pesto

All posts tagged pesto

Squid Tales: Speedy, Simple and Spectacular

Published April 5, 2014 by The Feminist

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From the traditional calamari fritti to some sticky and caramelized squid in a Vietnamese stir-fry: I love squid in all its glorious versatility. The following recipes are no exception. The first one is an eccentric explosion of flavours; a harmonious sing-along of pistachio, coriander and parsley. Whereas the second recipe is exhuberantly hearty, a Cajun-spiced one-pot wonder.

If you’re a seafood expert who loves getting his or her hands stuck in some slimy tentacles, be my guest to clean the squid all be yourself. (The satisfaction will be even greater!) But if you’re a squid nitwit or someone who just got her nails done (like me), there is no shame in asking the fish monger to do it for you. It will make cooking these recipes even easier than they already are.

Kamut linguini with pistachio pesto and smoky squid

I love kamut pasta, because this ancient wheat gives the pasta an incredibly satisfying earthy flavour. (Plus: it is a wholegrain pasta, which means it is really good for you!) The pesto is a nice alternative to the traditional basil-pine nut version and goes beautifully with the smokiness of the squid.

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Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 350gr kamut linguini
  • 4 squid tubes
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp chili flakes
  • 2 yellow courgettes, diced
  • 250gr cherry tomatoes

For the pistachio pesto:

  • 60gr pistachios
  • Lots of fresh coriander
  • Lots of fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil

Method:

  1. Blend all the ingredients for the pesto together in an electric mixer and season with salt and pepper. Add enough olive oil to form a paste but it shouldn’t be runny.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and fry the courgette for a couple of minutes. Add the halved cherry tomatoes.
  3. Meanwhile cook the kamut linguini al dente. Drain but keep 100ml of the starchy cooking liquid.
  4. Stir the cooked pasta in the vegetables and add the pistachio pesto. Now pour in the cooking liquid so that the pesto transforms into a lovely glossy pasta coating.
  5. Wait until the very last minute to cook your squid. Cut the squid into 0,5 cm strip. Heat a knob of butter in a frying pan and when the pan is scorching hot, add the squid, smoked paprika and chili flakes. Season with salt. Fry for no more than 3 minutes.
  6. Scoop a large serving of pasta onto your plate and put your delicious squid on top.

Cajun-spiced rice with squid and brown shrimp

Just like the recipe above, I used brown rice for this one, because it just has so much more flavour and adds a really gutsy element to the dish. (You know what they say: No guts, no Glory!) This dish is inspired by the world famous Jambalayah but contains no meat, only seafood. The blend of spices together with the heartiness of the rice and the sweetness of the seafood is incredibly comforting…

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Ingredients (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 300gr brown rice
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 200gr green beans, chopped into 2cm pieces
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 3-4 tbsp Cajun spice (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • 400gr or one can of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 squid tubes, cut into strips
  • 200gr brown shrimps
  • 150gr crayfish
  • Lemon
  • Fresh coriander
  • Vegetable stock (approx. 750ml)

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large pan and sauté the onion for a minute. Add the rice and fry for a further minute or two. Stir in the green beans and peppers and add the chopped tomatoes. Add the Cajun spice.
  2. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Let it simmer for at least 45 minutes. Until your rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed. (It should not be a stew but it should not be completely dry either. Just the right amount of moisture. It’s a tricky thing, but follow your gut 😉 )
  3. In a separate pan fry the squid with some extra Cajun spice and salt. Stir the squid, shrimps and crayfish into your rice and finish with lemon juice and chopped coriander.

Italy vs. India: a Foodie’s Dilemma

Published December 4, 2013 by The Feminist

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“What would you order for your last supper?”

As a foodie, I often contemplate about this- albeit hypothetical-  question and the truth is that I don’t know the answer to it yet. I love food so much it is practically impossible to choose one ultimate favourite.

A couple of days ago I had a “sushi moment”. For those who aren’t acquainted with the term, here is a brief definition:

“A sushi moment is a period of time- usually somewhere around 5 pm – in which you start craving sushi. For a couple of minutes  people in the streets will turn into chop sticks, street lanterns will look like wasabi and the cobblestones will turn into a plate of your favourite types of sushi. (from yummy Futomaki to delicious Dragon Rolls) This moment will make you very hungry but you should be aware that what you see is just a hallucination. (So don’t go licking the cobblestones)”

Needless to say that after my “sushi moment” I was convinced that sushi would be my last supper. But then, only a few minutes later, I walked past a high quality Belgian chocolate shop.

Chocolate.

I think you get my point. It is impossible to choose only one. So here is what I suggest: when facing imminent death, stop worrying about calories, large portions and fat content. Eat whatever you want. You only die once. (Unless you’re a Vampire Diaries character)

My last meal wouldn’t be complete, however, without some Italian and Indian food. They are so different from one another and yet they both speak to my inner peace. Both cuisines have a spiritual capacity that can turn me from a stressed-out bitch into a Zen-like hippie.  They are the epitome of comfort food and they always make me feel loved. The spices, the colours, the soothing textures, the aromas… they all blend together to form the ultimate cuisines. They are simply the best. (And I think Tina Turner would agree.)

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Turkey Osso buco and linguini with rocket-almond pesto

Now, I normally try to eat as much vegetarian as I possibly can, but there is just something about Osso Buco that makes me incredibly happy. Stews in general tend to make me happy, but this marriage of Mediterranean ingredients makes me believe there is a heaven. A heaven of Osso Buco.

And what a beautiful heaven it is…

Anyway, the linguini accompanying this very scrummy stew is a true flavour bomb. I made this pesto with rocket and almonds, which creates an interesting flavour palate and is less expensive than a basil and pine nut version. (Seriously, every time I see the price of pine nuts I think I’m going to get a heart attack!)

Ps: Normally Osso Buco is made with veal shanks but since I made this dish the day after Thanksgiving, I thought it was only appropriate to use turkey instead. Absolutely delicious!

Ingredients(serves 4)

For the Osso Buco:

  • 4-6  large turkey shanks
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 carrots, finely chopped
  • ½ red pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ yellow pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp chili flakes
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 can (400gr) chopped tomatoes
  • 3dl chicken stock
  • 2dl white wine
  • 1 bay leaf

For the pasta:

  • 375gr linguini
  • 300gr rocket lettuce
  • 100gr almonds
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 30gr parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 200gr cherry tomatoes

Method:

  1. For the Osso Buco: Brown the meat in olive oil. Remove from the large pot and sauté the onions, garlic, carrots and peppers in that same pot.  Return the browned shanks to the pot.
  2. Add the wine and let it simmer for a couple of minutes until the wine has reduced by half. Add the stock, canned tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Add all the spices and the honey and bring to a simmer.
  3. Cover the pan and let it simmer for at least 1 hour until the meat starts to fall of the bone.
  4. Cook your linguini according to packet instructions.
  5. For the pesto: put all the ingredients (except the tomatoes of course)in a blender until you get a lovely paste. Add three tablespoons of olive oil and some extra pasta water (this will give the pesto a glossy shine).
  6. When your pasta is cooked, stir the pesto through the pasta and add the chopped cherry tomatoes.DSCN3440

Indian Vegetable Curry

This may seem like a very long ingredient list, but two thirds of this very alluring list are spices you should all have in your magic spice box. If you don’t have a spice box yet:

First of all : shame on you!

And secondly: Get one.

You have no idea how many wonderful dishes you can conjure up just by having the right spices in your cupboard. This curry is one of those wonderful dishes. It is an homage to the delirious aromas of Indian food: the richness… the heat… the fragrance… the depth… it’s all there.

This is –without a single doubt- the best vegetarian curry on the planet.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 broccoli, cut into florets
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cut into cubes
  • 3 carrots, cut into cubes
  • ½ yellow pepper, roughly chopped
  • ½ red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 200gr frozen peas
  • Fresh coriander
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes (400gr)
  • 5dl coconut milk
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp nigella seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ – 1 tsp chili powder (depends on how spicy you want your curry)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp garam massala
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large pot. Add  the onion, garlic and all the spices and fry them until your kitchen starts to smell like an Indian Spice Bazaar.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes, palm sugar and coconut milk. Stir and let it come to a simmer.
  3. Add the vegetables (except the peas) and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Taste and add salt and pepper. Stir in the frozen peas and let it simmer for a further 10 minutes.
  5. At the end, sprinkle some fresh coriander over the top and serve with rice or naan. (Or both 😉 )

Italy vs. Asia: One battle, two winners! Spicy mango carpaccio with rice noodles and mint-peanut pesto

Published June 5, 2013 by The Feminist

DSCN2782Carpaccio and pesto are two of the world’s best known and loved Italian dishes. There is just something about incredibly thin slices of raw meat, fish, vegetables or fruit that makes it ridiculously sexy and appealing. The same thing can be said about the traditional basil pesto. That heavenly scent and that fragrant taste are enough to make me go through life as an overly cheerful and euphoric crazy person!

Question is, however, what happens when you transform something so traditionally Italian into an Italasian fusion dish? Italians will no doubt kill me. And so will the Asians. Probably.

Whatever. At least I will die in complete and utter satisfaction because this dish was mind-blowingly delish! The Italian carpaccio became a wonderful mango carpaccio with a tangy and spicy dressing and the basil pesto was turned into a lovely blend of fresh peppery mint and creamy peanut butter.

Sounds amazing, right? 😉

If you want to try this summery dish for yourself, here is the very simple recipe:

Spicy mango carpaccio

ingredients
• One ripe mango
• Chilli powder
• Juice of half a lime
• One spring onion, finely chopped
• Freshly ground pepper

Method:
1. Using a mandolin or sharp knife, slice the mango as finely as possible and arrange the slices on a plate. Sprinkle on some lime juice, pepper, chilli powder and the chopped spring onion.

Rice noodles with a mint and peanut butter pesto

Ingredients (serves one)

• 4 spring onions, roughly chopped
• 1 clove of garlic
• 1 tbsp mirin
• 1 heaped tbsp peanut butter
• 1 tbsp rice vinegar
• Lots and lots of fresh mint leaves
• Splash of fish sauce
• ½ green chilli pepper
• 125gr rice noodles

Method
1. Cook the rice noodles in salted water according to the instructions on the packet.
2. Mix all the ingredients for the pesto (except the spring onion) together in a blender until you get a lovely and thick sauce.
3. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a wok and stir-fry the spring onions for a minute. Add the cooked rice noodles and mint pesto and stir until all the noodles are beautifully coated.
4. Serve the fragrant mint noodles in the centre of your mango carpaccio.

Make Dinner, Not War: 3 stress-free dishes

Published April 10, 2013 by The Feminist

Let’s be honest here: Now and then we all get really annoyed with other people.

• When someone is constantly talking about his or herself in a very boastful “I’m the Greatest Star this world has ever known” kinda way.
• When someone is too lazy to get his or her ass off the couch and watches TV shows all day, while you’re working your butt off.
• When you’re trying to have a conversation with a teenager who has a very big attitude. “Wha’everrr”
• Sometimes, even the slightest noise, movement or snort can get under your skin.

Yes, we’ve all been there. But instead of letting all the anger boil up inside of you – or worse – instead of yelling all nasty things at that particular person, why not maintain the peace and start cooking? I find cooking to be incredibly soothing and relaxing. Besides, it is also more convenient, because you can now actually use your dinner plates to serve your food on, instead of smashing them to the ground.

Here are some really yummy stress-relieving dishes:

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Indonesian chicken wraps

Ingredients:

• Good quality shop-bought wraps
• 4 chicken breasts, diced
• 300gr of bean sprouts
• Fresh coriander
• 3 spring onions, chopped
• 1 mango, finely chopped
• 1 apple, in fine slices
• 1lime
• Chopped cashew nuts

For the marinade:
• 2tbsp ketchup
• 1tbsp fish sauce
• 1tbsp soy sauce
• 2tbsp honey
• 1tbsp mirin
• 1tbsp sesame oil

For the satay sauce:
• 200ml coconut oil
• 40gr of peanut butter
• 1 small red chilli
• 1 tbsp garam massala
• 2cm piece of ginger
• 1tsp brown sugar

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Method:

1. Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade and stir through the diced chicken breasts. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
2. For the satay sauce, mix all the ingredients together – et voila! – done! 😉
3. Mix the bean sprouts together with the coriander and spring onion and sprinkle over some lime juice.
4. Fry the chicken until brown and tender.
5. Make your own awesome wrap with the beansprout salad, mango, apple, chicken and of course the scrumptious satay sauce and finish with some chopped cashew nuts.

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Tutti Frutti prawn curry

Ingredients (serves two):

For the curry paste:
• Two small red chillies
• 3cm piece of fresh ginger
• Coriander stalks
• 1 clove of garlic
• 1 onion
• 1 tsp garam massala
• 1tsp brown sugar

For the fruity prawn curry:
• 16 prawns
• Half a pineapple, diced
• Half of mango, diced
• 1 banana
• 400ml coconut milk
• 1tbsp peanut butter
• 1tbsp fish sauce
• Fresh coriander to decorate

Method:
1. Make the curry paste by mixing all the ingredients together in a blender.
2. Fry the curry paste in a large wok in some vegetable oil until fragrant.
3. Add the coconut milk, the peanut butter and fish sauce. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes.
4. Add the prawns, pineapple and mango and simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Finally add the banana and heat through.
6. Sprinkle some chopped coriander on top.

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Italian meatloaf with homemade pasta and basil-sundried tomato pesto

Ingredients (serves 4):

For the meatloaf:
• 750gr minced beef
• 1 courgette
• Cherry tomatoes, on the vine
• 1 onion
• 1 clove of garlic
• 15gr grated pecorino cheese
• 1 egg
• 1tsp dried oregano
• 1tsp paprika
• ½ tsp cumin
• ½ tsp garam massala (You’re now probably shouting: “Garam massala?? In an Italian dish??? Well, it actually works 😉 )

For the pasta:

• 350gr plain flour
• 4 eggs
• Salt

For the pesto:
• 200gr semi dried tomatoes, in oil
• 30gr pecorino cheese
• 2 cloves of garlic
• Handful of cashew nuts
• Bunch of fresh basil leaves (lots and lots of them!)

Method:

1. For the meatloaf, line a baking tin with baking parchment. Using a vegetable peeler, peel strips off the courgette and line them in your tin. (This will create a lovely courgette blanket for your meat)
2. In a bowl, mix together the meat with the chopped garlic and onion and grate in some of the remaining courgette (the white part). Add the cheese, the egg and the spices and mix through.
3. Put the mince in the courgette baking tin and put in a preheated oven at 200°C for 35 minutes. Take the loaf out of the oven and put the vine cherry tomatoes on top. Put back into the oven for 10 minutes.
4. For the pasta, pour the flour into a mound onto a flat surface and make a well in the centre. Crack the eggs into the well and gradually mix with either a blunt knife or your hands. Knead until well blended and the dough is soft and flexible. Leave the pasta to rest for about 15-30 minutes. Cut it into your favourite pasta shape.
5. Cook the fresh pasta in boiling water for 3-5 minutes and immediately drain the pasta and coat it with the fresh pesto.
6. For the pesto, mix all the ingredients together in a blender and season with salt and pepper.
7. Serve the meatloaf and pasta with a rocket salad with balsamic dressing.

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Some things are better left unsaid. But then again, that’s just not my style so I’m going to say it anyway: This was delicious!

Published February 27, 2013 by The Feminist

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Some things are better left unsaid. Other things ought to be shared with every person on the planet. This recipe falls in the latter category (no surprise there, I presume?)This pesto, courgette and mozzarella tart is healthy, hearty and delicious! The pesto is full of flavour and the beautifully grilled courgette slices work so well with the milky white of the mozzarella.
And what’s more: It is ridiculously easy to make and 100% meat-free! Even the most blatantly innate meat-loving cynic will love this bright and sunny dish. Serve with a triple bean and cherry tomato salad (forgot to take a picture of that one, sorry!) and you won’t even remember meat ever existed!

And no, I’m NOT exaggerating!

Pesto, courgette and mozzarella tart

Ingredients:

• 1 sheet puff pastry
• 2 small-medium size courgettes, in slices of approx. 5 mm
• 200gr good quality mozzarella cheese
• Homemade or store-bought pesto (I won’t judge 😉 )
• Basil leaves to decorate

Method:

1. Grill the slices of courgette on a hot grill until nice grill marks appear.
2. Preheat the oven to 200°C and place the puff pastry on a non-stick baking sheet.
3. Generously spread pesto over the pastry base, leaving a 2cm gap around the edge of the tart.
4. Arrange the courgette and mozzarella slices in a spiral shape on top of the pesto, overlapping slightly.
5. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Fold over the edges of the puff pastry and put bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.
7. Garnish with basil leaves and buon appetito!

When food is this good, words are simply superfluous: luscious linguini

Published January 23, 2013 by The Feminist

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Al dente linguini? … Check!
Brilliant pesto?… Check!
Grilled peppers and courgettes? … Check check check!

And all of that topped with peppery rocket and parmesan shavings…

Yes, this must be Italian food heaven!

When food is this good, words are simply superfluous.

Trust me 😉

Peas please: the pesto project

Published October 15, 2012 by The Feminist

Warning: If you’re Italian, this post might give you a heart attack

I decided to give the classic Italian pesto a makeover by adding a British twist.

(I’ll give you some time to process this…)

Instead of pine nuts, I used peas!

Instead of olive oil, I used cream!

And instead of basil, I used basil AND mint!

(Again, I’ll give you some time to envision the outcome…)

And tada! Here is my rigatoni with pea, basil and mint pesto and grilled mushrooms!

To all the Italians: Are you still alive?