♦ Basil and $1 Tupperware

Dear Shaina,

My, my! A bit touchy about a little chicken soup?! Chicken soup!! The healing elixir that has thrived among thousands of cultures and civilizations, and provided sustenance and nurturance to generations of grandmothers and grandchildren everywhere.

May I remind you that even you, a longstanding vegetarian who has never tasted a McDonalds hamburger (or any other kind for that matter), were initiated, at a very early age (prior to consciousness), into the world of culinary delights by Bubbe with her “infamous” Bubbe’s Chicken Soup, replete with matzah balls and real CHICKEN!  And you enjoyed every single mouthful!

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Besides, I thought this blog supported an intergenerational exchange of ideas, traditions and recipes…old and new. If your father and I were willing to eat at a sketchy storefront raw foods restaurant during our visit to DC (and endured raw garlic repeating on us for days afterward), you should be willing to look at pictures of chicken. And what about your rhubarb dish that was flavored with orange blossom whatever and tasted like perfume? You’re the one always pushing weird foods.  Relax, it’s just soup.

You don’t have to make or eat my chicken soup, but at least consider that some of your readers, maybe even some of your friends, might just enjoy a little bowl of tradition.

In the meantime, we’re getting ready to take off again, so I had to do something with my overgrown basil plants in the front garden. I chopped down half of all the stalks (your father plants more and more every year) and made a bit of pesto to freeze.  We have had a lot of rain so the plants have started to fill out again … I’ll have to do another another batch soon.

I wanted to freeze it in ice cube trays, but couldn’t find them anywhere (too many ice makers in the world).  I did find small individual containers with lids at the Dollar Store. They are even better than ice cube trays and came in a package of 10…for only a $1!

Now I will be able to send you home with individual containers of pesto ready to use at a moment’s notice in any veggie, bean, raw food recipe you want!

Love you always,

Mom xooxoxoooxoxoox

Basil Pesto

  • 4-6 Cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves washed and dried
  • 1/2-3/4 Cup of pine nuts (walnuts can be substituted or nuts can be omitted altogether)
  • 1 Whole garlic, peel individual cloves
  • 1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1Tablespoon sea salt
  • Black pepper to taste

 

Throw all ingredients into a food processor and process until very finely chopped.  Fill ice cube trays, small cups or put desired amount in a small baggie and freeze.  This recipe makes a very dense and intense pesto which can be diluted with olive oil , cheese and more nuts when thawed and used in any recipe calling for pesto.

I make my pesto with basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and olive oil and freeze it so that it can be used all winter. I use just enough oil to hold the basil together (more can be added when used in a recipe). I do not add any cheese to pesto that I prepare for freezing so I can use it in non-dairy recipes (I can always add fresh grated parmesan cheese and a bit more oil for recipes that call for traditional pesto). In my next freezer batch, I will leave out the pine nuts so that I can use it in any recipe calling for basil and garlic…and that’s just about anything I make.

Pesto Pasta with Grilled Veggies and/or Chicken

  • 1 Pound pasta (I like using bowties because pesto gets caught in its creases)
  • 1/2-3/4 Cup prepared pesto 
  • 1 can pitted Black olives
  • 1/4 Cup Sundried tomato pieces
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 Yellow Squash
  • 2 Zucchini 
  • 1 Small eggplant
  • 1 red and 1 green pepper
  • 1 Yellow or Red onion
  • 4 Chicken Breast halves spiced with salt, pepper and oregano
  • Aged Parmesan Cheese freshly grated 
  • 1/4 Cup Roasted pine nuts

Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse when done.  Stir a little olive oil into defrosted pesto-pine nut mixture to create a loose thick sauce. While pasta is still hot, stir in pesto.  Taste and adjust seasonings. Add olive oil and more pesto as needed to cover pasta and achieve desired intensity of pesto flavor. Stir olives and sundried tomatoes into pasta mixture. Set aside.

Cut up vegetables in slices and lightly sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Grill on outdoor grill or place on cookie sheet in a 400* oven and cook until roasted or grilled to taste.

 

Grill chicken until done and slice into strips.

Arrange pesto-pasta mixture in a mound in the center of a large round platter.  Place grilled vegetables around the pasta on the edge of platter. Arrange chicken strips on platter between vegetables or in separate section next to veggies.  Garnish pasta with freshly grated aged parmesan cheese and roasted pine nuts.

 

This is my favorite Pesto Pasta recipe and is a great do-ahead company dish.  It can be served hot or room temperature and can be modified for vegetarian inclinations.  Any vegetable can be substituted.  I use whatever is in season…from broccoli to asparagus.  For gluten-free appetites, substitute quinoa or a quinoa-rice mixture for the pasta.  Throw together an arugula salad and some fresh fruit and you have a meal!
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