Tag Archives: pasta

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

Remember when sun-dried tomatoes were all the rage?  Seems like they were everywhere.  (I don’t remember sun-dried tomato ice cream, though, so apparently the savory ice cream phase hadn’t hit yet)…. This recipe appeared in bon appetit back around then.  Despite the odds, it has  become one of our household favorites.  I even keep a jar of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes on hand just so I can whip it up.  The recipe makes enough pesto to dress one pound of pasta, though I often cook 12 ounces and throw the extra 1/4-recipe into a batch of meatballs to serve alongside.  Save some of the pasta cooking water to thin the pesto.  Enjoy!

½ c. (packed) fresh basil leaves
¼ c. slivered almonds, toasted
¼ c. drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes*
1 garlic clove
1/8 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
½ c. hot water
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese, (plus more for serving, opt.)

Place the basil, toasted almonds, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and crushed red pepper in a food processor and process until nuts are finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With blade running, dribble in half of the olive oil, then half of the hot water. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and repeat, blending until almost smooth. (Pesto may be made to this point and refrigerated for up to a week or frozen, well wrapped, for up to 3 months.) Transfer to a bowl. Stir in Parmesan cheese.

(* (Mediterranean Organic is my favorite brand.  I usually find it at Whole Foods.)

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Mmm-mmm Meatballs

I usually make a double batch of these and freeze some to cook later.   If there are any leftover after broiling, I pop them into the kids’ lunches.  They are a great source of protein and delicious cold.   A single batch makes about 42 meatballs.

1 lb. ground beef (7-10% fat) or ground turkey (white or dark OK)
2 T. finely minced onion
1 large egg
1 tsp. finely ground sea salt
3/4 c. corn flake crumbs
½ c. finely grated parmesan or very sharp cheddar cheese
2-4 T. pesto (optional)
2 T. olive oil
Cooking spray

Spray a broiler pan with cooking spray and set aside. Preheat broiler.  In a large bowl, combine all ingredients just until mixed. Roll into 1 ¼ -inch balls.  (If you are going to freeze some, place those on a cookie sheet and freeze until solid.  Move to an airtight container.  Thaw before proceeding.)

Place meatballs on greased broiler pan. Broil 5-7 minutes or until browned and cooked through. Serve hot or cold.

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Umami Spaghetti Sauce

I came up with this sauce in an effort to re-create traditional Bolognese Sauce with fewer and potentially healthier ingredients.  It is also slightly quicker, cooking in 3 or4 hours as opposed to 5 or 6.   This makes enough sauce for 6-8 servings of spaghetti.  Enjoy!


Olive oil
1.5 lb ground beef (10% fat)
Salt, pepper, ground celery seed
Large red onion, very finely diced
3-4 slender carrots, very finely diced
2 slender stalks celery, very finely diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2+ tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 bottle Rhone-style red wine
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 c. beef broth
2 T.  tomato paste
1.5 tsp honey
Parmesan rind (2″x3″)

In a large skillet, brown beef in olive oil over medium high heat, seasoning with salt, pepper and celery seed. Remove from pan.  Saute onions on low heat until starting to color. Add carrots and celery and saute until softening, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. Add garlic and cook 1 min. Add red pepper flakes.

Deglaze  pan with some of the red wine. Move veggies to soup pot and add meat (and any juices). Add tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, beef broth and the rest of the red wine. Add enough water (if needed) so that liquid almost covers solids.  Stir in tomato paste, honey and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 3+ hours, stirring occasionally.  Serve over spaghetti, passing Parmesan on the side.

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Roasted Grape Tomates

These are super-simple. They are wonderful tossed with pasta, spooned over polenta, or piled on bruschetta.   They are also lovely next to a simple piece of  chicken or fish.  Best of all, perhaps, is the fact that roasting renders even Winter tomatoes sweet and mellow–  Organic grape tomatoes work best.

1-2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. + some, finely ground sea salt
3 T. olive oil
16 oz. organic grape tomatoes, washed and dried

Preheat oven to 450° F. Using the back of a fork, mash minced garlic with ½ tsp. salt until a paste forms. In a small bowl, stir paste into olive oil and let sit at least 10 minutes.

In a 9x13x2” pan, toss oil and garlic with tomatoes until tomatoes are coated. Spread into a single layer and sprinkle with a little more salt. Roast 15-20 minutes, or until tomatoes have burst and begun to caramelize. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Luke’s Favorite Pesto

I found fresh basil (!) the other day and, Winter-be-damned, decided to make pesto. I prefer toasted walnuts to pine nuts, and I don’t use any parmesan cheese. I add that later when I use the pesto. Sometimes I double this recipe and freeze the extra in ice cube trays. It holds for several months in the freezer or a week or so in the fridge. Enjoy!

2 cups fresh basil leaves
½ c. toasted walnut pieces
1-2 cloves garlic
1/8 tsp. finely ground sea salt (or to taste)
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes (opt.)
½- 2/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

Place the basil leaves, walnuts, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times. With the machine running, slowly add ½ c. of the olive oil in a thin stream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and process again until basil, nuts and garlic are minced and the oil is incorporated. Check for consistency– Pesto should be creamy on your tongue. Add more oil, a couple tablespoons at a time, if you want, being sure to scrape down bowl as you go. Once you’ve reached a consistency you are happy with, taste for seasoning. (Note: Pesto without enough salt tastes “flat,” but it is often used with parmesan cheese, which is salty, so you might consider under-seasoning the pesto and adding more salt later, if needed.)

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