Monday, March 19, 2012

Pesto Magic

Yesterday Nelsy came home from the grocery store with a nice big bunch of fresh basil (the kind that comes with the roots so you can keep it going for a while in a cup of water).  I could smell it all the way upstairs within minutes of it entering the house.  Fresh basil and fresh cilantro are two of my favorite smells (and tastes for that matter).  I find it so worth it to buy these (and parsley) fresh because they can have such an amazing impact on a meal.  Last week I tried a new recipe from (you guessed it) Food TV Magazine's cookbook which included a homemade pesto.  This was called Vegetable Couscous with Moroccan Pesto and it was quite delicious!

Whenever I make pesto I can't help but be amazed by how just a few simple ingredients can be blended together can create such fantastic flavor and how easy it is to make great food at home.  You may be more familiar with basil pesto but this one has cilantro, parsley, almonds, garlic, salt and olive oil.  This stuff smells so good.
You just throw it all in the food processor or blender and let it go until its pretty smooth.  You can whip up a batch with your unused herbs (if you think they will go bad before you use them again) and freeze it for later use.  That's exactly what I did with all the basil from the garden at the end of the summer.  It was so nice to have it during the winter and some pesto in the grocery store can be a little pricey.
This is making me hungry.  Pesto is so versatile, you can use whatever herbs you like, whatever nuts you like (last summer I was too cheap to buy pine nuts so I used the pistachios I had in the cupboard, just as tasty) and you can add cheese (parm in your basil pesto) or not, its your call.  The recipe for this pesto is included in the link above.  We could just end this here and you could throw this stuff on anything from pasta to chicken to steak to shrimp but we're still talking about this couscous recipe so hold tight.
This is so easy. ANYONE can make this.  You chop up a couple of carrots, an onion, zucchini and or chard (we all know how I feel about chard).

You make this little bundle of parsley stems and cinnamon sticks (and if you don't have string I'm willing to bet it would be just as good if you chopped the parsley and threw the sticks in and pulled them out in the end).

You add the veg and the bundle and some water and some canned tomatoes and some raisins (I can't stand raisins but I added them, maybe a little less than called for) and simmer for a bit.

This is when you start the couscous.  This is whole wheat Israeli couscous.  I had never had it before and I must say I really liked it.  It's nice to have another alternative to rice and pasta.
Although we are not opposed to meatless meals, this one seemed like we might be left a little hungry.  So we grilled up some salmon to go with it.
How ridiculous is that? This beautiful plate of food was so simple to make, healthy and really tasty.  Since I didn't alter the recipe at all the link is included at the top of this post.  Enjoy!

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