Fish, shrimp, beans and pesto make the most delectable combination in this heavenly bowl of soup that will have you reaching for leftovers. Go ahead, it is comfort food with a conscience packed with three types of lean protein and juicy tomatoes. When basil is in season and my CSA box is full of this aromatic green goodness, I make batches of pesto and freeze tablespoon-size portions using mini-muffin tins. I store them in a freezer-safe container and enjoy during winter months in recipes like this. Don’t have fresh pesto on hand? Store-bought pesto will also work well and taste delicious in this dish.
Ingredients: 2 ounces pancetta, diced 1 onion, peeled and diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 (14 ounce) can no salt added diced tomatoes 4 cups vegetable broth 8 ounces any firm white fish, such as cod or halibut, cut into bite-size cubes 8 ounces peeled and deveined shrimp 1 (15 ounce) can no salt added cannellini beans ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon black pepper 2 tablespoons pesto
Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until brown and crispy, stirring occasionally. Remove pancetta with a slotted spatula and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
Add onion to the stock pot and sauté, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.
Add the tomatoes and vegetable broth to the stock pot and increase heat to medium high. Bring to a gentle boil.
Reduce heat to medium low and add the fish and seafood to the soup. Cover and simmer for about five minutes.
Remove lid and add beans, pancetta, salt, pepper and pesto to the soup, stirring to combine. Cook for two to three additional minutes and serve.
I love a good vegetable pun and this one is perfect for Valentine’s Day. This is a delicious and easy meal to make for your sweetheart and it pairs well with an earthy Pinot Noir. Nothing says I love you like this bright and beautiful, heart-healthy meal.
Since garlic scapes are not in season in February, I use frozen pesto that I have stashed away for winter meals. If you don’t have garlic scape pesto, simply use any store-bought pesto and add some garlic to your dish when you are sautéing the onion.
Ingredients: 3 cups vegetable broth 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 medium onion, diced 1 cup arborio rice ½ cup red wine 2 medium to large roasted beets, diced ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper 1 tablespoon garlic scape pesto Parmesan cheese, grated for serving
Warm vegetable broth in a small stock pot over low heat.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent.
Add the rice and stir to combine with the onions. Add red wine and continue stirring until absorbed.
Add a ladle full of broth, stirring constantly until absorbed. Continue, slowly adding broth and stirring for about 25 minutes, until all broth has been added and the rice is soft but still has a bite.
Add diced beets, salt and pepper, stirring to combine until risotto is bright red in color.
Spread garlic scape pesto around the edge of the plate, making a full circle. Fill the center of the circle with risotto and top with grated Parmesan cheese.
If you love garlic, you’ll love my take on a traditional pesto using garlic scapes instead of basil. For a quick dinner, add a couple of tablespoons pesto to cooked pasta and top with grilled or sautéed shrimp. Whip up a simple and delicious appetizer by spreading this pesto over baguettes slices and topping with sautéed mushrooms. Serve it up for breakfast in an omelet with black beans and spinach. The possibilities are endless and this pesto freezes well to use in future meals.
10 garlic scapes ½ cup walnuts, toasted ⅓ cup cotija cheese, crumbled 1 tablespoon lemon zest 1 tablespoon lemon juice freshly ground salt and pepper ⅓ cup olive oil
Trim garlic scapes at the base of the bulb, discarding the tops. Roughly chop the long stems. Place garlic scapes in a food processor fitted with the metal blade.
Add walnuts, cotija cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Slowly add the olive oil while processing until the ingredients are well blended.
Serve or freeze. To freeze, fill mini-muffin tin cups ¾ full and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour. Remove and store pesto in a freezer-safe container until ready to use.
Pesto makes a great sauce for this quick vegetable “pasta” dish, topped with sautéed fragrant garlic, lean shrimp, nutritious spinach and nutty Parmesan cheese. I love big batches of homemade pesto when I have an abundance of basil in my container garden or CSA share. I freeze 1 tablespoon portions in mini-muffin tins to set and store in freezer safe containers to enjoy year round. Simply toss frozen pesto with warm spaghetti squash strands or pasta and stir as it melts and evenly coats.
Ingredients: 1 medium spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded 2 teaspoons olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced 12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined 6 ounces or 2 cups tightly packed baby spinach leaves 2 tablespoons pesto Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Place a damp paper towel on the bottom of a microwavable dish and place squash cut side up. Microwave on high for 12 minutes, until tender.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Saute garlic until soft and fragrant, about a minute. Add shrimp and sauté for another minute, just until it they start turning pink. Add spinach, stirring to combine and continuing to cook for a couple of minutes until wilted.
Remove from microwave and when cool enough to touch, use a fork to remove the spaghetti squash strands into the dish. Add pesto and toss to evenly coat. Plate pesto spaghetti squash and top with shrimp and spinach. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve.
Summer is not over yet, and I’m not ready to say goodbye to some of my favorite seasonal produce. If you are like me and want to savor these flavors as long as you can, fire up the grill and celebrate these last couple of weeks before we welcome fall. Eggplant is a great match for summer squash stacked between layers of melted fresh mozzarella and homemade pesto. Enjoy as an appetizer or pair with a simple salad and a glass of your favorite white wine for an easy dinner outdoors as you watch the sunset.
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 small eggplants, cut crosswise into ¼ inch slices
2 medium summer squash, cut crosswise into ¼ inch slices
2 tablespoons pesto
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced into about 20 pieces
Soak toothpicks in a small bowl of water to prevent scorching when grilling.
In a small bowl, add garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine, creating a grilling sauce for the produce.
Arrange eggplant and squash on a large plate or platter and brush both sides evenly with the grilling sauce.
Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat. Grill vegetables until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove from grill and move produce to a working surface.
Remove toothpicks from water and set aside. Create eggplant and summer squash stacks by spreading a thin layer of pesto on a slice of eggplant and topping with a slice of summer squash and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers and top with an extra squash or eggplant slice, then secure each stack with a toothpick. You should end up with about 10.
Place eggplant and summer squash stacks back on the grill at medium-high heat for a couple of minutes, until cheese melts. Remove from grill and serve.