Be still, my heart...
Pesto—ground-up basil leaves, pine nuts, grated cheese, and olive oil—is a standby summer favorite that passes well into fall. The slightly tart, satisfying spread easily dresses up everything from pasta to vegetables to salad in a way that will please even the pickiest eaters in your household. It freezes fabulously, so stock up this fall and enjoy it year-round! And when you inevitably find yourself up to your overalls in plenteous greens by the end of the summer, it’s a great way to use up all of that extra basil.
While it’s simple to make and freeze your own pesto (add marble mortar and wooden pestle to ingredients listed above), this recipe uses ready-made. Look for it at your local farmers market.
Prep time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
– 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
– 1 cup warm water
– 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
– 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 envelope active dry yeast
– Polenta (for dusting)
– Butter (for coating)
– 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
– A small bowl of flour, for coating
– Pepper, salt, and garlic powder for coating
– Extra virgin olive oil for sautéing
– A 5.5 oz ball of mozzarella cheese, grated
– 1 ½ cups pesto
– 1 egg yolk
– Garlic powder
- Start with the pizza dough. Put the warm water in a small bowl and stir in the yeast and sugar. Let stand for about 5 minutes, or until it begins to bubble.
- Combine 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour in a large bowl with oil. Stir in the yeast mixture (Step 1) until the dough becomes stiff. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until you have an elastic, smooth ball.
- Coat the inside of another large bowl with butter, and run the ball of dough inside the bowl until its entire surfaced has been buttered. Leave the dough in the bowl, cover with a dishtowel, and let sit in a warm place for 30 minutes. (Dough should double in bulk.) Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425º Farenheit.
- While the dough is sitting, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Combine a dash each of salt, pepper, and garlic powder (or more to taste) with a small bowl of flour. When the oil is hot, roll each bite-size piece of chicken in the flour mixture until it’s coated, and sauté in the olive oil until the chicken is golden brown.
- After the dough has doubled, punch it down on a floured surface and shape it to fit a pizza pan or cookie sheet that has been sprinkled with polenta. Use a rolling pin if you’d like, and then roll the edges inward about an inch and a half to create a manageable crust.
I can't do this yet, but a girl can dream.
- Spread the pesto evenly on the dough, sprinkle with grated mozzarella cheese, and top with chicken.
- In a small bowl, combine one egg yolk with a dash of garlic powder, and brush this mixture on the remaining crust.
- Bake for 15 – 20 minutes at 425º Farenheit.
Filed under General, Recipes
My friend Steve and I met while working at Tower Theaters in South Hadley, MA, about four years ago, when I was still at Mount Holyoke. Although he was my manager, the two of us quickly became the fastest of friends, and he’s one of the people closest to me in the world, even though he’s currently in New York City and I in Boston. Steve is a fabulously talented musician and equally an adroit writer. We share a number of “traditions” to keep in touch, including a yearly pilgrimage to see the Nutcracker with our respective girlfriends. The four of us more often end up doing something centered around food; whether it’s lunch at Fitzwilly’s in Northampton, or cooking for each other. This is my favorite recipe of Steve’s. Called “Araby” after the short story by James Joyce, published in Dubliners, this cheesy tortellini-and-chicken dish is filling, and will warm you to the core! In Steve’s own words:
You need: 1 pound of boneless chicken breast
3 tbsp of flour
1 cup of Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
A whole bulb of garlic
1/2 pint of heavy cream (there’s a big one, a small one, and one in the middle…you want the middle-sized one)
A bag of microwaveable peas [They don’t have to be microwaveable, but it’s easier. Look for flash-frozen organic peas. – Hannah]
2 bags of cheese tortellini
Cook the chicken first in a large pan. Start by cutting up the chicken into bite sized pieces. Place the chicken into a large tupperware container with a lid (don’t put the lid on yet). Add 1 cup of flour, pepper, and salt to taste, and garlic powder to taste (more is usually better!) Put the lid on the tupperware and shake it like a Polaroid picture. You may have to remove the cover and mix the chicken and the flour by hand until all the chicken is coated in the mix.
Next, and this will take a long time, separate all the cloves of garlic from the bulb, strip them, and mince them. Yes, all of them. [It won’t take so very long if you use this. I swear by it. – Hannah]
Over medium heat, heat the pan and then add the olive oil. Once or twice around the pan is usually good. Add the garlic first, careful not to burn it. After about a minute or two, add the chicken. Cook the chicken until it is lightly golden on all sides and is cooked all the way through. Remove from heat and set aside. Maybe cover with a lid or tin foil so it stays hot, and remember, meat keeps cooking even after you remove it from heat.
Next, boil a large pot of water. Since the pasta takes about 5 minutes, you can wait to do this and the peas at the last minute.
While the water is boiling take another large pot…I mean, big…the bigger the surface area the better. Heat up the pot and add the heavy cream. With a whisk, stir the cream. You want to keep it from bubbling up too much. After a long long time of stirring the cream will start to appear translucent in places — you’ll see little holes, almost. Remove from heat.
If you haven’t already, microwave your peas and add your pasta. In the interim, add the cup of cheese to the cream slowly and whisk in. Add more pepper and garlic powder to taste.
When the pasta is done, strain it, open the bag of peas and mix everything together.
Filed under General, Recipes