Making a Pesto Myself with Mushrooms

serving pesto

What’s better than pesto on pasta? Pesto with sauteed mushrooms on pasta!

I made the pesto, and then sauteed the mushrooms in olive oil. I used oyster mushrooms, ’cause that’s what I had in the house, but you can experiment making this with different types of mild flavored mushrooms. When the mushrooms are soft, stir the pesto into the mushrooms and serve over pasta. I used brown rice penne in the picture above and it worked great.

Heat a large pot of water until boiling fast. Add 1 tsp salt, 1/2 pound pasta, and 1 tsp olive oil. Cook until al dente. While heating water and cooking pasta, make the pesto and mushrooms.

Pesto:

1 small clove garlic

1 bunch fresh whole basil leaves, thick stems discarded (I got mine for $1 at the San Francisco Civic Center Farmer’s Market)

1 bunch curly parsley, thick stems discarded

¼ cup pine nuts

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ tsp sea salt

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup cooking water from pasta

Pulse garlic in a food processor until finely minced. Add all ingredients except oil and pulse until fine. While processor is running, drizzle in oil and cooking water and pulse until almost smooth.

cooked mushrooms

Rinse 1/2 pound mushrooms and chop roughly. Heat 1 Tb olive oil in a frying pan and add mushrooms. Sprinkle with a few shakes sea salt and saute until soft.

pesto mixed with mushrooms

When mushrooms are cooked, stir in pesto

Mix cooked pasta with mushroom-pesto.

 

 

 

 

Eggplant Crockpot Pasta Sauce

served with Parmesan and basil

ingeredients

The last 10 minutes of San Francisco’s Heart of the City Farmers Market are filled with vendors shouting “$1 a bag!” which is how I ended up lugging home 2 bags of eggplant and a huge bag of tomatoes home on the Bart train!

We’re in the middle of one of those rare but scorching Bay Area heat spells, so I decided to use my Crockpot to cook the eggplant and veggies instead of roasting them in the oven. Although not as toothsome as roasting, they came out tasty and ready to mix with penne or rigatoni pasta.

chopped vegetables

Ingredients:
A very large bag of tomatoes. It’s fine if they’re a little soft, and that’s what you’re going to get with bargain bag tomatoes anyway.
5 long Italian eggplants and 4 small globe eggplants
1 ½ small onions, (or one large onion)
2 bell peppers (or a bag of frozen sliced bell peppers).
5 large mushrooms
6 spicy chicken Italian sausages (you can use sweet if that’s too spicy for you)
8 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
Parmesan rind
4 bay leaves,
Sprig of rosemary
1 Tb oregano
1 ½ tsp salt
A few grinds black pepper
1 Tb of olive oil
1 Tb red wine
1 Tb of sugar

Add after cooking sauce:
1 can artichoke hearts
1 fresh bunch of basil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2/3 pound of penne or rigatoni pasta

Chop the vegetables and sausage and add the other ingredients in the first list to the Crockpot. I went to the trouble of dipping the tomatoes in boiling water and peeling them, but it’s not really necessary to do that.

in the crock pot

Cooked sauce in the Crockpot

I started the sauce after work and let it cook all night. (You can also start yours in the morning and cook it all day.) I was a little worried that there wouldn’t be enough liquid to cook it properly, but in the morning I realized that the vegetables had released plenty of liquid. I removed the Parmesan rind, which had given up its flavor to the sauce.

I added a can of chopped artichoke hearts. I chopped half the bunch of fresh basil I had bought at the farmers market and stirred it in with the freshly grated Parmesan. I let it sit in the fridge until dinner time so the flavors would develop.

At dinnertime, I boiled 2/3 of a pound box rigatoni pasta  and mixed it together with the sauce. I chopped up the rest of the fresh basil and sprinkled it on top with more Parmesan. This made 9 meals. Yay for leftovers!

layered with Parmesan

layered sauce with Parmesan

Tom Kha Gai ต้มข่าไก่ Thai Coconut Soup with Mushrooms

soup

This creamy coconut milk soup, fragrant with lime, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, cilantro and galangal, pungent fish sauce and a bit of chili heat, is one of my favorite Thai foods.
I am fortunate to live within shopping distance of Monterey Market, Berkeley Bowl and several Asian markets that carry the authentic ingredients. If you can’t find galangal you can substitute its relative, ginger.

Serves 3 large bowlfuls

ingredients

Ingredients:

4 cups chicken broth (I use Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup)
2 inches galangal, sliced thin
2 stalks of lemongrass
6 kaffir lime leaves, torn
1 Thai bird chili (bright red)
1 large Roma tomato

2 cups white mushrooms, sliced

1 scallion, sliced

2 Tb fish sauce (I use Red Boat)
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup cilantro leaves

5 large basil leaves, julienned

14-oz can of coconut milk (low fat works fine, regular makes a rich soup)
½ raw chicken breast, thinly sliced, OR sliced leftover roasted chicken breast

OR 1/2 pound raw shrimp. Use medium shrimp or chop large shrimp into bite-sized pieces

½ teaspoon salt (to taste)

Instructions

tomato

Bring broth to a boil. Dip tomato in the boiling broth for a minute, and then cool.

While broth is heating, trim ends from galangal and slice thinly.

lemongrass         smashing lemongrasss

Remove a couple of inches from the root end of the lemongrass and the dry outer leaves. Slice the main stalk diagonally into 3 inch pieces, then smash the lemongrass with the blunt side of the knife.

Smash the galangal slices with a mortar and pestle, molcajete, or other heavy object to release their fragrance. Add these to the boiling stock along with torn kaffir lime leaves,  julienned chili, and salt.

add shrimp shells to brothDefrost frozen shrimp by placing it in a container in the fridge the night before. If you are using it straight from the freezer, defrost in a colander under cool running water for about 8 minutes.) Shell the shrimp and add the shells to the broth for extra flavor. Put shelled shrimp in a container in the refrigerator.

Simmer the broth and seasonings for 30 minutes. You can make this part ahead of time and refrigerate.

straining flavoringsStrain the broth into a bowl or another pot and discard the shrimp shells, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and chili pods. Heat the strained broth to boiling.

Peel the skin off the cooled tomato, then slice tomato thickly and stir into the broth along with the mushrooms and white parts of the scallions. Next, add the raw chicken (if using) or shrimp and boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, stir in coconut milk and heat for 5 minutes.

When meat is thoroughly cooked, stir in lime juice and fish sauce. If using cooked chicken, add it at this time.  Pour soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro, basil, and sliced green parts of scallion.

shrimp soup

Rainbow Chard with Arabic spices and Israeli couscous

Somewhere over the rainbow,
In my backyard,
Growing green, red, and yellow,
Organic rainbow chard.

My daughter and I invented this recipe together on Mother’s Day. We started in the backyard where we are growing rainbow chard. This grows in red, white and yellow colors.

We chop it, stems and all, and sauté with onions, shallots, garlic, mushrooms and lemon, and add  the Arabic spices sumac and coriander. When the vegetables are tender, we stir into Israeli couscous. We garnish it with cilantro, and toasted pine nuts.

Israeli couscous or Maftoul,  is shaped like small pearls and is chewier than its Moroccan cousin. I cook it in broth Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup (plus a vegan version). You can make this dish vegan by using the vegetable broth.

If only achieving peace in the Holy Land was as easy as blending Palestinian and Israeli cuisines!

Serves 6 side dishes:

Israeli couscous:
1 ½ cups Israeli couscous
1 ¾ broth (chicken or vegetable)
½ teaspoon salt to taste
2 Tb  lemon juice (Meyer lemon is nice)
Vegetables:
1 bunch chard: 10 -12 leaves and stems, washed
10 mushrooms
2 large cloves shallots, minced
1 onion, quartered and sliced thin
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp sumac
2 tsp zataar or dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ cup broth
Zest of 1  lemon (Meyer is best)
 
Garnish:
¼  cup pine nuts
2 Tb cilantro leaves
 

Boil 2 cups broth in a medium saucepan with salt and lemon juice. Remove ¼ cup and reserve.

While broth is coming to a boil, toast the Israeli couscous in a  skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently about 7 minutes until golden-brown. Add it to the 1 3/4 cups broth and cover. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes  until couscous is tender.

While  couscous is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Quarter the onion, then slice thinly.  Heat 2 Tb olive oil in heavy frying pan. Add onions, sumac, coriander, zataar or thyme, and salt. Sauté until onions are soft and translucent.

 

Cut mushrooms into quarters and add to onions.

Mince garlic and shallots and add to the onions. Sauté them a few minutes until they turn golden.

Slice the chard stems thinly, and chop the leaves. Add to the onion mixture with the reserved broth, lemon juice and zest. Mix well and cover pan. Cook for 6-8 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until chard softens.

Toss with the Israeli couscous. Garnish with pine nuts and fresh cilantro leaves if desired.

Spicy Salmon Steaks with greens

This easy fish dinner is a bit spicy, moist and colorful. I made it first with spinach and the second time with red Swiss chard. If using chard, add it with the other vegetables. Spinach can be added at the last few minutes, since it only needs to wilt. You could even use both!

1 lb salmon steaks – 2 steaks

2 cloves garlic, crushed and diced

1 tsp fresh rosemary needles

¼ tsp red chili pepper flakes

several grinds of black pepper

several shakes sea salt

½ lime or lemon

1 red bell pepper, chopped

5 mushrooms, sliced

1 bunch Swiss Chard, both stems and leaves, chopped

OR /and one bunch spinach, de-stemmed

1 tsp olive oil


Heat olive oil in heavy skillet. Add rosemary and garlic. Wash salmon and sprinkle both sides with salt and chili and black pepper. Squeeze lime or lemon on both sides. Place in pan on top of herbs on medium flame. Add chopped red bell pepper, mushrooms, and chopped red chard on the sides of the fish. Cook about 8 minutes, until fish browns. Turn fish over. If using spinach, add it to cover fish, and cover pan. Cook for 5 minutes.

I served this with red Quinoa in a heart shape for Valentine’s Day

Laotian Stir Fry


My colleague, Jenny Inprasueth, brought in this stir fry for one of office potlucks. It was the best stir fry I have ever tasted. She graciously not only gave me the recipe from her native Laos, but insisted on buying me the fried garlic (Toi Phi) she told me she finds indispensable in her cooking. I made this tonight to oohs and aahs and my husband’s comment that “this tastes really authentic!”

Ingredients

Oyster Flavored Sauce

Black Bean Garlic Sauce

Fried garlic Toi Phi

1 Tb canola oil

½ onion

Vegetables such as red, yellow and green bell pepper, mushrooms, choy sum, baby bok choy, zucchini, snow peas, broccoli, or carrots. Jenny says have a variety of colors.

2 branches regular or Thai basil leaves

Optional: Tofu, steak, chicken or shrimp

You can buy the seasonings at grocery stores that carry Southeast Asian ingredients. Some supermarkets will carry the oyster sauce and black bean sauce. Jenny says if you can’t find the fried garlic Toi Phi, you can fry your own garlic.

Chop half an onion and fry in oil in a wok or large heavy skillet until light brown. Add tofu and lightly fry so that it will hold its shape. If desired, cut sirloin steak or chicken breast into small pieces, and brown with the onions. You can also add shrimp. Add sturdier vegetables such as broccoli, carrots and bell peppers. Add about 1/3 cup water, 2 tsp. oyster flavored sauce, 1 tsp black bean garlic sauce, and a pinch of fried garlic Toi Phi. Add a few Thai hot chili peppers or a bit of  hot chili oil for heat.Add quartered mushrooms and sliced zucchini.When meat and vegetables are almost cooked, add delicate vegetables, such as choy sum, baby bok choy,and snow peas, and stir fry just until they begin to soften. Just before serving, add a few leaves basil.

Nice with rice. We enjoyed a lager beer with the meat version, or you can pair it with a cold can of  coconut juice with pulp.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

portobello n polenta

These giant, meaty mushrooms make a flavorful bed for fresh herbs and tomatoes, crunchy with Panko and pine nuts, and topped with sizzling cheese. Nice on a bed of soft polenta accompanied by a dry white wine. And aren’t they beautiful!

2 portobellos

gills too

gills and top

Ingredients:

2 Portobello mushrooms

1 Tb extra virgin olive oil, plus a bit more to oil mushrooms and  pan

½ tsp minced fresh garlic

½ minced shallot

¼ tsp minced fresh rosemary

1 tsp fresh oregano and ¼ tsp dried oregano

1 tsp chopped fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil

a pinch of ground sage

1 medium plum tomato

3 crimini mushrooms, chopped finely

a few shakes salt (to taste)

a shake red pepper flakes

several grinds black pepper

1 tsp dry sherry

1 Tb blue cheese dressing

3 Tb grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp Panko breadcrumbs

1 Tb pine nuts

Polenta

2 1/2 cups water

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground sage

1/2 cup polenta

Start the polenta first, so it will be ready when the mushrooms are done. It usually takes about 45 minutes to cook on the stove. Heat 2 1/2 cups water to boiling, add 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp butter and 1/4 tsp ground sage. Mix 1/2 cup polenta thoroughly with 1/3 cup cold water. Stir it into the boiling water until smooth. Cook for 45 minutes over low heat, stirring every 5 minutes or so. You can add a few tablespoons of grated Parmesan when it is done cooking.

Directions for Stuffed Portobellos

I make these in my toaster oven.

Rinse mushrooms and wipe with wet paper towel. Slice the woody tip end off the stems and discard. Brush garlic olive oil on both sides of mushrooms and bake gill side up in 450’ oven (or toaster oven) for 10 minutes.

While mushrooms are baking, mince the garlic, shallot, and rosemary.  Sauté them in 1 Tb olive oil until cooked, about 5 minutes.

Let mushrooms cool, then dig out stems with a butter knife so there is an indentation in the mushroom. Pour the juice from the cooked mushroom into the pan. Chop the stems finely.

Stir the chopped stems, crimini mushrooms and tomato into the garlic and shallots. Add the oregano, basil, sage, dry sherry, salt and peppers.

ready for broiler

Rinse baking tray and then smear with a with a bit of olive oil. Place mushrooms gill side up on it.

Mix the pine nuts, panko, blue cheese dressing and 2 tablespoons of the grated Parmesan cheese into the filling mix. Spoon into stem indentation and spread mixture over the top of the mushrooms. Sprinkle each with 1/2 Tb of Parmesan cheese. Broil about 5 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

broiled mushrooms n cheese