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Salad of Green and Yellow Split Peas with Pesto via Relishing It

In case you haven’t caught on yet, I’m a huge advocate of having a pantry stuffed with dried goods.  Legumes, grains, you name it, I’ve got it in a mason jar ready for use.  And on those occasions when I notice it isn’t stocked full, I briefly panic and then run out to replenish whatever is missing.  I guess it’s almost a compulsion, since it’s not like I’m going to not have access to food– I live a few blocks from our co-op.  I may be a little crazy, but I embrace it.

Salad of Green and Yellow Split Peas with Pesto via Relishing It

Summer is a great time to combine those dried goods with some of the season’s freshest offerings.  I love the combination of peas and pesto.  Using dried yellow and green split peas here works beautifully and is absolutely stunning to look at.  The sliced scallion on top provides a nice crunch and a burst of freshness.  This salad is also very filling– it’s one of those that can be a stand-alone meal.  And with a smaller portion size, it pairs wonderfully with most any grilled foods.

Salad of Green and Yellow Split Peas with Pesto via Relishing It

Salad of Green and Yellow Split Peas with Pesto via Relishing It

About this time of year, I also start to make large batches of pesto to freeze for the winter.  I’ll pop a small portion into ice cube trays or muffin tins to fully freeze.  I then pop them out, wrap them in plastic wrap, and put them into freezer bags (or use my vacuum sealer).  It’s a wonderful treat in the cold winter months to have pesto to mix into pasta or to dollop into soups.  If you choose to do this– a word of advice.  If you blanch your greens for just 30 seconds or so, then put it into an ice bath to stop the cooking process and proceed with the recipe–your pesto will remain a beautiful, vibrant green, even after it has been frozen.  I always use this method if I’m planning to freeze my pesto, or even if I know I’m going to have leftovers that may sit in my refrigerator for a few days.  The color just ‘pops’.  One more trick regarding pesto, remember you have the option to add a bit of water instead of more olive oil to loosen it up if it’s a bit thick.  Either way, be sure to season it appropriately with kosher salt– the right amount can make the pesto sing!  Enjoy!

Salad of Green and Yellow Split Peas with Pesto via Relishing It

The Recipe: Salad of Green and Yellow Split Peas with Pesto

(serves 4-6)

Large bed of leafy lettuce leaves

1 cup dried green split peas

1 cup dried yellow split peas

1 bunch of sliced scallions to garnish

For the Pesto:

1 cup packed basil leaves

1/4 cup packed Italian leaf parsley

3 cloves garlic, smashed

1/4 cup grated parmesan or grana padano cheese

1/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and roughly chopped

1/3 – 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more

sprinkle of hot pepper flakes

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

To cook the Split Peas:  Rinse the peas and place in a large saucepan.  Cover with salted water, making sure that about two inches of water are above the peas.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium/low.  Cook for about 25 minutes, then begin testing them for doneness.  You may need to cook them longer, depending upon how high your heat was.  You will want them to be soft, but retain their shape.  Be careful not to overcook them, or they will turn to mush.  When done, drain the water and let cool.

To make the Pesto:  As I stated above, you can choose to blanch the greens or not, depending upon how fast you’re going to use the pesto.  You decide.  Place either the blanched or unblanched basil and parsley into a small food processor (use a large one, if making a bigger batch).  Pulse a few times to chop up a bit.  Add the parmesan, walnuts, garlic, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Pulse a couple more times to combine.  With the machine running on low, slowly begin adding the olive oil.  Scrape down the sides, as necessary.  Add as much olive oil to reach your desired consistency.  Or, add a few tablespoons of water at the very end to loosen it up a bit.  Re-season with salt and pepper.  Use right away, or place in the refrigerator with plastic wrap tightly pushed onto it’s surface, or freeze.

Place the lettuce leave onto a large platter.  Mix the cooled split peas with about 1/3 cup of the pesto, use more if desired.  Add salt and pepper, if needed.  Pour mixture over the lettuce, top with sliced scallions, and a drizzle of good olive oil.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by today!

xo

Laurie

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Every once in awhile an idea for a recipe pops into my head, and I can’t believe I hadn’t considered it before.  On the one hand, I get a bit disappointed in myself for missing something so obvious.  But then I think, ‘Who cares?  This is going to be incredible!’  Today’s recipe came from one of those epiphanies.  I wanted something bursting with Spring flavors, and this pea shoot and mint pesto does just that.

Pea shoots should be showing up at your local farmers market right now.  If you haven’t tasted them before, please go buy some.   These tasty little shoots are the young tendrils and leaves of the pea plant.  They’re packed with nutrients, including vitamins A and C.  And they’re wonderful on sandwiches, salads, mixed into stir fry, pureed into soups– and of course, in this pesto.

Mint and peas make a great combination– remember this carbonara?  Pea shoots taste like fresh peas, but you don’t have to go through the fuss of shelling.  Here, I blanched the pea shoots for a few seconds to brighten their color.  I added a few mint leaves, and finished it off with a squeeze of fresh lemon.  Do not leave out the lemon!  It’s fine without, but we’re looking for better than ‘fine’ with this pesto.

A couple tips on the bruschetta:  First, make sure you grill the bread.  Season it with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  It makes a huge difference.  I also recommend tearing– rather than cleanly slicing– the mozzerella.  It creates nice crevices and curves to drizzle the olive oil into.  I think it also happens to  look much more interesting.  The radishes add an additional pop of color and fresh crunch.  Aside from using this pesto on bruschetta, you can add it to pasta.  If you think it’s going to be too thick to toss with pasta, add a little more olive oil and remember to always reserve a bit of hot pasta water to get the texture you want.  Either way, I think you’ll be happy with this fresh dish.  Enjoy!

The Recipe: Bruschetta with Pea Shoot Mint Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella

Pea Shoot Mint Pesto:

1 1/2 cups packed pea shoots

2-3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan or grana padano cheese

1/4 cup lightly toasted walnuts, chopped

1 garlic cloves

10 fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

squeeze of lemon juice, to taste

sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

hot pepper flakes, to taste

For the Bruschetta:

1-2 balls of fresh mozzarella

1 -2 cloves of garlic

extra-virgin olive oil

pea shoot  mint pesto

handful of radishes, diced

Good quality rustic bread, sliced  ( I used sour dough)

To make the pesto:  Bring a medium sized saucepan filled with water to a small boil.  Prepare an ice bath, set aside.  Place the pea shoots in the hot water for 30 seconds.  Remove immediately and submerge into the ice bath.  Remove pea shoots from water and gently “wring” them out.  It’s ok if they have a bit of water on them.  Let cool.

Place the pea shoots, mint leaves, and 1 clove of garlic in a mini-food processor.  Pulse a few times, until the greens are adequately chopped.  Add the parmesan or grana padano and walnuts, pulse a few more times.  With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.  You may need to stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Once the pesto is thoroughly combined, taste it.  Stir in some salt, cracked pepper, hot pepper flakes, and a squeeze or two of lemon to brighten the pesto.  Use immediately or store in the refrigerator with plastic wrap placed directly on it.

To make the Bruschetta:  Fire up your grill.  Brush olive oil on both sides.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a hot grill and let it toast on each side until it is beautifully golden, but not burnt.  Remove from the grill and while still hot, rub a clove of garlic on one side of the toast.  Spread the pesto on that.  Rip the mozzarella, to create crevices, and place on the pesto.  Top with the chopped radishes.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and finish with a sprinkle of sea salt.  Enjoy!

I’m currently in North Dakota with my kids — made the long 8 hour trip to spend Mother’s Day with my Mom.  I hope all of you Moms out there have a wonderful day.  Thanks to everyone for stopping in — see you next week!

Laurie

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Unfortunately the glorious Indian Summer in Minnesota appears to be ending.  That’s the way of it up here, I guess.  The tempermental mid-Summer months were suffocating at times, keeping us indoors more days than I like.  And the cool comfort of Fall just isn’t long enough.  At least it was magical.  Now the last couple of days have been gray, wet, and cold.  I’m not ready for the long dark of Winter, though I expect my wishes won’t hold it back much longer.  I suppose I should be thankful for the recent– if brief– temperate weather, because I recall  as a child trick-or-treating in October during snowstorms.  Memories of huge freshly-piled snowbanks, and the frustration of not being able to see because my glasses had fogged-up beneath my mask.  Yes, it’s time to appreciate these few weeks, even if they are getting cool, windy, and wet.

One benefit of the colder weather is that many of our meals shift towards warming comfort foods, like soup.  I love soup.  Not like a typical person loves soup, but on a fundamental– maybe inherited genetic– level.  My Mom likes to declare that she “could live on nothing more than soup!”  And she cooks up some divine ones.  While I won’t be so bold as to say I could survive on it alone, soup gets me through those bone-chilling days.  It’s genius– a hearty bowl is the best way to warm up from the inside out, and the smell of a simmering kettle on the stove for a few hours chases the cold away for awhile.

Today’s recipe is my variation on the old ‘vegetable-chicken’ soup that is the staple of so many Winter meals.  While it may look familiar, it offers so much more than the simple vegetable, chicken, and broth flavors you’re used to.  The reason is the addition of lemon and pesto (or pistou if you prefer to make it without the nuts…and want to show off your command of Provençal).  The lemon provides a subtle, though noticeable, hint of interesting acidity.  And the dollop of pesto is brilliant.  It combines the boldness of fresh herbs along with a delicate saltiness.  You can make your own, or buy it at your local market.  For the meat, I generally use roasted chicken, though it is also beautiful with the more potent flavors of wild pheasant.  Like most soups, you can experiment with the ingredients to make it your own.  This soup has become a family favorite that we all love– even my little ones.  I hope you enjoy it, too.

The Recipe:  Roasted Chicken Vegetable Soup with Lemon and Pesto

(As always, you will get the best results by using fresh organic ingredients.)

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 small leek, chopped

4-5 medium carrots, peeled and diced

4-5 medium parsnips, peeled and diced

2 small celery stalks with leaves, diced

1 medium white onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup green beans, trimmed and chopped

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 1/2 cups roasted chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup pearled barley, rinsed

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 tablespoons parsley,  finely chopped

2 quarts chicken stock (homemade or store -bought)

kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

red pepper flakes, to taste

Pesto:

1 3/4 cup fresh basil, torn

1/4 cup fresh parsley, torn

1/3 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese (or Grana Padano — almost as wonderful, but at a much better price.)

1/4 cup lightly toasted walnuts, chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (adjust more or less, depending upon your desired consistency.)

pinch of red pepper flakes

Kosher salt, to taste

To make the soup: Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven.  On medium heat, sauté  the onion, leek, celery, carrots, parsnips, green beans, and a bit of salt and pepper until the vegetables start to become tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.  Add the chicken broth, barley, chicken, and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until the barley is done, about 3o-40 minutes.  Add the lemon zest and juice.  Stir in the parsley.  Season with more salt and pepper, if needed, and a pinch of red-pepper flakes.

To make the pesto:  Add the basil, parsley, garlic, Parmesan-Reggiano cheese, walnuts, pinch of salt and red pepper flakes to a mini-food processor.  Pulse a few times to incorporate everything together.  With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil.  Adjust seasonings, if necessary.  Serve a dollop on top of a bowl of hot soup.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It today — wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Laurie

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Ramp Pesto

Spring is here!  I know, I know– it was official a while back.  But, it’s really official now because ramps have arrived! I look forward to ramp season every year– so much so that my husband eventually ridicules how often I mention “ramps.”  Unfortunately, they’re not available for long, which forces me to fit as many ramp recipes as I can into a brief amount of time.

For the uninitiated, a ramp is actually a wild leek.  Their flavor most closely resembles a cross between a green onion and garlic.  While this makes them versatile, I really love allowing their unique flavor to take center stage.  This pesto does just that.  The wonderful garlic notes from the ramps blend well with the parsley and parmesan without overpowering them.  And ramps and eggs are a heavenly match, whether scrambled (with chopped ramps) or poached, as in this version of Eggs Benedict.

There are many ways to get the most out of this pesto.  It’s a fantastic sauce for pasta with a sprinkle of parmesan, add it as a topping to a rich risotto, or spread some on a toasted baguette with roasted tomatoes.  As the ramp season is so short, you can make extra pesto and freeze it– it keeps well.  Then, when tomatoes peak later this summer, you can bring some out and really get the best of this combination.  I can’t wait!

The Recipe:  Ramp Pesto

1/2 cup toasted walnuts pieces

1 cup Italian parsley (packed, then loosely chopped)

1 bunch ramps, (white and red parts only), chopped

1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

red pepper flakes, to taste

Begin by toasting the walnuts in a small frying pan for a couple of minutes until they become aromatic.  Stirring and being very careful not to burn them.   They don’t need to be fully toasted, just enough to bring out their nutty flavor.  Remove from pan, and set aside.

Next, in a small food processor, combine the ramps, parsley, walnuts, parmesan, red pepper flakes, and a sprinkle of salt and cracked black pepper.  Pulse the mixture for a few seconds until it is somewhat mixed.  Turn the food processor on and slowly stream the olive oil through the liquid hole on top of the lid.  When the pesto looks homogeneous, after a minute or two, turn off the machine and  adjust seasonings, if necessary.  The pesto will keep covered in the refrigerator for around 3 days.  Enjoy!

I hope you all have a wonderful week!  Thanks for stopping by!

Laurie

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