It's the beginning of a new school year, so I'm working really long hours and getting home feeling a bit bedraggled. If I manage to cook anything at all right now, it's got to be quick and easy. That's where my food processor comes in.
If you couldn't already tell, my food processor is the one kitchen gadget that I couldn't live without. It is such a time saver and allows me to quickly whip up many of my favorite meals, including these two sauces: Basil Pesto and my "Ready in a Blitz" Roasted Tomato Sauce.
I love, love, love pesto. Each time I eat it, I'm reminded of a trip I took with my mom to the Liguria region of Italy (the region where pesto originated). We were hiking through the beautiful "Cinque Terre" and ate pesto with fresh pasta at least once each day. We also ate lots of Nutella, but that's for a different post...
Pesto ("Genovese Pesto") is traditionally made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and olive oil. A hard cheese (like Parmesan) is also usually incorporated. I pretty much stick to these ingredients, but one time a couple of years ago I was out of pine nuts. The only nut I had available was a bag of pecans in the freezer. So, I shrugged and tossed them in. The result was so surprisingly good that I've used pecans in my pesto ever since.
Pesto is one of those sauces that I've made so many times that I no longer need to measure anything. I just toss in the amount that looks "right". For those of you who need measurements, I've tried my best to include precise amounts below. Feel free to make adjustments that match your tastes:
1/4 cup nuts (pine nuts, walnuts or pecans!)
2 cups packed fresh basil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
3 cloves of garlic (plus or minus a clove, based on your taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
Add all the ingredients (minus the oil) to the food processor. Turn on the processor and stream in the olive oil while it pulses. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Now, spoon over some pasta and pretend you're in Italy. Buon Appetito!
Ready in a Blitz Roasted Tomato Sauce
I love the taste of roasted vegetables. Roasting vegetables brings out a rich depth of flavor, caramelizing them and making them just plain really, really good. Tomatoes and garlic are two of my favorites to roast. If you decide to make this, hurry before the last of the summer tomatoes escape.
I love this recipe for a work day because I can get home, prep the veggies in about 5 minutes and put them in the oven to roast. Then, I can use the next 20 minutes or so to prep the rest of the dinner or set the table or just kick back and enjoy a glass of wine. Before I know it...ding...the veggies are done and all I have to do is slide them into the food processor. I simply pulse 5 seconds and...dinner's ready!
tomatoes (any amount)
onion (about 1/2 a small onion per 3 medium tomatoes)
garlic (to taste -- I like a 3 or 4 cloves per 3 medium tomatoes)
(+ any other veggies you have on hand that you think would be yummy. I think carrots or shallots or red pepper would be nice.)
olive oil, for drizzling
salt + pepper, to taste
fresh or dried herbs (I usually use thyme and/or basil)
Preheat the oven to 400.
Slice the tomatoes in half or quarters and place them on a sheet pan, covered in parchment. Slice the onion into large chunks (roughly the size of the tomatoes) and place on the pan, with the garlic. Drizzle olive oil over all the veggies and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Place the veggies into the oven and roast for 20-30 minutes, until browned and slightly caramelized. You may need to pull the garlic out early so it doesn't burn.
(Near the end of the roasting process, cook your pasta so it will be ready in time.)
Once roasted, slide all the veggies into a food processor, add herbs and pulse until a smooth sauce.
That's it. Really!