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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Pestos and Tapenades

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It’s a meat-free day today at my house. Anything you can spread on grilled bread or toasted bread is delicious.

Pesto doesn’t have to be made with just basil anymore. You can substitute arugula or spinach, you can add walnuts or pistachios. The possibilities are endless.

The difference between a Pesto and a Tapenade is generally Tapenades are olive-based… yes there are olives in certain Pestos.

In the pictures above I’ve made a Roasted Piquillo Pepper Pesto, a Pea With Fresh Mint Pesto, an Artichoke Pesto, and a Kalamata Olive With Cannellini Bean Tapenade.

I like to change it up, by using all types of different ingredients. For example; roasted red peppers, artichokes, peas, Cannellini beans, Kalamata olives, or Ricotta cheese, mix in nuts and fresh herbs.

Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese, fresh lemon juice, and a great Extra Virgin Olive Oil are key in making a great pesto or Tapenade. Let’s not forget about the nuts. Traditionally pine nuts are what’s used, not today, it’s pistachios. I even used a variety of herbs like basil, chives, mint, and Italian flat-leaf parsley. I say let your imagination go wild!  Then spread it on grilled bread.

In the next section, is my recipe for the Roasted Piquillo Pepper Pesto. Recipes may vary from one pesto to another, some tend to be thicker than others. A secret I use to thicken certain Pesto recipes is by adding a small amount of Cannellini Beans. They add a creaminess and give great texture to the Pesto or Tapenade.

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Pestos And Tapenades

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12-15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Equipment: Food Processor, rimmed baking sheet with a rack

Ingredients For RoastedPiquilloPepper Pesto:
7-ounce jar of drained roasted Piquillo peppers, (If you can’t find Piquillo peppers, substitute roasted red peppers)
1/4 cup of drained and rinsed Cannellini beans
1/4 cup of Pistachios
1/4 cup of  grated Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese
1 small clove of peeled garlic
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped basil leaves
1/4 cup of *E.V.O.O.
1 loaf of Tuscan Ciabatta bread, sliced (yields 16 slices) substitute a good French baguette

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Slice the Ciabatta bread at a 45-degree angle into 1/2 -inch thick slices. Arrange the bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet topped with a rack. Brush the top surface of each slice of Ciabatta lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Place into the oven on the center rack. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the bread is golden. Take the baking sheet out of the oven and let the toast cool slightly before adding the toppings.

Start processing the nuts ( Pistachios) garlic and the herb of choice first. You can see this in the pictures above. Once this has been processed, add in the main ingredients. In this case, the drained and rinsed roasted Piquillo peppers, Cannellini beans, fresh lemon juice, Kosher salt, and pepper.

Next, through the feed tube, at the top, drizzle in the *E.V.O.O. slowly. This will allow you to control the consistency of the pesto as it’s being processed, and you can adjust the amount accordingly.

Finally, add the grated cheese. The reason I do it this way, is so the cheese doesn’t get too hot from that blade doing all this processing and change the integrity of the cheese. I only pulse the cheese through the mix just until it’s mixed through.

This is the method I use when making any type of pesto. I also want to mention, using Cannellini beans gives extra body to the pesto without changing the flavor.

*E.V.O.O. is Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

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Roasted Eggplant Vegetarian Meatballs In Marinara Sauce

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I’ve been working on some new recipes for, my daughter, Melissa to try. It’s my Roasted Eggplant Vegetarian Meatballs In Marinara Sauce. Melissa’s led a meat-free lifestyle for quite a few years. Now, as far as any gluten allergies, Melissa doesn’t have any but Tonya, a good friend of mine, believes she may. My Roasted Eggplant Vegetarian Meatballs In Marinara Sauce is gluten-free. I think it’s really helpful to have someone that’s happy to try a new recipe I’m testing and get their input.

I knew this recipe needed to have great flavor, this way, the lack of having any type of meat wouldn’t be missed at all. I’m not saying that this dish is for everyone, but if you choose a meat-free and gluten-free lifestyle, I can tell you this dish does not disappoint. Also for the meat lover who just wants to cut down on the amount of meat in your diet, this is a great alternative.

Roasted Eggplant Vegetarian Meatballs In Marinara Sauce

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Prep Time: 40 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 24 hours
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 day plus 1 1/2 hours
Yields: 30 to 32 2-ounce meatballs
Equipment: 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, 10-cup food processor, large mixing bowl, 6-quart Dutch oven

Ingredients For Roasted Eggplant and Cremini Mushrooms:
1 whole eggplant, top removed and sliced in half
1/4 cup of olive oil, divided evenly between the halves, plus 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon Kosher salt, divided evenly between the halves
1 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, divided evenly between the halves

Ingredients For Roasted Eggplant Meatballs:
1 roasted eggplant, puréed
1 pint of roasted cremini mushrooms, puréed
1 8-ounce jar of Piquillo peppers, puréed
1 jar of marinated artichokes with their oil, puréed
1 15-ounce can of Cannellini beans, puréed
1 onion diced purèed
3 whole garlic cloves purèed
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh oregano leaves
3 tablespoon of chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley (reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish)
3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 large egg
3 1/2 cups of gluten-free bread crumbs

Ingredients For Marinara Sauce:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 diced onion
3 cloves of minced garlic
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of dried basil leaves
2 tablespoons of light brown sugar
1/4 cup chicken broth, unsalted
2 28-ounce cans of San Marzano tomatoes
1 8-ounce jar of pureed Piquillo peppers, puréed
1 to 2 tablespoons of freshly torn basil leaves, (plus basil for garnish)

Directions For Roasting Eggplant:
The day before serving this dish you want to make the vegetarian meatballs.
Step 1: Roast the eggplant and cremini mushrooms.

Preheat oven to 425-degrees F.
Start by cutting the top off the eggplant then slicing a whole eggplant in half.  Drizzle each half with olive oil then sprinkle with Kosher salt and black pepper. Place the eggplant halves on a rimmed baking sheet pan, cut side down, roast for 20 to 25 minutes.

At the same time, spread sliced cremini mushrooms onto a sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil toss to coat then spread out into one even layer. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

This step needs to be done in two batches. Add half of the following ingredients to the food processor at a time. Start with the Cannellini beans, marinated artichokes with their oil, roasted Piquillo peppers, whole garlic cloves, diced onions, Kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Pulse until combined. Refer to the picture above. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Repeat this process with the remaining half until all the ingredients are puréed.

Once the eggplant has finished cooking, remove the flesh from each half and place into a food processor with the cremini mushrooms. Process until combined. Refer to the picture above. Add the eggplant mixture to the rest of the processed vegetables. Refer to the picture above.

To the same bowl add a beaten egg, gluten-free bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, fresh oregano, fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Using your hands, mix to combine.

To ensure all of the vegetarian meatballs are the same size, use a 2-ounce cookie-dough scoop. Scoop and form the vegetable mixture into golf-size balls. Place them on baking sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Transfer the vegetarian balls to the refrigerator to set overnight.

Next-Day:
Preheat a large Dutch oven (or heavy bottom pot with a lid) over medium heat. Add olive oil and the diced onions. Sauté the onions until they become translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Next, add tomato paste, minced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano, dried basil, brown sugar, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, stirring all the ingredients as they cook for another 5 minutes.

For the liquids, add chicken broth allow to come up to a bubble then let reduce by half. Next, add the crushed tomatoes and puréed Piquillo peppers, stir to combine. Turn the heat down to low and let the sauce simmer for 40 minutes. Turn the heat off.

Remove the pot from the heat and add torn basil leaves, stir to combine. Cover to keep warm.

Preheat oven to 275-degrees F.
Remove the vegetarian meatballs from the refrigerator. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top of each of the veggie balls. Transfer the pans of the vegetarian meatballs on the middle rack for 15 to 20 minutes, just until they’re warmed through. Keep a close eye on them.

Note: Due to the fact that these are vegetarian balls, they may flatten slightly, on the bottom, during the warming process. Halfway through the cooking process, use two spoons to gently turn them over to keep the integrity of their shape.

To Serve: Ladle the hot Marinara sauce on the bottom of a serving dish. Arrange the Roasted Eggplant Vegetarian Meatballs on top, ladling a little of the Marinara Sauce over each one. Garnish with Italian flat-leaf parsley and fresh basil. Serve hot.

Tip: Roasted Eggplant Vegetarian Meatballs can be stored in airtight resealable bags and frozen.

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Roasted Piquillo Pepper And Edamame Pestos

 

Roasted Piquillo Pepper And Edamame Pesto

When I make any type of pesto, whether it’s the original basil pesto or pesto made with different ingredients, they’re all so delicious. In this post, I’m making two identical pestos but changing up the star ingredient. The first one is my Roasted Piquillo Pepper Pesto, the second is an Edamame Pesto.

Crostini, are what’s known as little slices of grilled bread. The choice of bread is just as important as the toppings you put on them. Ciabatta bread I find is the best bread to use.

I lay them out onto a baking sheet, drizzle them with olive oil, and sprinkle each one with Kosher salt, and pepper. Pop them into the oven until they’re golden brown. Another great way to toast the Ciabatta is on an indoor grill pan.

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I want to talk a little about Hominy. Hominy is just whole corn kernels that have been soaked in a lime solution to soften the tough outer hulls. The second ingredients I love to add to pesto is Cannellini beans.

I’m incorporating these ingredients in my pestos for extra body and texture. First, because it doesn’t overpower the flavors that I’m highlighting and second, they’re a staple in my pantry.

With the exception of the star ingredient, the Edamame and the Roasted Piquillo Pepper both pestos contain all of the same ingredients.

So you can see here I have everything prepped including my grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

First, I’m starting with the RoastedPiquillo Pepper Pesto.

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When the pesto is finished I always drizzle a little of the E.V.O.O. over the top, it adds a nice finish to the pesto.

Roasted Piquillo Pepper And Edamame Pesto

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Equipment: food processor, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans

Ingredients:
1 cup of Roasted Piquillo peppers
1/2 cup of drained and rinsed Cannellini beans
1/2 cup hominy, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 clove of peeled garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup of chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
1/3 cup of E.V.O.O.
1/3 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 loaf of Ciabatta bread (yields 16 slices)

Ingredients:
1 cup Edamame, shelled
1/2 cup of drained and rinsed Cannellini beans
1/2 cup hominy, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 clove of peeled garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup of chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
1/3 cup of E.V.O.O.
1/3 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions For Ciabatta Bread:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Slice the Ciabatta bread at a 45-degree angle into 1/2 -inch thick slices. Arrange the bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush the top surface of each slice of Ciabatta lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Place into the oven on the center rack. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the bread is golden. Take the baking sheet out of the oven and let the toast cool slightly before adding the toppings.

Directions:
Start with the adding the walnuts to the food processor first, giving them a head start on getting ground up. Pulse the walnuts a few times. Next, add the Roasted Piquillo Peppers, or the shelled Edamame, Cannellini beans, Hominy, roughly chopped garlic, lemon juice, crushed red pepper flakes, Kosher salt, and freshly cracked black pepper into a food processor. Pulse until everything just purèed. Though the feeding tube, add the e.v.o.o. until pesto comes together to a paste-like consistency. Last, add the grated cheese and then give it a couple more pulses till the cheese is combined. Give the pesto a quick taste to make sure the seasoning is just right. Transfer the pesto to a serving bowl. Drizzle a little E.V.O.O. over the top.

 

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