Sunday, August 11, 2013

Pesto Cream Macaroni

2 months ago, I started a new project. I had this crazy idea that I can grow organic herbs and veggies in wine crates set on the terrace of my 4th-floor flat. And guess what? In 6 weeks I was harvesting pakchoys and basil I planted from seed up! How cool is that!

I planned to start with just 4 herbs. I bought 1 small pot each of basil, thyme, rosemary and chives, (the ones sold in the fresh produce section of the groceries). I separated the bunch of thyme and basil and replanted them in crates and they have increased more than 10-fold ever since.
organic thyme -

I thought I'd push the envelope and plant from seed. My lack of experience coupled with the gulf's summer heat didn't give me much hope. So imagine my surprise when I found seeds sprouting in less than a week! 'Guess I have a green thumb huh? The pakchoy and basil were a success. Like I said, they were ready in just 6 weeks. Not sure if the lettuce will survive though... next time, I have to remember not to plant them close to each other. I still have to wait and see if they'll reach their full potential. Now the casualties are the spinach and female cat took an interest to make the planters her bed. So it's "death by paw" for those 2. But the rest of the plants are healthy, thriving and free from fertilizer. I never thought growing your food can be this easy. I love foraging in my mini urban garden before I cook a meal. Home-grown, fresh, organic and best of! Yay!
crate garden - organic basil -
Now the great thing about the herbs I planted is the more I harvest, the more they grow. So now I have this "good problem" of having more than we can consume. I'm trying my hands on drying thyme. But for the basil, I find the best way is to turn it into a pesto, put them in ice cube tray and freeze for later use.
home-grown organic basil -
Here's the recipe for Make-Ahead Pesto:

Prep Time: 10 minutes

3 cups packed basil leaves, washed clean and dried
1 clove garlic, smashed or roughly chopped
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup raw pine nuts
1/2 cup extra virgin olove oil
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
salt and pepper to taste


1. Lightly toast the pine nuts in a small pan over low heat for 4-6 minutes. Set aside.
2. Sprinkle 1/8 tsp salt over the garlic and smoosh into a rough paste. Throw into the food processor. Add basil, pine nuts and about 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Process for 1 minute. Continue to add oil through the spout while processing. When almost ready, add the cheese, salt and pepper. Add the rest of the oil and process until smooth.
3. Transfer the pesto into ice tray. Freeze. You can store it in the tray, covered, until later use or transfer into a zip lock or separate container once frozen. Will keep for up to 3 months.

Makes 8 frozen cubes.

To use you can just thaw or pop in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, 30 sec interval, and add to your favorite pasta or chicken dish. Or you can fancy up and make this Pesto Cream Macaroni.

Pesto Cream Macaroni -

Here's the recipe:

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

3 cups macaroni pasta
water for boiling pasta ( with salt)
1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 stick unsalted butter
4 cubes frozen pesto
1 cup pasta water
2 cups cooking cream of heavy cream
1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
salt and pepper to taste
roasted pine nuts and fresh basil leaves for garnish


1. Cook the macaroni as per package instructions. Reserve some of the pasta water for later use.
2. Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the onions and saute until translucent; about 3 minutes.
3. Add the pesto cube and occasionally stir until melted.
4. Gradually add the cream, 1 cup pasta water and half of the cheese. Add pasta. Taste for salt and pepper.
5. To serve, sprinkle the rest of the parmiggiano reggiano on top and garnish with pine nuts and fresh basil leaves.

Makes 4 servings.
Pesto Cream Macaroni -

Haidee's Kitchen
08 Aug 2013

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