Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pizza Sauce, Pesto and Cranberry Vinaigrette for an Apple Walnut Salad

This was a weekend of lasts and firsts.  It was my last local farmers market of the year on Saturday (although I'll see if there's an open farmers market close by since I can't seem to let go).  Since it was the last, I strayed from my weekly list and got extra items, including lots of tomatoes (which will be made into pizza sauce, salsa and tikka masala sauce), cantelope and fresh basil.  The basil smelled irresistible and while there's a ton of basil in this one bunch, I'm slightly kicking myself for not getting an extra bunch or two.  Since I have the last of the fresh tomatoes and basil, it only seemed appropriate to make homemade tomato sauce for a margharita pizza as well as homemade pesto.

However, it's also a first for our area because we finally got rain today! And a great, soaking rain. I can hear it patter outside.  After an October mostly with 80 degree weather and a summer without absolutely no rain (not even clouds), it's a welcome change.  Don't get me wrong - I've loved the summer weather but I'm excited for some true fall weather.  And what better way to spend a rainy day than drinking coffee and cooking (especially with simmering something on the stove)?

Pizza Sauce
Taken from: Smitten Kitchen
Makes approx. 1 cup of sauce (enough for a small/medium pizza)
  • 4-5 roma tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Splash of red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
-Bring medium pot of water to a boil. On the bottom of each tomato, slit the skin making an small X mark with a knife.  Poach the tomatoes for one minute only, and then drain them. As soon as they are cooled off enough that you can touch them, peel them (I ran mine under a bit of cold water to speed the cooling process).
-Drain and dry the pot. Put it back on the burner over medium heat. Pour in olive oil and let it heat completely before adding the garlic and stirring it for a minute with a wooden spoon. Add the red pepper flakes and stir it for anther minute. You do not want the garlic to brown. Put the peeled tomatoes in the pot, along with the wine, sugar and salt. Break the tomatoes up with your spoon.
Let the sauce simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down. Carefully taste without burning your tongue and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

  • 2 cups fresh basil, roughly torn (I find the basil at the grocery store really expensive and very small portions; I highly recommend a farmers market or at least Trader Joe's which gives you a lot more for your money)
  • 1/4 c. pine nuts (I always have walnuts in the house so I use that instead)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. of grated parmesan cheese, if desired (I often omit)
-Place basil, nuts, garlic, salt and parmesan (if using) in a blender or food processor.  Blend, gradually adding oil until mix is thickened.  Taste and adjust accordingly.
-If not using the pesto right away or if you have leftovers, freeze the pesto in an ice-cube tray and then place in the individual pesto portions in a freezer bag for future meals.

Cranberry Vinaigrette for an Apple Walnut Salad
Taken from: AllRecipes
Makes 5-6 servings
  • 2 tablespoons cranberries (if you use dried cranberries that have sugar already, omit sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons white sugar (omit if you're using dried cranberries)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon-style prepared mustard
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

-In a food processor, combine the cranberries, vinegar, sugar (if necessary), and mustard. Puree until smooth; gradually add oil, and season with salt and pepper.
-For an excellent salad for this dressing, combine 1/4 chopped walnuts (toasted, if you'd like), 1/4 thinly sliced red onion, 1-2 sliced apples and lots of greens in a large bowl and then drizzle on cranberry vinaigrette.

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