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Pepperoni Pesto

pepperoni pesto by The Culinary ChaseWhen I think of pesto my mind immediately sees plump basil leaves, pine nuts, a mound of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and smashed garlic bound together with olive oil.  But when we think ‘outside the box’, a funny thing happens…we tend to experiment.  There are oodles of options out there when rethinking the term pesto.  And to get you thinking along these lines, visit Rachel Sanders 16 Things You Can Turn Into Pesto. She’s right when she says “as long as you have all the basic components that make pesto, the central vegetable can be almost anything you want. And you can even skip the cheese or the nuts if they don’t fit into your personal diet plan”.  As an example, here’s a coriander pesto I served atop sweet potato soup.  Pepperoni pesto is definitely taking old world pesto to new levels of gastronomy.  If you like pepperoni, you’ll find this dish very addictive.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

150g pepperoni, roughly chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 teaspoon whole grain Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (more if you like)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

pepperoni pesto ingredients by The Culinary ChaseIn a food processor combine all ingredients until combined. Add olive oil to desired consistency and stir to combine.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Serve this with sliced ciabatta, smear it on chicken, use as a pasta sauce, dip etc.  Increase or decrease the ingredients to suit your palate.  Enjoy!

Oven Roasted Rutabaga Fries

rutabaga fries by The Culinary ChaseConfession time. I always thought the word rutabaga was a fancy term for a turnip. So for clarity, here’s the scoop on both – I know you want to get to the bottom of this.  While surfing the web I found out that a rutabaga (aka swede or yellow turnip) is the cross between a wild cabbage and a turnip. Turnips are also a root vegetable, can have a bitter taste, usually conical in shape and is white-skinned with a light purple top (caused by being exposed to sunlight).  Both carry their own list of health benefits.

Laced with garlic and Parmesan, serve these fries at the next Sunday football gathering…I guarantee they won’t last long!

rutabaga, peeled
splash of extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped or you could use a teaspoon of Herbs de Provence
1 tablespoon garlic paste (directions here)

photo: www.rawmelissa.com

photo: www.rawmelissa.com

1. Preheat oven to 425f.
2. Slice rutabaga into 1/4-inch disks and then cut those disks into French fry sized sticks. Place in a bowl.
3. Add rosemary, garlic, Parmesan and olive oil to rutabaga. Toss to coat the rutabaga.
4. Place rutabaga on a non-stick cookie sheet (spaced out) and bake in the oven 20 to 30 minutes. Keep an eye on them and flip half way through cooking. Remove when golden brown and serve immediately.

rutabaga collage by The Culinary ChaseThe Culinary Chase’s Note: For a bit of spice add cayenne pepper before baking. If you want to serve these with a dip, try using aioli otherwise these fries are lovely dressed they way they are. Enjoy!