Just Chop It Fresh and Easy Pesto

Certain foods are ubiquitous. One such food is Pesto. Of course you can buy jars of it in supermarkets and specialty food markets, but there is none to compare to what you make at home. Most pre-made pestos are too oily, too smooth without any character and with little flavor. One of the easiest things to make at home is pesto.  This is a version that doesn’t even call for a food processor. I just chopped it!

I want my pesto to have texture and lots of flavor. I want the olive oil to enhance the pesto, not be the main ingredient.  I often use greens other than basil such as kale or parsley. Hardly ever do I use pine nuts as I feel they are too oily. Walnuts, pecans, pistachios and pepitas are some of my favorite nuts to use. The constants in my pestos are good fresh garlic, the best olive oil I can afford and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Paired with a good short pasta noodle such as Campanelle, this pesto is divine and delicious.

First I smashed two garlic cloves using the flat side of my knife and then finely chopped them, adding toasted walnuts to my board and giving them a medium to fine chop together with the garlic. Grated parmesan was added and chopped into the garlic-walnut mix.

I harvested my first basil of the 2019 season and gave it a medium to fine chop as well. All the ingredients I then put into a bowl, adding a generous sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

All the ingredients I then drizzled with a good olive oil and smushed it all together with a wooden spatula.

I cooked some Campanelle noodles, topped them with a few spoonfuls of this chopped pesto. Bon Appetit.

Just Chop It Fresh and Easy Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 2 large fresh garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano – 1 cup or more divided
  • 2 cups or more fresh basil leaves
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1 lb Campanelle pasta noodles or other short noodle

Directions:

  1. Put a pot of water on to boil for the noodles.
  2. Meanwhile working on a cutting board, smash the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife and then chop. Add walnuts and give them a medium to fine chop along with the garlic. Every now and then smush it all with the side of you knife. This releases the oils from the garlic and walnuts.
  3. Add half of the grated Parmigiano and chop into the garlic-walnut mix and scrape all into a mixing bowl.
  4. On the same board chop the basil medium to fine and add to the bowl tossing with other ingredients. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle olive oil over all and toss together well. Taste and adjust to suit your palate.
  5. When you pasta water boils add the noodles and cook al dente. Drain well.
  6. Serve pasta topped with a generous serving of chopped pesto and more Parmigiano, sea salt and black pepper. Drizzle with additional olive oil if you like. Enjoy.

Teresa Blackburn.         http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

 

Hello October One Dish Meal – “Garlic Roasted Chicken & Root Vegetables”

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The best meals are the most simple. They are effortless & comforting in both their preparation and presentation.  Root vegetables…potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic…all roasted along side a small plump chicken…scented with fresh thyme leaves…salted & peppered…cooked in one dish so that all the juices intermingle is one of my favorite meals of this season.

A couple of things of note….Hello October my favortite month and right after my printable recipes I am now adding a section for “sources”…where to find some of the fun things you might see here at Food on Fifth from props to kitchen tools. Let me know what you think.

The vegetables came from the Downtown Nashville Farmer’s Market and the small, plump chicken from my CSA, Fresh Harvest. I buy a few of these organic chickens at one time and  keep them in my freezer so I always have them on hand.

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Well….you can’t, can you?

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After lightly browning on both sides in some olive oil on top of the stove, I sprinkle lots of chopped garlic over the top, snuggle the potatoes, onions & carrots around the chicken, add a generous grinding of black pepper, fresh thyme leaves and sea salt and it is ready for the oven.

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An hour or so later, golden brown crispy skin, just right softened vegetables & more thyme and our dinner is ready.  A glass of wine and some good crusty bread for sopping the juices…Bring it on October! Make every meal count.

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iphone image with wine and bread and our one dish dinner.

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(quote from the Chicken Little book)

 

Garlic Roasted Chicken and Root Vegetables

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • One 2-3 lb chicken, organic preferred
  • olive oil
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh garlic
  • 8 small red potatoes
  • 4 carrots, trimmed & peeled
  • 2 red onions, chopped in large pieces
  • fresh thyme sprigs & leaves
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse and pat roasting hen dry inside and out.
  3. Heat olive oil in a pan that can go from stove top to the oven for roasting. Brown the hen on the top and bottom. Turn heat off.
  4. Pat the minced garlic and thyme leaves onto the hen.
  5. Snuggle the vegetables around the hen. Sprinkle over all with a generous amount of black pepper and sea salt.
  6. Pour 1/2 cup water into the pan. Roast for 1 1/2 hour or until the juices from the hen run clear and the root vegetables are cooked al dente soft. Garnish with thyme sprigs.
  7. Serve chicken pieces & vegetables in a bowl with some of the juices, a good crusty baguette for sopping and a glass of decent wine for optimum contentment.

 Making good stuff you see here easy to find:

All-Clad Pan Sauteuse – From Stove-top to Oven – Sur la Table, Williams Sonoma, Macy’s

Mid Century Silver Plate Serving Fork – Nashville Flea Market

Wooden Handle Knife – West Elm, Schmidt Brothers

Flatware, White Bowl, Tablecloth, Wine Glass – Food on Fifth prop collection

“You Can’t Eat Money” Artwork by C.M.L.

“A Simple Sauce, Dave’s Tomatoes & an Ode by Pablo Neruda”

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My son-in-law, David,  has the magic touch when it comes to growing almost anything. He plants casually like a seasoned farmer. He does not fuss or worry, but accepts that things will grow, or not, depending on the weather. Tomatoes grow well for him in bad years, but this year, a good year, his plants are laden. He and my daughter, Whitney, are very generous with their bounty. See the big beauties above? Yep, those are David’s Cherokee Purple tomatoes.

 Vine ripened, just picked tomatoes. I am moved by their shapeliness, their innate lack of sameness and their color wheel of “reds, oranges & pinks”.

This is my favorite hot-summer, no-cook tomato sauce. It can only be made “right now” with just picked Summer tomatoes. Fresh, no fuss, quick and just plain good.

Fresh Tomato and Basil Sauce

You only need a few ingredients….Fresh homegrown tomatoes, a few basil leaves, toasted pine nuts, smashed garlic cloves, a good fruity olive oil, salt & pepper, a splash of red wine vinegar and just grated Parmesan cheese to scatter over the top.

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If you live in Nashville stop by Lazzaroli’s on 5th Avenue North in Historic Germantown. Tom has an amazing selection of olive oils. I picked up this bottle of Madonna Olive Oil especially for this dish. It’s amazing.

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Cook up some pasta al dente.

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Toss the sauce with the pasta, scatter Parmesan over the top…stay cool, eat well.

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 “Ode to Tomatoes” by Pablo Neruda

 …..at the midpoint
of summer,
the tomato,
star of earth,
recurrent
and fertile
star,
displays
its convolutions,
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude
and abundance,
no pit,
no husk,
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
its gift
of fiery color
and cool completeness.

 

No-Cook Fresh Summer Tomato Sauce for Pasta

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print
Fresh Tomato and Basil Sauce
Ingredients:
  • 2 Large or 4 smaller size vine-ripened Tomatoes, cored & chopped
  • a small handful of fresh Basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/3 cup good quality fruity olive oil
  • 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt
  • Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

 

  1. Add the chopped tomatoes, chopped basil, pine nuts & garlic to a mixing bowl
  2. Pour in olive oil & vinegar and toss well.
  3. Season with salt & pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
  4. Chill until ready to serve covered.
  5. Serve with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan, a crusty loaf to sop the juices on your plate and your favorite summer wine.

Notes: Unlike a cooked sauce, this is just a mouthful of summer. I have been making this for years and only eat it in the middle of tomato season. Some dishes have to wait for the right season to enjoy, such is this one.

Any homegrown tomatoes will work great. I used some of my baby tomatoes in this dish to add texture.  Probably 2 lbs of tomatoes would be good for this recipe for two servings. Just increase to feed more.