Category Archives: Recipes

Strawberry ginger sauce

I feel bad for ginger.

No not this one,

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she’s got quite the life.

This one.

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It’s kinda ugly with it nubs and wrinkled skin and people tend to ignore it because they don’t know what to do with it or think it’s too strong.

I’m not afraid to use ginger and I actually like it a lot but, I have to have a reason for buying it. It’s not something that I just happen to have on hand at all times. So, when I walked past it in the store yesterday and looked down into my hand basket to see the 2 lbs. of strawberries I was purchasing, it was an instant light bulb moment. I think I may have even let out a little “oh!” as in “oh!, I can use it in a sauce”.

Best idea ever.

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Fresh, in season, sweet strawberries + spicy ginger is a match made in sauce heaven.

Oh, and this doesn’t hurt either.

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I have a liquor cabinet full of obscure liquors that I needed 1 oz. for at one point in time for some recipe, usually a holiday cookie or cake, and then never use again. Anytime I can use these orange liqueurs & apricot brandies I get super excited, maybe by the time I’m 50 they’ll be gone.

I added orange juice, the orange liquor and the chopped up strawberries to a sauce pan and let them come to a boil.

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Then I added some brown sugar, a cinnamon stick and minced ginger and let it boil away for about 30 minutes until it reduced and thickened. I stirred it frequently to kind of break down the strawberries even further.

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The end product was somewhere between a sauce & jam consistency. Barely sweet, slightly spicy. And, totally delicious.

Want to know what torture looks like?

A near empty container of vanilla ice cream when you thought it was at least half full.

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I was nice, we shared. But for the record, I didn’t want to.

Over ice cream, it’s like a sundae topping gone gourmet.

Do it.

And if you need a back-up plan, there’s always lemon rosemary olive oil cookies for dunking.

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I dare you to try and have just one.

I haven’t decided on breakfast yet but, I can assure you whatever it is, it will be topped with this.

 

Strawberry Ginger Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

  • 1 lb. strawberries, chopped
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • splash of orange liquor (optional)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 inch nub of ginger, minced

Directions:

Combine chopped strawberries, orange juice and liquor in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add remaining ingredients and boil on medium for about 30 minutes or until sauce thickens and reduces. Serve warm and then keep refrigerated.

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Filed under Recipes

Lemon rosemary olive oil cookies

Well hello, new readers! Who knew ass grass would be such a popular topic?! Ginger is a little embarrassed but I explained to her how much you all enjoyed hearing about it and she was a good sport. Also, bacon strips helped.

Now, what can I do to bribe some of you to stick around?

Cookies perhaps?

Yes?

Ok, good because these are some damn good ones. Smile

There’s something about a rainy day that just makes me want to crawl into sweatpants and bake. We’ll ignore the fact that it was 78 degrees yesterday and pretend sweats were still a realistic option because it just adds an element of coziness, no?

This was the scene outside of my office at 9:30am.

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I apologize for the crappy through the window screen iPhone shot but I wasn’t expecting anything worth photographing at work.

Check out the downspout on the building across the little courtyard. It was like a river coming out of that thing. The crazy rain and thunderstorms eventually subsided but it continued to be a rainy, drizzly day which meant one thing when I got home. Baking.

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Olive oil, lemon and rosemary. No, not your typical cookie ingredients.

Oh, but these are not your typical cookie.

They are crisp on the outside yet cakelike on the inside.

They are sophisticated.

They smell like Christmas.

They would be amazing with a lemon glaze on them, yet perfect without.

They might be my best creation yet.

Are those reason enough to make them? I hope so, because you are seriously missing out if you don’t.

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Eat 3 and then decide it’s as good a time as any to go do your strength training workout for the day.

 

Lemon Rosemary Olive Oil Cookies

Inspired by Joy the Baker

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen

  • 1 1/2 cups spelt flour
  • 1 cup AP unbleached flour
  • 1/4 turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup regular granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugars, rosemary and lemon zest in a small bowl and mash together until fully incorporated. In a large bowl, mix flours, baking powder and salt together. In a smaller bowl, whisk eggs, almond milk, evoo, lemon juice and extracts together. Pour wet ingredients and sugar mixture into large bowl with the flour and mix until just combined. Spoon batter onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes until edges are just browned. Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

 

Rosemary fan? I love it, but I know others think it tastes like a Christmas tree.

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Filed under Baking, Recipes

NROLFW update & more mango

I’m halfway through the first stage of NROLFW and wanted to do a quick update on my thoughts/progress so far with the plan.

Stage 1 calls for 16 workouts, alternating between workout A & workout B. After 3 full weeks, I’ve completed 8 of the workouts at the “2 set” phase and just today moved into the second half of stage 1 which increases the sets to 3.

I’m not going to do any updates on measurements yet, I’ll wait until the end of stage 1 for that. Sorry, no awkward full body muscle pictures today. Winking smile 

In general, I love it! In these 3 weeks, I’ve learned to live and function in a perpetual state of soreness (in a good way!). This is the longest I’ve ever stuck with a strength training program before. I seriously look forward to each and every workout. I think a few things are contributing to that:

  • The way the program is structured it encourages you to add heavier weights as the workouts progress.
  • It gives you “beginner” moves when necessary so it’s easy to tell when you’re gaining strength because they start to feel easy and you move onto the “real” moves (push-ups are an example here).
  • I think the emphasis on dumbbells and barbells instead of machines makes it more easily recognizable when you can handle increased weight.
  • I already see a difference in muscle definition. Positive reinforcement baby!

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These are me not flexing. I’m going to call them my “rolling hills” and I’m pretty sure they weren’t there before. Winking smile Well on my way to looking like the book cover.

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Click here for before pictures (granted, I am flexing in those so they’re not totally comparable).

A few fun facts:

Prone jackknife is my favorite move of this stage.

Step-ups are my least favorite (boring and tedious)

-I can now do 3 sets of 10 full push-ups!

-In general this is how I feel about deadlifts:

Diet wise I haven’t been doing anything out of the ordinary besides being more cognizant of my protein intake. I will try to have a protein smoothie or something high in protein after each session. It doesn’t always happen, but I’d say about 75% of the time.

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Today’s smoothie, which overflowed the second I put the camera down and which Ginger promptly licked up.

Stay tuned after another 3 weeks for a full Stage 1 recap.

**********

Now, let’s talk about mangoes. Again.

I actually bought 2 mangoes for last week’s Mango black bean salad but only ended up using one because the other was hard as a rock. 6 days later after hanging out next to the bananas getting all ripe, it was begging to be used. After reading Jenna’s recap on her fruit detox, I had been craving fruit and couldn’t even think about “real” dinner foods. I just wanted fruit. The practical side of me kicked in though and somehow I ended up with this.

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Quinoa, mango, spinach salad.

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With a piece of whole wheat sunflower seed bread. Delicious, light dinner.

Quinoa Mango Spinach Salad

Makes 2-3 full dinner servings or 6 side dish servings

  • 3 cups cooked red quinoa
  • 2 cups chopped baby spinach
  • 1 mango chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of half a lime
  • juice of 1 small orange
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

Rinse quinoa and toast with coconut oil before adding water and cooking normally (optional, but recommended). Combine next 6 ingredients in a large bowl. When quinoa is finished cooking, add to bowl and mix to combine. Whisk together last 5 ingredients and pour over salad. Toss. Chill in refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

 

What’s the weirdest craving you’ve ever given into for dinner (or any meal)?

18 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Recipes, Strength training

Spinach & cheese stuffed portobello mushrooms

Alternately titled, “creamy delicious bites of heaven”. Seriously, this dish came out way better than anticipated. Make it.

In Florida we had this horribly phallic mushroom, apparently called a “stinkhorn” according to Wikipedia, that would occasionally grow in our front yard. As if it’s shape wasn’t bad enough, the smell it would give off was, let’s just say “appropriate” for it’s appearance. If that doesn’t make sense, google it. mushroom

source

How something like this can be related to the amazingness of an edible mushroom like a portobello baffles me. Fungus is a weird one.

I love mushrooms, at least edible ones. When I see grocery stores with a section for all types of wild mushrooms I can’t help myself. This is why it’s probably a good thing that there is no whole foods even remotely close to my house. Mushrooms aren’t cheap and I have no self control.

I’ve been craving a calzone lately and that gave me the idea to basically use the stuffing of a calzone but in a mushroom cap instead when I saw these at the store.

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The thing is, I’ve made plenty of calzones at home before and they usually come out disappointingly bland, so I didn’t have incredibly high hopes for this. I shouldn’t doubt myself so much, these were amazing.

First, I just cleaned off the mushrooms and removed the stems. Drizzled them with some extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with salt & pepper.

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Portobellos remind me of eggplant. They soak up a ton of olive oil. I was pretty generous with it because of this and I think all that olive oil gave it great flavor when roasting. I roasted them for about 20 minutes at 450.

In the meantime I got the filling together.

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Added all these goodies plus some sautéed onion & garlic to about 1.5 cups of ricotta.

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I used whole milk ricotta. Could you use part-skim? Yes. Do I recommend it? No. Ricotta is one of those things that I don’t think the “low fat” version tastes nearly as good. Mayo is another. There’s only 1.5 cups of it, split among 6 mushroom caps it’s 1/4 cup a serving. That’s not enough to worry about in my opinion. Winking smile Whole milk ricotta is so incredibly creamy and almost “sweet”. Part skim just doesn’t live up.

By this time the mushrooms should be all roasted and shriveled up.

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They lose a lot of water while roasting. If there is any excess water in the pan, drain it out before stuffing them.

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Want to know about the perils of food blogging? An ant climbed into the tray while I was taking these pictures outside! I’m a firm believer in the 5 second rule. I figured it was about to get roasted at 450 for another 10 minutes anyway.

During the last minute or so, I sprinkled some bread crumbs on top to give it a little crunch. And voila!

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I think the sautéed onion & garlic really helped bring out the flavors in the filling. And let’s be honest, when there are 3 cheeses involved it’s hard to taste bad. This could be a great side to some grilled chicken or eat 2 and call it a day like we did!

 

Spinach & Cheese Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Makes 6 stuffed mushroom caps

  • 6 portobello mushroom caps, cleaned and stems removed
  • 1.5 cups chopped baby spinach
  • 1.5 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 14 oz. can artichokes in water, drained & coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 a medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • breadcrumbs (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450. Arrange mushroom caps on greased baking sheet and drizzle with evoo, season with salt & pepper. Roast mushrooms at 450 for about 20 minutes. While mushrooms are roasting, combine spinach, 3 cheeses, artichokes and sun dried tomatoes in large bowl. Sauté onion & garlic until soft and then add to bowl. Mix to combine all ingredients and season with salt & pepper. Once mushrooms are done roasting, drain any excess water and then fill caps with stuffing generously. Put back in oven for another 10 minutes. If topping with breadcrumbs, do so in the last 1-2 minutes.

 

Fungi lover? Yes or no? 

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Filed under Dinner, Meals, Recipes

Dear Summer,

Yesterday, June 13,  I used the heated seats in my car. Please understand we have 6 winter months in which that is acceptable, June is not one of them. Summer is for A/C and barbeques. Swimming pools and beaches. Beer and mango, black bean salads. Not heated seats. I’d appreciate it if you could get your act back together.

*Warmest* regards,

Gina

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Mangoes bring me back to my childhood and memories of my dad. I can clearly remember the first time I had one.  We waited patiently for it to ripen on the countertop. Once ripe, it went into the fridge to chill. Then, we all waited for dad to cut it “correctly”. Did you know mangoes are the national fruit of India? My dad grew up in Calcutta, India. He knows mangoes.

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From that day on mangoes have been one of my all time favorite fruits. I don’t know why I then tend to forget about them for extended periods of time. It’s almost as if they are too much of a “treat” to just be considered fruit. I equate them more with the likes of chocolate cake. Enjoyed occasionally, not an everyday indulgence. When they caught my eye in the grocery store yesterday, I knew it was time for us to get reacquainted.

Since the weather hasn’t been cooperating, I decided to take matters into my own hands and create a salad that at least tastes like summer. Mangoes + black beans + cilantro = summer. Anyone who disagrees with that equation obviously didn’t excel in math class.

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6 ingredients + chopping/dicing + a simple vinaigrette = 1 delicious summer salad

That’s some AP stuff right there. Or not. I got a 2 in AP calc, what do I know?IMG_0322IMG_0332IMG_0340

 

Mango, Black Bean Salad

Makes 6-8 side dish portions

  • 1 large ripe mango, diced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 2 fresh ears of corn, cut off the cob
  • 1 very small red onion or 1/4  of a medium red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro, diced
  • 1 medium jicama, coarsely chopped

Simple vinaigrette:

  • 3 tbsp evoo
  • juice of 1 lemon or 1/2 lemon + 1/2 lime
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

After chopping and dicing, combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients and pour over salad. Toss to combine. Season with more salt and pepper if needed and chill before serving.

 

How do you cut/eat a mango? I have a coworker who pokes a hole in it and then sucks the fruit out.

31 Comments

Filed under Recipes, Side Dishes

Pea & radish risotto

More continued fun with the camera at breakfast time. Smile

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That would be a variation of Ashley’s amazing buckwheat bakes. If you haven’t made one yet, check out her recipe page for a whole section dedicated to them. I made a bunch of modifications to this morning’s bake but it included banana & blueberries on the inside with an almond butter, coconut butter and almond milk frosting on top. Worth every one of the 30 minutes it takes to bake!

This weekend was kind of a wash weather wise. Yesterday, it was cold and rainy and today, while a little warmer, was still gloomy. Instead of normal summer foods I was craving something more comforting. Risotto is one of those dishes that defines “comfort food” to me. My mom makes a wonderful dried porcini mushroom and sausage risotto in the winter that is creamy, cheesy and everything risotto should be. So many times I’ve ordered a risotto dish at a restaurant only to be served something that is masquerading as a rice pilaf. The difference is in the method. People say risotto is time consuming but it’s really not. Rice takes the same amount of time to absorb the necessary liquid whether you set it all in the beginning and walk away like a typical rice dish or, you slowly add the liquid in stages like a risotto. Risotto is not any more time consuming, it just needs a little more tlc. And I can assure you that added tlc is more than worth it when it results in this.IMG_0291

Since it’s at least supposed to be warm weather season, I decided to keep this risotto on the lighter side with peas and radishes. This was served as a side dish to some grilled steaks but could definitely steal the show as main course if you wanted it to. In fact, it would be excellent with some grilled shrimp as a stand alone dish.IMG_0204

I actually found some brown Arborio rice at the bulk bins last time. This was the bottom of the container though so it was mixed with a little bit of regular, longer grain rice that was left when I poured it in. They technically have different cooking times, like different shaped pastas would, but I just rolled with it. I wasn’t about to pick apart the different shaped rice.

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Aren’t those radishes cute with their little tails? They kind of remind me of tadpoles.

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Anything that starts with butter has gotta be good, right?

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Some diced onion, garlic and shallot.

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You know where this is going…sauté.

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Once the mixture has softened, add the rice to toast and absorb all the oil & butter.

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And if you haven’t yet been convinced to make this. Maybe this will help.

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Some for the risotto, some for you. It’s only fair.

After the risotto absorbs the wine (anywhere from about 1/4-1/2 cup will do)  slowly ladle some heated chicken broth (or veggie) into the pan with the rice until it just covers it. Once it’s almost completely absorbed, add more until all the broth is gone and the rice is fully cooked. Here’s where I’ve heard many an Italian swear by different methods. Some say do not touch or stir the rice at all while it’s going through this process. My mom and family fall into this group. Others say to stir every now and then during the cooking process to release the starches in the rice which makes for a creamery risotto. I’ve tried both and actually prefer the latter. Sorry mom. This works especially well with white rice as it breaks down easier than brown.

While the rice is cooking, prep the veggies.

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And grate the cheese.

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When the rice has absorbed all the liquid and it’s fully cooked (taste test here, ours was a little al dente last night) add the frozen peas, radishes, some fresh chopped herbs and grated cheese.

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Season to taste and top with some crumbled bacon.

Why?

Does bacon even need an explanation? I didn’t think so.IMG_0287

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Pea & Radish Risotto

Makes 6 side dishes

  • 1 1/4 cup brown Arborio rice
  • 40 ounces chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1-2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup diced radishes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley & mint)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked well until crispy (optional)
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

Heat chicken broth in small sauce pan over low heat. In large skillet, heat evoo & butter on med heat. Add shallots, garlic and onion and sauté until softened. Add rice and toss to coat. Let rice toast for 1-2 minutes. Add wine and stir rice until wine is completely absorbed. Slowly ladle chicken broth into rice until just covering the top of the rice. Let the rice absorb the liquid, stirring occasionally. Once liquid is mostly absorbed, add more broth again covering only to top of rice. Continue until broth is used up and rice is fully cooked. Add radishes, peas, herbs and cheese to cooked rice and mix. Season with salt & pepper and top with crumbled bacon.

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Filed under Dinner, Recipes, Side Dishes

Not your ordinary pesto

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Looks good right? Recipe to come, but first you’ll have to read about my day. Smile

First of all, thanks for all the nice comments on the dresses! The majority of you picked dress #1 and that’s exactly what I went with. Wasn’t a huge fan of the fabric that trailed off the back on the 1 strap dress. Felt a little too Greek Goddess for me. Works out well too because there are 7 of us as bridesmaids. 5 of the girls had already ordered their dress and 4 of them picked the 1 strap option, so I’ll even things out a bit more with my choice.

After Friday’s sore, slow run I was itching to get out today to redeem myself. The weather was overcast and barely 70, perfect for a run. I filled up the camelbak and hit the bike trail for 5 miles. Awesome run. Even if my face doesn’t exactly scream “yay!”. It was good to know that I just needed some rest and fresh legs.

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5 Mile Stats: (8:34 average pace)

Mile 1: 8:42

Mile 2: 8:36

Mile 3: 8:26

Mile 4: 8:47

Mile 5: 8:20

 

Came home to do workout 1A of NWOLFW which I was technically supposed to do yesterday but I was still so sore that I ended up taking a complete rest day instead. <—worth it! I still got my 3 workouts in for the week. Hopefully next week the lunges won’t be as bad!

After the workout, I attacked my car which badly needed a cleaning. Inside and out.

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Dad would be proud, I even did the tires. I don’t think the outside of my car had been washed since before winter. It’s just not worth washing in the spring here though because there is a constant film of green pollen on everything until about now.

Up next was dinner. My basil had already almost gotten to the point where it was bolting so I decided a pesto was in order. I didn’t have enough basil for a true pesto so it quickly became an “anything you need to use up that’s green pesto”.  I ended up using basil, parsley, arugula and baby spinach as the greens. I knew I didn’t have any parmesan at home either so instead of the creamy, hearty route, I added lemon to give it a nice citrus kick.

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As well as some garlic and pine nuts like a normal pesto.

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I love how green it stayed without the parmesan mixed in. Seriously, isn’t that the greenest pesto you’ve ever seen? Pesto > marinara sauce any day in my book. This one was a winner. Even better when served with whole wheat linguine with sautéed mushrooms and zucchini.

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The pasta was simple. I sautéed some shallots and garlic then added sliced baby portobellos and the zucchini which I peeled into thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler. Once the pasta was cooked I added it and the vegetable mixture to a bowl and tossed with the pesto. If anything, it needed more salt but all in all a great, fresh tasting dish. The citrus was mellow enough but you could still taste it in the background.

Next time you have a random assortment of greens laying around try making it into a pesto. It’s an easy, tasty way to use up your leafy greens and there are so many variations to play with.

 

Everything Green Citrus Pesto

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

  • 1/2 cup basil
  • 1 cup packed baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1 cup packed baby arugula
  • 2 cloves of garlic (if you’re not a huge garlic fan, 1 clove will do)
  • 1/8 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

Place everything except evoo into food  processor and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped. Scrape down sides. Process again while adding evoo through top. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

 

Do you make your own pesto? What’s the best thing you ate all weekend?

16 Comments

Filed under Around the house, Dinner, Recipes, Running, Side Dishes, Strength training