Kale and Red Pepper Pesto with Pasta (and a fried egg)

I am new to the world of pesto.  Before I started eating vegetarian meals regularly, I felt that ingredients like olive oil, Parmesan cheese and walnuts were too expensive to stock as part of my regular pantry.  I realize now that I spent a lot of money on meat, and ate a lot of meat.  We have more money now to spend on these basics which make our meals tasty while still quite cheap.  I buy all of these ingredients in bulk at my local Sam’s Club, and use them in small quantities to make many meals.

I make this pesto in the fall when my garden is overflowing with kale (which is extremely! easy to grow.)  I freeze it, and it makes a super easy and quick meal when I am too tired to cook.  The bright yellow of an egg yolk flowing over the green pasta is not only beautiful, it is definitely the finishing touch that makes the meal.  Hope you enjoy it!

Kale and Red Pepper Pesto with Pasta (and a fried egg)

Serves 4-6

For the pesto:

1 bunch kale, washed, torn and tough stems removed

1 large red bell pepper

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup walnuts

1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

Wash the red bell pepper, cut it in half and remove stem.  Place under hot broiler for 7 to 10 minutes until skin blisters and turns black.  Remove to plate to cool.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put walnuts on cookie sheet and toast in oven for about 8 minutes.  Watch carefully so they toast but do not burn.  Try not to eat all of them before you put them in the pesto — toasted walnuts are wonderful.  They also burn your tongue!

Use blender or food processor to puree all ingredients together to make a thick sauce.

Meanwhile, cook 1 pound of pasta (any shape, I like spaghetti myself) in a large pot of salted boiling water until done according to package directions.  We use whole wheat pasta, and it takes a little longer to  cook.  When the pasta is nearly done, scoop out about 1/2 cup of the cooking water to thin the sauce if necessary, and then drain the pasta.

Toss the hot pasta with the sauce and as much of the cooking water as needed to thoroughly coat the pasta with the sauce.  Set aside while you fry eggs.

Fry one or two eggs in butter to top each serving of pasta.  In a bowl or on a plate, dish a serving of pasta, top with a fried egg, and sprinkle with a little extra Parmesan.

This makes an easy gourmet meal, especially with a side of homemade focaccia bread.

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Chilaquiles Verdes — Comfort food for a long day

Chilaquiles are an interesting Mexican comfort food first introduced to me from Rick Bayless’ wonderful Mexican cookbooks.  Later, I have tried these in homes of Hispanic friends and in restaurants.  I have eaten them for breakfast, lunch and dinner and they are wonderful.  They are one of those last minute, easy recipes that taste great, are filling and best of all CHEAP!  There are two different styles, red and green.  Red chilaquiles are usually made with what an American would call an enchilada sauce made from dried chiles pasillas or chiles negros.  But  we often turn to the green chilaquiles at our house because we roast and freeze lots of tomatillos in the fall from my mother’s garden.

 

Chilaquiles Verde

Serves 6

 

Chilaquile sauce

Ingredients

12 large tomatillos

1 jalepeno or to taste

2 – 3 cloves garlic

½ bunch cilantro

1 small onion, chopped

2 Tblsp. Olive oil or lard

Salt

 

To serve

12 corn tortillas

Up to 12 eggs

Sour cream

Queso Fresco

Hot sauce of your choice

 

Begin by washing the tomatillos and stripping off their papery husks.  Place on a broiler pan with the jalepeno, stem removed, and broil under high heat until they begin to turn brown, blister and burst on the pan.  Remove to a blender with the garlic, cilantro, and enough water to allow it to blend smoothly.

 

When the tomatillos are smooth, heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the onions and sauté until the onions are soft.  Turn the heat up to medium high, and just before the oil begins to smoke, grab the lid of the pan, dump in the tomatillo sauce and quickly cover.  Then allow this sauce to fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add 4 cups water and salt to taste.  Turn the heat to low and allow to simmer while you fry tortillas and eggs.  The sauce can be made and frozen or refrigerated, then reheated while you make the rest of this dish.

 

To serve:

Cut approximately 12 corn tortillas in quarters and fry in vegetable oil to make crispy tortilla chips.  Store bought tostadas can be substituted in a pinch, but will begin soggy much more quickly, affecting the texture of the finished dish.

Fry an egg or two for each dish.  If you have the free range, organic kind, the beautiful orange yolk is going to look wonderful on your green sauce!

 

When the tortillas are fried, put them in the large skillet with the sauce and stir to coat.  Serve onto a plate.  Top with the fried egg, some sour cream, and a little queso fresco and hot salsa if you enjoy it.

 

ENJOY!