Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Spinach Arugula Pesto Lasagna

The first time I had pesto lasagna, I was in Rome.  It was amazing.  The kind of experience that ruins regular lasagna for you.  Handmade, fresh pasta, pesto, cheese...hello, lover.  I tried to duplicate it when I got home, but it just didn't work.  So this week, when our CSA share came in and we had arugula, garlic scapes, and spinach, I found a recipe for arugula pesto in Dishing Up Maryland.  I modified their pesto recipe a bit, and then was going to just do boring pasta, but we had lasagna noodles and I thought pesto lasagna might just be the ticket for a celebratory dinner after my first day on the new job.

Lasagna takes a long time to prep, so I probably shouldn't have decided that.  This recipe is inspired by a Cooking from the Garden recipe that we made for Valentine's Day and we didn't eat until nearly 10pm that night. Nonetheless, here is a great recipe for using up a whole heap-ton of veggies.  We were lucky to get ALL of Sister Barefoot's arugula (and far too selfish to share any of the delicious lasagna), but all is still a bunch, not a specific amount, so guesses are approximate here for quantities.

For pesto:
1 bunch arugula
1/2 bunch spinach
4-6 garlic scapes (can probably use whole cloves of garlic)
1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted at 350 for 10 minutes
olive oil

For lasagna:
8-10 no-bake lasagna noodles
2 cups parmesean cheese
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
3 cups milk
Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Wash all greens, put in a food processor.  Process until chopped up into tiny bits.  Add pine nuts.  Add olive oil until it looks like pesto.  
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add flour. Cook for 1-2 minutes until smooth.  Add milk.  Stir frequently, wait for it to thicken.  
  3. While waiting for the sauce to thicken, soak the lasagna noodles in water.  
  4. Once sauce has thickened, line the bottom of an 8x8 pan with noodles.  Add pesto.  Add cheese.  Pour sauce over top.  Add more noodles, pesto, cheese, and sauce, until done.  If you run out of sauce at the top, just grate on some more cheese. 
  5. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes with foil, and then another 15 without foil.  (Our 8x8 pan actually fits into the toaster oven, which cooks it much faster and doesn't create as much heat in the kitchen on really hot summer days, so that's another thing to love about this recipe.)  
Enjoy!  I would be interested in making this recipe with additional vegetables and maybe not quite so much cheese.  I was thinking zucchini or roasted eggplant, but what new and interesting vegetables would go well here?  

Friday, June 17, 2011

Chard-pea-barley Risotto

I had an odd craving for risotto tonight, and I knew we needed to use up the chard we got from the csa, so I wondered if it would go well in a barley risotto.

Answer: yes.  Loosely based on this recipe.


  • 1 cup pearled barley, rinsed
  • 1/2 bunch chard (about 5 stems)
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 - 1 cup peas
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 4 cups water or stock 
  • 1 cup dry white wine (optional) 

  1. Dice onion and chop garlic.  Heat olive oil on the stove in a pan.  Start heating water or stock (I use an electric kettle).  
  2. Saute onion and garlic until translucent.  Add barley and saute for 1-2 minutes.  (You can also toss in a tablespoon of soy sauce.)
  3. Add the white wine, and once it is absorbed, add the water slowly, until barley is tender.  
  4. While barley is cooking, chop up the chard into teensy tiny bite sized pieces.  Rinse or defrost the peas.  
  5. Once barley has pretty much cooked, add the peas and chard. Add lemon juice.  Allow to cook for ~1-2 minutes.  
  6. Serve with Parmesan cheese and enjoy your healthy dinner!  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cookbook Project: Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two

So I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two has an excellent recipe for how to make dried beans taste like beans, not rocks.  The bad news is that after some thought, I finally started to read the copyright pages in my cookbooks that state that no part of the cookbook can be reproduced.  There are several ways around this, and I'm thinking about them.  Not to mention that I do believe that my use of these recipes falls under the definition of fair use.  The copyright office recommends that I consult an attorney about this.  My inner-attorney is mulling it over, but my inner-blogger wanted to continue writing for the project.  So we'll keep going, and while I have rarely copied recipes verbatim, I will be instead giving a list of ingredients and a broad set of instructions, and tell you that unfortunately, although this recipe is excellent, the rest of this cookbook isn't a great purchase for a vegetarian, although carnivores might enjoy it more.

However, I love this recipe because I'm really bad at remembering to soak the beans overnight in the crockpot.  This recipe means that I can do it same day (especially days when I'm working from home), and still have dinner on the table at a reasonable time.

Dried beans (any amount is fine - the book has a section on the yield of dried beans, so you can consult it for more details)
Boiling water (probably about three times as much water as beans, but enough to cover)
Salt (if you want it)

1) Rinse the dried beans.  Boil the water.
2) Put the beans in the crockpot.  Pour the boiling water over the beans.  Cover and cook on high for a few hours.  I actually find in our crockpot, it only takes about 2 hours for the beans to be edible.
3) Drain. Use as desired.