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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Sauces/Rubs/Marinades

TIP OF THE DAY: Ají Sauce

Hot sauce lovers should take a closer look at ají sauce, a standard in Ecuador and Peru. Aji amarillo is one of the most common types of chiles in the area, and is also one of the most important ingredients in the two countries.

While, like all salsas, there are as many variations as there are cooks, a basic ají criollo is made from the ají amarillo (yellow ají*), along with cilantro, garlic, onion and lime.

Each region and city has its own unique recipe. For example, ají de tomate de árbol—tree tomato or tamarillo ají—uses tamarillo as well as ají amarillo. (A recipe is below.)

Andrés Dávila, executive chef of Casa Gangotena, TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Top Ten Hotel, offers tourists a journey through the different types of ají, with a selection of six sauces carefully paired with a dish that heightens the flavors of the local cuisine. He’s also sent us a standard recipe so you can make your own.

Great for sauces and to kick up any meal with a great flavor and medium heat. Chewing on the chiles adds more heat.

  • Ají mixed with passion fruit, which colors the sauce a spectacular yellow, goes well paired with chicken or pork.
  • Ají with sambo squash seeds, a light green cream with a subtle smell and taste that goes well with white meats.
  •    

    aji-amarillo-perudelights-230r

    Ají amarillo, in shades of yellow and orange. Photo courtesy PeruDelights.com.

  • Manaba-style pickled ají, flavored and colored with carrots, is the perfect accompaniment to fish.
  • Orange ají is made with tree tomato (tamarillo) and chochos (lupines).
  • Purple ají, colored with beets, has a complex layering of fruit vinegar, grated carrots and pickle slices, goes well with both seafood and red meats.
  •  
    PICK UP A JAR OF AJÍ AMARILLO (YELLOW AJÍ) PASTE

    You can probably find a jar of ají paste in the Latin foods section of your supermarket. Goya makes it, of course, and you can find specialty brands such as Costa Peruana and Inca’s Food online.

    Aji paste is simply a purée of fresh ajis. “American fusion” uses include:

  • Mix a tablespoon with a cup of Alfredo or other white sauce, red sauce or brown sauce or gravy.
  • Add to soup (including chicken soup).
  • Add to a ceviche marinade.
  • Mix into condiments to add flavor and heat.
  •  
    *While ají is Spanish for chile pepper and amarillo means yellow, the color changes to orange as the chiles mature. You can see the deepening colors in the photo above.

     

    aji-amarillo-paste-incasfood-230

    Add bold flavor to many dishes with ají
    amarillo (yellow chile) paste. Photo courtesy
    Inca’s Food.

     

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE AJÍ SAUCE

    This classic ají sauce combines tree tomato (tamarillo), ají amarillo and chochos (lupines, or lupin beans). Lupins are a large yellow Italian bean. You can substitute lima beans or fava beans for the lupins.

    Ingredients

  • 4-5 tomatillos
  • 2 ajís (you can substitute serranos or other red chilies, or yellow habaneros for extra heat)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: cooked and peeled chochos (lupin beans)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PEEL the tomatillos and boil them for 5 minutes.

    2. BLEND the tomatillos with ají chiles. For a milder sauce, seed and devein the chiles. You can always save a few seeds and add them in if it’s too mild.

    3. TRANSFER the mix to a small sauce pan, add the water (you can add more if you want a more liquid sauce) and cook on medium heat for 5-8 minutes. You can also skip the cooking part; the sauce will be fresher in taste, but will need to be consumed more quickly.

    4. ADD the onion, lime juice, cilantro, optional chochos and salt to taste. Serve warm or cold.

    VARIATION: Replace the water with oil (avocado, light olive oil or a mild flavored oil) for a creamier Cuencano-style ají, and do not cook it after blending.

    Recipe courtesy Laylita.com.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Cauliflower Salad & Romesco Sauce

    Victoria Amory is a cook and food writer born and raised in Spain. She now lives in the U.S., and has her own line of specialty sauces.

    One of the signature sauces from the Catalonia region of Spain is romesco. Learn more about it below.

    Victoria’s sells an Almond & Garlic Romesco Sauce, but you can make your own from scratch, using almonds, other nuts, or a blend.

    Crafted with red chile peppers, pimentón (paprika), nuts and extra virgin olive oil, romesco is a perfect sauce to use with meats, roasted vegetables, shellfish and fish. “It elevates your everyday meals to everyday feasts,” says Chef Victoria.

    If you have leftover sauce, it is delicious as a dip or bread spread.

    For an everyday feast, try her Cauliflower And Bacon Salad With Romesco Sauce.

    RECIPE: WARM CAULIFLOWER & BACON SALAD WITH
    ROMESCO SAUCE

    Ingredients

       

    multicolored-cauliflower-nourishtheroots-230

    Colored cauliflower makes the dish more exciting. Photo courtesy NourishTheRoots.com.

  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed and chopped into florets
  • ½ pound bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 3 large slices country white or wheat bread, torn into pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 can (8 ounces) garbanzo beans, canned, rinsed
  • ¼ pound baby spinach leaves, rinsed & dried
  • 1 cup romesco sauce, to serve
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. In a bowl, toss together the cauliflower, bacon, olive oil and vinegar. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

    2. TOSS the bread with the garlic and extra virgin olive oil and add the cauliflower. Roast for an additional 10 minutes or until the bread is toasted and the cauliflower is golden.

    3. MIX the cauliflower with the chickpeas and toss with the spinach leaves. Add a drizzle of olive oil if needed. Serve warm with romesco sauce on the side.

     

    romesco-dip-Aida-Mollenkamp-230

    Romesco sauce and dip. Photo courtesy Aida
    Mollenkamp.

     

    RECIPE: ROMESCO SAUCE & DIP

    As with most recipes, there is considerable variation in the proportion of ingredients. This version is adapted from chef Aida Mollenkamp.

    Ingredients

  • 1 jar (15 ounces) roasted bell peppers (pimento)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 6 ounces blanched almonds (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Optional heat: 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    2. SERVE with crudites, crusty sliced bread or your favorite crackers.

     

    WHAT IS ROMESCO SAUCE?

    First, it isn’t romanesco sauce. There is no romanesco sauce. Romanesco is a language; the sauce is romesco.

    Romesco is a pungent, smooth, rich red sauce made from red peppers, tomatoes, ground almonds or other nuts, olive oil, garlic, and cayenne pepper. It originated in Tarragona, a port city on the Mediterranean Sea in the province of Catalonia in northeast Spain. Though the exact origin is unclear (as is the meaning of the name), it is believed that the local fishermen made it to eat with their catch.

    It has become a popular sauce beyond seafood, enjoyed with meat, poultry and vegetables as well as for a dip and a bread spread.

    The nuts can be any mixture of roasted or raw almonds, pine nuts, and/or hazelnuts or walnuts, plus roasted garlic, olive oil, mild bitxo chiles (red chiles similar to Anaheim/New Mexico chiles) and/or nyora peppers (a sun dried, small, round variety of red bell pepper).

    Flour or ground stale bread is sometimes used as a thickener or to provide texture. Other common ingredients employed in different recipe variations include roasted tomatoes, red wine vinegar and onions. Leaves of fennel or mint are added when the sauce is served with fish and other seafood.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 10 Trending Sauces To Know (And Use!)

    Yesterday we recommended serving proteins “three ways.” One of the ways to differentiate them is with sauces, and we recommended a look at the famed mother sauces of France.

    Then, we got an email from Food & The Menu, a magazine for chefs. The new issue features “10 Sauces Of The Moment”—options that span the world.

    “Say ‘so long’ to complicated reductions and rich, butter-mounted glazes,” says Joan Lang, the article’s author. “Some of today’s most trending sauces are more like condiments, following the popularity of sriracha, harissa, wasabi and aïoli.”

    So if you want to get ahead of your favorite chefs, consider these sauces, many of which are sold ready-made. Some will be familiar to you, others less so. Read the full article, which includes recipe ideas:

    1. Adobo Sauce

    Long a Mexican staple, this vinegar-based sauce is made with chiles and/or paprika, garlic, cumin, oregano, pepper, sugar and sometimes tomato or ketchup. It is perhaps the easiest of the group to find in your local supermarket (it’s also available online). There’s a Filipino version of adobo, a simmer sauce of vinegar, garlic and soy sauce. Try them both!

    2. Colorado Sauce

    Rich, smoky and spicy, Colorado sauce (also called red chile sauce or chile colorado) is another find from Mexico. To achieve its namesake red color, it incorporates multiple types of roasted or dried chiles (such as ancho and New Mexico) with onions and tomatoes. Make it or buy it.

    3. Comeback Sauce

    From Mississippi, this sauce is a cross between spicy rémoulade sauce and creamy Thousand Island dressing is a versatile dip, dressing or spread osandwiches and more—and you sure can’t argue with the fun name.

       

    aloha-soy-sauce-amz

    Soy sauce with a Hawaiian twist can be brush onto grilled food or added to dips, mayonnaise, and vinaigrettes. Photo courtesy Aloha Brand.

     
    4. Donkey Sauce

    Popularized by television chef Guy Fieri, donkey sauce combines mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, sriracha and lots of roasted garlic to create a hot and spicy alternative to aïoli sauce, the classic French garlic mayonnaise. 
     
    5. Fonduta

    A rich, melted cheese sauce from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy, fonduta is usually made with Fontina, Parmesan and cream—and if you’ve got the bucks, white truffles in season. It is served as a sauce over food or as a fondue-like dip.
     

     

    ponzu-yakamiorchard-230

    Ponzu sauce is available in most
    supermarkets. We buy this gourmet blend
    from Yakima Orchard online.

     

    6. Gochujang Sauce

    Pronounced ko-choo-CHONG, this pungent Korean hot red chili paste is made from fermented soybeans, glutinous rice, red chile, garlic, honey and salt. Spice lovers will enjoy a jar. Look for it in Asian markets or online.

    7. Hawaiian Sauces

    These range from traditional salty-sweet Aloha Sauce (a brand of soy sauce blended with fruit juices, brown sugar, ginger and garlic) to more creative inventions like poi vinaigrette (mashed boiled taro root mixed into a vinaigrette). You can find Aloha Sauce on Amazon.com.

     
    8. Kewpie Mayonnaise

    This MSG-laden mayonnaise from Japan, first made in Japan in 1925, more recently came to prominence at sushi bars in the U.S. as “Dynamite Sauce” for the Dynamite Roll.* Made with rice vinegar instead of distilled vinegar, it is yellower, creamier and richer than western mayonnaise. It is now used to give a kick of sweet and vinegary creaminess to salads and vegetables. Look for it in Asian markets or online.

     
    9. Nyonya Sauce

    This spicy Malaysian sauce typically contains chile paste, curry, fish sauce, lemongrass and other spices. Lang predicts that “before long this flavor booster will go mainstream.” We found it available in packets on Amazon.com.
     

    10. Ponzu Sauce

    This Japanese soy-and-citrus-based dipping sauce is an easy mix of yuzu or lemon juice, kombu, mirin and rice wine vinegar. In Japanese cuisine it’s served with dumplings or shabu shabu, but its uses have evolved (we like it with seafood and rice). You can buy it in the Asian products section of your market. Our favorite, from Yakami Orchard, is available online.
     
     
    WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CONDIMENT AND A SAUCE?

    A sauce is a condiment, which is defined as a food item added to the primary food to enhance its flavor.

    While some condiments are used by the chef during cooking (barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, for example), others, such as ketchup and mustard, are applied by the individual diner.

    The word derives from the Latin condimentum, meaning spice, seasoning or sauce. That word in turn derived from the Latin condere, meaning to preserve, pickle or season. The word originally described pickled or preserved foods, but evolved over time.
     
    *The Dynamite Roll incorporates shrimp tempura, masago (capelin roe) and vegetables, such as radish sprouts, avocado and/or cucumber.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Peanut Dipping Sauce

    summer-rolls-peanut-butter-sauce-lizziemabbot-ILPB-230r

    A three-ingredient peanut sauce. Photo
    courtesy Lizzie Mabbot | Lizzy Eats London.

     

    If you’re a fan of peanut sauce for dipping, making sesame noodles or drizzling over steamed vegetables, and diluted with salad oil for a salad dressing.

    While the preparation is simple—just combine the ingredients in a bowl and blend—depending on the recipe, you can spend more time or less time measuring ingredients.

    We discovered this super easy recipe version on ILovePeanutButter.com, contributed by blogger Lizzie Mabbot of Lizzy Eats London. She serves it with homemade summer rolls.

    RECIPE: EASY PEANUT SAUCE

    Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • ¼ cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients with a whisk. If sauce is too thick, add a little water.

     

     

    RECIPE: STANDARD PEANUT SAUCE

    This recipe, from McCormick, has more layers of flavor and takes a few more minutes to prepare—plus fish sauce and sesame oil, which you may not have on hand. McCormick uses it in their sesame noodles recipe.

    Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  •  

    sesame-noodles-mccormick-230sq

    Seasame noodles with peanut sauce. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients in a food processor. Cover and process until smooth.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: A Better Pasta Sauce From Vino De Milo

    hilo-by-milo-230w

    You won’t find more nutritious pasta sauce
    than this! Photo courtesy Vino de Milo.

     

    We first discovered Vino de Milo in 2005. It was a new line of gourmet tomato sauces for pasta and other dishes. Each flavor had a different wine in the recipe. It was a delight atop our pasta, chicken, eggs and tofu, and wonderful for gift-giving to cooks and non-cooks alike.

    But not every new product line survives and thrives. Some of our favorites have gone with the wind.

    That’s why we’re so pleased that Vino de Milo has grown and expanded, with bruschetta toppings, salad dressings and salsas.

    We love that the pasta sauces and the bruschetta toppings, both made from top-quality tomatoes that are so naturally sweet, have no sugar added. Americans consume a ghastly 22 teaspoons of sugar a day (the government recommends only nine teaspoons), much of it from “hidden” sugar added to prepared foods. Read the full review.

    Now, the company has added nutrition to its pasta sauce. Hilo by Milo is a high fiber, low sodium pasta sauce with a great nutritional profile. Per 3/4 cup serving, it has:

  • 5 g fiber
  • 4 g protein
  • 150 mg sodium
  • 110 calories
  •  

    The sauce uses crushed tomatoes, of course. But added to them are other fresh ingredients: fresh carrots, adzuki beans, currant purée, fresh onions, onion powder, red wine, fresh fennel, garlic powder, fresh basil, fresh thyme, cumin, black pepper, rosemary and crushed red pepper.

    Yes, you can taste the freshness!

    Like the other Vino de Milo pasta sauces, it is made in small batches with no added sugars added and is gluten-free.

    The products can be ordered from iGourmet.com.
     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Apricot Cilantro Salsa

    Seasonal apricot salsa brightens grilled
    chicken or fish. Photo courtesy Landana
    Cheese.

     

    Salsa is simply the generic word for “sauce.” Many centuries before tortilla chips were invented, Aztecs and other Mesoamericans ground ingredients into sauces for meat and fish.

    This salsa recipe was developed as a sauce for chicken or fish, as opposed to a dip for tortilla chips. It comes from Landana Cheese, a Dutch producer specializing in Gouda-style cheeses—hence the unusual addition of cheese. You can omit the cheese, and the salsa is just as good.

    RECIPE: APRICOT CILANTRO SALSA FOR FISH & POULTRY

    Ingredients

  • 5.3 ounces (150g) Gouda-style cheese, shaved (Landana used their 1000 Days aged Gouda)
  • 8 ripe apricots, halved and pitted
  • 6 cilantro sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  •  

    Preparation

    1. CUT the apricots into a small dice. Remove the leaves of cilantro from the stems and mince them. Juice the lime and grate the zest.

    2. COMBINE the apricots, cilantro, lime juice and zest and paprika and allow the flavors to blend for a half hour or longer. Shave flakes from the cheese and divide them over appetizer spoons or appetizer dishes. Then divide the apricot-coriander salsa over the cheese.

     

    IT’S APRICOT SEASON

    Fresh, ripe, California apricots are have a short peak season, and that season is now.

    Some 95% of the apricots grown in the U.S. come from California. More than 400 growers produce apricots from 21,000 acres of orchards in the San Joaquin Valley in central California, and in the northern part around San Francisco.

    Numerous apricot varieties grow in California, each with special characteristics. The most prevalent varieties are the Blenheims, Castlebrites, Pattersons and Tiltons. Growers continually experiment with new varieties that deliver sweeter, juicier flavor and/or process or ship with more longevity. Fruits are bred to do better in specific soils and microclimates.

    Apricots originated China. Cuttings were brought by caravan across the Persian Empire and planted in the Mediterranean, where they flourished.

    Spanish explorers get credit for introducing the apricot to the New World, and specifically to California, where they were planted in the gardens of Spanish missions. The first major production of apricots was recorded in 1792, in an area south of San Francisco.

     

    FrogHollow-apricots-230

    Organic apricots from Northern California’s Frog Hollow Farm.

     

    HOW TO FREEZE APRICOTS

    If you end up with a wealth of apricots, they can be frozen in sugar syrup, to be defrosted and enjoyed in the cold months when you need a bit of sunshine.

    1. COMBINE 2 cups sugar and 5 cups water. Add 2 ounces ascorbic acid for each 2-1/2 cups syrup.

    2. PLUNGE cleaned whole apricots into boiling water for about thirty seconds. Then peel, pit and halve or slice; place in the sugar syrup and freeze.

    3. DEFROST slowly in the fridge (the best way to retain flavor when defrosting just about anything).

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Vegan Pesto From Sauces ‘n Love

    Sauces-n-Love_Vegan-Pesto-230

    Vegan, lactose free and cholesterol free
    pesto. Photo courtesy Sauces ‘n Love.

     

    Keeping a good jar of pre-made pesto at hand can make any dish extraordinary in only a matter of minutes.

    Pesto sauce, traditionally consists of basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses and salt for seasoning. Add a dollop to dinner and suddenly you’re a fancy cook who understands how to dazzle with delicate herbs. Pesto is vegetarian, low in carbs and packed with fresh ingredients: a bright, healthy addition to your meals.

    Pesto originated in the Italian province of Liguria, 220 miles of crescent-shaped Mediterranean coastline that is sometimes called the Italian Riviera. Liguria, the capital of which is Genoa, is home to superb produce, most notably the sweetest, mildest basil. Its people enjoy one of the freshest, healthiest cuisines in all of Italy.

    Just as pesto can be made with different nuts (hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts) and greens (arugula, spinach)—or even non-greens, like red pepper pesto—it can be made vegan instead of vegetarian. One way to do this is to substitute vegan Parmesan.

     

    But Sauces ‘n Love has creating a pesto condiment, dip and sauce that eliminates the cheese or cheese substitute. Using only extra virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and black pepper still creates a delicious pesto.

     

    Why vegan pesto? Aside from accommodating the growing number of vegans, it’s a boon for non-vegans who are lactose intolerant, those cutting back on cholesterol, and kosher consumers who want to serve pesto with meat-based meals.

    Sauces ‘n Love, a NIBBLE Top Pick of The Week is one of our favorite lines of Italian-style sauces, sold fresh in the refrigerator case. A sister line, Scarpetta, is shelf-stable and will stay fresh without refrigeration for nine months. Learn more at SaucesNLove.com.
     
    MORE ABOUT PESTO

  • Pesto Overview
  • The History Of Pesto
  • Pesto Serving Suggestions
  • Homemade Pesto Recipe and Pesto Prep Tips
  • More Favorite Pestos
  •  

    Pesto-SalmonCakes-230

    Beyond pasta: Pesto can be used to enhance most savory dishes. Photo by Guyer Wood | IST.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Apricot Glaze

    An easy way to add more flavor to roasted meat is with a simple glaze. This recipe adds a sweet and spicy touch to chicken, duck, ham, pork loin or turkey.

    If you don’t like heat, cut back on the chili flakes.

    Use any extra glaze as a sauce (dilute it with chicken stock if desired), and the extra sprigs of thyme as a plate garnish. You can also freeze the thyme sprigs as an ingredient or garnish for another day.

    RECIPE: EASY APRICOT GLAZE

    Ingredients

  • 1 jar apricot preserves or apricot jam
  • 1 tablespoon chili flakes
  • ¼ cup of bourbon (optional)
  • 1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper
  • 1 spring of fresh thyme
  •  

    Use extra glaze as a sauce. Photo courtesy National Pork Board.

     

    Preparation

    1. ADD all ingredients to a sauce pan. Bring to boil over high heat then maintain simmer over lower flame. Stir with a wooden spoon to loosen the apricot preserves.

    2. REDUCE until syrupy for about 5-8 minutes.

    3. BASTE meat with mixture roughly every 3-4 minutes during the last 15 minutes of cooking. You can also add a few tablespoons of this mixture to a gravy or other sauce for greater depth of flavor.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 20+ Uses For Pesto

    The Italian word pesto means paste; the verb pestare means to pound or bruise.

    Classic pesto sauce, which originated in the basil-rich Italian province of Liguria, consists of basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses plus a touch of salt for seasoning. It is traditionally made by pounding the ingredients with a mortar and pestle, which releases more of the flavorful oils in the basil than those made by the blades of a food processor or in commercial production.

    But, switch out the basil for other greens (arugula, spinach), ditch the greens entirely (kalamata olives; orange, red or yellow bell pepper; sundried tomato), switch the nuts (pistachio, walnut), change the seasonings (try sundried tomato pesto with chipotle).

    You can even add fresh tomato, ricotta, yogurt or crème fraîche. Pink pesto, an American invention, is a mix of fresh tomatoes, a bit of pesto, some onions and a hint of cream. Garlic lovers should try roasted garlic pesto, a rich, golden paste flecked with herbs and small walnut chunks.

     

    Pesto as a cheese condiment. Photo courtesy EatWisconsinCheese.com.

     
    Don’t be hesitant: Try anything. The pestobilities are endless!

    Pesto At Breakfast

  • A condiment with any style of eggs
  • A spread for toast and other breads
  • Mixed with cream cheese or Greek yogurt on a bagel
  •  

    A traditional use of pesto: as a garnish for
    fish, meat or poultry. Photo courtesy
    PaperChef.com.

     

    Pesto At Lunch & Dinner

  • A topping for pasta and pizza
  • A condiment with proteins: chicken, pork, seafood, tofu
  • A garnish or mix-in for beans, rice and other grains (barley, quinoa, etc.)
  • A topping for vegetables
  • With potatoes (try pesto potatoes instead of parsley potatoes; pesto mashed potatoes are a must!)
  • As a sandwich spread (with anything from tuna salad to grilled cheese)
  • To bind a pasta salad or potato salad, alone or with mayonnaise
  • Mixed into vinaigrette or other salad dressing
  • Pesto croutons*
  • Mixed into meatballs and meat loaf
  • Layered between tomato and mozzarella slices (Caprese salad)
  • Mixed with mayonnaise for “instant” flavored mayo
  • In compound butter (delicious in baked potatoes)
  • On burgers and hot dogs
  • As a soup garnish
  • In stir-fries
  • In marinades
  •  

    In Liguria, popular pesto-and-pasta dishes include trenette and triofe alla Genovese. Trenette, flat ribbon pasta almost identical to linguine with a surface the sauce can cling to. Triofe are dumpling-like, rolled, worm-shaped pasta with crevices for pesto to fill. You can substitute gnocchi; and if you’re a penne or rigatoni person, go for it. You can use any substantial pasta that can take a heavy dressing (i.e., not angel hair); and by all means, use pesto instead of red sauce in your lasagne.

    Here’s how to match pasta shape to type of sauce.

    Pesto With Appetizers & Snacks

  • On bruschetta, crostini or crusty bread (the difference between bruschetta and crostini)
  • As a dip for crackers or crudités, alone or mixed into mayonnaise, sour cream or yogurt
  • As a cheese condiment
  • As a hummus garnish or mix-in
  •  
    MAKE YOUR OWN PESTO

    Here’s a delicious and easy pesto recipe.

    Whether it’s your own or store-bought, here’s how to store pesto.

    Our favorite pesto brands.
     
    *Pesto croutons: Combine 4 cups bread cubes, 3 tablespoons pesto and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet; bake 20 minutes at 350°F.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Fresh Pesto

    Look for deals on basil and make pesto.
    Photo courtesy PreciseNutrition.com.

     

    Our greenmarkets are flooded with huge bunches of basil, just beckoning to be made into pesto sauce. Pesto traditionally* consists of basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses, plus a pinch of salt. It originated in the Italian province of Liguria, 220 miles of crescent-shaped Mediterranean coastline that is sometimes called the Italian Riviera—and produces the sweetest, mildest basil.

    The capital of Liguria is Genoa, and the region’s classic pesto is known as pesto alla genovese (jen-oh-VAY-zay). Ligurians take such great pride in their sauce, that they have sought D.O.P. status for pesto produced in the area (an official labeling that distinguishes a product for its authenticity and excellence and protects the use of the name).

    The sauce gets its name from the word pestle; a mortar and pestle are the traditional device used to make pesto.

    For centuries, pesto was used mostly as a condiment, to flavor vegetable soups. It wasn’t until 1910 that it began to be used as a sauce for pasta.

     
    *Earlier versions of Ligurian pesto used parsley or marjoram instead of basil, and did not include the pine nuts. Delicious pestos can be made with arugula or other green, and with walnuts or hazelnuts. Regions that have an abundance of those nuts will make the substitution. Some recipes use a combination of Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses; others use only one. Some add butter to the pesto for added creaminess. Ligurian cooks have also been known to occasionally incorporate cooked potato into the sauce. At times, they combine pesto with tomatoes, or add a light, fresh cheese, like ricotta or prescineua, a cultured cheese similar to yogurt or crème fraîche.

    WAYS TO USE PESTO

    Traditional preparations with pesto include trenette, flat ribbon pasta similar to linguine but with ridges the pesto can clink to; and triofe alla Genovese, dumpling-like, rolled, worm-shaped pasta with crevices for pesto to fill. With the latter dish, small pieces of potato are boiled with the dry pasta, and when they’re almost done, string beans are added to the boiling liquid. The three ingredients are then tossed with pesto, adding some starchy cooking water to help it coat.

    How else can you use pesto?

  • Bruschetta: Spread pesto on toasted or grilled bread for an easy snack or hors d’oeuvre.
  • Caprese salad: Substitute pesto for the oil and fresh basil of a Caprese salad (bufala mozzarella and tomatoes).
  • Condiment: Spread pesto on sandwiches, straight or mixed into mayonnaise. That pesto-mayo will also spruce up your chicken and tuna salads, and make a fusion pesto-aïoli. Or, add some pesto to your marinade.
  • Dip: Use pesto as a dip with crudités or French fries; or mix it with mayonnaise, sour cream or yogurt for a creamy dip and sauce that goes with just about anything.
  • Fish and meats: Spoon pesto atop grilled, poached or roasted food, or spoon the pesto onto a plate and place the food on top of it. Like chimichurri† sauce, it’s really delicious on steak.
  • Pasta and pizza: Pesto can be used in lasagna, on gnocchi, and with any other shape of pasta. Just place a few spoonfuls in a bowl, add the cooked pasta and a touch of pasta cooking water, and stir. One of our favorite ways to serve this is with whole, toasted pine nuts, shredded prosciutto, freshly grated Parmesan and peas. We also drizzle it on pizza—both homemade and delivery.
  • Soup: A dollop of pesto, made without nuts, can be added to minestrone or other vegetable soup. In France, pistou is the name of a pesto-like sauce and the soup to which it is added.
  • Vegetables and grains: Pesto is delicious with potatoes, rice and other grains (barley, quinoa, etc.). Instead of parsley potatoes, think pesto potatoes.
  • Vinaigrette: Herb and garlic pestos make fabulous additions to vinaigrettes. Whisk a spoonful with some lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, or add it to your favorite vinaigrette recipe.
  •  
    †Chimichurri is a spicy vinegar-parsley sauce that is the leading condiment in Argentina and Uruguay, as salsa is to Mexico. It is made of chopped fresh parsley and onion, seasoned with garlic, oregano, salt, cayenne and black pepper, and bound with oil and vinegar; it is served with grilled meat.

     

    PESTO ALLA GENOVESE, AKA PESTO CLASSICO

    Ingredients

  • 1 pinch coarse salt
  • 60 small or 30 large fresh basil leaves, wiped, stems and spines removed
  • 1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, peeled, any green shoots removed
  • 3 tablespoons/22g pignoli nuts
  • 2 tablespoons/15g fresh, finely grated Pecorino Sardo
  • 2 tablespoons/15g fresh, finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 3 tablespoons/45 ml extra virgin olive oil (mild or fruity)
  •  

    The result of your labors: delicious pesto. Photo by Loooby | IST..

     
    Variations

    If you’re not a huge basil fan, try arugula, cilantro or spinach pesto. Pesto doesn’t have to be green: You can make it from mushrooms, olives, red bell peppers or sundried tomatoes. You can add chipotle, honey, maple syrup, olives, roasted garlic or whatever appeals to you, to make your signature pesto.

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the sea salt and a few of the basil leaves in a mortar. Using a pestle, press and lightly pound the leaves and salt against the coarse bowl of the mortar, in a rotary motion, breaking the leaves apart. Keep adding a few more leaves and grinding them until you’ve used them all. Do not completely pulverize.

    2. ADD the garlic and pound it until it releases its juices. Add the pignoli nuts and pound them into a paste. Move the pestle around the mortar to combine the ingredients.

    3. STIR in the Pecorino and Parmigiano-Reggiano; then gradually add olive oil, stirring it into the paste (a spoon can be used for these steps, if you prefer). You should have a thick, creamy, homogenous, bright green sauce.

    BLENDER OPTION

    You can make pesto in a blender or food processor. We’ve done it both ways. Believe us, it tastes better when made with a mortar and pestle. If you want the ease of an electric appliance, choose the a blender.

    1. COMBINE half the olive oil and all the ingredients, excluding the cheeses. Process, adding more oil, if necessary, to get the ingredients moving.

    2. STOP the blender regularly to push the mixture down. Once a paste forms, stir in the cheeses, as well as additional olive oil, if desired.

    MORE ON PESTO

    Check out our article with reviews of the best ready-made pesto brands.

      

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