Posts Tagged ‘pesto’

When I hosted brunch a few weeks ago, I had visions of serving my favourite brunch fare, quiche.  Our start time, however, was too ambitious for me to make a homemade pie crust.   I was determined however to have my egg fix, so I decided to switch tactics and embrace a frittata.

As a quiche lover (and who wouldn’t want to enjoy tender flaky crusts when possible?) I have very little experience making a frittata. I was looking for a bright, fun vegetarian recipe.  A quick google search brought me to this mouthwatering dish from Gimme some Oven – cheesy eggs infused with roasted red peppers, pesto, and arugula sounded like a delicious combination to try.

I loved the fresh flavour combination, along with the ease of assembling!  And I may have to bring this dish out at Christmas given the gorgeous red and green colours.

Roasted Red Pepper, Pesto, and Arugula Frittata
Baked Frittata with Roasted Red Peppers, Arugula, and Pesto

Serves 9-12


1 tbsp olive oil plus extra to grease pan

1 white onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

8 eggs, whisked

1 (12-oz) jar of roasted red peppers, drained and diced

2 large handfuls of baby arugula, roughly chopped

2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup pesto

Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch pie plate with olive oil.

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent. Stir in garlic and saute an additional 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Remove from heat.

In a separate large bowl, combine the eggs, roasted red peppers, arugula, cheese, pesto, salt and pepper. Add in the onion mixture, and stir until combined. (Note – it will resemble vomit at this point, but I promise you, persevere as it will taste delicious!)

Pour the filling into the prepared pie pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. The frittata will rise while baking, but should settle back down once you remove it from the oven. Allow the frittata to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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I confess to have been living under a rock over the last few months – but Sitelle has been holding down the fort admirably!  My summer adventures took me to three continents over two months, and upon my return to Canada, I moved from Halifax to Toronto.  I miss the East Coast (and especially the delicious seafood!), but I love my studies in medicine at UofT.  Despite the craziness of learning head to toe human anatomy, how to read a histology slide, and an intro to hematology, I haven’t given up on cooking.  Indeed I have a backlog of recipes to share!

This recipe comes from my friend Dora when she visited me at my cottage a few summer ago.  I love portobello mushrooms almost as much as I love pesto.  When she suggested we combine the two, I knew I was in for a real treat.  They are incredibly simple to prepare, and fast to grill.  We cooked them over a charcoal briquette barbecue, giving the burgers a lovely smokey flavour, but I have since winterized these burgers for the oven.

Portobello and Pesto Mushroom Burger

Portobello Mushroom and Pesto Burgers

(makes 4 burgers)



4 Portobello mushrooms

1/2 small onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup pesto

Olive oil, to brush

1/4 cup cheese (provolone or mozzarella are delicious!), thinly sliced

Your favourite bun and toppings



Prepare the barbecue. Meanwhile, rinse mushroom caps and remove the stems.  Mix the pesto with the onion and garlic.  Fill each mushroom cap with 1/4 of the mixture. Brush the top of each cap with olive oil.

Barbecue the burgers 15 minutes or until cooked through.  Top each burger with the cheese slices, and cook until the cheese has melted.  Serve with your favourite bun and toppings.

Note: If you don’t have a barbecue handy (or if its covered in snow), preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Bake for 12 minutes, add the cheese, and bake for a further 4-5 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Bon appetit!


– Catherine




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Sunny and reaching a high of 11, Halifax flirted with spring yesterday!  As I basked in the sunshine while editing my thesis, my thoughts wandered to summer.  I realized that I may not make it to my family’s cottage in Ontario, so I immediately began to miss everything wonderful about the lake: lounging on the dock, reading trash novels, napping in hammocks, watching the sun set, and the eating food grilled on a charcoal barbecue.  There is something so magical about the smoky flavour infused into everything grilled over charcoal briquettes.

I am a self-declared mushroom addict, and Portobello mushrooms are among my favourite.  My friend Dora introduced me to this simple, yet delicious recipe. The premise: stuff the portebello mushrooms with pesto mixed with your favourite extras (my favourite is roasted red pepper), top the stuffed mushrooms with copious amounts of cheese, and grill it until juicy!

I love eating these with other grilled veggies or inside a bun for tasty veggie burgers.  Now it’s bonus if you grill the mushroom over a charcoal barbecue, but in a pinch, these cook nicely in the oven at 450 F.


Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms


(4 servings)


4 large portebello mushrooms

1 cup pesto, either homemade or store-bought

1 onion, finely chopped

(Optional extras: finely chopped roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, garlic, extra Parmesan cheese…)

1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated or thinly sliced

Olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper



Preheat the grill to medium heat.

With a damp cloth, clean the portobello mushrooms and trip the stems. Brush the caps with olive oil and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the pesto, onion, and any other of your favourite extras. Season with salt and pepper.  Divide the mixture evenly between the four mushroom caps.  Place on grill and cook until mushroom is mostly cooked, about 8-10 minutes.  Top with cheese and grill the mushrooms an additional two minutes until melted.  Serve immediately. Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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For the last month, I have embarked on discovering vegetarain cuisine.  There have been some sure disasters (whoever said ketchup went well with tofu lives on Mars), and some absolute winners.  I’ve learned that vegetarian food at restaurants can be flavourful and juicy, or that it can be downright unappetizing and bland (not to mention impossible to find on a menu outside of a boring salad).  Unfortunately there is too much of the latter, and not nearly enough of the former.  I have discovered two vegetarian cookbooks on my shelf, and have picked out many more recipes for the upcoming months!

Tonight, on the last evening of my adventure, I wanted to cook a memorable dish.  Nothing beats the meatiness of Portobello mushrooms, the sweetness of a roasted tomato, or the freshness of basil.  Combined, this dish lingers beautifully in your mouth, the juices of the mushroom and tomato piqued by the basil.  To really showcase the Portobello caps, I chose to serve it over a simple bed of bulgur, but this would make a delicious burger that would turn the largest carnivore into a die-hard vegetarian!

Roasted Portobello Mushrooms with Pesto-Infused Tomatoes

(1 serving)


A few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

2 Portobello mushroom caps

2 thick slices tomato

4 tablespoons pesto (https://gourmeh.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/almond-romano-parsley-pesto/)

A few slices red onion

Drizzle olive oil

Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Brush the mushrooms generously with balsamic vinegar, and place gill side-up on baking sheet.  Layer a tomato slice over the mushroom.  Spread the pesto overtop. Sprinkle the red onion slices on top of the pesto.  Drizzle a few drops of olive oil overtop.  Bake about 12-15 minutes, until the mushrooms release their juices.  Delicious served over a bed of bulgur or on top of an arugula salad!

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The snow is finally all gone in Halifax.  I saw crocuses in bloom today, a sure sign spring is coming.  There is nothing like pesto and asparagus to mark one’s excitement for spring!  (I confess that unlike Sitelle, I have given into the gorgeous looking and tasting asparagus from Mexico).  Pesto pasta is one of my absolutely favorite meals, and one can always count on roasted vegetables to brighten any pasta.  When produce is plentiful, grilling the veggies over the barbecue adds another level of complexity to the dish, but until summer hits, the oven does a respectable job.

This is another dish that uses, as my mother likes to call it, “the little white sauce”.  Like its namesake, this simple béchamel is the perfect versatile base for so many dishes: Add a few cups of cheddar for macaroni and cheese, mustard to make it devilish, or mushrooms and sherry for a delicious mushroom sauce.  Usually I have a few cubes of frozen pesto that I throw into the little white sauce, but tonight I used fresh – a delicate almond romano parsley pesto!

Pesto Pasta with Caremelized Onions, Roasted Asparagus, and Zucchini

(4 servings)


Roasted Vegetables:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 zucchini, sliced

1 red onion, sliced

1 bunch asparagus, bottom part of stalk snapped off, cut into 2 inch segments

2 tomatoes, cut into eight wedges

Pesto Pasta:

300 grams whole wheat penne pasta

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 generous cup milk

Salt and Pepper

¼ cup pesto (https://gourmeh.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/almond-romano-parsley-pesto/)


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Toss the veggies in the olive oil and garlic, and place on a tray.  Roast for 20 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, boil salted water, cook until al dente, and drain the pasta.  In a large saucepan, melt the butter and flour over medium heat.  Allow the roux to bubble for a few minutes, until almost fragrant.  Whisk in the milk and bring the sauce to a boil.  Simmer for two or three minutes, or until thickened.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the pesto, followed by the roast veggies and pasta.  Toss until the pesto sauce evenly coats the pasta.  Enjoy!

–       Catherine

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Broccoli and spinach are a surprisingly complementary combo

Cream of broccoli and spinach soup is the inspiration of children’s nightmares.  Even in most cafeterias, you tend to end up with more cream than vegetables, thickened excessively with flour and way too salty.  Flipping through rebar, I came across this recipe and was immediately dubious.  Who is crazy enough to venture into making cream of broccoli and spinach soup?  Deciding that rebar is an excellent cookbook, against my better instinct, I decided to attempt the soup.

May I pronounce that this soup has remedied all reserve I had about cream of broccoli and spinach soup?  Light and packed with flavour, it was truly hard to put my spoon down. The trick is to not overcook the vegetables and to be light-handed on the cream: I substituted milk, and it was just perfect. On its own, this soup is tasty; adding a swirl of pesto (a rebar recommendation) brought the soup to a whole new level of deliciousness!

Cream of Broccoli and Spinach Soup

(6 servings)


6 cups vegetable stock

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon thyme

1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon red chile flakes

1 large potato, peeled and diced

4 broccoli stalks and florets, chopped

½ pound baby spinach

1 cup milk/cream

½ teaspoon cracked pepper

Garnish with almond-Romano parsley pesto



In a large saucepan, sauté oil, onion, garlic, and thyme until onions are transluscent.  Stir in salt, chile flakes, potato, and broccoli and cook until tender.  Add stock to vegetables and bring to a boil; allow to simmer, partially covered until the broccoli and potatoes are tenders, about 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in spinach.  Once the spinach is wilted, puree the soup until smooth.  Reheat the puree, add the milk, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Delicious on its own, or swirl in a few teaspoons of almond-Romano parsley pesto.

–       Catherine

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In the strictest sense, a pesto is anything that is made using a pestle via pounding and crushing.   Fresh pesto alla genovese, made with fragrant basil leaves, delicious pine nuts, and salty Parmigiano cheese, is one of my absolutely favourite foods.  In August, when basil is at its finest, I will often make enough pesto to satisfy my family’s pesto cravings for a year.  We freeze it in icecube trays or small Tupperware, and it stays reasonably fresh in the freezer for up to 12 months (still far far tastier than any store bought you can find). Except this year, it is March and I’ve already run out – a true sacrilege!

Basil in March comes in teeny tiny impossible to see containers (at least in Halifax), so I decided today was the day to experiment and learn about an alternative pesto.  Inspired by the cookbook rebar, I mixed basil with Italian parsley, roasted almonds, and Romano cheese.

The result surprised me – slightly milder than pesto alla genonese, but full of flavour and tasting of summer.  Perfect with a sliced tomato, tossed with pasta, or stirred into a soup!

Almond-Romano Parsley Pesto

(About 1 ½ cups)


½ bunch Italian parsley

2 cups basil leaves

½ cup roasted almonds

2 garlic cloves

½ cup grated Romano cheese

1/3 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste


Place all the ingredients save the oil in a food processor.  Pulse until to combine.  In a thin stream, gradually pour in the oil.  Combine until smooth.

–       Catherine

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You'll devour the pine nut crunch topping!

A mon avis, nothing is more gratifying that to come home and discover your next month’s Bon Appetit monthly subscription is waiting for you.  The next two hours of your life will likely be spent oohing and aahing over the lovely delicious looking food.  This month’s feature was “remarkably sumptuous baked pastas” – and I decided to try one of the vegetarian fares.

My vegetarian adventures this month have taught me that I need to sneak in protein and iron wherever I can in my food.  Basil it turns out has a remarkable amount of iron (3.2 mg/100 grams of basil, just over 25% of your RDA) and pine nuts are full of protein (plus they are amazingly tasty).  The eggplant gives the dish subsetance, perfect for those of learning to live in a meatless world.  This dish – full of cheese, basil, and eggplant – certainly did the trick of delicious and nutritious.

The pasta recipe was a little more finicky that I am used to – nothing challenging, per se, but with a surprising number of components.   It is also incredibly creamy – the first few bites I had were overwhelming (I confess to rarely eating a rose sauce made with whipping cream), but by the end of my first bowl, I was lapping up every last drop.  The winning part of the dish is the topping: the pine nut crunch and mozzarella combo is superb.

Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch

(12 servings)


Roasted Veggies

Olive Oil

1 unpeeled large egglplant, cut into ½ inch cubes (I actually used 3 chinese eggaplants because my grocery store was out of North American eggplant)

2 medium bell peppers, cut into ½ inch squares

2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt and pepper

Pine Nut Crunch:

1 cup fimly packed fresh basil leaves

½ cup Parmesan cheese,

¼ cup pine nutes

1 garlic clove

Pasta Sauce:

1 pound rigatoni

1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves

1 garlic clove

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound mozzarella cheese, grated

½ cup Parmesan cheese


Preheat over to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss veggies to roast with oil and salt and pepper.  Roast vegetables until tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until tender, but still firm to bite stirring occasionally.  Drain and return to pot.

In a food processor combine all ingredients to make pine nut crunch.  Blend until crumbly and set aside.

Create rose sauce by blending tomatoes, cream, basil, and garlic until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.

Mix roasted veggies with sauce, Parmesan cheese, and pasta in pot.  Transfer to 13x9x2inch baking dish.  Sprinkle with pine nut topping followed by mozzarella.  Bake pasta until heated through, 25 to 35 minutes, and topping is brown and bubbly.  Let stand 10 minutes and serve!

– Catherine

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