Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Pesto Rice Salad and Spicy Stuffed Peppers
I was pretty sure avalanches could only happen in places with mountains. The Rockies. The Alps. Some location that is not New York City on a Tuesday afternoon.
But I experienced one. Yesterday. In my apartment. And all I had to do was open up my freezer (lucky me).
That's the beauty of a New York apartment. It's a wilderness unto itself. You can go on a hiking expedition complete with near death experiences and wildlife encounters (I've been known to spot an ant or two) while wearing nothing but a pair of pajama pants and an old t-shirt. All without leaving the comfort of your own home! (How's that for a real estate ad).
Right. So I opened up my freezer. For what I'm not quite sure anymore. And no fewer than three containers of last summer's pesto. Attacked me.
I considered taking out a restraining order. But then I spotted the bags of frozen cranberries in the back. Waiting to pounce. And so I decided that maybe that wasn't the best tactic. Especially given that the cranberries were foaming at the mouth.
(Differential diagnosis - rabies. Caused by rhabdovirus. A negative sense ssRNA virus that enters through the muscles and then migrates to the central nervous system where it exerts it's deadly and toxic effects. There's a vaccine, but still. I'd rather not take my chances.)
So rather than close the door as quickly as I could and run away screaming (which, honestly, was what my first impulse was). I thought I would do something crazy. Something unheard of in the Eats Well With Others household.
Sure, it's almost June 21st. And I am just days away from summer vacation. (Vacation? Ha. As an MD-PhD student that word is not part of my vocabulary. Unless you consider three months of working in a lab "vacation". Which. Actually. After a year of medical school. I kind of do.)
But better late than never right?
So I vacuumed. Dusted. Organized some papers.
Had delusions of remodeling. Ogled a vanity on the CSN website (I swear, frequenting that site is just as bad as going to Ikea. Possibly worse. Thankfully my wallet was safely stocked away in the kitchen. And I was far too tired from dealing with the avalanche to go get it.) Started researching feng shui and which color combinations would really be best for centering my qi.
And as for that pesto? I showed it. I threw it into a rice salad along with some cherry tomatoes and locally grown asparagus. A dish that satisfied my every spring craving.
Good thing, because summer's coming. And I have grand designs on stealing (err...borrowing...) as much basil from my dad's soon-to-be flourishing plants as possible.
Yeah, cranberries. You should be careful what you wish for. Because before you know it, it'll be cranberry season again. In which case. You're next.
Pesto Rice Salad
Serves 4, adapted from Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian
1 cup rice (Bittman suggests arborio, but I used white because it's what I had on hand)
1/4 cup pesto (I used this one)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lb asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
1. Cook the rice as directed on the package. In the last five minutes of cooking, add the asparagus to the pan.
2. Mix with the pesto, red wine vinegar, and cherry tomatoes. Add salt to taste.
Spicy Stuffed Peppers
Serves 4, adapted from Symon's Live To Cook
NOTE - I should say that I completely revamped this recipe. Symon specifies that one should use Hungarian hot peppers or banana peppers, which I couldn't find. He then says that in dire situations you can use poblanos but NOT bell peppers, as bell peppers are too big. Well, when I saw baby bell peppers at Trader Joe's, I decided to use them. Since they were most definitely NOT too big. I also threw in some anaheim chiles for a bit of spice! I also served these as a main dish, while Symon serves them as an appetizer. With the pesto rice salad, this worked out perfectly.
1 package of baby bell peppers (about 8? They are super tiny) from Trader Joe's
4 anaheim chiles
1 lb spicy Italian turkey sausage (Symon calls for pork or Italian sausage)
2 cups tomato sauce
fresh basil, to garnish
1. Preheat the broiler. Cut the tops off the peppers and spoon out any seeds. Divide the sausage into 8 equal portions and spoon it into the peppers to fill them. Char the peppers underneath the broiler. Remove them from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375.
2. Pour the sauce into an 8x11-inch baking dish. Lay the peppers on top of the sauce. Bake for 10 minutes. Divide among the plates, spoon some sauce on top, and garnish each with a basil leaf.
The pesto rice salad is my submission to IHCC this week! The theme of which is Dining with Dad. The one herb I can get my dad to eat with any regularity is basil and then, only in pesto! So I figured this was perfect. I am also submitting it to Reeni's Side Dish Showdown and Deb's Souper Sunday. The stuffed peppers will be featured on the Symon Sundays round-up on Monday!