Roasted Beet Pesto

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We have totally talked about the color of beets before, yes? Are you done with that conversation? Okay, good. Me either. Check out that color! It’s like everything you ever wanted from a nail polish. Or lipstick. Or a pair of skinny jeans. (Maybe that last one is just me?) I’m on a newly found mission to incorporate beet-magenta into my life in new and interesting ways. I think that this beet pesto is a good place to start. Continue reading

Simple Tomato Sauce

Let’s keep it simple today, what do you think? This is weeknight dinner. It’s the kind of thing that takes a little bit of work upfront but is totally worth it later. We’re making fresh tomatoes into a rich, tasty sauce that will freeze all winter and keep away the pre-made tomato sauce blues. Believe it or not, this is single dude food. It’s so easy, you’ll be amazed with your cooking skills. And so will everyone else!

Also–if you’re some kind of Italian cooking genius, I would stop reading. I made this up. I’m sure it’s all wrong.

You’ll need these things:

6 fresh tomatoes (I’m not actually sure what kind I used…)

3 cloves of garlic

1/2 small can of tomato paste (optional)

1 onion

dried oregano and basil

salt and pepper

red pepper flakes

(And pasta, of course. I’d also recommend freshly grated parmesan cheese.)

Here’s what to do with those things:

The tomatoes will need to be peeled. If you cut an X on the blossom end of each tomato, then dunk them in boiling water then into cold water, the peels should slip right off. Then, give them a rough chop (you can do this according to how chunky you like the tomatoes in your sauce to be).

Dice an onion and the garlic and brown them in a pot with a generous amount of olive oil. When they’re transparent and fragrant, pour in the tomatoes. (Disclaimer–this is where things get weird.) I totally used a pastry cutter (this thing) to break up the tomatoes a little more. I have no idea if this is an acceptable way to treat tomatoes. It’s usually how I break down fruit to make jam, so I figured it would work for tomatoes, too! It does the job.

After that’s done, add half the can of tomato paste, then the basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Here’s the scoop on tomato paste: it’ll help the sauce thicken faster. If you don’t have it/don’t like the way it tastes, your sauce will have to cook down for a much longer time to lose that fresh tomato taste and thicken up. I don’t mind the paste.

Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for 30-45 minutes until it has thickened up. You’ll know when it’s time.

You can also add ground beef, carrots, or celery to this sauce if you want. I would just add them at the beginning (before the tomatoes).

Serve over hot pasta with grated parmesan on top! The leftover sauce will freeze well. It’ll also keep in the fridge for a week or so.

 

 

Spinach Walnut Pesto

Do you ever get tired of tomato sauce? I do. It’s so boring after a while; I mean there’s only so much you can do with it. I know, I know, there are people out there who are evangelical about their tomato sauce, but I’m just not one of them. I feel like pasta and tomato sauce should be a super easy dinner thing, and when I have to simmer it for hours, it’s not simple anymore. Even if I’m just reheating it and I simmered it for hours a long time ago. There are cream sauces, but they’re just too heavy, and I don’t understand vodka sauce… do you? It’s not my favorite. But pesto, I can get behind pesto! And, added bonus: it’s not just pasta sauce, it’s pizza sauce, toast spread, a sandwich condiment… the options are endless.

Here’s the really good news: pesto isn’t just for basil anymore. You need a green of some sort–herb or vegetable–and a nut or seed. Add olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper, and you’re done! It’s that easy. It could be basil+pine nuts (traditional), cilantro+pumpkin seeds, kale+pecans, or spinach+walnuts. Possibilities for days.

Let’s do this thing.

Ingredients: (recipe is adapted from shutterbean.com) Serves 2.

2 large handfulls of baby spinach

1 small handful of walnuts

juice of half a lemon

1 good-sized clove of garlic

olive oil

salt and pepper

First, you do need a food processor. Or an immersion blender. That’s the hardest thing about this recipe. Put the walnuts, garlic (roughly chopped), salt and pepper, and spinach into the food processor. Pulse the blade a few times, just to get things started. Then, pour in the lemon juice and some olive oil. (Don’t be weird about measuring, just wing it.) Turn the food processor on and let it go for a while. If it needs more liquid, put some more olive oil in. Process until it reaches the consistency you’re looking for. I feel like you know what you’re going for here.

Toss your pesto with pasta, sprinkle on some parmesan cheese, and that’s the easiest dinner you’ll have this week. There’s really no need to heat the pesto, as long as your pasta is hot. Remember, you’ll use less pesto than you would pasta sauce. It’s like pasta salad. But warmer.

Pesto will keep in a jar or tightly sealed tupperware container for up to a week and a half.