Tag Archives: lunch

Basil Lemon Pesto

This past Friday marked the end of finals week and the beginning of a long, luxurious winter break. The feeling of relief was so deliciously surreal that I spent most of the morning rolling around in bed refusing to get up. My room looked nothing short of a hurricane disaster; clothes flung all over the place, papers strewn everywhere but my desk, my poor, over-worked french press soaking in the sink – all remnants of a hectic quarter gone by.

 As I stood, yawning, I couldn’t help but realize how fast time has flown by since I started grad school. In less than twenty-five days, we’ll be ringing in the new year and, in three months, I’ll be wrapping things up here, heading to who knows where, and doing who knows what. Maybe I’ll be in school, maybe I’ll be looking for jobs, maybe I’ll drop everything and travel the world. But, I’ll save those thoughts for another day.

Now faced with an abundance of free time, I welcomed the opportunity to try an idea that’s been on my mind since I discovered a package of Brazil nuts in my kitchen: to make pesto using Brazil nuts instead of pine nuts. That and I was craving pesto…on a mozzarella tomato panini, on grilled chicken, linguine, three cheese tortellini.. just a small craving..no big deal.

The truth is, I’m not crazy about Brazil nuts. I bought them because I’ve never had them before and the name made them sound all too exotic. Alas they were a bit too dry and bland for my taste, so I wanted to reinvent these suckers into something more delectable. The results? Surprisingly amazing! I personally couldn’t tell the difference using Brazil nuts. The consistency and texture of the pesto itself is comparable to that of a pine nut pesto. It’s one beguiling imposter. And I’m ok with that.

Here’s what you’ll need:

¼ cup raw Brazil nuts

1 large garlic clove

1 ½ cups basil leaves

½ cup olive oil

zest of 1 lemon

5 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tsp. salt

Step 1. Rough chop the Brazil nuts and add to the food processor.

Step 2. Mince the garlic and add with the Brazil nuts. Pulse the mixture once or twice.

Step 3. Wash the basil leaves, shake off the water, rough chop, and add to the food processor and pulse twice, using a spatula to bring ingredients from the upper sides. Scrape the ingredients from the upper sides closer to the mixture. Do the happy dance because pesto makes the world go ’round.

Step 4. Add the salt, lemon zest and lemon juice. Next, slowly drizzle in the olive oil while running the food processor until all the oil is evenly infused. Use the spatula to help bring ingredients together. Normally, pesto doesn’t call for this much lemon but I prefer a bit more citrus to lighten up the olive oil.

Step 5. Remove the pesto from the food processor and mix in the Parmesan cheese until evenly combined. Taste, and add more salt and lemon juice if desired. You deserve it. Mmm chlorophyll. Did I just say that?

Step 6. Pair the pesto. Today, I had chicken in the fridge so I cubed one chicken breast and pan fried them until golden-brown and cooked through. While they cooked, I seasoned with salt and pepper.

Step 7.  To the chicken, I added 1 cup of cooked linguine pasta and mixed in 2-3 tablespoons of pesto sauce. A little bit goes a long way here, folks. You won’t need a heaping amount for your pasta, so add the pesto a little at a time to avoid over-saucing. And, if you’re like me, add an extra squeeze of lemon on top. Voila!

How can you say no to a face like this? Slurrp.

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Avocado & Shrimp Summer Salad

Oh summer, how much do I love you? Let me count the ways…

The advent of summer brings many wonderful things, some of which entail the likes of outdoor festivals, sundresses, warmth, and my absolute favorite, farmer markets. Philadelphia is chock full of local finds and depending on which part of the city you wander off into, you’re bound to find something fresh and homegrown. It tickles my fancy.

It’s not easy being a locavore on a student budget, which is why I look forward to summer markets. Most fruits and veggies are in season and their abundance keeps costs low, allowing me the luxury of making fresh favorites like this.

I love this salad. It’s delightfully fresh and light yet filling. Oh and did I mention it’s super easy to make?

Here’s what you’ll need:

butter lettuce

grape tomatoes

croutons, whichever you prefer (i love cheese garlic)

craisins

sliced almonds

1/2 avocado

3-5 pieces shrimp, cooked

1 lemon

extra virgin olive oil

sesame oil

salt and pepper

Step 1. Wash and chop the butter lettuce. Butter lettuce. Doesn’t that just sound so decadent? It’s one of my absolute favorites, aside from mixed greens. The leaves are creamy and soft (buttery, if you will) yet they don’t wilt as easily when tossed with dressing. Packaged butter lettuce is just as fine! It usually comes mixed with radiccio, which adds a nice crunch.

Step 2. Wash and slice the grape tomatoes. I could eat these suckers all day long. Yum. Have leftovers? They’d be good in shrimp scampi too, ooh.

Step 3. Assemble croutons, craisins and almonds. Contrary to the picture, I don’t measure these out (I don’t own small bowls, so here’s me getting creative, haha). I love craisins, so I tend to put more of those in the mix. These are plain almonds, but roasted and salted almonds are crazy delicious too.

Step 4. Score and scoop out 1/2 an avocado. To be honest, this salad recipe idea started with my ongoing love affair with this buttery fruit. Avocados are the best during warmer months and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t try to use it in almost anything I make. Fresh guacamole or just drizzled with a bit of honey, I like trying new ways to enjoy this summer star.

Step 5. De-vein and cook the shrimp for about 3 minutes in boiling water. Allow to cool then chop into bite sized pieces. Then eat a few pieces. Then decide you should have cooked more shrimp. Always the case for me, anyway.

Step 6. In a large bowl, mix all salad components together. Add more toppings if you desire. Then eat one more piece of shrimp and promise you won’t eat more till the very. end. Break that promise.

Step 7. Make the salad dressing. In a separate bowl, add the juice of 1 lemon, sans seeds. Measure this, then add exactly the same amount of extra virgin olive oil. It’s a one to one ratio if you will. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper then whisk, whisk, whisk.

Step 8. Taste and add more salt and pepper to your liking. Finally, add 1-3 drops of sesame oil. I mean it. 1-3 drops only, maybe even less. You want that subtle savory flavor but a drizzle of this will overwhelm your dressing. If it’s your first time making this dressing, add the sesame oil a drop and a taste at a time. You’ll be surprised how much a little goeth a long way.

Step 9. Drizzle the dressing all over the salad then mix, mix, mix. Ahh, summer in my mouth at its finest.

For lunch or for a light dinner, this salad is a favorite, time and again. Make it for your friends, bring it to a picnic, or enjoy it for yourself. Until next time foodies!

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