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Basil, Garlic and Pine Nuts (Ingredients for Pesto)
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Garlic, Ischia Ponte, Ischia, Bay
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Various Types of Pasta
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La Belle Cuisine
Salad... from the Simple to the Sublime
(Several years ago, at least, but the idea remains the same...)
a great conversation with Keegan (my son, the esteemed pastry
other day. Talked about all
kinds of things, as mothers and
sons are wont to do.
Eventually the topic turned to things culinary.
How could it not, given that we are who we are, he and I?
he says, “you know what I’m hungry for?”
what? Kraft macaroni and cheese (family joke)?”
Actually, I’m hungry for your Tuna Macaroni Salad…”
giggling myself silly, right. Tuna
Macaroni Salad indeed. First of all,
I’d been considering what I could
throw together for a quick and easy
Had decided on Tuna Macaroni Salad. How did he know?
this is a man who knows his foie gras, who has an incredibly sophisticated
palate, who appreciates fine cuisine as only a truly excellent
Who can throw together a Croquembouche with one hand tied
behind his back.
And maybe even blindfolded. And he wants my recipe
for Tuna Macaroni
Salad. Go figure.
really, that’s what I’m hungry for. We want to make some
I do declare. Out of all the
things he could have for dinner, he
wants Tuna Macaroni Salad. When I stopped to think about it, I recalled
once again that Chef Keegan’s taste had always leaned toward simple,
delicious comfort food:
macaroni and cheese,
okay, here it is, as best as I can pass it along. I’ve never measured any
of the ingredients, because it’s just
something I throw together, just as my grandmother did.
Mom's Tuna Macaroni
pound macaroni (I use small sea shells
these days, or elbow)
1 small onion, minced (or 1 bunch
3 small stalks celery (tender inside stalks,
2 cans oil-packed tuna, drained very well
3 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
1/4 cup or so sweet pickle relish
(or not, depending on my mood -
grandmother always included it)
Fresh parsley leaves, minced (or parsley flakes)
Fresh chives, chopped (or
Other fresh herbs, depending on
availability and my mood
Salt, pepper, and Creole
Seasoning to taste
Mayonnaise – or – a combination of
mayonnaise and homemade
dressing, using just enough to hold
the salad together
the macaroni al dente in boiling salted water (add a dollop of oil if you
like), and drain it well. Rinse
the macaroni thoroughly with cold water and
drain it again. Place it in a
large mixing bowl. Add all
other ingredients and
combine well. Serve
at room temperature. Serves 4
you have it. Nothing to it really, but my family has always loved it.
Keegan, what have you been cooking lately, at home?”
nothing much. Certainly nothing spectacular. I did throw together a
pretty darned yummy orzo salad the other
day, Mom. Maybe you’d like
know I would!”
on Chef Keegan’s narrative, this is approximately what I cooked
dinner last night. Excellent! Received
rave reviews all around:
Keegan’s Orzo and Grilled Chicken Salad
3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Marinade of your choice (see below
for my favorite)
1 bunch scallions
8 ounces fresh cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, roasted, chopped
Pesto (see note below) *
Feta cheese, about 4 ounces, crumbled
couple of hours or so before you’re ready to make the salad, place the
chicken breasts in a shallow glass (or non-reactive metal) dish, or in a
able plastic bag. Add the marinade and set aside at room temperature.
you’re ready to get serious (but not too serious, of course, as this is
fun dish!) cook the orzo al dente in boiling salted water (add a dollop
if you like). Drain it well, rinse
it thoroughly with cold water and drain again. Place the orzp in a
large mixing bowl. Add the scallions, mushrooms, roasted pepper, and pesto so
the flavors can become better acquainted while you grill
If you’re a purist, or if you’re really into grilling (like a certain
Major of our acquaintance), you’ll want to actually fire up the
grill. If not, you can do
I did – get out your trusty Calphalon grill pan, coat it lightly
with olive oil, and crank up the heat. I like to cut the chicken breasts into strips before grilling, as
that adds to the wonderful smoky flavor – the whole purpose of grilling,
right? Okay. Grill the chicken until it’s good and brown – at least a tad
charred. Add the chicken
strips to the pasta, and toss in the well-drained, crumbled feta cheese.
Eat. Relax, and enjoy!
About the pesto. The
purchased variety will work okay here, if that’s your inclination. You’ll need about a cup. I find the flavor somewhat lacking in
every brand I’ve tried thus far. Making
pesto from scratch it not at all dif-
ficult, and not really time-consuming
either. I’m assuming here that you
enjoy cooking, or you wouldn’t be
visiting La Belle Cuisine anyway.
I thought so.
what I did. While I was in
Huntsville recently, I spent a consider-
able amount of very pleasant time
browsing through the shelves of the
Publix supermarket. I discovered a wonderful thing called “Marjon (brand)
Tomato Pesto with Elephant Garlic”. It even has pine nuts. A
tad pricey, perhaps, but worth the money.
It’s a dried mix, requiring only
you add water and allow it
to stand about 20 minutes or so prior to
processing it briefly in the
processor or blender. It’s marvelous!
what do you do if you don’t want to used purchased pesto, and
fortunate enough to find the above-mentioned brand of dried
local supermarket? No problem. Just make up a
Chez Ray’s Pesto Perfecto
Copyright, 1998, Raymond G. DeForest Jr., All rights
cups fresh basil leaves, thoroughly
washed and patted dry
4 good size garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup pine nuts
1 cup virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cups freshly grated Pecorino
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
basil, garlic and pine nuts in food processor and chop finely. Leave
processor running and add olive oil in a slow steady stream through feed
tube. Turn off the processor. Remove top and add cheese, a sprinkle of
salt and a good grinding of pepper. Replace top, and process to combine
ingredients. Store in freezer or refrigerator in clean jars.
the best olive oil you can. Check the label; the best are labeled
pressed and extra-virgin. Cold pressing is chemical free, and
only 1 percent acid.
sure the cheese says "Pecorino." This means the cheese is make
from sheep's milk instead of cow's milk or a mixture of several types
milk, and has been aged for at least 8 months.
food processor makes this an easy and quick dish to make. There are
types of pine nuts or "pignoli" available in the stores today.
are domestically grown, Chinese (stronger in flavor), and Italian
delicate). Try them all and use what your taste dictates. I
like the domestic
and Italian; the Chinese are too strong for this use.
nuts turn rancid quickly. Store them airtight in the freezer for up to
The Only Marinade You’ll Ever
Sauces, Rubs and Marinades,
Bastes, Butters & Glazes
Steven Raichlen, 2000, Workman Publishing
“If I could use only one
marinade for the rest of my life, it would be this
Redolent with garlic, piquant with fresh lemon juice, and fragrant
virgin olive oil, it instantly transports you to the
Mediterranean. I can't think
of a single food that doesn't taste better
bathed in it. You can use it as both a
marinade and a basting sauce. If
marinating poultry, meat, or seafood, simply
set a portion aside for
cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea),
or to taste
4 strips of lemon zest
3 cloves garlic, crushed with the
side of a cleaver or minced
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil,
cilantro, dill, oregano,
or a mix of
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
the lemon juice, hot pepper flakes, cracked pepper, and salt in a
ceramic, or stainless steel) bowl and whisk until the salt crystals are
dissolved. Add the lemon zest, garlic, parsley and basil. Stir or
the olive oil. The virtue of this marinade is its freshness: Use it
1 to 2 hours of making.
Stir again before using. Makes 1 cup.
4 to 6.
it for today…..enjoy!
Don't miss these excellent pasta salads!
Chicken and Pasta Salad with Spinach
Chicken and Vegetable Pasta
Grilled Vegetable and Pasta Salad with
Red Bell Pepper Dressing
Niçoise Orzo Salad
Pasta Salad with Spinach Pesto
Pasta with Sauce Niçoise
Tuna Pasta Salad (Josephine Rao)
seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love,
mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think
of one without
the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I
am really writing about
love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the
of it and the hunger for it…
and then the warmth and richness and
fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it
is all one."
~ M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating
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