Tag Archives: walnuts

Avocado & Walnut Pesto

avocado pesto pasta

When summer hits here, and I mean really hits, it means we’re in for 2.5 months of humidity that penetrates so deeply that even ones bones feel saturated with sweat.

I rarely relish the thought of spending any time at all in a kitchen with a heated oven, which means I become even more committed to meals that require a pot, a stovetop, and little else (although, in this case, a food processor helps).

I’ve made this recipe twice in the past month and I expect to make it a lot more. Topped with roasted or grilled veggies, it’s a complete meal. The avocado imparts a smooth, buttery texture while the walnuts add just enough crunch.

Plus, skip the Parmesan, and you have a sauce fit for a vegan.

Avocado Pesto
Makes 4 healthy servings

1 pound of pasta
2 ripe avocados
1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup walnuts
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
olive oil, as needed

1) Boil a large pot of water and cook the pasta according to package directions. Before draining, reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside both the water and the cooked pasta.
2) Place the avocado flesh, basil, lemon juice, garlic, grated Parmesan, walnuts, salt and pepper in a food processor and blend until the walnuts are finely chopped. If the mixture is too thick to blend, slowly pour in some olive oil.
3) Spoon the pesto over the pasta and toss together. Add in the pasta water a little at a time if the pesto still needs to be thinned out. Serve immediately.

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Cranberry Orange Muffins

It’s finals week here, so our brains deserve a good breakfast. And a good afternoon snack. And a good dessert.

Fortunately, this recipe fulfills of all those needs. Not too much sugar, a nice bite of cranberry, and the smell of orange zest on your hands all day long.

Actually, let’s be honest. I only have one more final, and it’s not the kind to fret over. Thus, I plan on spending my days using up my stockpile of butter and flour. So, really, this recipe fulfills that need.

I juiced fresh oranges, which is way time consuming since I don’t have a citrus juicer. (Mom, dad, I know you’re already buying me a fruit-related Christmas gift, but if you need more ideas…)

I used a combination of walnuts and almonds. Also, the three oranges I juiced still didn’t render enough orange juice, so I added a bit of milk, as well.

I plan to individually wrap and freeze most of them before they all find a way into my stomach by tomorrow.

Cranberry Orange Muffins:
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
1 cup sugar (set aside one tablespoon for topping)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups coarsely chopped cranberries
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1) Preheat oven to 500 degrees. (Lower to 400 right before placing the muffins in the oven.)
2) Combine orange rind, orange juice, canolia oil and egg in a bowl. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Stir until just combine.
3) Fold in cranberries and walnuts.
4) Coat muffin tin with oil and pour in batter. (I filled the cups to the very top to make 12 big muffins.) Sprinkle sugar on top. Lower oven heat to 400 degrees. Bake for about 17 minutes, or until the muffin top springs back when touched.
5) Run a knife around outer edge of each muffin cup. Carefully remove each muffin.

Walnut Brownies

My London landlady introduced me to her friends as follows: “This is Meghan. She makes the world’s best brownies.”

I’ll only add that this recipe is my mother’s. So, technically, she makes the world’s best brownies. Like mother, like daughter indeed.

Walnut Brownies:

3 1-ounce squares of unsweetened chocolate or 9 tablespoons of unsweetened chocolate and 3 additional tablespoons of butter
1/2 C. butter, softened
3 eggs
1 1/2 C. of granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla
1 1/2 C. chopped walnuts/pecans
1 C. flour

1) Whip butter and add eggs.
2) Stir in dry ingredients.
3) Coat a brownie pan (mine is 7×7 or so) with butter, then lightly dust the pan with cocoa. Pour in batter and bake at 325 degrees for about 35 minutes.
4) A toothpick test isn’t necessary, since these come out quite fudgey and they’ll continue baking once removed from the oven.