31 Days: The Surrender

31 Days: The Surrender

On this Sunday morning, after a difficult and draining week, I am sharing this wonderful article from one of my favorite blogs. Enjoy, and get cooking. 

Arugula Walnut Pesto

I love pesto. I could eat it with a spoon. In fact, I’ve found I prefer eating it with a spoon (or as a spread or dip) to eating it on pasta. Donna’s, where I used to work, had an amazing mozzarella, tomato and pesto sandwich, and they also put it on their Tuscan bruschetta. Thick, grainy layers of pesto on chewy Italian bread. So good.

I also love arugula. Peppery and nutty, it’s my favorite green. I use it as often as I use regular lettuce. So, arugula pesto. Double good, right? Right.

This pesto is strong-flavored, so be warned, but I think it’s absolutely delicious. It tastes like spring to me – clean, sharp, green, if something can taste green. Like the little wild spring onions we used to dig up in our suburban front yard as kids. I recommend eating this on soft, warm bread. Or on triscuits, like I just did since I ran out of bread. Or straight off the spoon.

Arugula-Walnut Pesto (found on www.myrecipes.com, and courtesy of Sunset Magazine)

1/3 cup walnut halves or pieces

2 large cloves garlic

4 cups loosely packed arugula leaves, rinsed and dried

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tbs lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt

(Note: I used a blender instead of a food processor, and it worked just fine.)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake walnuts until slightly golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Pour into a food processor. Add garlic and whirl until coarsely chopped. Add arugula, Parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Whirl until smooth.

Food for Friday – Peanut Butter, Bananas and Honey.

Sometimes kid food is the simplest and most satisfying stuff. You can’t beat good old peanut butter and jelly (on wheat bread with strawberry jam, if you please). One step up from PBJ is peanut butter with bananas and honey. I was trying to figure out something to feed my two-year-old for lunch out of a pantry with dwindling supplies on a snowy day. I was out of jelly, but for once in a blue moon, had some honey on the top shelf of my spice cabinet. After I made an open-faced sandwich for him, I thought it looked pretty good and made one for myself. Mmmmmm. Maybe I was just really hungry. Or maybe the combination of hearty wheat toast, grainy all-natural peanut butter, creamy ripe bananas, and just a glaze of sweet honey is one for the ages. Seamus didn’t end up eating most of his, so I helped him finish. And I’ve had it for breakfast every morning since.

I’m sure you don’t need a recipe. Just toast a piece of bread, smear on some peanut butter, add sliced bananas and a drizzle of honey, and enjoy being transported back to when you were five and all you had to worry about was that your gloves would dry quickly enough on the radiator for you to go back out in the snow after lunch.

Food for Friday – Garlicky Sesame-Cured Broccoli Salad

I love food. I love going out to eat. Way back when I started to teach myself how to cook, I thought, why not cook things that are as good or as interesting as food I’d get in a restaurant? Now that I have kids, thrift, ease and speed are also considerations. This recipe’s got all of those things.  It’s from “In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite” by Melissa Clark.  She writes a food column for the New York Times Dining section, and each recipe in her book is accompanied by a mini-essay about the dish. For this one, she writes about how she used to call the dish marinated raw broccoli salad, and no one would eat it. She changed the name (I think “sesame-cured” makes it sound complicated, though it’s the exact opposite) and the dish finally got it’s due appreciation.  It’s super easy and super good.  My whole family loves it. It can act as a side dish, or you can toss in some chicken breast or shrimp, serve it with noodles and rice, and it’s a complete meal.

I followed the recipe exactly, and found it to be a little saucy. Next time, I think I’d up the broccoli amount, because although the sauce is delicious, the large amount of oil makes it feel heavy if there’s not something else to sop it up. (Sidenote – I love that she calls for “fat” garlic cloves. Can’t you just see them?) Here’s the recipe. Hope you like it!

Garlicky Sesame-Cured Broccoli Salad

1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp kosher salt, more to taste

2 heads broccoli, 1 lb each, cut into bite-size florets

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 fat garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons roasted (Asian) sesame oil

Large pinch crushed red pepper flakes

1. In a large bowl, stir together the vinegar and salt. Add the broccoli and toss to combine.

2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the sesame oil and pepper flakes. Pour the mixture over the broccoli and toss well. Let sit for at least 1 hour at room temperature, or chilled, up to 48 hours (chill it if you want to keep it for more than 2 hours.) Adjust the seasonings (it may need more salt) and serve.