Hello! I am so excited to be posting my first recipe for 2018.
Sharing recipes with my readers brings me tons of joy, but sadly my blog has been taking a back seat to work, school, travel, etc.
Setting goals is something that I do for myself all year long.
When the calendar goes from one year to the next, it is popular to say “New Year, new me.” While that can feel lofty or dramatic, I find value in that January feeling to take some inventory of life and see where there is room for positive change and improvement. Usually, the list is health related, like, “OK, I’m going to take my vitamins and supplements EVERY DAY” (instead of for two weeks straight and then forgetting about them for the next two months).
Connecting with you guys and sharing my plant-based recipes was also on my list. So, to kick off my 2018 blog posts, I thought I would share this amazing dish that I created out of food that was in my fridge that had to be used ASAP.
Some of my favorite recipes come from those moments.
My friends say that those are sometimes my best meals. Maybe it’s because I hear Ted Allen, the host of Chopped, in my head as I figure out how to plate something delicious out of the random basket that is my refrigerator, or maybe it’s because it allows me to be more creative than usual, but it also feels good to make something tasty out of what I can find.
If you know me but at all, you know that I think pesto is the besto.
The recipe for this sauce that I share with you guys on my website is the one that I grew up on
and was created by my momma. People have told her that she should jar it up and sell it because it’s so good. Making it from scratch with impress yours and your loved ones taste buds.
Usually, I have batches of this green gold in my fridge that I made over the summer with fresh basil from my dad’s garden. I am running really low though, so I decided to use the rest of the basil in my fridge that felt like a ticking time bomb- ready to turn black at any given moment. I HATE when that happens! Whenever I am stomping and yelling “NO!” in front of my open refrigerator, the hubster figures it’s most likely because the basil turned bad on a dime.
I love this dish.
It’s warm, fresh, loaded with plants, and answers the question that I so often get which is “how do I cook with farro?” This is a perfect weeknight meal. I can’t wait to hear what you think!
Pesto Farro with Eggplant & Zucchini
Author: Michele Wolfson
- 6 TBS extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 zucchini, thinly sliced half moons
- 1 smallish Italian eggplant (about 6 inches), diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1.5 cups farro, uncooked
- ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
- salt and pepper to taste
- Recipe for pesto sauce: http://www.thedirtonvegetables.com/2014/07/basil-pesto-sauce/
- Cook farro according to package (see notes) and then prepare your pesto sauce.
- In a large saute pan, heat 2 TBS olive oil over medium/high heat. Then add diced onion and saute until translucent (3-5 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the eggplant and 3 TBS of olive oil and toss around, making sure it is covered with oil, and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Put zucchini in the pan with eggplant mixture, add the last tablespoon of olive oil, and saute until eggplant is slightly browning and zucchini is soft. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- When finished cooking, drain farro and add to a large mixing bowl.
- Put your vegetables in the mixing bowl with farro and toss well.
- Add your pesto to the mixing bowl and continue to toss well until all of your vegetables are covered.
1. If there is just no time in your week to make pesto (it's pretty easy to make, but stuff happens, so don't beat yourself up over it too much), I have heard that Whole Foods makes a good fresh pesto.
2. If you can't find pine nuts that are toasted, I toast my pine nuts on parchment paper in the oven for 375 for 5 to 10 minutes, tossing often. OR, I toast them in a dry skillet for 3 minutes over medium heat, tossing often.
3. Whole Foods and Trader Joes have bags of 10-minute farro if you are looking to make this a quick weeknight dinner.
4. I buy the "Italian Eggplant" as they tend to be smaller and firmer.
As I unpack my apartment after moving from Cambridge, MA back to downtown Manhattan, I am tempted to take a little break and share one of my favorite summer recipes of all time. Moving can be a bit of a challenge, to say the least, so I have been rewarding myself with mini-breaks after I finish a big task on my long list of things that need to get done.
Recently, I had a photo-shoot with Kitchensurfing.com and one of the recipes featured was my basil pesto sauce. I loooooove pesto and this classic basil pesto recipe is a common go-to sauce in my repertoire, especially during the summertime. We take basil very seriously in my family’s garden and we grow TONS of this delicious herb. My mother and I make batches of our favorite green sauce by the dozen and freeze it so we have pesto that was made with our homegrown basil 365 days of the year.
The extremely tender, fragrant, extra-large, dark green leaves are superb for pesto and I use it in a variety of different ways, but my favorite way is on pasta. My mother loves to twirl it with her linguine and my brother loves to scoop it up with his rigatoni. There is no wrong way to enjoy pasta with your pesto. I recently read an article on one of my favorite food sites called The Kitchn about 10 Ways to Use Pesto Beyond Pasta and pretty much all of the suggestions looked phenomenal.
Making pesto is easy and it’s a perfect sauce to impress your loved ones with, especially if you use your own basil that you’ve grown, which you can totally do by the way. Basil is simple to grow, even in my NYC apartment. Plus, the smell of the fragrant leaves alone makes it worth having a pot of the good stuff collecting sunlight on your windowsill. Basically, in order to make pesto, all you need to do is put basil leaves in the food processor along with well-toasted pine nuts, grated parmesan, veganaise, cream cheese, garlic, salt and olive oil and and give it a whirl.
I recently traveled to the enchanting Cinque Terre, five coastal islands located on the Italian Riviera, which is known as the home to the best pesto in the world. Clearly, I had to do my research. I ate heavenly helpings of pesto in all forms at every meal and it was so delicious every. single. time. The whole experience got me really inspired to make some pesto when I got home not just for my pasta—even in my eggs! What is your favorite way to enjoy pesto? Leave your comments below and please enjoy this recipe!
- 3 cups packed fresh basil leaves (try to remove as many of the stems as possible)
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1 cup parsley
- 2½ TBS
- 2 TBS cream cheese
- ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
- Combine the basil, garlic, parsley, pine nuts, cream cheese, and Veganaise in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add ½ cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.
- If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Thaw and stir in cheese.