Sunday, June 13, 2010

Simple Vegetarian Dinner

After another tasty, but heavy lunch at Umami Burger, we decided to keep it simple, quick and vegetarian for dinner.  We started by slicing two heirloom tomatoes that we bought at Wednesday's farmer's market:
Why are heirloom tomatoes so deformed looking? They aren't rotten, just ugly
We topped the tomatoes with thin slices of fresh mozzerella, chiffonade of basil from our shrinking wonky basil plant, a little salt, pepper and drizzle of balsamic vinegar.  One tomato was just slightly too ripe (one on the left), and the other was just slightly underripe.  They were both so good though.  Heirloom tomatoes are just so sweet and don't have the acidity of regular tomatoes.  They also don't really have seeds and are juicy without being watery.  The classic combination with mozzarella, basil and balsamic never fails and allows the flavor of the heirloom tomato to really shine.

Since I had all the ingredients in my freezer, I defrosted some frozen pesto, peas and spinach and made a quick pesto pasta:
I basically followed Ina's recipe, tweaked for proportions (I usually use less salt, olive oil and in this case, mayo than her recipes suggest), and it's very easy if you have all the ingredients:
  • Cook 1 lb of fusilli until al dente.  For the last minute of cooking, you can toss in 1 cup of frozen peas if you haven't already defrosted them
  • In my Kitchenaid food processor, blend 1 1/4 cups of pesto, 1/2 pound of defrosted chopped spinach (make sure to squeeze out extra water), and juice from one small lemon until mixed.
  • Then, add 1 cup of low fat mayo to the food processor and blend, and salt and pepper to taste
  • Toss the pasta, peas and pesto blend all together in a big bowl.  You can top with some chopped nuts for extra texture (as we do often, we burned our walnuts and therefore omitted them).  The dish can be served warm or at room temperature
I like this way of making pesto pasta.  The lemon juice and mayo give it a little freshness and tang, and the mayo also gives it extra body and creaminess.  The spinach is a really nice addition; it adds some texture, a little like spinach-artichoke dip, which I love.  The peas are also an important textural ingredient and also adds a different flavor to keep the dish from getting boring after a few bites.  While this meal was not completely healthy given the amount of cheese in both dishes, it was satisfying and tasty, and gave us a much needed respite from meat.

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