16 February 2009

Potlucking ... part I

Last night, in sunday dinner fashion, a group of my close friends and I threw a potluck to end all potlucks. Added benefit ... the majority of people in said group are astounding cooks, so the end product of traditionally miscellaneous and random potluck goodies was delicious - and oddly enough all worked very well with one another.

Included in the spread were homemade hummus with crudites and chips, a goat cheese dip with sun dried tomatoes, succulent wild salmon cooked in a white wine sauce with chopped onions and topped with a horseradish sauce, a delicious roast, pesto pea salad, tomato macaroni and cheese with thyme, homemade fruit tartlets with fresh whipped cream and berries, pumpkin cobbler with pecans and banana bread.

My contributions were the pesto pea salad with fresh lemon mint pesto (to follow) and the tomato macaroni and cheese - adapted from the Jamie Oliver cookbook. Oh, how I love Jamie Oliver. :)

Traditionally for the pesto pea salad, I make a basil pesto and add some mint, but my basil fell ill in my crisper whose temperature has been fluctuating from normal crisper temp to the death freeze. Lo and behold when I pulled out the fresh bunch of basil last night it was partially covered in frost, a dark brownish green and looking very sad. C'est la vie, life goes on, and the lemon mint pesto was just as delightful.

Pesto Pea Salad
Adapted from Ina Garten

2 cups of peas, fresh or frozen
2 TB pine nuts, toasted
Spinach or mixed greens with spinach for the base of the salad

** OK, to make the pesto:
Couple hefty handfuls of mint (yes, "hefty handfuls" is a measurement in my kitchen)
A smaller handful of basil, if yours hasn't been killed in the fridge :(
3 cloves of garlic
1 TB lemon zest
juice from 1 lemon
olive oil
hefty handful (see, it works) of Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup pine nuts, give or take
salt and pepper
* Optional - fresh parsley if you have it. mine's right on my windowsill.

Blend together. Season as needed.

End result should be this color and consistency :


Now, back to the salad.

First, bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the peas for about 15 seconds (no joke), then remove and put in a cold water bath to stop cooking. Once they've cooled, drain the water, pad dry, set aside.

Here's the easy part - the assembly. Take your greens, toss the peas and toasted pine nuts in, add the pesto, mix. And serve. Voila.

And, plates cleared ... on to the main course ...

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