gluten Free, Pasta

Gluten Free Pasta

Drop the pasta in the boiling water and follow the package directions for al dente pasta. NOTE: I used this Hodgson Mill’s pasta because I really wanted an angel hair type pasta. I was disappointed to see that once I started mixing it into the pesto, the strands broke down into 1/2 – 1/4 inch bits. Not spaghetti at all. It tasted fine, just wasn’t spaghetti. Use your favorite pasta.

Bring a small skillet to medium high heat.

Toasting, Pine Nuts

Toasting Pine Nuts

Drop in the pine nuts to toast. DO NOT walk away. As soon as you can smell the nuts, it’s too late. Watch that pan, toss around to brown evenly. As soon as they brown, take them off the heat to cool.

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard, Chopped

Swiss Chard, Chopped

Trim the stem ends of the Swiss Chard and chop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basil, Connie Cockrell

Basil by Connie Cockrell

Strip the basil from the stems, same with the parsley. Have the chives on hand, ready to go into the food processor.

Grated, Parmesan, Cheese, Connie Cockrell

Grated Parmesan Cheese by Connie Cockrell

Using a grating blade in your food processor, grate the Parmesan cheese. I just grated a whole brick of it. You won’t need all of it but it’ll be ready for your next pasta meal. Empty the cheese into a bowl. No need to clean out the food processor.

Pine Nuts, Food Processor, Connie Cockrell

Pine Nuts in Food Processor by Connie Cockrell

In the food processor, change out the grating blade for the regular blade. Add the pine nuts and whirl until nearly pasty.

Process, Swiss Chard, Connie Cockrell

Process Swiss Chard by Connie Cockrell

Add the Swiss Chard a batch at a time. Process until reduced then add more.

Parsley, Connie Cockrell

Parsley by Connie Cockrell

Add the parsley and process.

Scrape down, bowl, food processor, Connie Cockrell

Scrape down the bowl of the food processor by Connie Cockrell

Scrape down the sides a little to get the nuts to mix with the greens.

Add, Basil, Chives, Connie Cockrell

Add Basil and Chives by Connie Cockrell

Add the basil and chives. Whirl some more, drizzling in 1/2 of the olive oil to loosen the sauce.

Add, Parmesan Cheese, Red Pepper Flakes, Connie Cockrell

Add Parmesan Cheese and Red Pepper Flakes by Connie Cockrell

Add the cheese and the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Process again adding more olive oil to loosen.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and do a quick rinse. In a large bowl, drop the pesto onto the spaghetti and toss. Add some of the pasta water, it just helps loosen the sauce. Stir to combine. Top with more basil and some grated Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Please tell us about your Farmer’s Market or favorite pasta recipe in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Thrillers, Mysteries and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

 

Chicklets in the Kitchen: Pasta Primavera

Pasta, Primavera, Ingredients

Pasta Primavera Ingredients

It’s summer and the Farmer’s Market is overflowing with fresh, beautiful vegetables. We’re fortunate enough in our area that we have local dairies as well, both fresh cow’s milk butter and cheeses and goat’s milk cheeses and delicacies. If you haven’t been to your Farmer’s Market yet this year, you’re missing out. Last Saturday I scored marvelous young Swiss Chard, just picked cherry tomatoes, and fresh goat cheese. I had a plan when I went, you see, to pick up just those luscious things for Saturday night dinner, Pasta Primavera.

Pasta Primavera is great for whatever vegetables you happen to pick up at the market or what’s growing in your garden. You can substitute whatever you have for what I used. Feel free to mix and match.

Ingredients

1/2 pound of Swiss Chard, chopped

1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved

4 – 5 Green Onions, chopped, green and white parts

1 Cup Frozen Peas (or fresh if you have them)

1/4 Cup Basil, chopped

1 Red Pepper, chopped

12 oz Goat Cheese (not feta, the soft stuff)

Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder and Cayenne Pepper or Red Pepper Flakes to taste

1 lb Gluten Free Pasta (I used spirals, but you can use whatever you have)

1 – 2 Cups Chicken Broth (to make the sauce. Use vegetable stock to keep the whole meal vegetarian)

2 -3 T olive oil

Cooking, Pasta

Cooking Pasta

Heat the water for the pasta while you’re chopping the vegetables.

Drop the pasta in the boiling water and follow the package directions for al dente pasta.

Large Skillet, Olive Oil

Large Skillet with Olive Oil

Bring a large skillet to medium high heat.

Saute, Swiss Chard, Red Pepper, Green Onion

Saute Swiss Chard, Red Pepper, Green Onion

Drop in the chopped red pepper, the green onions, and the Swiss Chard. Saute until soft.

Saute, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil

Saute Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

Drop in the cherry tomatoes and basil. Saute until the tomatoes begin to soften. Use the broth to loosen the mixture.

Goat Cheese

Add the Goat Cheese

Add the goat cheese and stir to combine. Notice that the cheese melts into the broth and the tomatoes make the sauce kind of pink.

Add Peas

Add Peas

Don’t forget the peas!

Stir, Combine, Ingredients

Stir to Combine all Ingredients

Drain the pasta and do a quick rinse. Drop the cooked pasta into the sauce. Don’t worry about extra water getting in there, it just helps loosen the sauce. Stir to combine. Top with more basil and some grated Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Please tell us about your Farmer’s Market or favorite pasta recipe in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Women’s Fiction and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

Spaghetti Sauce

Gluten Free Spaghetti with Meat Sauce by Connie Cockrell

Gluten Free Spaghetti with Meat Sauce by Connie Cockrell

Last month I talked about my Paleo diet. That worked well until mid-August when my work on the Payson Northern Gila County Fair ramped up. Any diet at all went straight out the window. I still had to be gluten free, of course, but mainly I was just trying to stay fed. The week-end of the fair I was lucky. We had four food vendors and three of them had gluten-free options. Yay! Don’t you just love fair food?

My garden here in central Arizona is beginning to look a little tired. The tomato plants have sprawled all over. The butternut squash has filled all of the space between the raised beds. The mint has grown wild and is in full charge of the one raised bed it’s in. I have to cut the mint back. I let it flower because the bees love it but now the whole mess is producing seed. Can’t have that. The oregano I hung to dry was nice and crisp so I took it down, stripped it off of the stems and put it in big steel cans I have for storing herbs. The whole kitchen smelled like oregano. I cut thyme, washed it and hung it from the drying rack I made. It’ll be dry in about 2 weeks. Then I’ll dry sage.

Want to dry herbs but don’t have a rack? I made mine from an old plastic picture frame I got for a quarter at one of the local thrift shops. I stapled garden netting to the back of it. I can lean it against the wall on top of my cupboards where it’s nice and hot and it fits just right and hang bunches of herbs from the frame or the netting. I’ll never have to buy oregano, thyme, sage or rosemary again.

So on to a recipe. I love spaghetti or pasta in any form, to be honest. I make my own sauce as I find the jarred stuff too sweet.

Basic Spaghetti Sauce
1 lb ground meat
1 c chopped onion
1-2 cloves minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp capers
2 – 3 anchovy filets
Dried basil, oregano to taste
1/2 cup of red wine
2-3 T tomato paste
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 T Olive Oil
1 32oz can crushed or diced tomatoes

Heat a large, deep frying pan. Add the olive oil. Salt and pepper the ground meat and put in the hot pan. Brown the meat till nearly done. Add the wine to deglaze the pan. Add the onion, garlic, capers and anchovies. Cook 3-4 minutes then add the herbs, tomato paste and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Add the canned tomatoes. Stir to combine. Fill the tomato can with water to get all of that tomato goodness and add to the pan, stirring to combine. Cover and let simmer for 2 – 4 hours until the sauce has cooked down to a thick consistency. Pour over the cooked pasta of your choice.

My mom likes to add sweet peppers to her sauce. I add a couple of bay leaves. Both are optional.

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Please tell us about your garden or favorite pasta recipe in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Women’s Fiction and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at http://www.ConniesRandomThoughts.wordpress.com.