web analytics

Tag Archives | pesto

Portobello Mushroom Melts

Portobello mushrooms are one of my favorite mushrooms. Their meaty texture is a great substitute for steak and are a hearty addition to stir-fry dishes and sauces. Portobello’s are a grown up version of the crimini mushroom. Nutritionally, they are an excellent source of niacin (helps in the functioning of the digestive system, skin, and nerves) and a good source of potassium (also known as electrolytes) and selenium (helps to resist free radical damage). As with most other mushrooms, portobellos should not be washed. Simply tap them on the counter to loosen any dirt and lightly wipe with a paper towel.

Serves 4
adapted from BBC Olive magazine

4 large portobello mushrooms
olive oil
3 tablespoons pesto (more if needed)
1 ball of fresh mozzarella
2 tablespoons pine nuts
4 slices ciabatta, toasted

Spread pesto over the mushrooms and place in a lightly oiled ovenproof dish.  Tear the cheese into pieces and divide between the mushrooms.  Top with pine nuts and grill under a low heat 8 to 10 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and melted.  Serve a mushroom on each slice of bread.

The Culinary Chase’s Note
: The flavors here are amazing and so easy to make.  Serve with a side salad and a glass of red wine to balance the richness of the mushrooms.   Enjoy! 

Scallop and Pesto Purses – A Tribute to Julia Child

I was in Barnes and Noble bookstore last week and in the cooking section (yes, I know – shock!) when I was about to leave I spied an end unit displaying Julia Child’s cookbook:  Baking With Julia: Savor The Joys of Baking with America’s Best Bakers.  I paused to take note and began casually flipping through the book when I saw one recipe stand out so I went back to investigate.  The scallop and pesto purses looked so cute I had to ‘google’ the recipe when I got home.  My Mom loved to watch Julia Child, Graham Kerr, Jacques Pepin and I think it was a toss up between The French Chef and The Galloping Gourmet as to which one she preferred the most.  I spoke to Mom today and she remembers watching one episode where Julia was using the same mixer as Mom for a cake she was about to make. When she turned the unit on flour billowed out and made a bit of a mess to which Julia just laughed.  Mom, watching the show, said “that’s happened to me, too!” My Dad purchased a Kitchen Aid stand mixer for Mom in the early 1970’s and it’s still working! I watched Julia and Graham on their respective cooking shows but to be honest was never glued to the television set to watch them every week – I was a teenager and had other interests.

I had no idea this week was a big week for all Julia Child fans.  Something in the culinary cosmos pointed me to the end unit where Julia’s book was inspiring me to search the recipe on the web and to discover that if Julia Child was still alive today she would be 100 years old on the 15th!  So without further ado, here’s the recipe adapted from Julia Child.  Celebrate Julia by cooking up your favorite dish from now until the 15th August.

Serves 4

12 dry scallops (preferably U-10 size)
8 sheets of phyllo pastry
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 375f (190c).  Carefully remove pastry from package (thawed in fridge).  Place one sheet on a wooden surface and lightly brush with melted butter.  Make sure remaining phyllo sheets are covered with a slightly dampened tea towel (this prevents the pastry from drying out).  Sprinkle some of the Parmesan cheese over the sheet.  Take out another phyllo sheet and place on top of the first one.  Repeat procedure until 4 sheets have been used.  Repeat this method again for the other 4 sheets of pastry.


Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the pastry lengthwise in half and crosswise in thirds.  Place a scallop in the middle and place a small teaspoon of pesto on top.  Gently pick up 2 opposite corners so that they meet in the middle of the scallop.  Do the same with the other 2 corners and arrange such that the points of the corners face up like a change purse.  You might need to brush a bit more melted butter on top.  Place bundles on a backing sheet and bake for 12 minutes or until golden.


The Culinary Chase’s Note:  YUM!  And, Happy Birthday Julia!


Grilled Potato Rounds with Pesto and Shaved Asparagus

Who couldn’t love a little potato round dressed up like this?  Simple ingredients and these won’t last long once you bring them to the table! Asparagus, now in season, is one of my favorite Spring vegetables.  It is an excellent source of vitamin K, A, and C and this humble perennial is also a natural diuretic. 

Serves 4 as a side or starter
adapted from Minimally Invasive

4 medium yukon gold potatoes
olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 bunch thick asparagus spears, washed and dried (ends removed)
olive oil
lemon juice
salt and pepper

Wash potatoes thoroughly, then cut into 1/2″ rounds. Parboil in lots of salted water just until they begin to soften. While potatoes are cooking, spread olive oil on a large, rimmed baking sheet and spread evenly with minced garlic. When potatoes are ready, drain and immediately place on tray, turning to coat. Let them sit for at least 30 minutes to soak up all of the garlicky goodness, then fire up the grill.  Cook over medium-high heat, turning once, until the potatoes have nice grill marks on them and are cooked through.

For the asparagus, grasp the thick, woody end of the asparagus and run a vegetable peeler down the length of the spear to make ribbons. Toss together with lemon juice and olive oil to taste, keeping the dressing light so it isn’t a mess to eat.

To assemble, spread a little pesto on each potato round and top with a few asparagus ribbons. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: The flavors here were memorable! The lemon juice will help to soften the asparagus ribbons making them pliable when adding to the potato rounds.  Enjoy!

Italian Stuffed Eggplant

I can’t recall when I first starting eating and cooking eggplant – but it’s been a very long time – as I remember my Mom using it in different recipes whilst growing up.  There are some debates as to where this purple beauty emerged – was it India or China? Chinese scroll records dating from the 5th century show that ladies made a black dye out of eggplants. The dye was spread on their teeth and polished until their teeth would shine like silver. However, we really have to thank the Arab traders for spreading eggplant into the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Europeans and Africans then carried eggplants with them to the Americas. Today, China, India, Egypt, Turkey and Indonesia are the top leading growers of eggplant. Eggplant is a very good source of dietary fiber along with a host of vitamins and minerals.  Check out 3 Fat Chicks on a Diet for their take on the health benefits of this nightshade veggie.

Serves 8
adapted from Bella Sun Luci

4 medium eggplants
1 cup of cooked rice
1/2 lb. ground turkey or your favorite ground meat
8.5 oz. sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and cut into thin strips
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
salt and pepper
1 cup pesto
olive oil

Preheat oven to 180c (350f). Cut eggplant in half lengthwise and cut out the pulp leaving a small edge around the eggplant. Salt inside of eggplant cases. Combine onion, garlic, turkey, salt and pepper and basil. Sauté until browned, drain any excess liquid and remove from heat. Add cooked rice, sun-dried tomatoes and pesto; mix to combine. Arrange eggplant cases in a shallow baking dish coated with olive oil and spoon in mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Use the eggplant meat in other dishes such as: meat and eggplant jambalaya, lamb and eggplant stew, Greek eggplant & meat pie.  It’s important to make sure the eggplant cases are thin enough to hold the stuffing otherwise a thicker casing will be tougher to eat (lesson learned!) unless you increase the cooking time.  Lovely flavors and so Mediterranean-tasting with the herbs and pesto.  Enjoy!