Posts Tagged oregano

Spicy Tomato-Basil-Oregano Pesto

A week or so ago, I shared a delicious pizza with someone special. It was topped with with tomato-basil pesto and mushrooms. Mmm, I’m getting hungry again just thinking about it. I’ve been wanting to make a homemade pizza with some of the produce coming into the garden now, and I decided it would go well with some of this pesto. Fortunately, Cooks Illustrated provided me with a road map for what I wanted.

My basil plant is doing pretty well, but it’s my oregano that’s just exploding. And really, no good pizza is without oregano. I decided to throw it in the pesto instead of sprinkling it on it’s own.

This lovely pink pesto was great on my pizza (topped with zucchini and cheese), and it would also be great over pasta, which I’ll be trying soon. Like a basil pesto, this one will freeze well. I recommend freezing it in ice cube trays, and then popping out the pesto cubes into a freezer bag. That way, you can take out however much pesto you need without defrosting all of it.

Servings: Makes about 2 1/2 cups pesto

Cooking time: less than 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 12 oz cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
  • enough fresh oregano leaves to equal 1/2 cup when combined with the basil (scant 1/4 cup)
  • 1 medium-large garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 tsp wine vinegar (red or white)
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  1. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and toast for a few minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent scorching. Set the pan aside to cool.
  2. Roughly dice the garlic clove. Add the garlic, tomatoes, herbs, pepper vinegar and salt to a food processor. Add the nuts when cool. Process until smooth, less than 1 minute. Scrap down the sides. Add the olive oil and continue to process for another minute, or if you have a feeder shoot on your processor (I do not), add the olive oil while its running.
  3. Use on anything you like: pasta, pizza, bruschetta…

Note: I only have a 2 cup food processor, so I had to do this in two batches. I just mixed the batches together in a bowl afterwards to make sure it was evenly distributed. For a less spicy pesto, use fewer pepper flakes.

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Vegetable Chili

I probably should not call this chili. I have a “vegetarian chili” recipe, and this is not it, though it does happen to be vegan. This is more of vegetable stew that happens to use chili powder. I created it to make use of all my wonderful farmer’s market vegetables, and it turned out quite well. The only things in it that didn’t come from the market were the spices, onion, beans, mustard and beer.

You can substitute anything you like in this recipe. It is mostly an exercise in timing. Things like sugar snap peas hardly need any time, while my farm-fresh carrots needed a while. One of the best things in this stew was the earthy, floral quality of the fresh oregano. Fresh herbs need very little heat to release their essence.

Vegetable Chili

Vegetable Chili

Servings: 4 large

Cooking time: 40 minutes or so

Ingredients:

  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion (white or yellow)
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp+ chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-3 tomatoes (I used yellow)
  • 1 large or 2 small heads of broccoli
  • 1 15 oz can of beans (I used kidney)
  • 3-4 oz good beer
  • 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 ear of fresh corn
  • 1/2 cup+ sugar snap peas
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano
  • cheddar cheese (optional)
  1. Mince the garlic and chop the onion and carrots (if the carrots are fresh, they only need to be scrubbed well, not peeled). Begin heating the oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Chop the broccoli, keeping the stems separate from the florets. Try to make the pieces as evenly sized as possible.
  2. When the oil sizzles when you put a drop of water in it, add the onions. Saute for 5 minutes or so, until almost clear. Add the carrots and garlic. Saute 4 minutes or so, until the carrots begin to soften. Add the cumin and chili powder and saute one minute. Add the water.
  3. Meanwhile, use a sharp knife to cut the kernels off of the corn. Snap the peas and cut them in half if they’re longer than 2 inches. Rinse the beans. Dice the tomatoes (do not seed them).
  4. When the water begins to simmer, add the beans and dried oregano. When the water returns to a simmer, add the tomatoes with juices, broccoli stems, mustard and the beer. Simmer about three minutes. Add the broccoli florets and corn. Simmer two minutes. Stir in half of the fresh oregano leaves and the sugar snap peas. Simmer one minute. Serve immediately, topped with grated cheese and the rest of the fresh oregano.

Note: When reheating leftovers, do so on medium heat, or you’ll overcook the vegetables.

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