Thursday, July 23, 2009

Yellow Tomato Pesto

We've started throwing ripe tomatoes in our pesto to add some extra lubrication without too much grease. The sweet-tartness of the tomato works beautifully with the bright basil and sharp Parmesan, and this recipe takes no time at all (so of course, we had to toss it with some labor-intensive homemade ravioli to feel like we'd earned our dinner). Because of the extra tomato juiciness, this is a little thinner than a traditional pesto, which we find works well for chunky rustic pastas. We used yellow tomatoes to preserve the green color of the pesto -- it tastes just as good with red tomatoes.

1/4 cup pine nuts (toasted)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped basil
2 small yellow tomatoes
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse until smooth. Toss with the pasta of your choice.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sambhar with Okra

Do we spend enough time talking about how much we love okra? Probably not. We'd start another blog called I Heart Okra, but we're assuming there's a limited market for I Heart [Green Thing] blogs. Here's another way to showcase our favorite mucilaginous vegetable. This sambhar--inspired by versions we had in Kerala and adapted from Savoring the Spice Coast of India--is like an Indian answer to gumbo: thick, satisfying, spicy, and okra-licious.

1 and 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup yellow split peas, rinsed

3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 cup pureed tomato
2 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
1 cup minced onion
1 jalapeno chile, sliced lengthwise (you can scoop the seeds out if you want less spice)
12 branches cilantro: stems and leaves minced separately
4 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida*
1 teaspoon tamarind paste

1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 dried red chile
1 sprig curry leaves, stemmed (optional, if you can find them)
1/2 lb. okra, ends trimmed, sliced lengthwise

Combine water and dal in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer 30-40 minutes, until dal is soft.

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the fenugreek seeds and stir for 3o second or so, just until they brown. Add 2 cups water, potatoes, tomato, onion, jalapeno, cilantro stems, spices, salt and tamarind. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a wok. (Yes, we're making you dirty three separate pans! It's worth it, though). Add the mustard seeds, and when they pop, add the curry leaves and chiles and stir quickly. Throw in the okra and fry until it starts to brown, about 10 minutes or so, stirring constantly.

Now put it all together: pour the peas and okra into the large saucepan with the veggies and taste for salt. Top with the minced cilantro leaves and serve.

*ETA: Apparently asafoetida is not gluten-free, so please leave it out if you're cooking for anyone who is! Don't worry, the sambhar will still be okra-tastic and yummy.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fig, Basil and Caramelized Onion Pizza

Basil, basil, basil--it's everywhere this time of year, and we're taking advantage of the period before tomato season starts up in earnest to try some more adventurous basil pairings. The latest entry: this sizzling and decadent pizza, which combines whole basil leaves with the luscious, oozy figs that are just starting to grace our farmer's market. We've sauced this pizza with a caramelized onion and black pepper puree, which plays very nicely with the sweet figs.

A note about pizza dough: we're not providing a recipe here because the toppings--not the crust--are what makes this dish, and we don't want to deter anyone from eating this due to dietary restrictions or fear of making crust from scratch. Use a pre-made crust if you want. Our intrepid gluten-free friend Denise makes a mean crust with Pamela's baking mix. Also, full disclosure: we used the ready-made whole wheat pizza dough from the Berkeley Bowl for this. (We know, not what you've come here to hear--but until that glorious day when we can blog full-time, we've both got day jobs that sometimes preclude making crust from scratch on a weeknight).

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. pizza dough
6 figs, quartered and tossed with a little olive oil
2 cups packed grated mozzarella
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
More olive oil for greasing the pan and drizzling on top

First, caramelize the onions: heat a medium-sized cast-iron skillet, add olive oil, and cook onions over low heat, stirring occasionally, until they are completely wilted and have turned brown, about half an hour to 45 minutes. Remove from heat and puree in a food processor with the black pepper.

Next, assemble the pizza. Preheat oven to 450. Roll out pizza dough on a floured surface, transfer to a greased pan, and spread with the caramelized onion mixture. Sprinkle on the cheese and top with the basil leaves and figs. Bake about 8-10 minutes, until cheese is bubbling.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Squash Blossom Quesadillas

Have you tried squash blossoms? If you're a backyard gardener or have access to a farmer's market, give these edible flowers a shot--they have a nice zucchini flavor without any of the associated wateriness. Squash blossoms are very perishable (which is why you don't see them in supermarkets), and this is a quick and easy way to use them, inspired by the squash blossoms quesadillas we used to love at the Hillcrest Farmer's Market when we lived in San Diego.

This recipe makes two quesadillas--scale up if you feel like sharing.

1 tablespoon canola oil
6 medium-sized squash blossoms
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar
4 corn tortillas

Heat the canola oil in a small cast-iron skillet or frying pan. Briefly saute the squash blossoms, approximately two minutes, until they're wilted. Remove pan from heat.

Sprinkle cheese evenly over two tortillas and divide the sauteed squash blossoms between them. Top with another tortilla.

Reheat pan (you can add more oil if you need) over medium-high heat. Cook quesadillas one at a time, about two minutes per side.