By: Janet Kalandranis
Let’s talk green. Like real greens, not fake greens. (And no we aren’t talking money, that’s a completely different blog.) The kind that smell better, taste delish and sometimes provide a clutter in your fridge. And are also inspiration for two dinners and that smell like summer and taste like the South Shore. We’re talking the famous Swiss chard and spinach.
So we know Lido can take these gems and make juice; but there’s more that makes these little greens shine.
I love the heat. I don’t like to cook in the heat in a stifling house. So it has to be good, it has to be worth it and it better be green. Because if we’re in summer, can we all just agree to live it up – greens for everyone! Another secret? I dislike having to leave my house, change out of my sandy suit and rinse off my feet just to pick up another ingredient for a recipe. So I improvise, a lot. Sometimes it works (see below) and many times we’re ordering take-out. It’s okay, balance is good, folks.
Pesto is green. It’s pretty cool. It’s garlicky and yummy. BUT (when you use all caps it means there’s a big BUT coming – no not a big BUTT, get your head out the gutter!), my basil plant is also struggling a bit. So I switch it up. I took a dish, turned it upside down and then created some delicious eats that allowed us to enjoy the weekend a little bit longer.
I’m talking Swiss chard and spinach pesto. With walnuts and all the expected suspects mixed in. But see it doesn’t end there. Because I pesto’d (new word!) the most unsuspecting recipes and the result was genius. Okay, maybe not genius but our tummies were happy, so that’s kinda the same thing, no?
Swiss Chard & Spinach Pesto
1 bunch Swiss chard – remove the tough stems
1 bunch Baby spinach (about 10 oz)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and largely chopped
½ cup walnuts
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
½ cup of parmesan
½ tsp black pepper
¾ tsp salt
1/3 – ½ cup olive oil (the good stuff folks)
Place all ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor or blender. With the machine running, drizzle olive oil into the mixture so it breaks down and creates a pesto – a fancy pesto!
So we got the basic, but totally South-Shore-kicked-up-pesto all set. It’s what you do next with this little gem that makes it all the better:
Green Pesto Summer Burgers
1 lb of ground beef, pork or turkey (it’s okay if it’s a little more)
1/3 – ½ cup of your pesto
1 bunch of scallions chopped
Salt & pepper
Rolls or hamburger buns
Warning: This will turn your burgers green. Kids will love it and adults too. All is well in the world when there’s green.
Mix all ingredients by hand and form into green burgers a little larger than the buns. Grill and enjoy with fixins!
And friends, it doesn’t end here. Because then some pasta and ricotta got involved and it was all over. I shouldn’t be blamed; neither should the pesto.
Veggie Pesto Pasta Perfection
1 lb of pasta cooked al dente (reserve 1 cup of past water)
1 cup of your pesto
1 package of prosciutto (optional)
15 oz of ricotta
1 onion diced
2 bunches of broccoli
1 – 15oz can artichokes drained and chopped
1 ½ cup of cherry tomatoes
Salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the pasta to al dente and reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta
Heat some olive oil in a large pan and sauté the onions until translucent, stirring frequently. Add in the broccoli and prosciutto and continue to sauté so the vegetables cook but aren’t mushy. Add in the tomatoes, artichoke, salt and pepper and cook until they are warmed through. Turn off the heat and add the pasta.
Meanwhile in a small bowl, mix your yummy green pesto and the ricotta. Add in about 1/3 – 2/3 cup of water so the mixture thins out a bit. Add this to the veggie/pasta pat and mix through. Place the mixture in a 9×13 ceramic baking dish. Top with grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. Cook for 20-30 minutes until you see a green garden deliciousness.
And that my friends is how you take some greens, make them work for you, and enjoy your summer days without leaving the house!
Janet Kalandranis is lover of all things local, especially food. She is a marketing guru by day and documents her free time about her love of food, family and the South Shore at www.foodbeautiful.blogspot.com.