Friday, June 24, 2011

Budding Herbs Take Shape

Day 348

The closest thing I have to a green thumb are my nails done in OPI Gargantuan Grape, and even that was used on my feet, not hands. (Anyone who knows me knows I'm completely terrified of trying bold colors on my nails, and even this light green on my feet was a step outside my comfort zone.) But I digress...

I just haven't been blessed with a horticultural gene. I suppose it's probably more that I've not been blessed with being patient. "Patience is a virtue, just not one of mine," I always say. So you can imagine my surprise when, about one month after planting a small indoor herb garden and tending to it daily with water and love, I noticed the cilantro is starting to take shape! It's also very apropos that this herb out of the five I planted chose to show its leaves first. (Those who know me also know that I am obsessed with Mexican food and cooking, so having fresh cilantro on hand for blending up a salsa or chopping a batch of guacamole is pretty much ideal.)

Hopefully the other green sprouts start to take on their own identities soon. I'm a little freaked out, though, since now I'm at the stage where I'm supposed to add plant food into the daily watering ritual. That might just be my herbs' demise. Just when I thought I was getting somewhere.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Time for Grill Pizza!

Day 346

To kick off summer yesterday, we busted out my favorite summer accessory. No, not my Jack Rogers or Havianas, although those are on the top of my list. I'm talking the grill! (Okay, in all honesty it's not the first time we've used it this year, but since yesterday was officially the first day of summer I felt I owed it a little shout-out.)

I can always eat pizza - always! I went to the market without a shopping list yesterday, simply driven by the idea of grill pizza for dinner. It's so easy, and you can throw on any toppings you want to create your own signature pizza. We went with two different combos.

On one, a salty prosciutto with sweet, caramelized onion finished off with chopped, fresh rosemary and shredded mozzarella. For a base sauce, I used my favorite standby, crushed San Marzano tomatoes dressed up with a little olive oil, salt and fresh garlic. I only remembered later when I was putting away leftovers that I also had arugula for this pizza, but totally forgot about it. Oh, well. It was still delicious.

Our second pizza was a twist on a basic Margherita. It had the traditional trio of toppings: tomatoes (I used Kumato), fresh mozzarella and basil; but I also added dollops of pesto because, well, I'm obsessed with pesto and will employ any excuse to eat it!

Grill = amazing
Pizza = delicious
Grill + pizza = amazingly delicious

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

On This First Day of Summer, One Last Taste of Spring

Day 345

I'm a magazine-page-ripper-outer. I have stacks of recipes, gift ideas, beauty tips and more filed around the house. Last month I was waiting for my haircut when I stumbled upon this recipe in Rachael Ray Everyday. Pasta Ribbons with Peas, Prosciutto, Cream and Spring Pesto. Even the name sounded like spring. But, shoot! The magazine wasn't mine! Do I dare rip out the page? At the end of the day I decided that wouldn't be fair to others so I jotted down the name of the recipe in my phone and looked it up as soon as I got home.

As you know, I'm a sucker for pasta. My body literally craves it now and then. And pasta with peas and prosciutto? Anytime I've had the three Ps together, it's been a truly delicious dish.

Sure, this is a little decadent and not something you'd probably want to eat on a regular basis - what with the fatty prosciutto and heavy cream. But the salty and sweet flavors combine in a way that equals magic on your tongue. The rich ingredients tossed with an herbalicious spring pesto combine to create a surprisingly delicate sauce with layers of flavor.

I was originally a little worried I wouldn't find the right type of pasta. I've never seen long ribbons like this at my market. So instead of heading to the bulk pasta aisle, I went straight to the imported foods section, where I discovered mafaldine pasta ( made by Pastene. The curled outer edges were key to holding in the pesto and sauce, guaranteeing a burst of flavor with each bite. If I hadn't found it, I would have probably used orecchiette.

Time to Dish:
My only complaint was that I thought the mint was a little heavy. Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of mint, and while I think it's probably very necessary to balance this dish, I might use a little less next time around. I also couldn't find a thick cut prosciutto so I stacked the traditional thin version before I cut it, which allowed me to create the thicker cubes called for.

My Grade: B
Hubby's Grade: A