Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ancient Grains

I'll admit, I was heavily influenced by Heidi Swanson's recent post. That, combined with my latest personal challenge to use what's on hand, produced a marvelous lunch along with leftovers for today. I've been experimenting with different grains. We all have a tendency to reach for rice when we think of grains. I love the many varieties of Lundberg Farms rices and using jasmine or basmati rice offers some nice variety, too. But there's more to grains than rice and there are many more grains with far more interesting textures and flavors as well as more nutritional value than rice.

Quinoa, is not really a grain. It's actually the botanical fruit of an herb plant that is treated like a grain. Grown in the Andes Mountains of South America, this ancient grain, known as the mother grain, has survived throughout the ages and has now become known as the Superfood of the Future.

I was first introduced to quinoa (keen-wah) by Steve at Rancho Gordo. I followed the simple cooking instructions provided and was delighted with the results. I later found an interesting recipe in the NY Times for quinoa with caramelized onions and have made that several times.

With yesterday's batch, instead of cooking it in water, one cup liquid to a half cup quinoa, I used vegetable stock that I'd made the day before. While the quinoa cooked, I sautéed half a vidalia onion, cut in wedges, a good sized jalepeño chili, sliced lengthwise with seeds removed, and a handful of broccoli florets.

Meanwhile, I had some diced butternut squash roasting in a 425° oven, just lightly coated in olive oil and a dash of tamari. When all components were ready, I followed Heidi's example and filled a bowl with the goodies. To give the dish a hint of Thai flavoring, I used an embellishment of freshly chopped cilantro and a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice over the quinoa along with some salt and pepper.

Be adventurous. Try something new. It's a stretch to call quinoa new. This is a food staple that's been around over 5,000 years. But it is new to many of us North Americans.

Till next time . . . keep on cooking.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sunday Lunch

Ah, well even the best of us fall by the way occasionally and indulge in a little taste of the foods we've come to relish over the years, despite knowing that they are not good for us. I could do a kitchen confession and avow I am heartily sorry for exposing my body to the horrors that make up those little tasty slices of pepperoni. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa.

In the spirit of all things in moderation, I gave in to the impulse to add a few slices of those nitrate treated, chemically endowed, dead pieces of questionable pig parts. Had it not been temptingly sitting on my freezer shelf, this whole paragraph would never have come into existence. Confirms my belief, if you don't buy it; you won't eat it! Now that I've offered a ridiculous apology for adorning my otherwise whole food pizza with eight slices of pepperoni, let me tell you, it was WONDERFUL!

Having ready to use balls of dough in the freezer, makes having pizza on demand a reality. I used the King Arthur Light As Air pizza dough recipe, using white whole wheat flour. The recipe makes one large or two personal size pies.

I've learned to keep on hand a supply of Muir Glenn organic fire roasted diced tomatoes, as the dough came to room temperature (I'd defrosted it in the fridge overnight) I cooked down the tomatoes with a generous helping of Mexican oregano, salt and pepper. Oftentimes, I mince up a shallot or a couple of garlic cloves, but this was just tomatoes. I used the immersion blender to break down the tomatoes after they'd cooked down a bit and then to be sure I didn't have a soggy crust, I spooned the tomatoes into a strainer just before transferring them to the rolled out crust which I had brushed with a light coating of olive oil. The oil acts as a protective moisture barrier, keeping the thin crust crisp.

I find that pre-heating the oven and pizza stone at 500° for a good 45 minutes to an hour prior to baking really helps to get a crisp crust on the pie. After covering the crust with the tomatoes, I added a generous layer of freshly grated mozzarella cheese, and then the slices of pepperoni. When placing the pie in the oven, lower the temperature to 450°. Depending on the oven, the size of the pie and how brown you want it, cook for 15 - 18 minutes. Keep an eye on it after 12 minutes or so. The fresh basil was added just before cutting. If you're so inclined, you might like to add a generous sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes and a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It's fine without; better with!
With a little planning and a bit of practice, you can enjoy great pizza at home when the mood strikes.
Till next time . . . keep on cooking.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Busy Days Ahead
Today marks the beginning of our annual PlayFest. Ten days of exciting play readings and workshops at the Harriet Lake Festival of New Plays, Orlando Shakespeare Theater project. Each year Playfest has become more streamlined, offering exciting works in development by both aspiring new writers and prize winning, established playwrights.

I've made my choices, purchased my tickets, and have also done some menu planning to allow me to run home, feed and walk the dog, grab a bite to eat, wash up and head back for the next round of plays. Fast food doesn't have to be a cold cut sandwich or a heated, prepared frozen entrée courtesy of Swanson, Banquet or even, the illustrious red boxed, Stouffer's.

I love Mexican food, especially refried beans and salsa. Having a supply of both on hand, along with some good tortillas and a bag of fresh corn chips promises a choice of taco, tostada, burrito or just bean dip with chips. Fast, easy and healthy.

I've found that canned refried beans resemble and probably taste like Ken-L-Ration. Can't vouch for the taste as I've never indulged in any canned dog food. Nor, for that matter, has my dog. I'll admit, it takes a little planning and requires a little time to cook dried beans. Even using canned pinto beans as a starting point for making refried beans is a notch up from buying canned refried beans. At least the only ingredient, we hope, read the label, is beans. No chemicals, lard or hydrogenated oil, etc. Especially, please, no MSG.

I used a cup of Santa Maria Pinquitos from Rancho Gordo. These fresh, heirloom beans require a much shorter soaking and cooking time. Remember, the older the bean the longer it takes to cook. So buy your dried beans from a reliable purveyor who moves a lot of beans.

I cooked the beans until just tender, in filtered water, keeping the water level just over the top of the beans in the pot by adding additional boiling water as they cooked. Don't add cold water as it stops the cooking and don't use hot water from the tap - yuk, all those nasties from the hot water tank do not add minerals to the dish! And don't add salt until the beans are tender, that prolongs the cooking time. If you use canned beans, rinse the glop off them before proceeding and plan to use a half cup of vegetable broth or chicken broth as you proceed. You won't have delicious pot liquor, the bonus derived from starting with dried beans.

Here's a tostada made with a pan crisped corn tortilla, refried beans, grated Monterrey/Jack cheese and a spicy roasted salsa.

For the Salsa: 3 medium jalapeño chilis, halved, seeds and ribs removed; about 8 plum tomatoes, cored and halved; a medium yellow onion, cut into wedges; 2 cloves of garlic, peeled; 1 TBS tomato paste; 3 TBS olive oil; 1/2 tsp ground cumin; 1/4 tsp cayenne; salt and pepper; 3 TBS fresh minced cilantro leaves; juice from 1 or 2 limes.

Preheat oven to 375°, adjust rack to middle position. Combine tomatoes, onion, chilis, garlic, 1 tsp salt, cumin and cayenne. toss to mix thoroughly. Place vegetables cut side down on rimmed baking sheet. (cover w/ foil for ease of clean-up). Roast until tomatoes are tender and skins begin to shrivel and brown. 30 - 40 min. Cool on baking sheet. Using tongs, transfer roasted vegetables except tomatoes to bowl of food processor. Process until almost completely broken down then add tomatoes and add the tomato paste. Process until slightly chunky about 10 seconds. Add minced cilantro and lime juice. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Store covered in refrigerator.

For the Beans: If using dried beans follow above instructions. Use pot liquor for liquid in place of broth. Makes 3 cups. 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth; 2 cans pinto beans (15 oz), drained and rinsed; 1 TBS olive oil; 1 small onion; 1 jalepeño chile, seeds and ribs removed, minced; 1 poblano chili, seeds and ribs removed, chile chopped finely; 1/4 tsp salt; 1 tsp ground cumin; 1 TBS minced fresh cilantro leaves.

Process broth and beans in food processor until smooth, scraping sides of bowl. Heat oil in 12 inch non-stick skillet over medium high heat, add onion, chiles and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown. Add garlic and cumin, stir until fragrant then add beans and stir until thoroughly combined. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are thick and creamy (about 5 min). If too thick, add more water/broth, a little at a time until they reach desired consistency. When done, stir in cilantro. Process for beans and salsa adapted courtesy of America's Test Kitchen.

The beans make wonderful burritos, wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla with salsa and cheese. Or layer into an ovenproof dish, cover with grated cheese and a thin layer of enchilada sauce, bake off at 350° for 15 - 20 minutes and serve with fresh, crisp corn chips for the best bean dip ever. The salsa is super with chips or use it as the sauce for Huevos Rancheros. Heat the salsa in a 12" skillet, make four wells in the sauce, and crack an egg into each well, cover and cook over medium heat until eggs are set. Serve on crisp oven baked corn tortillas with some refried beans on the side. Going Tex-Mex is easy and fun.

Simple foods providing good eats! No chemicals, additives or preservatives.

Till next time . . . keep on cooking.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Portion Control

Roasted carrots & butternut squash w/ onions, broccoli and blackened Tilapia.

It's not enough to just eat whole foods with minimal processing. As Americans, living in the land of plenty, we eat way too much food. Just look at that plateful above. Enough to feed two people easily, but guess what? I managed to lick the platter clean with no effort at all. This is another of my favorite fast slow food meals that I so heavily relied on when I was a full time hard working productive member of society. Putting a wholesome meal on the table in 30 minutes or less is something that anyone can produce with a little foresight, a little planning and a little bit of practice.

The meal pictured above was plated and being eaten in less than 15 minutes from start to finish. That's because the butternut squash and carrots were leftovers from a previous meal (cheat a little - it never hurts). Previously, the diced veggies were tossed in a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted off, in a single layer, in a 425° oven for about 25 minutes. Reheating for a couple of minutes in the microwave made them good as new. The broccoli was done in the one pot steam/sauté method* with a sprinkling of crushed red pepper and the blackened fish was gently sautéed in a little olive oil/butter combination for 3 minutes per side. Once finished, a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the fillets finished it off nicely. I used Penzey's Adobo seasoning for the fish. This is a great spice mixture to have on hand, rich but not hot and a great flavor booster for chicken, roasts, fish, veggies—use your imagination. The combination of onion, garlic, Tellicherry black pepper, Mexican oregano, cumin and cayenne pepper will enhance almost any savory dish.

Even though I no longer participate in the great rat race and don't come flagging in the door, starved, weary, aggravated from the traffic, I still enjoy putting a good meal on the table quickly so I can get on with my evening. We owe it to ourselves to eat well for enjoyment but more importantly to maintain our health. Whole foods fast is the way to go.

* Steam/sauté in one pot. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan, add broccoli florets and cook over medium heat for 4 - 5 min, add a 1/4 cup of water. Cover the pot, allow to steam for another 2 -3 minutes or until bright green and just tender. Remove lid, let water evaporate or drain. Add salt, pepper and crushed red pepper to taste.

Till next time . . . keep on cooking.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Rose By Any Other Name?

Heavens! All the furor over the word scrotum! The book police are at it again.

When librarians are mixed into the fold, and in some cases leading the pack, makes one wonder who'll be left to protect our intellectual freedom.
History shows us that banning books is one of the first steps taken to limit freedom and control a populace.
Newbery Award winner, The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron is under attack for using the word scrotum to describe the appropriate male body part on a dog. The uproar appears to be that the word has no place in children's literature. Nuts, I say to that.

Recently, here in Florida, there was a great "much ado about nothing" over the theater marquee that announced the run of The Vagina Monologues, forcing the theater to change the marquee to read: The Hoohaa Monologues.
I certainly say HooHaa to that, and so did the courts. It seems a woman driving by with her young niece was faced with the unfortunate task of explaining to the child what a vagina is.
Imagine the child's surprise to find her hoohaa had another name. HooHaa, ha!

Another example of American Facists fast at work.

Friday, February 16, 2007

To roll or not to roll? That's the question.
With a small, firm head of cabbage, I faced the dilemma of futzing with small leaves to wrap around a fragrant Japonica rice filling. Then decided that a cabbage and rice casserole might be just the trick to produce the taste of stuffed cabbages without the labor intensive task of removing each leaf, then filling it and rolling it. After removing the tough outer leaves, cut the cabbage in half through the stem end and remove the tough stem, though with a tiny cabbage, there isn't a lot of stem to remove. Slice the halves in generous one inch slices, place in a microwaveable bowl with a sprinkling of water and give it 5 minutes in the microwave to just barely soften the leaves.

Meanwhile start a cup of Lundberg's Japonica rice (that great full flavored mahogany and black combination) with 1-1/2 cups of water, 1 TBS of butter and a tsp of salt. In a separate pan sauté a simple mirapoix in olive oil, one carrot, one medium yellow onion, one stalk of celery, diced. I added a clove of garlic minced, and because I had it in the vegetable bin, a diced jalepeño pepper. Just a note about seasoning: I like to season in layers as I go rather than adding it all at the end. A light 1/4 tsp of kosher salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper added after each addition of the mirapoix ingredients produces a more evenly seasoned dish. But season to your taste, not mine. After the vegetables have softened (add a few drops of water if necessary, rather than more oil) add a 15 oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes and 1 TBS of spicy sauce. I use the term 'spicy sauce' as there's no need to run out and buy Pickapeppa, which is what I used. Any good steak sauce, like A1 or A1 Bold, will give the mixture a kick and if you leave it out, it will still be fine.

When the rice is cooked, about 40 minutes, it will have a nutty taste and chewy texture, some might even mistake it for meat, add the tomato/veggie mixture and combine thoroughly. Taste for seasoning. Layer the cabbage slices and the rice in an ovenproof casserole. Cover the bottom with a single layer of cabbage, follow with a generous layer of the rice mixture, cover the rice with another single layer of cabbage slices and if there is rice left over, dollop it over the top.

There was a little water in the bottom of the cabbage dish, I poured that right in over the top before covering with foil and placing in a preheated 350° oven for about 45 minutes or until the cabbage was cooked but still green and hadn't completely wilted away.

A small can of tomato sauce heated with 1 TBS of brown sugar and 2 TBS or rice wine vinegar makes a nice serving sauce or the sauce can be added to the casserole before placing in the oven or don't use any sauce— this is a very forgiving dish.
Prep time runs about 30 minutes and cooking time close to an hour. It's not as fast as some of my suggestions, but once made, it provides more than one meal if you're cooking for one or two. Serve the leftovers in some chicken broth for a fast soup. Or use as a side dish with a meat entrée later in the week. Or just reheat it and eat it as is!

Till next time . . .keep on cooking!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Who Says Man Cannot Live By Bread Alone?

While Dr. You-Know-Who was encouraging millions of folks to chow down on flesh and fat, some of us were still eating as our forefathers had. With produce from the garden, or at least from the produce market, grains and legumes. Now that obesity and obesity related illnesses are reaching epidemic proportions, we're being advised that all that flesh and fat, especially the hydrogenated fats, were not so good for us after all.

Those of us who clung to the whole foods, cook-it-like-grandma-did route, may have the last laugh. While it's true, man cannot live healthily by bread alone, whole grain breads sure can play a big part in the nutritional picture, as well as being a popular palette pleaser. Bread making, or any yeasted dough process, intimidates many cooks. But simple doughs are easy for a novice to work with and produce fine results .

The first yeasted dough recipe I worked with came from Jeff Smith, The Frugal Gourmet. I've used the same recipe for both pizza dough and focaccia for years with excellent results. Bread is simply flour, water, yeast and salt. Sometimes with the addition of oil or butter. The focaccia pictured above was made with 3 1/3 cups whole wheat flour, 1 package instant yeast, 1 cup warm water (105° - 115°), 5 TBS olive oil and 1 tsp salt. The same dough can be made with unbleached all purpose flour for a white loaf or combine all purpose with whole wheat for a lighter loaf that still has some whole wheat in it for nourishment and flavor. If using just all purpose flour, the dough may require up to 4 cups to hold together nicely.
Once the dough is mixed and kneaded, (I let my Kitchen Aid standing mixer do this part) place in a lightly greased bowl, cover and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place. When the dough has doubled in size, punch down, shape into a flat focaccia, or roll into a baguette. Allow to rise again, then bake at 400° for 30 minutes. I like to make finger holes in the top of the dough, then brush it with olive oil and sprinkle on a generous dusting of kosher salt and crushed, dried rosemary. If using the dough for pizza, it's ready after the first rise. Divide the dough in two, form into balls and roll out for a 10" crust. Or place the dough balls individually into zip lock bags and freeze for future use. Baking in stoneware is excellent for producing a crusty loaf. Baking pizza on a pre-heated pizza stone ensures a crisp crust, too.

Since neither man nor I can live by bread alone, I added a little protein and a bit of fruit to accompany the warm bread when it emerged from the oven. I recently picked up a fast and easy treatment of Thai Chicken Satay with peanut sauce from the Dining section of the New York Times and decided to put it to the test. While this simple cooking technique may lack great grilled flavor, it also eliminates the carcinogens produced by grilling food. The Times article called for a cooked chicken breast, I had some lightly sautéed chicken tenders on hand, they worked perfectly. I sliced them in half lengthwise to make thinner planks.

For the Sauce: 1/4 cup natural peanut butter (smooth or crunchy); 2 TBS sesame oil; 1 TBS Tamari or soy sauce; 1 TBS honey; 1 tsp milk.
For the Satay: 1 cooked chicken breast; 1 TBS Tamari or soy sauce; 2 TBS honey; 1 tsp sesame seeds (optional).

For the Sauce:mix peanut butter, sesame oil, tamari, honey and milk in a small microwaveable bowl. Microwave until thoroughly heated, about 30 seconds (be careful not to overcook), then mix until smooth.

For the Satay:cut chicken into 1" thick strips. Mix tamari and honey in small bowl. Coat chicken with mixture, discard any excess. Microwave for 15 -20 seconds. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired, serve with peanut sauce.

Well, wasn't that fast and easy? You don't have to bake a focaccia to enjoy the Chicken Satay. But giving your own baked bread a whirl is rewarding and you might just find that working with yeast dough is a technique you'd like to perfect. I'm still working at it.

Till next time . . . keep on cooking!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Oatmeal Anyone?
By now we're all familiar with the word that oatmeal is a great food to include in our diets but not everyone is ready for a bowl of mush. Here's a great way to include fiber in our diet and satisfy our sweet tooth at the same time. Quick and easy to make, oatmeal cookies require no special culinary talent and no fancy ingredients. If you don't have an heirloom recipe that's been handed down from your grandmother, just follow the directions on an oatmeal box.

I normally add raisins and walnuts to oatmeal cookies but today I used 1/2 cup of mixed candied dried fruit and 1/2 cup of chopped pecans. One of the tricks to producing a chewy cookie as opposed to a crisp cookie is to not over bake it. After 10 minutes in a 350° oven, I start watching carefully. The cookies should be brown around the edges but not quite set in the center. They'll firm up as they cool and the result is a toothsome tidbit.

Allowing the cookies to cool completely on a cooling rack before storing them in an airtight container will assure they stay fresh and chewy for days. If they last that long. Try it — baking's not only fun, homemade sweets are the best!

I like to bake on Saturday mornings as I listen to favorite programs on public radio. It's both relaxing and productive. I end up with goodies to eat and don't miss a beat of "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" or "The Arts Connection" or I bake right after lunch and listen to Ira Glass and "This American Life".

The Cookies

I use 3/4 cup of butter not vegetable shortening (hydrogenated product) and I cut back on the amount of sugar called for in most recipes. One cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of white is enough, with 3 cups of oatmeal, one cup of flour, 1/2 tsp of baking soda, one tsp salt, one beaten egg, 1/2 cup of water, one tsp vanilla. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy, add the egg and water and mix well. Whisk together the oatmeal, flour, baking soda and a teaspoon of salt in a separate bowl and then add to the wet mixture. Once the dry ingredients have been incorporated, add 1/2 cup each of the extras of your choice. Chocolate chips, chopped nuts, raisins, dried cherries or apricots, coconut or combinations of any of these. Be adventurous; experiment. I cover the baking sheets with parchment paper and drop the dough by rounded tablespoons for large cookies; rounded teaspoons for smaller cookies. Don't overcrowd the cookie sheets - 3 across and 4 down seems to be good spacing for the big cookies. The large cookies take anywhere from 12 - 15 minutes at 350° or a little longer depending on the accuracy of the temperature in your oven. Watch them after 10 minutes to be on the safe side. Smaller cookies cook more quickly. Vigilance pays.

Till next time . . . keep on cooking.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

An Ode to Odds and Ends

I seem to be on a kick that combines the KISS approach (keep it simple, silly) with a frugal bent that includes lots of fresh vegetables. Last night I found a lovely large red bell pepper that had been lingering for almost a week in the fridge. Not a good thing. Then there were some blanched green beans in a plastic bag, left from the penne and pesto I made on Sunday. Hmmm. . . ideally, I should have whipped up a pot of polenta with cheese to accompany the melange of roasted veggies I tossed in the oven. But, instead, I opted for a familiar staple, a large russet potato.

I washed and sliced the red pepper along with a medium sized jalepeño and a medium yellow onion. I added the leftover blanched green beans and tossed this all, in an oven proof sauté pan, with a drizzling of olive oil, some salt and freshly ground pepper. The oven had been preheating to 475°. I scrubbed a large Idaho potato and gave it 5 minutes in the microwave on high while I was prepping the other vegetables. Then I moved everything into the oven for 15 minutes. When the timer rang, I checked the potato and gave the pepper mixture a good stir and added a sprinkling of tamari and a little rice wine vinegar then returned the pan to the oven for another 10 minutes. By then the potato was cooked, too.

I removed the tender flesh from the crisp skin, and roughly mashed it with a fork right in the serving dish, added some butter, salt and pepper and mounded it up in the center. I topped it with a dab of butter, a grating of Parmesan cheese and a little more freshly ground pepper. Then ladled on a generous helping of the roasted veggies, poured a glass of cabernet and voilá, another healthy, 30 minute meal that's a real palate pleaser and budget squeezer! Few ingredients, minimum preparation, no fancy techniques, just whole foods cooked simply.
The addition of the tamari and rice wine vinegar added a piquant edge to the mildly spicy vegetables that were slightly browned and caramelized from the roasting. Polenta, rice, lentils, quinoa, all would make a great companion for this easy roasted veggie dish. Carnivores can easily use this as a side dish for any meat entrée.

Till next time . . . keep on cooking.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Pasta Al Pesto with Cream and Green Beans

Give yourself a taste treat, lighten the load on your colon, free up some of the money you spend at the grocery store, and start planning a meal or two each week using pasta and vegetables. Here's another quick, lip-smacking dish that stands alone or if you insist, makes a wonderful side dish to accompany chicken or fish.
I mixed the penne pasta, half multi-grain, half durum wheat. Following my own advice: use what's on hand. This dish is equally good with any pasta shape you wish to use or whatever you happen to have in the pantry. The beans can be replaced with sliced yellow and/or zucchini squash, too. So many pastabilities!

Oftentimes, when thinking of Italian food, we think of red sauce. While the heavy tomato sauces, also known as gravies, are prevalent in the South of Italy, the Northern regions use only a touch of tomato. In Venice, for instance, you rarely see a red dish.
Pesto sauce is thought to have originated in Northern Italy. It's a quick, easy, very rich sauce that is simple to prepare in either a blender or food processor. But there is good quality prepared pesto available frozen in specialty stores. Check the label, watch for food additives. Pesto is made from fresh basil, olive oil, garlic, Parmesan cheese and pine nuts. That's it, anything else in the preparation is out of place. There are different varieties of pesto. The pine nuts can be replaced with walnuts for instance and the basil replaced with parsley. But pesto is simply herbs, nuts, oil, garlic and cheese. If you purchase pesto, read the label. But that's true for any processed foods that you buy.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil with salt. Parboil 1/4 lb of green beans, trimmed and cut in one inch pieces. (approximately 2 cups). Boil beans for about 2 - 3 minutes and then remove with a skimmer to a plate to cool. Add 3 cups of penne to the boiling salted water and cook until just al dente. Do not overcook. Pasta should be firm yet tender, not soggy and swollen.

While the pasta cooks, sauté a couple cloves of minced garlic in a little olive oil, then add the green beans and sauté until just tender - 5 minutes or so. Mix 1/3 cup pesto and 1/2 cup of half & half. Set aside. When pasta is cooked, drain well, return to pot and stir in pesto mixture and green beans. Toss all together, add salt and pepper to taste and serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Just a few green beans and a little pasta. My, oh my.
Till next time . . . keep on cooking.