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Quick Hit: More Pesto Variations

Yes, by now we’re aware that pesto is a great way to use up bushels and bushels of basil – but what if your wallet balks at the price of pine nuts to go along with all that basil? And what if you’re also out of basil, having no garden of your own to be overrun with it? Well, there are other green leafy alternatives, as well as other nuts (actual nuts too). Experiment with what you have.

For example, try cress and cashews, plus walnut oil, garlic, and some chives (optional). Leave the cheese out until you plan to use the pesto (so you can freeze it if you want to), and try Pecorino instead of Parmesan. Great on pasta, or as a potato salad dressing or with peas, or on baguette or…

Or if you don’t have cress, try arugula instead. Maybe with walnuts instead of cashews. Really, the variations go on.

Green Bean Stir Fry

Green beans, abundant all summer and into the fall, too often get cast in the overlooked side dish role – see also the Thanksgiving mainstay green bean casserole, which many consider bland and boring. Unless the green beans happen to be undercooked, in which case the unpleasant crunch turns eaters against green beans. Which is too bad, because handled properly, green beans are lovely, and you do not have to stick to just steaming them or hiding them in a casserole. Try a stir fry. Basic green bean stir fry ingredients:

  • About one pound green beans, ends trimmed
  • 2 – 4 scallions (depending on size), sliced
  • About 1/2 cup roasted cashews
  • For the sauce: Soy sauce (or Tamari), mirin, rice vinegar, fish sauce, sambal oelek

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Purple Cauliflower Pasta

Roasted cauliflower and tahini are a magical combination, so of course all I could think of to improve on this combo was to add pasta. Behold: You’ll need (For one to two people, scale up as needed for a larger dinner):

  • 1 small head of purple cauliflower (it can be white or cheddar cauliflower too, but the purple ones look cool and are more nutritious)
  • 2 – 4 oz spaghetti (or linguine) – depending on how hungry you are. Measure using your thumb and forefinger (see item #2 at this link or watch this video) – about the diameter of a U.S. quarter
  • tahini sauce recipe, as seen on The Kitchn for a tofu and chickpea stir fry:
    • 1/4 cup tahini,
    • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs water,
    • 2 Tbs soy sauce,
    • 2 Tbs rice vinegar,
    • 2 tsp honey,
    • 1 tsp diced fresh ginger

What to do: Continue reading