Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Walnut-Basil Pesto and Mango Lemonade

I have had a long hiatus from the kitchen and it's been bothering me, so I strapped on my apron (not really, they hang on my pantry door because they're too pretty to dirty), and have been cooking since Sunday night at home.  The reasons for this being 1.) my husband and I have been craving home cooked food since we have been on vacation/vacation mode the last two weeks, and 2.) we need to budget and cut down our going out spending.

It's insane how much we spend on food and drinks. If you could see the pie chart Wells Fargo so helpfully provides you on their budgeting tool, you would see mine is split down the middle with concerts and entertainment and the rest eating out.  Husband has the more "adult" pie chart with bills and such.  You know, the things I refuse to dabble in.

Anyway, hopefully I'll be posting more recipes since I am on a cooking spree.  Today's pesto post is handy and quick, and is a great accompaniment to anything! 

The usual, more traditional pesto, is made with pine nuts, but because they are expensive and hard to find, walnuts are a wonderful substitution!  We had this pesto on top of sea salt and black pepper seasoned salmon and it was awesome.  You could definitely serve something like this at a dinner party.  I also have plans to mix in with fresh pasta or on top of a pizza as the base.  You could also use this pesto as marinade for grilled chicken, or use it on sandwiches or burgers as a spread instead of boring mayo or mustard.  There are many possibilities! Get creative

Walnut-Basil Pesto:

1 cup packed basil leaves
1 handful cilantro leaves
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tbs minced garlic
1/4 cup grated parmesan
dash of sea salt
dash of fresh cracked black pepper
dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
extra-virgin olive oil

In a food processor, throw in the basil, cilantro, and walnuts and pulse a few times until the walnuts have somewhat broken apart.

Add the garlic, parmesan, and seasoning.  Pulse until it is about combined.

Slowly pour in olive oil from the top of the processor while pulsing until a thick and creamy consistency is reached.  Store in a container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Our dinner last night.  Grilled salmon, pesto, broccoli, and roasted green beans with toasted walnuts and balsamic.  YUM.

Also featured on this post is mango lemonade.  At the Coachella Music Festival, which by the way was super incredibly awesome, I literally lived off of the fresh strawberry lemonade sold there during the hot desert day.  It was seriously a life saver.  And ever since we have been back I have just been craving it!  Especially since spring has kind of arrived in Houston and summer is around the corner.  The two seasons just sort of meld into each other.  My initial thought was to make strawberry lemonade, but unfortunately the strawberries at HEB looked sketch and Kroger ran out.  So instead, when life can't hand you strawberries, make mango lemonade!

I love using mason jars as drink glasses, it just makes it so summer....

Mango (or any fruit) Lemonade:

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 mango, pureed
3 large lemons
2 cups water
Garnish (sliced lemons, cubed fruit, mint, up to you)

First you need to make a simple syrup by boiling the water and sugar.  Once the sugar has dissolved, turn off the heat and let cool (or be like me and stick in the freezer until it's cooled down)

In your lemonade container, squeeze in the 3 lemons, discarding or straining the seeds, add the mango puree, the cooled simple syrup, and the 2 cups water.  You can add ice to the container or add individually to the glasses.  Garnish as you wish and enjoy!!

Next time, I'll try making a batch of strawberry and a batch of watermelon...both would be so great for the summer heat

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