Summer produce itself is just so splendid often I just steam up a whole mess of farmers market bounty and call it dinner.
Today’s post is a two-for on how to elevate a plate like that to the sublime. My particular pesto is a relic from the 90′s. Remember that food decade? Supermodels, supermodels, spoke in interviews about eating a lot of pasta as a way of staying slim. You could eat anything back then, no matter how much sugar or flour as long as it was low fat. That didn’t turn out to be such a great idea, did it?
However, I do have this one great recipe that was born for me in that era. It came from In The Kitchen With Rosie. Oprah Winfrey appeared on the cover with chef Rosie Daley who, with the runaway sales of that cookbook became even richer than the supermodels who didn’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day. Chef Rosie didn’t have to get out of bed at all.
Though I didn’t make much else in that cookbook, that pesto was the gateway recipe that got me seriously interested in cooking and I’ve grown basil to make it every year since. I’ve long stopped referencing the recipe. What I’ve written down here is a close if not exact replica but I’ve lost track of my copy of ITKWR so I’m not able to check.
Since it’s a low fat recipe, a lot of the olive oil is replaced by lemon juice which gives it a nice bright basil-y flavour and an neon-green colour that looks so pretty on the plate. The lemonyness is a matter of preference. My mother thinks my pesto is too tart but even she can’t always be right.
Try it first on something like steamed carrots; their sweetness will acclimate your palate to the sharper taste. Feel free to throw in a little spinach if you’re low on basil or sub in blanched almonds or walnuts if pine nuts are too dear.
The second splendid way to eat steamed vegetables is a delectable anchovy-lemon zest butter that I warn you to not even start eating straight off the knife. Just stay with me for a minute if you think you don’t like anchovies. Blended into unsalted butter it sort of disappears into a subtle umami saltiness and then filaments of fresh lemon zest brighten up the whole works like fireflies.
Steam your gorgeous veggies to taste, celebrate them with one of these splendid toppings and then head out there to watch the sunset. Enjoy every minute; leaves will be turning before we know it. Love, Jasmine
PS If you like this post, please share it along!
PPS In case you’re wondering, the salad in the photo is that old chestnut, Lemony Kale that I’ve made summery by leaving out the garlic and adding sliced fresh cherries and slivered almonds.
90′s Pesto Recipe
Makes about 10 Tablespoons
4 cups basil leaves, packed
1/4 cup of your most unctuous olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 fine-grated parmesan cheese I prefer Grana Padano
2-3 peeled garlic cloves I usually opt for less as I’m not a huge garlic fan
Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or use a stick blender. Try not to use a regular blender; pesto is precious and too much gets lost in those little grooves in the bottom. Spoon into an ice cube tray, preferably not the one your partner uses for the ice cubes in his or her evening highball, unless they particularly love pesto-flavored Bourbon because won’t ever really get the pesto taste out of the tray. Freeze and then transfer the cubes to a baggie. Thaw as needed. I allow about two cubes per person to toss on rice pasta or vegetables. Try not to gobble it all down at once; you will be high-fiving yourself in January when you thaw your little green cubes and get to enjoy the bright green taste of summer.
Anchovy Lemon-Zest Butter
Makes a little over 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2-1 teaspoon anchovy paste If you’re new to the anchovy club, opt for using just 1/2 a teaspoon your first time
Zest from 1 organic lemon
Mash all ingredients together with a fork and blend well. Like I said, avoid eating it straight, it’s hard to stop. Slather on hot veggies. Grate a little more zest over top to make it prettier. Enjoy. xo