Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Homemade Condiments- Arugula Pesto + Classic Tomato Sauce.

If our CSA taught me one thing, it was this: when you have an abundance of a particular vegetable, make condiments. It is a terrific way to preserve the life of your vegetables and keep the waste to a minimum. Also, who doesn't love homemade jars of pesto and tomato sauce lying around the house? Bonus: they make wonderful gifts! For a few weeks we were getting pounds of arugula...yes pounds and I was desperate not to see it thrown in the trash. The great thing about pesto is it's so versatile. You can basically substitute any leafy green and whatever nut you'd like...the combinations are endless! Thus, our Arugula Pesto was born....well more like discovered. The arugula adds a lovely peppery taste that is to die for and we used walnuts instead of pine nuts to save a little $. Yep, it turned out super tasty. Hint: add a touch of grated lemon rind for a tiny bit of citrus flavor....

Arugula Pesto
adapted from Simply Recipes

2 cups of packed arugula leaves, stems removed**
1/2 cup of shelled walnuts
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 garlic clove peeled and minced
1/2 tsp. salt
a pinch of gratedlemon rind (optional)

1. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Toss in 6 garlic cloves with their peels still on and cook until slightly browned, about 10 min. Remove from pan, cool and peel skins off

2. Toast the walnuts in the same small skillet, adding a bit more oil of necessary, until browned. About 5 min.

3. In the food processor, combine arugula, roasted garlic (plus 1/2 a clove of raw garlic), toasted walnuts, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper. Pulse these ingredients while drizzling in olive oil through the top gradually. (Note: I don't usually measure the olive oil, I kind of just eyeball it. I prefer my pesto to be thick and not too oily but it's a matter of taste so you may want to pour the oil in slowly and stop and give it a taste from time to time)

** Do not skip this step, leaving on the stems on will cause a bitter, unpleasant taste 

Cooking, for me, is a lot about overcoming small fears. I'm just going to say this...and you don't have to believe me, but peeling tomatoes is really easy....and actually sort of fun. I too had doubts but seriously, once you do it one time you will see, it's not so bad. This recipe lets the ingredients speak for themselves and that's why I love it. It's a classic Italian traditional tomato sauce. No fluff. Also If you have any trouble or just need more reassurance, there is this video on blanching tomatoes that I found really helpful. 

Classic Tomato Sauce
from Food52

2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes, peeled (see video for guidance, link above)
5 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
Salt to taste
1. Place the prepared fresh tomatoes in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, and salt, and cook uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until it is thickened to your liking and the fat floats free from the tomato.
2. Stir from time to time, mashing up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and correct for salt.

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