I'm sure you all know, at the very least more or less, how to make pesto. This is just to remind you that pesto is always a good idea: for a quick pasta dinner, as an addition to a sharing platter, on what to do with herbs from your garden.
Traditional Ligurian pesto is made with basil, but I went for a blend of different herbs: basil, thyme, oregano and a bit of rosemary and mint. I skipped parmesan, but kept pine nuts from the original recipe. Feel free to experiment with herbs and nuts - try almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds or walnuts.
Recipe: Vegan pesto
one cup fresh herbs: basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, mint
1/2 small clove of garlic
3 tbsp pine nuts, roasted on a dry pan
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp soli morskiej
Blend all the ingredients to a smooth paste using pestle and mortar or a food processor.
Feel free to add more olive oil, depending on what kind of consistency you like.
If not using immediately, place the sauce in a jar, top with a layer of oil and refrigerate until needed..
Do you like oysters? For me it was love at first sight. Or even love before first sight. People seem to eat oysters all the time in books and I was sure I was going to do the same. The sound of the word 'oyster', together with a somewhat vague idea of what an oyster could be, always resulted in serious oyster cravings. I saw myself enjoying an oyster platter and a bottle of fine champagne in a noisy Parisian restaurant. Do I need to mention that I was about 11 at the time?
I have a history of craving the unknown and it hasn't always been a success path. The same crazy feeling responsible for my love towards oysters, made me think that roasted chestnuts and I were made for each other. My first time with chestnuts turned out to be a bitter disapointment - they tasted like potatoes. Don't get me wrong, I love potatoes with all my heart. But I excpected something more from chestnuts. I like chestnuts, but it's a relationship without fireworks.
Oysters, however, that's another story. I have instantly fallen in love with their delicate texture and the briny taste of the sea. I usually eat them simple, with a dash of lemon juice. The mignonette sauce is a traditional condiment for oysters, made of shallots, vinegar and black pepper. Try a platter of oysters with mignonette, a fresh loaf of bread and champagne (prosecco or cava will do) or beer. It's better than chestnuts and better than potatoes.
Recipe: Oysters with mignonette sauce
Serves: 2 (or one eager oyster lover)
6 fresh oysters
1/4 cup minced shallots
1/4 cup apple vinegar
one tsp frehs thyme leaves
1/2 tsp freshly crushed black pepper
1/2 tsp brown sugar
a pinch of salt
Combine all the ingredients of the sauce and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.
Roasted vegetables are great as a light lunch or dinner. Try roasted asparagus with basil and sea salt pesto, baby artichokes with feta dip and round courgettes with cherry tomato sauce.
Surely, they would be even greater, if grilled and consumed in a garden, by the lake or in a park. Unfortunately, that is not always possible. For instance, one might not have a garden, a lake or a grill. Unexpected rain can also disrupt an al fresco dinner. Another reason could be a group of wasps.
It was during my sailing holidays in Croatia. I have spend the entire day gutting fish, squid and octopus that I'd bought on a market, geatting ready for a BBQ evening. When we'd finally managed to find a picturesque little bay and tie up the boat, we realised there were countless wasps coming to our yacht and we had to run away. We ended up staying in a marina where barbecueing was not permitted and I had to make the squid and octopus in the oven.
What lesson can be learned from this story? Probably the fact that anything that you might want to barbecue, you can also make in the oven. It doesn't always work the other way around, but in this case it does - I have prepare these recipes for the oven, but you can make the vegetables on the grill too.
Recipe: Roasted asparagus with basil and sea salt pesto
a bunch asparagus
one tsp. olive oil
Recipe: Basil and sea salt pesto
one cup basil leaves
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
Blend basil with olive oil.
Add salt, combine.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Trim asparagus' ends. Coat asparagus with olive oil.
Roast at 180C for about 20 minutes.
Serve with pesto.
Recipe: Roasted artichokes with sizzling feta dip
4-6 baby artichokes
one tsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
one tsp lemon zest
Recipe: Sizzling feta dip
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
tsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
Prepare a bowl with cold water with lemon juice. To prevent artichokes from discoloration, keep the cut ones in the bow before you're ready to roast them.
Cut the stalks off the artichoke. Pull off the tough leaves. Cut the artichoke in half. Spoon out the inner leaves and the fuzzy choke. Very young artichokes might not have the choke.
Combine oil and lemon juice, coast artichokes with the mixture. Place them in a baking dish and top with lemon zest.
Roast at 200C for aboit 25 mintes.
Combine feta with oil and lemon juice.
Place in a ramekin and bake with the artichokes for 20 minutes.
Recipe: Roasted round courgettes with roasted tomatoes sauce
4 round courgettes
1/2 tsp chili flakes
tsp olive oil
Recipe: Roasted tomatoes sauce
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
tsp brown sugar
a pinch of salt
Cut the tomatoes in halves and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and sugar.
Roast at 150C for about 45 minutes.
Cool down and blend.
Cut the courgettes in halves and coat with oil. Place them in a baking dish and top with chili flakes.