Archive for ‘Nuts’

September 14, 2010

Best Pesto – Sweet Basil Pesto “Tapenade”

by cillefish

pesto on whole-wheat penneThis is a recipe for a “sweet basil pesto tapenade,” but I use it as a normal pesto paired with whole-wheat pasta (the fresh kind, if you can find it). The flavor is FANTASTIC, one notch above everyday normal pesto, but like normal pesto it’s absurdly easy (and, if you’ve got sweet Italian basil growing in your garden, pretty darned cheap). The maple syrup gives it some nice mellow notes, but the flavor’s also bold enough that, paired with good pasta and a little Parmesan cheese (ok, maybe a simple salad on the side), this is more than sufficient for a good dinner.

Use a little more olive oil and a little less walnut to make it more pasta-pesto; use the given amounts to make it a tapenade for putting on pesto pizza, sandwiches, or those fancy little toasts (whose name escapes me at the moment). I hear it’s also great on roasted squash.

I’ve tried this with Thai basil as well instead of the standard Italian sweet kind, and it’s a little less perfect but still pretty tasty. You can toast the walnuts before you mince them for a mellower taste, but I think the bit of tang from fresh walnuts works better with the lemon and the maple.

I’ve had a nice dinner with this and artichokes roasted on a barbecue, with salad dressing for dipping the artichokes.

Sweet Basil Pesto (Tapenade)

source: The Veganomicon
prep time: under 10 min

  • 3 c fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
  • 1 c walnut pieces or halves
  • 2-4 cloves garlic (for a much mellower taste, brush cloves with olive oil and roast in 200° F oven for a few min)
  • 1/3 c extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c walnut oil (or just more olive oil – I never have walnut oil around. Peanut oil is a little weird here)
  • 1/3 c pure maple syrup (or water and brown sugar mixed to what you’d guess to be a similar sweetness level)
  • 1 tsp grated fresh lemon zest (or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon lemon juice)
  • optional: grated Parmesan cheese (you may use less walnut if you want more Parmesan. Trader Joe’s has some really great stuff, both pre-grated and not)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • black pepper

Chop the basil, garlic, and most of the walnuts in food processor until chunky, stopping often to scrape the sides. Add oil(s), syrup, and lemon zest or juice. Add Parmesan as you like, and process until thick and creamy, adding more or all of the walnuts to get the texture you want. Season to taste. Can be stored in a glass jar with a thin layer of olive oil on top (to prevent oxygenation) until ready to serve. MUCH BETTER FRESH.

August 31, 2010

Adaptable & Chewy Homemade Granola Bars

by cillefish

Here’s my take on someone else’s take on a granola bar recipe by King Arthur Flour (I hear their whole wheat muffins are knockout, too). Eventually I’ll get around to trying those granola recipes from a few weeks ago; I’m sure some of them would be great as bars …

Easy, Chewy Granola Bars

Makes: 1 small pan

  • 1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats (if gluten-free, be sure to use gluten-free oats. I think you can get away with normal oats if you triple the water?)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (use more for store-granola-bar-sweet. I wanted way, way, less, so I substituted this with 2 packets of Splenda and added a tablespoon of maple syrup later)
  • 1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor, blender, or mortar and pestle) I used the mortar and pestle, and added the 1/8 cup rice flour I had made ages ago.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I omitted it; the PB has enough salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Smidgin of freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (total of 10 to 15 ounces – I did 2/3 cup slivered almonds, 2/3 cups walnuts minced fine, and just under 2/3 cups finely chopped coconut. It came out cohesive but a little dry; you need some fruit in there to make it really “chewy”)
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter, optional (I used chunky peanut butter)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup (I did honey, half safflower and half sage since I like that darker, nuttier taste. Sage is on the light side; safflower is pretty strong, so if you use all-safflower, might want to cut down on this and up the water a bit.)
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup (I used 3 of light maple syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon water (I forgot this part. oops)

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan with parchment paper; lightly grease it with the paper from the butter.

2. In one bowl, combine all dry ingredients; in another, smaller one, all wet (peanut butter is wet). Mix each thoroughly; for the wet, mash the peanut butter so it incorporates as much as it can. Thoroughly mix the wet into the dry.

3. Put mix into parchment-lined baking pan and press down using the back of a largish spoon, saran wrap, or your hand covered with a sandwich bag (or your hand, if you don’t mind losing some of your creation on your hand and having to lick it off). Bake for 30-40 min until golden brown on edges. They can be dark / toasted-looking, depending on what you put into it — when they’re done, they should give a little in the middle, and still be softish from the heat, but they should have hardened up enough that it’s reasonable to think they’ll harden completely when they’ve cooled.

4. Cool completely on a cookie rack; if it’s necessary, chill in fridge 30 min to ensure they’re totally cool. Cut with a serrated knife. To store, wrap individually an keep in an airtight container in fridge. They freeze well.