Avocado Crostini

by Jennifer

These were out-of-this-world good!  So good, you don’t want to stop eating them, and you don’t care if you’re not hungry for dinner.  That good.  Recipe comes from Food & Wine magazine.  Serves 6 – 8.

  • 1 large baguette, thinly sliced (I bought mine at Panera and asked them to slice it for me)
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups packed fresh parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 oil-packed anchovies, drained
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 avocados, halved, pitted, and thinly sliced to fit the crostini

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly coat baguette slices with cooking spray and bake until golden and crisp, 8 – 10 minutes.  When cool, transfer to a serving dish.

Combine olive oil through pepper in a blender

and puree until smooth.  (The parsley pesto can be made the day before and brought to room temperature before serving.)

Immediately before serving, top each crostini with some avocado

and spoon the parsley pesto over each one.

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Penne with Zucchini, Walnuts and Pesto

by Jennifer

This pasta recipe comes from the Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook;  the pesto comes from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.  The pesto freezes well;  I will make it every time I have enough basil in my deck pots, or there’s a bunch from our CSA, then freeze it for pasta or pizza later.  On the side I served some local, ripe tomatoes tossed with a dressing of 1/2 TBS balsamic vinegar, 1 TBS extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp dijon mustard, salt and black pepper (whisk the dressing ingredients in a bowl, then add the tomatoes and toss to coat).  Serves 4.

  • 14.5 oz – 1 lb penne, whole wheat preferred
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced into 2” long thick matchsticks
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 recipe pesto (see below)
  • 3/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts
  • freshly grated Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano

Cook penne in a large pot of boiling, salted water according to package directions;  reserve 1/2 cup cooking water before draining.

Meanwhile, heat 1 TBS olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook zucchini until tender and turning golden, about 8 – 10 minutes.  Season zucchini with salt and pepper.

Toss drained penne with pesto, cooking water, zucchini and walnuts, and serve with freshly grated cheese on top.

Pesto – adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

  • 1 – 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 TBS pine nuts
  • 3 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano

In a food processor, finely chop the garlic and pine nuts with the salt.

Add the basil and pulse until finely chopped.

While the processor is running, pour in the oil, stopping to scrape down the sides.

Add the cheese and process just until combined.

Makes about 1 cup.  Freezes well.

Cranberry Bean – Vegetable Soup with Parsley Pesto, Challah

Cranberry Bean – Vegetable Soup with Parsley Pesto, Challah

by Jennifer

Cooking dried beans is so economical and healthy, plus you can freeze beans for future recipes.  This is a great do-ahead;  cook them any time during the week, refrigerate some for tonight, and freeze the rest.  They also make tasty, quick burritos:  take a flour tortilla, scatter beans down the center, sprinkle on some cheese, add some cilantro, roll it up and turn it seam-side down, then nuke it in the microwave for a minute or two, until the cheese melts.  Add some salsa and presto, instant lunch!

 Cranberry Bean – Vegetable Soup with Parsley Pesto – adapted from Cooking Light

Serves 4.

  • 4 cups cooked cranberry beans (see below for details about cooking dried beans)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large leek, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, and rinsed
  • 1 large or 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 small to medium yellow squash, diced
  • 1 14.5-oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Parsley Pesto:

  • 2 TBS pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups Italian parsley
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan

To cook dried beans, soak the beans overnight (at room temperature) in a large bowl filled with water, enough to cover the beans by a couple inches.

Drain and rinse the beans, then put them in pot, cover them with water by an inch or two, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer and cook them for an hour, or until tender.

Drain.  Reserve 4 cups beans for the soup, and freeze the rest for another meal.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the leeks, carrots and garlic;  cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the leeks are tender.

Add the water and beans;  bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.

Add zucchini, squash, tomatoes, and salt, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

While the soup is cooking, make the pesto.

Use a food processor to finely chop the pine nuts and garlic.

Add the parsley and salt and process, stopping to scrape down the sides, until finely chopped.

Add Parmesan and oil and process, stopping to scrape down the sides, until the pesto is finely chopped.

Serve the soup with a good-sized dollop of pesto. Serve with Challah or your favorite bread.