Sunday, August 19, 2012

two recipes for the price of one

Had a house-full of people around this weekend, with our former exchange student Lisa visiting from Germany with her boyfriend Jochen :) So much fun showing them around town, picnicking at the Pizza Farm in Wisconsin, and waterskiing at the lake.

After they left on Saturday, mom and Sarah and I spent a relaxing day here helping Sarah transition from her summer in Panama to her new job/life coming up in Oregon. One of the highlights was a new recipe we found in Real Simple. We made a substitution of Trader Joe's Harvest Grains (a blend of orzo, couscous, quinoa and others) in place of the quinoa below, but you could also use farro if that's what you have handy. You'll notice the recipe calls for pesto, so I'm also including my personal pesto how-to guide for delicious homemade pesto. Enjoy!

2 cups quinoa (or other grain), rinsed
1/2 cup olive oil
3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
salt and pepper
1 medium red onion, sliced
2 bunches kale, thick stems removed and leaves cut into bite-size pieces
fresh pesto (about 1/2 cup or 3/4 cup)
toasted walnuts, optional

  1. Cook the quinoa/grains according to the package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the sweet potatoes, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper and cook, covered, tossing occasionally, until the potatoes begin to brown and soften, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add the onion to the pot and cook, tossing occasionally, until the sweet potatoes and onion are tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add as much kale to the pot as will fit and cook, tossing frequently and adding more kale when there is room, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Serve the vegetables over the quinoa/grains, topped with 1-2 T pesto and some toasted walnuts.

Lauren's Pesto

I adjust the recipe according to how much basil I have on-hand. Here's an estimation of ingredients for about 2 cups of basil leaves, but you should experiment and add ingredients one-by-one as you go so as to customize the taste. Add to Cuisinart in the following order:

Basil leaves, washed and dried (about 2 cups)
Pine nuts, about 2-3 T.
Juice from half a lemon
1 T. olive oil
Parmesan cheese, about 3-4 T.

Add more olive oil if pesto is too clumpy or not spreadable. Add more cheese to offset too much lemon. Some people like to toast the pine nuts first; I find it unnecessary.

Pesto will keep in the fridge about one week, or in the freezer about 3-4 months.

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