Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pesto Cavatappi for Carnivores, Omnivores & Cats

It's time for Adventures in Food Processing, Part 2!

I basically don't want to make anything now unless it requires using my amazing new machine, and luckily I've been accumulating mental notes - for literally years now - on things I'd like to make but really couldn't (not properly, anyway). Pesto was one such thing.

I love pesto. I love this pesto. And if Rachel Zoe had joined us for dinner (were she to ever do something as silly as eat), I feel sure she'd think this pesto is BUH-NAH-NAS. I sure did. The boys for whom I was cooking had lovely chicken chunks in theirs, while I stuck to a monokini-friendly vegetable medley mixed into mine.

Speaking of bananas, you know what else is bananas? Cat playdates. Lest you think that my life consists of dressing fabulously and flitting around from photo shoot to client dinner to chic speakeasys (admit it, this is what you think), I can assure you much more of my time is spent doing things almost-but-not-quite as dorky as staging a real life feline encounter.

Explanation: Ross and I will be in Mexico all next week [pause to allow jealousy to soak in], and our beloved Sascha Fierce will be traveling north to Edgewater to stay with her Uncle Joshua and (hopefully future life partner) Ernest. (See picture below for evidence of adorability.)

As far as cat playdates go, this one went shockingly well! It was more like a three-hour staring contest between the cats while the humans enjoyed a delicious pesto pasta concoction. Sascha is veritably trembling with excitement to reunite with her new friend Ernest for a whole week of barely-civil staring! Thanks so much to Joshua, Colin, and Ernest for being such gracious hosts, and for watching over Mommy's little angel as she rings in her 28th year by drinking her weight in margaritas.


1 bag whole wheat cavatappi pasta (or any short pasta, like penne or shells)
1 red bell pepper, in large chunks
1 red onion, in chunks
1 yellow squash, in chunks
1 zucchini, in chunks
olive oil
salt and pepper and red pepper flakes
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, in large chunks


1 large bunch basil
1/2 bunch parsley
1/2 c. pine nuts, lightly toasted
big handful walnuts, lightly toasted
big chunk parmegiano reggiano, in 1-inch chunks
olive oil
flax oil
salt to taste
juice of half a lemon


Make the pesto: put all ingredients except oils into food processor and process until close to smooth. While the processor is on, drizzle in the oil until pesto reaches desired consistency (I'm quite sure I used much less oil than you'd find in commercially made pestos, and it was delicious - I probably used a half cup at most, and it made A LOT of pesto).


Boil the pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, heat a pan over medium high heat. Add a little olive oil, then cook the onion/bell pepper/squash/zucchini until tender, seasoning to taste.


In another pan on medium high heat, heat a little more olive oil, and cook the chicken until done all the way through, seasoning as you go. Add the pasta and pesto to the pot you cooked the pasta in. Toss in the veggies (and chicken, if everyone is eating chicken), serve, and enjoy!

Roasted Poblano & Cilantro Hummus

This post brought to you by the month of August - my birthday month!

When my dad called and asked if there was anything I wanted for my birthday, I didn't skip a beat when I answered, "A food processor!" It's rather shameful that someone who loves to cook as much as I do would have gone this long without one, isn't it? I had one for a brief period of time that I paid $25 for. You get what you pay for: it broke after 3 uses.

Lucky for me, I have a dad who's well-versed in electronics and home appliances, and he found an amazing deal on a really nice 14-cup Cuisinart that blends like a dream! Hummus was the first thing I made, although my first batch contained no tahini (Trader Joe's doesn't sell it) and was waaaaay too garlicky. Rather than perfect my base recipe like I promised myself I would, I immediately began thinking of creative things to add to my hummus. A roasted poblano version was at the top of the list.

I have to say, once I got the garlic issue under control and finally got my hands on some tahini, my hummus improved dramatically! I think the only thing I'd change about this one is the liquidity level - I put in a little reserved chickpea liquid, but the water that's naturally in the peppers was plenty; next time I'll leave out the liquid and hopefully achieve hummus with a slightly thicker consistency. Despite that, the taste was fantastic - and I know it'll only get better as it sits and the flavors meld. Even for you hummus purists, this is a must-try.


1 can chickpeas (reserve the liquid from the can)
2 poblano peppers
big handful cilantro leaves
2 T. tahini
juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic
avocado oil (or sub olive, canola, or safflower oil)


Roast the poblanos: lay one pepper at a time directly on the flame of a gas burner, on medium heat. Let the skin char, turning as necessary with tongs, until the whole pepper is blackened. Repeat with the other pepper. Place both peppers in a plastic tupperware container with the lid on. Let sit for about 10-15 minutes, then scrape the blackened skin off and discard it. Discard the stem and attached cluster of seeds (a few seeds in the hummus is fine - it adds a nice spice). Cut into large chunks. Place in food processor.


Drain the chickpeas over a bowl, reserving the liquid from the can. Place the chickpeas, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice, and tahini in the food processor.


Begin to puree the hummus, and while the food processor is on, drizzle in the avocado oil until the mixture looks like hummus is supposed to look. Remove food processor lid and taste the hummus, then add salt as needed. Blend hummus again, adding a little of the reserved chickpea liquid if the hummus is too thick. Serve with veggies, chips, or tortillas. Enjoy!

Eat well and enjoy life! More soon...
Related Posts with Thumbnails