This week I have been watching summer drift on over the hill. Truly, summer is ending, errr, well possibly ended. I feel like it is finally official. My relationship with summer is over and I’m ready to flirt with fall, and I do love fall. But, to bid farewell to summer 0 I have been soaking up the last of the sunshine – on my bike and in the kitchen!
Fresh basil is always in abundance in the summer months – I read complaints on food blogs – but what is there to complain about?! This super star herb owns a very large part of my heart. I eat it like lettuce. Seriously. It isn’t attractive to have a dark green piece of basil stuck in your teeth – but I take the good with the bad. In honor of this herb, I made pesto last night, and not your average run of the mill pesto – I used sunflower seeds, both roasted and raw.
1 box of linguini, capellini, rotini (or whatever your heart so desires) – cooked according to package directions
2 cups of fresh basil leaves
2 large cloves of garlic
1 cup of quality olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
¼ cup parmesan cheese
½ cup walnuts
¼ cup raw sunflower seeds
¼ cup roasted sunflower seeds
seasalt and black pepper (to your hearts desire)
crushed red pepper flakes (also to your hearts desire)
½ cup pasta water, reserved
- Combine basil, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, walnuts, sunflower seeds, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper in a food processor. Pulse until well combined and it turns into a beautiful thick paste. The magic of this little machine – really, couldn’t live without it. Mine is my mom’s old school version, looks early 90’s, but still does the trick.
- Use a flat spatula to scoop out the pesto, and plop on top of the cooked pasta. Pour some of your reserved pasta water on top to help thin it out, and using a pair of tongs, mix, mix, mix some more – until your pasta turns green with envy!
If you like things spiced up like me, go ahead and sprinkle some more red pepper on top. I served this with a side of fried zucchini – another bountiful summer star. This is so easy you hardly need instructions. Just slice, dip in a beaten egg, dip in bread crumbs, and fry on both sides in a pan of olive oil until browned. Also with a side of the easiest salad – baby spinach leaves, dried cranberries, crumbled feta, and chipotle sunflower seeds. That’s right, more sunflower seeds. Drizzle with your favorite dressing. Mine happens to be a cinnamon pear vinaigrette – all the way from Naples Florida. BJ’s mom got this for us – it was the find of a lifetime. I think this balsamic is life changing, i’m aware that sounds slightly dramatic.
This dinner was so simple, so fresh, so satisfying – BJ disclosed to me today that he wished there was an extra serving of just pesto left over to spread on his lunchtime sandwich. Next time I may have to double this recipe!
The words “tomato” pie may throw some of you Utica natives off. I’m not talking the similar to pizza without cheese version. I’m talking about a quiche like version. I think it is (equally) deserving of the name “tomato pie”. I saw this recipe at www.simplyrecipes.com and tweaked it to my liking. In an attempt to be health conscience, instead of using mayonnaise, I used plain Greek yogurt and nayonaise (vegan mayonnaise).
1 pie crust
4 tomatoes, sliced in half and squeezed to release juice and seeds
½ red onion, chopped
½ cup basil leaves, cut into ribbons (Did I mention I love basil? You may not want as much as I used)
2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese and Monterey Jack
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup nayonaise (or mayonnaise – your choice!)
Crushed red pepper flakes
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Bake piecrust for 10 minutes. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the grated cheese, yogurt, nayonaise, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Remove from oven, and place chopped red onion on the bottom. On top, layer the tomatoes. Make sure to squeeze the excess juice out as much as possible. Next add the ribbons of basil. Top with the cheesy mixture. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until golden brown. I topped mine off under the broiler. Please have more self-control than me, and let the tomato pie set for about 15-20 minutes and cool. I couldn’t wait, and I cut through and served myself a big slice – some of the juices were still running – it was still great though.