Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pesto, Food Allergies and a Quick Celebratory Meal

This meal, including dessert, fed two families of four, with 4 food allergies/sensitivities between them (wheat, dairy, eggs, meat); there were plenty of leftovers, and it only took about 35 minutes to pull together.
Yes really.

Here's how it went down: 
1. Boiled water for pasta (large one for wheat, small for rice pasta)
2. Set french lentils in a pot covered with a few inches of water, a pinch of salt and a slice of onion. boiled till tender. 
3. Placed eggs in a pot to boil.
4. Made "ice cream" base - put raspberries, banana, coconut milk, brown sugar in a blender, pureed. Poured into ice cream maker.
5. Wheat linguini entered the pot. 
6. Garlic, basil, walnuts, miso go into the blender to make a dairy free pesto, and you'd never know it!
7. Drained pastas.
8. Tossed pasta with pesto. (left some plain for picky kids)
9. Pulled already washed lettuce from the fridge.
10. Sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, topped salad and pasta.
11. Put finished ice cream into a container in the freezer to hold for dessert.
12. Pulled homemade (but already made) garlicy salad dressing from the fridge.
13. Enlisted our friends who were waiting to eat, to peel the eggs. 
14. Sat down, gave thanks, ate.
Now please don't think that I cook like this every night. I am a working mother with two kids and a lot of extra responsibilities. But, food is a priority, as is feeding my friends and neighbors at impromptu dinners, so when I can muster the energy to throw together a whirlwind dinner party, I do it (especially if it is a cute boy's 2nd birthday, and our dearest neighbors are leaving for a year abroad). It helped that I had a big bag of lettuce from my garden already washed, I'd bought a bunch of basil earlier that day, and I actually had a whole dozen eggs in the house. The rest were staples and pantry items I try and keep in my house: pasta, lentils, frozen fruit, low fat coconut milk, nuts, miso, bananas, homemade salad dressing. 

This was a meal of simple parts, but when you tossed it all together, it felt much more glamorous and delicious. And the raspberry ice cream, well that was just a bonus prize at the end of a very good day.

Disclaimer: I was able to focus and cook this meal quickly because my kids were outside being watched by our guests. And, let me say that there was a lovely mess to clean up in the kitchen after this whirlwind of cooking, but it was worth it!

Pesto ( the non-dairy version)
miso makes a wonderful substitution for Parmesan cheese if you need to make a non-dairy pesto, or are out of good cheese. White miso has a more subtile flavor than darker miso, and won't muddle the pesto color.

1 large bunch basil large stems removed (about 3 cups picked)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup miso paste (white if you have it)
1/3 cup olive oil (or just enough to get it moving in the blender)
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients, except oil in a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth, slowly adding oil to help the mixture blend. Scrape the sides of the bowl down, taste and adjust the salt and pepper. Remember that you need to make the pesto a little saltier than you want in the end, because the flavor will be dispersed once it is tossed with the pasta. You can make pesto using a mortar and pestle as well, just chop your ingredients first, crush the garlic with salt to create a paste, then add the walnuts and pound, then the basil, miso and oil, season to taste and enjoy.

Have you been making any interesting pestos this year? Please comment below.

1 comment:

  1. perfect timing for this pesto recipe, i have a TON of basil that needs to be used up!