30 July 2010


I'm not going to lie.  By three o'clock this afternoon, I'd already decided that we were having leftovers for dinner.  I was tired, it was hot, and I just didn't feel like cooking anything.

But then, I came home and looked in the fridge.  With our CSA box showing up every week, it doesn't take much dinnertime slacking to leave us with a crowded refrigerator and more than a few pounds of vegetables to eat.  So I figured I'd throw something together after all.

My man and I have developed a fall-back dinner option that we've resorted to countless times over our years of cooking together.  It originated as a MSL recipe that called for green beans, potatoes, and basil pesto, but over the seasons, it's turned into this:

1. Roast some vegetables:  Maybe it's potatoes, but we've tried just about everything.  Carrots and beets are common.  We've also done turnips, rutabagas, fennel, broccoli, garlic, onions, shallots, and probably a few other things I'm forgetting right now.  Just chunk them up into something approximately bite-sized, throw the chunks on a baking sheet, toss them in olive oil, flavor with salt and pepper and any other spices that grab you, and roast them at 385 or 400 degrees.  (My man goes higher, but that's up to you...)

You'll probably want to open up the oven and scoot things around once or twice.  If you're me, the veggies are done when they're making lovely sizzling sounds and they cut easily with the tip of a spatula.  If you're my partner-in-crime, the veggies are done when they've turned into little fried cubes of crunchy goodness.  My way takes about thirty or forty minutes.

Tonight, it's carrots and beets, because that's what we have.

2. Steam something green:  I like green beans or peas for this, but you could use broccoli or chard or kale.  Again, bite-sized pieces are a good idea.  Steam things until they are just done, maybe even a little under.

It's snow peas for us today.

3. Make some pesto:  If it's basil season--like it is right now--you can make fresh pesto by throwing a clove or three of garlic, a few handfuls of basil leaves, and about half a cup of pine nuts in a food processor.  Puree until things look pretty mashed up, then, while the food processor is running, add about a quarter cup of olive oil and run the processor until your pesto looks like--um, pesto.  Add some salt and maybe pepper, too.

I got this basil at the farmers' market the other night.  I paid two dollars for a giant bouquet of it and it smells amazing.  When we're not lucky enough to have cornucopias full of fresh basil, we use pesto from the freezer.  My man makes a huge batch of it every summer and it almost always seems to last from one summer to the next.

You can make any kind of pesto you want.  Arugula is good for this.  You can use walnuts or pumpkin seeds instead of pricey pine nuts.

4. Make some pasta: Tonight, I'm combining the dregs of three different bags of pasta.  We'll see how that goes.  I like fusilli for this, but anything that holds a little sauce should work.

5. Toss everything together: It will be green and gooey and if you're using fresh pesto, it will smell freaking amazing.  I usually do this with the stove turned off, but sometimes, my man likes to warm things up a little bit.

This is the point where you add extra things.   Like cheese.  We usually grate some hard cheese on top.  We also add a can of chopped olives, because we add a can of olives to about 75% of the things we make.  Sometimes, we sprinkle some more pine nuts in, just for crunch.  And usually a little more salt and pepper is a good idea, too.

6. Serve it and eat: If you're lucky, you'll have leftovers for later in the week.  This reheats well.  If it's a little dry the second time around, drizzle a little olive oil on top.

This might not be a traditional recipe format, but I think it just might work.  If you decide to try making our pesto-veggie-pasta thing, let me know how it goes...

Have a great weekend, everyone.  I'll see you on Monday!

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