Tag Archives: pesto

Dinner diary: Black bean and freekeh bowl with vegetables

I mentioned a few posts back that I’m “in training” for my first half marathon. While I’m not doing a crazy high mileage training schedule, I am now having a couple of evenings each week dominated by running. So, no time to cook, but a definite need to do some post-workout recovery eating.

My latest solution to this challenge is to prep ingredients for some kind of dinner bowls on the weekends for reheating and assembly during the week. When a running evening rolls around, it’s just a matter of how fast I get myself through the shower before sitting down to eat. Since we’re in the middle of a drought, the shower part is fast 🙂

This particular bowl was inspired by the beautiful bibimbap bowls you can get at most (okay, probably all) Korean restaurants. My take uses a mix of freekeh, black beans, and sauteed cabbage as the base, which I realize is not at all the same as the usual base of rice. An array of vegetable toppings rounds out the upper layer of the bowl. I like to get in a few different colors and a mix of cooked and raw vegetables to keep things interesting: zucchini and eggplant stir-fried with ginger, garlic, and tamari; blanched broccoli, a little raw carrot, and a few bean sprouts. For some extra protein, I also added a a sliced up egg pancake, but you could also use tempeh or a few fried tofu cubes for vegan alternatives. A handful of scallion slices, a sprinkling of black sesame seeds, and a nice dollop of my thai basil sauce finish things off and makes it all look (and in the cast of the pesto, taste) a little less “I threw this together while wearing a towel” and a little more “this is a legitimately awesome dinner, thank you”.

Shredded zucchini salad

Zucchini noodles. Soooo two thousand…well, something. Back whenever zucchini noodles first burst onto the scene, I was pretty excited about the concept. However, there was a drawback: I didn’t own a spiralizer. Still don’t. Fortunately, I do own a food processor. Enter my take on the zoodle, shredded zucchini, which can be easily made using the grater blade, and is a perfect base for showing off a delicious homemade pesto sauce. Just toss the shredded zucchini in sauce, then add cherry tomatoes and a bit of fresh basil for garnish. Every bit is pure summer. Enjoy as a starter or side, or bulk it up into a meal for one with the addition of one of my favorite (perhaps to the point of near overuse?) add-ins, chickpeas.

Shredded zucchini salad
serves 1-2

Ingredients
2 small zucchini, ends trimmed and shredded using a box grater or the grater blade on a food processor
2 tbsp classic pesto sauce
3 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
1 c. chickpeas (optional)
3-4 fresh basil leaves, finely sliced, plus additional leaves for garnish
salt, to taste

Method

Mix together the shredded zucchini and pesto until thoroughly combined. Add cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and chickpeas (if using). Garnish with additional basil leaves.

Two pestos

Do you remember how I was growing tomatoes on my patio last year? Probably not. No problem, just know that there were tomatoes, and that they were wonderful, but a little crowded in their pots. This year, M. and I decided that we wanted to do tomatoes again, but that a pot upgrade would be needed. Which left me with four formerly tomato-ed pots to put to good use. I decided it was high time to start an herb garden:

Just a small one. Some arugula (not an herb, I know), and two kinds of basil. One a standard sweet basil, the other a fragrant and purple tinged Thai variety. Both plants have been going crazy since I transplanted them into the pots (which I filled with my first batch of finished compost!). I’ve been plucking off a few leaves here and there for salads, omelets, or garnishes, but recently I realized that my plants were in need of a serious harvest. So I got picking:

Then I got down to the business of making pesto. Since I had two kinds of basil, two kinds of pesto! The first is a classic Italian style, made with sweet basil and walnuts (in lieu of pine nuts, which have gotten way too pricey in recent years. Sorry, pine nuts). The second is a bit of a sacrilege: I took the concept of pesto, but gave it an Asian twist, using Thai basil, peanuts, sesame oil, and a touch of tamari.

Right now my favorite way of using pesto is to dollop a spoonful onto one of the vegetable+legume+grain bowls I’ve been eating for dinner most nights. I’ve also been using the classic pesto as a dressing for sauteed green beans and tomatoes, and either recipe is an easy way to upgrade most grilled or sauteed vegetables to a stellar side dish. And if you need more ideas, I’ll be sharing a few recipes that make use of these pestos later this week.

Two pestos
Each recipe makes between 1/2 and 3/4 c.

Classic Pesto
1 oz sweet basil leaves (about 1.5 oz with stems)
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. walnut pieces
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

Thai peanut pesto
1 oz thai basil leaves (about 1.5 oz with stems)
1/4 c. sesame oil
1/4 c. roasted salted peanuts
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

Method

Place all ingredients in a food processor fitted with the metal S-blade. Process for 30 seconds, scrape down the sides, and process for another 10 seconds or so. If a thinner pesto is desired, add more oil, 1-2 tbsp at a time.

Pesto can be frozen, or will keep for up to a week in the fridge.