Pesto. That flash of green. That earthy sweetness. Summer encapsulated. I love the stuff. On pasta, eggs, fish, in my coffee . . .
Just checking to make sure you’re awake.
I brought two gorgeous basil plants inside from the garden when the weather turned cold. “Surely I can save these!” I thought.
There goes pesto.
However, today I whipped up a ‘pesto’ with a base of spinach instead of basil. And yaknow what? It’s almost good enough to drink in your coffee.
BALSAMIC-LEMON SPINICH PESTO
This recipe is a two-for-one deal. I use my lemon-balsamic dressing in this in place of straight olive oil.
Balsamic-Lemon Salad Dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons balsamic vinaigrette
½ teaspoon fresh pressed garlic
a dash of salt
3 cups of organic baby spinach—washed
2 tablespoons Lemon-Balsamic salad dressing
1 tablespoon roasted pine-nuts
In a food processor or blender, pack the spinach down nice and firm, drizzle the dressing over top and sprinkle in pine nuts. Pulse/whirl a couple of times and then remove the cover and scrape down the sides with a soft spatula. Evaluate the consistency at this point. If the pesto seems a little dry add a little more dressing. Too wet? Add more spinach. Whirl again until smooth. Store in an air-tight container.
I have this distinct memory of my first brussels sprout experience.
I could wax poetic about texture (there was a lot) and flavor (it was bad), color (definitely bland and kind of . . . wilted), but I’ll be brief and just say that my brussels sprout sensibilities have matured as I’ve aged. I’ve also learned how to cook them a bit differently than whoever cooked them for me that first time. So, in addition to culinary maturity, the actual vegetable dish itself has improved.
It’s all good. In fact, it’s quite good. Brussels sprouts are actually one of my all time favorite vegetables.
Hear that younger self? If time travel is a thing I hope you Google yourself, find this post, and read these words: YOU WILL LIKE BRUSSLES SPROUTS.
Awesome. Now if the time-space continuum breaks you’ll know it’s my fault.
That’s the power of a properly cooked vegetable. And it’s even more powerful when topped with a soft egg.
CRISPY BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH A SOFT EGG
1 lb brussles sprouts
3 + tablespoons clarified butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Begin by washing the brussels sprouts in a colander under cold water. Then slice the edge of the bottom stem off, removing the first layer of leaves. Pull these away and then slice the sprout in half. Do this with each sprout. It’s a little tedious, but totally worth it.
Once all of your sprouts are cleaned, heat the butter in a large flat-bottom pan over med-high heat. If you are so inclined, feel free to add more butter. Because butter.
Toss the cleaned sprouts in the pan and turn with a spatula to coat evenly. Salt and pepper generously, cover, and let the heat do its magic. Leave them sit for 3 minutes or so, and then turn again. Leave for another three minutes and turn. The goal here is to allow the heat to soften the sprouts while gently crisping the outer edges. You are going for a browned-almost-brunt edge on the majority of the sprouts without overcooking or over-softening them. Mushy sprouts are gross. No amount of butter can fix them.
When the edges are browned, remove the sprouts from the pan, turn down the heat a bit and cook the eggs. Crack the shells gently so as not to break the yokes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and allow the eggs to cook just a couple of minutes—until the yellow yoke is covered with a very think film of white.
Plate the brussels sprouts evenly between four plates, and using a soft spatula, gently top each pile of sprouts with a soft egg.
*makes four servings
So tonight I had one of those end-of-week nights when I scanned the kitchen for something reasonable (“No, we can’t have cereal for dinner. Again.”) to make all of my people for dinner, only to discover I probably should have purchased groceries a few days ago. So as I scanned, I made a wish. This helps sometimes. (I wished for lobster, if we’re being honest. Steamed, served piping hot with drawn butter, and already on my table). But that didn’t happen. Instead, I found some veggies. and they reminded me of a couple tiny but tasty grass-fed steaks I had in the freezer (Yes, grass-fed = veggies in my mind, stick with me), and so I got out my serious dicing knife, chopped for a few minutes, and into a pan everything went!
This is a nice meal if you’re in a rush. 20 minutes and you’re good—the most time consuming part is dicing ALL THE THINGS. But once that’s done, it’s basically a case of toss-it-in-the pan and la-la-la, dinner.
STEAK AND VEGGIE TOSSED SKILLET
2 nicely cut small steaks—sliced very thin
2-3 red and/or yellow peppers—sliced
2-3 green and/or yellow summer squash—sliced in rounds
1 container of Chanterelle mushrooms
1-2 cups of fresh spinach
3 Tablespoons peanut Oil
1 teaspoon diced garlic
1 teaspoon diced onion
salt and pepper to taste
In a large sauté or stir-fry pan, heat peanut oil on med-high heat. Add steak, sliced very thin, along with garlic and onions. Toss until coated evenly with oil and cook through, 5-6 minutes. Add peppers, cook for a minute, followed by summer squash, and mushrooms. Add the spinach last and cook until just wilted. Serve hot.