Beyond breakfast: steel-cut oats

Steel-cut oats: good for breakfast and a whole lot more (photo by Alison Ashton)

Like, well, just about everyone else, as soon as the calender flips to a new year, I renew my pledge to eat better. As in more of the healthy stuff–whole grains, fish, fruits, and vegetables. A recent project got me reacquainted with steel-cut oats.

Also known as oat groats, Scotch oats, and Irish oatmeal, steel-cut oats are oats that have been hulled, toasted, cleaned, and cut, which renders them palatable to humans. (Cattle are fine munching on whole oats.) They have a wonderful chewy, nutty quality that makes them a beloved hot breakfast cereal. They’re rich in vitamin E, B vitamins, and cholesterol-busting fiber.

Shopping tip: Look for steel-cut oats in the bulk bins at the health-food store, where they’ll be far cheaper than the stuff sold in tins.

Steel-cut oats also have a starchy quality that lends them to risotto. Of course, we typically think of risotto as involving a starchy, medium-grain rice like Arborio or Carnaroli, but it’s a method that you can use to cook other grains and even pasta.

Steel-Cut Oat Risotto with Mushrooms and Peas

Possessed of leftover steel-cut oats, a yen for risotto, and a New Year’s desire to eat more whole grains, I made this dish the other night. If you use fresh mushrooms, skip the soaking step and increase the broth to 3 cups.

1/2 ounce dried mushrooms

2 cups hot water

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup steel-cut oats

1/4 cup vermouth or dry white wine

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1/4 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese, divided

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

  1. Combine mushrooms and water in a medium bowl. Let stand 30 minutes. Drain mushrooms through a fine-mesh sieve over a small saucepan. Add broth to soaking liquid in saucepan; bring a simmer over low heat (do not boil).
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms to pan; saute 2 minutes or until tender. Set aside
  3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 2 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add oats; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add vermouth; cook until absorbed, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 cup broth mixture to oats, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed. Repeat, adding remaining broth mixture 1/2 cup at a time and stirring after each addition until liquid is absorbed, until oats are tender (you may not need to use all the liquid). Stir in mushrooms, peas, and 3 tablespoons cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with remaining 1 tablespoon cheese. Yield: 4 servings.

Beanie baby

 

A bag of Yellow Indian Woman Beans inspires a midsummer soup.

A bag of Yellow Indian Woman Beans inspires a midsummer soup.

Soup in July? Something cool and civilized, maybe, like gazpacho or cucumber. But when I eyed a bag of heritage Indian Woman Beans the other day, something thick, hearty, and spicy came to mind. And since I’m on the beach on Southern California, where the nippy June gloom has followed us into July, I went with it. 

I’d picked up a 12-ounce bag of the dried beans on sale at World Market, where they carry heritage beans by Great Valley, for less than $3. Rancho Gordo also sells the beans for $4.95 per pound. Yes, that’s a lot for dried beans, but you can expect to pay a premium for anything with the world “heirloom” or “heritage” in the name. I’d never seen Yellow Indian Woman beans before but was intrigued by their petite size and lovely light brown (OK, yellowish) hue. Info on the label noted that the beans, which have a creamy texture when cooked and flavor similar to black beans or pinto beans, were brought to America by Swedish immigrants in the 19th century. Other sources I checked said the same thing, so either we’re all just reading the same Wikipedia entry or it’s true. Origins of the bean’s politically incorrect  name are murkier.

So I found myself with a little time on my hands, a cool day, and a hankering for soup. The result is this recipe, which got two thumbs up from my mate, so it’s a keeper.

Yellow Indian Woman Bean Soup

Using a pressure cooker means the soup comes together in a hurry, and you can use the cooker to “quick soak” the beans, as I did in step 1. Adding a whole jalapeno infuses it with pleasant heat. If you can’t find Yellow Indian Woman beans, substitute black beans. I used unsalted homemade chicken stock, but you could use store-bought low-sodium chicken broth and adjust the amount of added salt to taste.

1 (12-ounce) bag dried Yellow Indian Woman beans

1 (4-ounce) link Mexican chorizo

1 cup finely chopped onion

2 minced garlic cloves

4 cups unsalted chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 jalapeno chile pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Additional cilantro, for garnish

 

Yellow Indian Woman Soup

Yellow Indian Woman Soup

1. Sort through the beans, discarding any split beans. Place beans in a 6-quart pressure cooker; add water to cover by 2 inches. Lock lid in place, and bring to high pressure over high heat. Reduce heat, and cook 2 minutes. Release pressure using automatic pressure release OR carefully transfer cooker to sink and run cool water over rim until pressure drops. Remove lid, tilting lid away from you to allow steam to escape. Drain beans.

 

2. Return cooker to stove. Remove chorizo from casing; add chorizo to cooker over medium heat. Cook 5 minutes, or until chorizo renders its fat, using a spoon to crumble chorizo. Add onion, and cook 3 minutes. Add garlic, and cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add drained beans, chicken stock, cumin, and oregano. Use a sharp knife to cut a slit in the jalapeno; add to cooker. Lock lid in place, and bring to high pressure over high heat. Reduce heat, and cook 20 minutes or until beans are tender. Release pressure using automatic pressure release OR carefully transfer cooker to sink and run cool water over rim until pressure drops. Remove lid, tilting lid away from you to allow steam to escape. Stir in salt and pepper. Discard jalapeno. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup to desired texture (or transfer soup in batches to a food processor or blender). Stir in 2 tablespoons cilantro; cook, uncovered, 5 minutes. Serve garnished with additional cilantro. Yield: 6 servings.

307 calories; 7 g total fat (2 g sat); 19 g protein; 44 g carbohydrates; 9 g fiber; 14 mg cholesterol; 551 mg sodium

Pasta is tops

 

Penne Pasta Toss is idea when you want dinner cheap and in a hurry.

Penne Pasta Toss is ideal when you want dinner cheap and in a hurry.

Americans are anything but carb-phobic these days. According to a new study from the consumer research firm Mintel, 92% of us eat pasta, and one of six Americans reports eating more pasta this year because it’s such a cheap ingredient. It’s versatile, too, which why almost half of the survey’s respondents report they never get bored with the stuff.

One of six Americans is eating more pasta this year because it’s such a cheap ingredient.

Pasta is certainly a must-have staple of the Eat Cheap pantry. We often make some variation of Penne Pasta Toss, while Tagliatelle and Lemon-Cream Sauce with Asparagus and Peas is great for entertaining. Feeling ambitious? Try your hand at Lasagna with Homemade Ricotta and Roasted Vegetables.

Make pasta egg-stra good

This post launches a new, semi-regular feature called “Taste the Place,” which will focus on cuisine to enjoy on the road. The inspiration of new flavors are among the longest-lasting souvenirs you bring home from your travels. This feature may inspire you to take a trip. Or, if your budget doesn’t allow for much travel these days, it’s a way to bring far-flung flavors home.

Park Hyatt Mendoza

Park Hyatt Mendoza

Argentina’s cuisine has been greatly influenced by the Italian immigrants who settled in the country. Boris Davila, chef de cuisine at Grill Q at   the Park Hyatt Mendoza, likes to break an egg over very hot pasta and stir it with a fork for at least five seconds before serving. “The heat will cook the egg, and also add great texture and flavor,” he explains. Think of it as a quick take on traditional pasta carbonara.

Inspired by Davila, I made this pasta last night, using ingredients we had on hand. It’s easy, and the results are luscious.

Argentine-Style Pasta for 2

pastaStirring egg yolks into the hot pasta yields a silky, unctuous dish that makes a nice light dinner with a green salad. Adding a little of the hot cooking water to the yolks prevents them from curdling when added to the pasta. If you want to keep this dish really Argentine, use Reggianito Argentina cheese, the affordable Argentine version of Parmigiano-Reggiano, instead of pecorino Romano.

2 large eggs

6 ounces dry pasta (use any shape you have on hand)

1 ounce pancetta, diced

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) grated pecorino Romano cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

1. Crack eggs and separate yolks from whites; reserve whites for another use. Place yolks in a small bowl; set aside.

2. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. 

3. While pasta cooks, heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add pancetta, and cook 5 minutes or until crisp. Add peas; cook 3 minutes or until peas are hot; keep warm.

4. When pasta is done, drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Return pasta to pan. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons hot cooking water to egg yolks, stirring with a whisk. Add yolk mixture to pasta, stirring to coat pasta. Gradually add cheese, a small handful at time, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in remaining cooking water as needed to achieve a silky texture (pasta should not be watery). Add a generous grinding of pepper. Serve immediately. Yield: 2 servings.

Wednesday goodies

Field trips

picture-2Jim Denevan, of Outstanding in the Field, has made a name for himself staging top-drawer farm dinners at locales across the country. He’s just released the 2009 schedule of more than 50 destinations, stretching from Santa Cruz, CA, to Asheville, NC. I was especially excited to see that Jim and his crew will be at Jones Valley Urban Farm in Birmingham, AL, on Sept. 23, where Chef Frank Stitt of Highlands Bar & Grill will do the cooking. Dinners are $200 per person, and tickets go on sale at 9 AM PT (noon ET) on Friday, March 20. Events sell out quickly, so log on to check out the locations and make your reservation on Friday.

Nourish yourself

picture-1Wine Country-based food writer Lia Huber is launching the Nourish Network Web site this spring. But you can sign up for her weekly “Nibble to Noodle” e-letter now. It’s a newsletter I enjoy finding in my inbox, since Lia offers thoughts on healthy eating as a daily celebration, along with some tasty recipes. This week’s dish was wonderful Greek-inspired lamb chops:

Lemon-Herb Lamb Chops

Recipe by Lia Huber/Nourish Network

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon zest

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/4 cup mixed fresh herbs (like thyme, marjoram, and fresh oregano), minced

2 pounds lamb chops

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, and herbs, and marinate lamb chops for at least an hour and up to a day.

Heat a grill to medium-high. Remove chops from marinade; sprinkle with salt and pepper; and grill for 3-5 minutes per side or until medium-rare. Arrange on a plate and serve hot or room temperature crusty bread, beet salad, and the garlicky yogurt dip called tzatziki.

Serves 6

Plan ahead

picture-4Today Jennifer Maiser starts blogging about her efforts to cook week’s worth of suppers with a neighbor so they can both enjoy more variety for less effort while saving money.–Serious Eats

 

Numbers runner

picture-5So are people really eating in more and dining out less? Michael Y. Park runs the numbers on two consumer surveys and finds they don’t quite add up.–Epicurious

 

 

Tomato farming and the recession

picture-6Patrick Horan, who cultivates organic tomatoes in Connecticut, explains how the recession may be a boon for organic farming.–RecessionWire

 

 

Get more D

dreamstimefree_1162831Vitamin D has emerged as a supervitamin in recent years–it’s been linked with lower rates of some cancers and type 1 diabetes; it’s also a key player in bone and heart health. Chances are, you’re not getting enough. A new study finds the current recommendation of 5 microcgrams (200 International Units) is far short of what most people need for maximum benefit, especially in winter. Researchers recommend 20 micrograms. Your best bet for getting adequate vitamin D is fortified foods, like milk, and dietary supplements.–Nutraingredients-USA.com

 

Comfort me with pasta

It’s been a rough week, with a really sick cat and all, so I figured we could use some comfort chow for dinner tonight. These days, that means a pasta toss with lots o’ veggies. After hitting up the local market to stock up on Brussels sprouts, cremini mushrooms, and a wedge of pecorino Romano, we were ready to go. I’m not sure when Brussels sprouts became a comfort food for me, but they are they are. Especially with bacon. Come to think of it, everything is better with bacon.

cimg0982Penne with Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms

This would work with any short pasta–orrechiette or cavatappi, perhaps. I used cremini mushrooms for their full, earthy flavor, but white button mushrooms would do the trick just fine. You can substitute a slice or two of regular bacon (with smokier results) for the pancetta.

6 ounces dry penne pasta

2 tablespoons diced pancetta

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot

1 garlic clove, minced

4 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup (1 ounce) shaved pecorino Romano cheese

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage

1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, and keep warm.

2. While the pasta cooks, heat a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add pancetta to pan; saute 2 minutes. Add shallot; saute 2 minutes. Add garlic; saute 20 seconds. Add mushrooms and salt; saute 2 minutes. Add Brussels sprouts, broth, vinegar, and pepper; cook 5 minutes. Add cooked pasta, and toss to combine; cook 1 minute or until hot. Garnish with cheese and sage. Yield: 2 servings.

Easiest pizza crust, ever

 

Impromptu pizza made with the easiest dough ever.

Impromptu pizza made with the easiest dough ever.

I’ve long aspired to make decent pizza at home, with varying levels of success. The trick for me has been finding a reliable dough. Reliable, as in easy enough for a so-so baker like me to pull together. Either the doughs I’ve tried have been too wet, or too dry, or I haven’t been able to get the right consistency after kneading (like I said, I’m no pro).

Well, I’ve found my grail in the Basic Pizza Dough recipe from the September 2008 issue of Cooking Light. It uses a food processor, which means it comes together quickly, though I’ve kneaded it by hand at least once and it still turned out just right. It rises perfectly and rolls out beautifully.  I’ll whip up the dough,take the dog for a walk while it rises, and then finish the pizza when I get home.

I threw together the pizza pictured above using this dough recipe, plus some leftover Pantry Pasta Sauce, pre-grated mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, and a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano. It baked on a pizza stone (you can pick one up for less than 10 bucks at Wal-Mart) in a 500-degree oven for 9 minutes.

Try it. If it works for me, it’ll work for you.

Resolutions that work, part 5: Accessorize with meat

 

 

The offer of a free mega-steak may seem like an intriguing challenge, but it won't do you any favors, nutritionally speaking.

The offer of a free mega-steak may seem like an intriguing challenge, but it won't do you any favors, nutritionally speaking.

My friend Donna Florio, who’s a senior writer at Southern Living magazine, rolled into 2009 with this goal: Eat less meat. “I’ve been in a bad meat habit lately, choosing beefy entrees, eating fewer meatless meals,” she says. (By the way, Donna is not referring to the Big Texan’s 72-ounce steak challenge, pictured above.) “I’m going to work on getting back to enjoying meat as an accessory rather than a main dish.”

I’m not including this resolution to demonize meat. I love meat, and believe it deserves a spot in a healthy diet–especially if you choose lean cuts and enjoy them in reasonable portions. If you visit a steakhouse, chances are the 8-ounce New York strip steak is the light-eater’s option. And on a menu populated with 24-ounce porterhouse steaks and other mega-cuts, it is. A 3-ounce cooked portion (that’s about 4 ounces raw) is more like it, according to the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans

I’m not including this resolution to demonize meat. I love meat, and believe it deserves a spot in a healthy diet–especially if you choose lean cuts and enjoy them in reasonable portions. The USDA considers a serving of beef to be 3 ounces cooked (4 ounces raw). That’s not a lot, especially if you’re accustomed to larger, restaurant-size portions.

There are several ways to “accessorize” with meat.

Keep an eye on portions. The USDA considers a serving of beef–or pork, lamb, chicken, or seafood, for that matter–to be 3 ounces cooked (4 ounces raw). That’s not a lot, especially if you’re used to larger, restaurant-size portions, though if it’s surrounded by ample veggies and whole grains, you won’t feel deprived. A kitchen scale is a handy tool to help you keep portion sizes in check. Serious Eats’ Meat Lite recipes offer plenty of inspiration on how to do more with less meat.

In this Mexican dish, grilled pork is part of a bigger picture. (Photo courtesy of the Culinary Institute of America/Greystone.)

In this Mexican dish, grilled pork is part of a bigger picture. (Photo courtesy of the Culinary Institute of America/Greystone.)

Look to other cuisines for inspiration. Meat may be a mainstay of the American diet, but in other parts of the world, meat is an expensive ingredient and cooks have had to devise creative ways to stretch its flavor. Asian stir-fries are a classic example of this. For inspiration, check out the Culinary Institute of America’s Worlds of Healthy Flavors site.

Add meaty flavor in subtle ways. If you love hearty, meaty flavor–what’s known as umami, the so-called fifth taste sense–you can enhance that quality in many ways. For example, last night, I made pasta with some leftover Pantry Pasta Sauce. The sauce itself has a touch of soy sauce, which lends it a meaty, umami-ness that helps tame the tinniness of canned tomatoes. For extra meaty heft, I added sauteed mushrooms and pancetta, and finished it off with a grating of pecorino Romano cheese. 

[Interesting side note: In all fairness, I have to point out that the Big Texan in Amarillo, Texas, which is famous for offering a free 72-ounce steak to anyone who can gobble the thing in under an hour, also serves a nice, comparatively lil' 6-ounce filet.]

Previous posts in the Resolutions That Work Series:

Fruit of the Day

Pay Attention to What You Eat

Eat Your Greens

Plan Ahead to Eat Well

Hop to it, baby

 

A bowl of Hoppin' John and collard greens is a fine way to start 2009.

A bowl of Hoppin' John and collard greens is a fine way to start 2009.

I’ve been in transition for some time now, but things started to fall into place when my moving pod of belongings arrived from Alabama on New Year’s Eve. As we unloaded box after box of kitchen gear, I thought, “Ah, now I can make this. I can make that.”

To pay homage to my former home, and because, hell, we all could use some good luck going into 2009, I decided to make a pot of Hoppin’ John. The Southern Low Country dish is a simple melange of black-eyed peas, rice, tomatoes, and some kind of pork (a ham hock, sausage, bacon, whatever), and it’s supposed to bring good luck to those who partake on New Year’s Day.

For the most luck, you should eat a bowl of the stuff at the stroke of midnight. We were at a party in  a penthouse condo overlooking Marina del Rey at midnight, so I sought my luck in a lychee martini. That meant we had our Hoppin’ John at the end of New Year’s Day, so we may only acquire a little luck. I’ll take it. In any case, I figured a pot of Hoppin’ John and the traditional side of collard greens would have  some curative benefits for my mate, who was feeling a tad delicate after the previous evening’s festivities.

Of course, Hoppin’ John’s good-luck powers are well known beyond the South, but I still figured there’d be no problem finding the ingredients at Whole Foods in Venice on New Year’s afternoon. That’s where my luck started to waver. When I approached the bulk bean bins, I was dismayed to find  the dried black-eyed peas bin empty. Not a lone pea to be found. Uh, oh, a whole lot of folks in the Marina and Venice were eating our good luck. Not to worry, I assumed there must be frozen or canned or some kind of black-eyed pea elsewhere in this vast food temple. 

The last two cans of black-eyed peas in the Venice Whole Foods. Good thing I already had a bag of popcorn rice.

My prize: The last two cans of black-eyed peas in the Venice Whole Foods. Good thing I already had a bag of popcorn rice.

Um, not really. No peas in the frozen section. No packaged dried peas, either. Canned peas were starting to sound really, really good at that point. Of course, the shelf space for canned black-eyed peas was empty. I fished around in the dark recesses of the shelf and came up with The Last Two Cans of Black-Eyed Peas. Eureka!

I had better luck finding  collards in the produce section. I picked up two  gorgeous bunches with giant, fresh, green leaves that bode well for prosperity in the new year. At the very least, we’d get a ton of antioxidants.

So, it was in a somewhat triumphant mood that I returned home to make a pot of Hoppin’ John and a side of collard greens.

Hoppin’ John from a Can

I adapted this recipe from Matt Lee and Ted Lee’s version for The New York Times. Canned beans may not have been my first choice, but since I didn’t have to soak dried beans, this New Year’s Day specialty came together quickly. Louisiana popcorn rice is an aromatic long-grain variety that’s a Cajun speciality; it actually smells liked popped corn. You can use any type of long-grain rice. I had some lovely Black Forest bacon on hand, but you could substitute any bacon, a more-traditional ham hock, or even sausage. Serve with hot sauce–Tabasco would be a natural, but I love the bright flavor of Asian-style sriracha.

3 thick-cut slices bacon, chopped

1 cup chopped onion

2 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained

3 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teapoon cayenne

6 canned whole peeled tomatoes

11/2 cups Louisiana popcorn rice (or any long-grain rice)

Hot sauce (optional) 

1. Cook bacon over medium heat in a large saucepan for 3 minutes, or until the bacon renders its fat. Add onion; cook 5 minutes, or until tender. Add peas, broth, salt, and peppers;. Use kitchen shears to cut up the tomatoes in a bowl or measuring cup; add tomatoes to the pan. Bring to a boil; add rice. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Serve with hot sauce. Yields 6 servings.

Quick Collards

Traditionally, collards are cooked with pork fat and boiled. For an old-school version, try Southern Living‘s Country-Style Collards. Since my Hoppin’ John was coming together quickly, I opted to chiffonade my collards and saute them. This will look like an ungodly amount greens once you have them trimmed and sliced, but it cooks down, much like spinach. I find it’s easiest to wash the greens in a colander or salad spinner after they’ve been trimmed and sliced .

1 pound fresh collard greens

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

1. Trim the center ribs from the collard leaves. Stack the leaves and roll them up like a cigar; thinly slice (chiffonade).

2. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add oil. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add a large handful of collards to pan; cook until collards wilt. Repeat with remaining collards until all of them are in the pan. Stir in salt and peppers; sauté 2 minutes. Add broth; cook 3 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates and collards are tender. Yields 4-6 servings.

 

 

 

Pesto, always in style

Extra cilantro inspires an impromptu pesto.

Extra cilantro inspires an impromptu pesto.

 Pesto had its heyday in the culinary sun some time ago, when chefs concocted versions of the Italian-style uncooked sauce using all manner of ingredients in all kinds of dishes.

But pesto will never really fall out of favor, in part because it’s such a great way to use leftover herbs. Certainly in summer, when bunches of fresh basil sell for a song at farmer’s markets, home cooks and professional chefs alike whip up batches of the pesto. And as Debbie Arrington notes in the Sacramento Bee, winter herbs work just fine, too.

You can play with pesto’s formula, using different herbs, cheeses, and nuts to vary the flavor and reflect the season.

Traditional pesto is nothing more than an uncooked sauce made of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmigian0-Reggiano cheese, and olive oil pounded in a mortar and pestle. These days, most people use a food processor or blender. Of course, you can play with that formula, using different herbs (arugula, cilantro, mint, sage, etc.), cheeses (Manchego, say), and nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, you name it). You can add other ingredients–a touch of cracked red pepper for a heat, perhaps, or a squeeze of lemon juice for bright acidity. I came up with this version to use a bunch of cilantro sitting in the crisper. 

Cilantro-Pecan Pesto

Cilantro-Pecan Pesto

Cilantro-Pecan Pesto

Serve this multipurpose sauce over pasta, fish, or poultry, or toss a bit with steamed or grilled vegetables.

1/4 cup pecan halves

1 garlic clove

1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1. Place nuts, garlic, and cilantro in a mini food processor; process until minced. Add oil and remaining ingredeints; process until smooth. Yield: about 1/2 cup, 4 servings.