Browsing Tag

pesto

Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Salmon Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

Grilled Salmon with Pea and Mint Pesto

Spring Pea and Mint Pesto with Grilled Salmon // Karista's Kitchen

Is it me or is the summer sailing by at mach speed? It’s been a busy summer so far, which I don’t mind but posting recipes here on the blog seem to take a back seat.  I did promise Facebook readers I’d get this lovely Grilled Salmon with Pea and Mint Pesto posted as a few readers have some fresh fish in their kitchens and they wanted some new ideas for preparing it.  I’ve always got an idea about food and recipes so feel free to ask for recommendations! I love to make meal time delicious. 🙂

I realize I say this often but seafood is one of the easiest, most delicious meals to prepare, especially when paired with a sauce, salsa or pesto.

I serve fish at least three nights a week and pairing seafood with a simple pan sauce, a beurre blanc (which I know sounds fancy and complicated but it’s truly very simple) a fresh salsa or pesto makes the weeknight meal fuss free and delicious.  If you’re not a seafood fan, this pea and mint pesto is just as tasty paired with grilled chicken or lamb.

Grilled Salmon with Spring Pea and Mint Pesto // Karista's Kitchen

Fresh mint seems to be making its way into many of my meals this season – due to my exploding mint plant.  I cut it back but it still took over the herb garden so I transplanted it in it’s very own container.  It still grew back in the herb box and now it’s fighting with the oregano.  I’ll probably dig it up once again and find another spot in the garden to re-plant it.

Mint is a pretty little plant that is usually bright green in color (depending on which type of mint plant it is) and stays fairly healthy during our Pacific Northwest winters.  It makes a nice shrub in the yard but as I learned the hard way, mint needs its own space.  Much like an emerging teenager.  😉

So today it’s a Pea and Mint Pesto.  Tomorrow it’ll probably be this Mediterranean Couscous Salad with fresh mint and maybe grilled lamb chops with mint, rosemary and garlic on Sunday.  Mint is definitely in the Bennett Crew’s culinary future.

Happy Weekend!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

 

Grilled Salmon with Pea and Mint Pesto

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Serving Size: 4-6

Grilled Salmon with Pea and Mint Pesto

Ingredients

  • 1/3 -1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I begin with 1/3 cup and then add as needed)
  • 1 cup fresh peas that have been blanched, or frozen peas that have been thawed
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts or toasted pine nuts if you prefer
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Place the olive oil, peas, mint, basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, nuts and cheese into a food processor. Pulse until the pesto is smooth.
  • Add the lemon and pulse once more and then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with grilled or roasted salmon, lamb or chicken.
  • This is also tasty on crostini with shaved, aged provolone and grilled asparagus tips.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Pesto Broccolini

    Pesto Broccolini // Karista's Kitchen

    Some recipes garner a surprising response.  This little platter of Pesto Broccolini got loads of love on my Instagram and Facebook page which honestly, sort of surprised me.

    So, I decided to post it here.  It’s just a simple side that I toss together when I’m in a hurry but I want something fresh and delicious to serve with my dinner entrée.

    I was preparing a stuffed trout dish Monday night and I happened to have several bunches of Broccolini, which I typically pair with pasta or Gnocchi.  But Monday night I decided to serve it a la carte tossed with some basil pesto I had made the day before.  Voila! Pesto Broccolini.

    This is something I also do with blanched broccoli or cauliflower, sautéed or grilled zucchini and on occasion, roasted baby red potatoes and carrots.  It allows me to serve a fresh seasonal side with minimal fuss – because minimal fuss is important when the day is long and dinner is late.

    And who doesn’t love a crisp tender veggie lightly bathed in a spicy and herb laced pesto?  Even my picky eater loves this gorgeous Pesto Broccolini side dish.  If you don’t have the time to knock out a homemade pesto,  just buy one.  There are many excellent, high quality pesto’s in the market these days – many without any preservatives and made exclusively with extra virgin olive oil and fresh herbs.

    Here’s to making dinner fresh, simple and delicious! Cheers!

    Karista

    Pesto Broccolini

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Pesto Broccolini

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs Broccolini, trimmed and larger stalks halved
    • 1/2 - 1 cup Basil Pesto (prepared or homemade)
    • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
    • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan
    • Squeeze of lemon juice

    Instructions

  • Fill a large pot with water and heat over high heat. Once the water has reached a boil, add about one tablespoon of salt. Then add the broccolini.
  • Let the broccolini cook for 2 1/2 - 3 minutes for crisp tender or 4 -5 minutes for tender. Drain in a colander and then place in a bowl and toss gently with 1/2 cup of pesto or more if needed. Drizzle with a squeeze of lemon and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Place on a platter and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan. Serve immediately.
  • Notes

    For this recipe, I don't place the broccolini in an ice bath once it's cooked as I'm usually serving this right away. If I were going to hold the dish for a few minutes, I'd prepare a bowl with ice and water and let the broccolini rest for a few minutes in the ice bath after cooking, before tossing it with pesto. If you do decide to let it rest in the ice bath, gently heat the pesto before tossing with the broccolini so the dish is warm when served.

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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen vegetarian

    Truffle Pesto and Asparagus Flatbread with Goat Cheese Crumbles and Dressed Arugula

    Truffle Pesto Asparagus Flatbread with Goat Cheese and Dressed Arugula // Karista's Kitchen

    I’m sure you’ve noticed I’ve been a little tardy with recipes recently.  It’s certainly not intentional, just a hefty dose of life and work; and reminding myself that balance is key to keeping my healthy and happiness wells filled.

    Honestly, I wish I could post something delicious for you every day.  I have a never ending list of recipes and recipe ideas that I keep in one of the many journals that float around my house.  Some get posted here, some go to clients, some get tossed into the garbage (never to see the light of day) and some get filed away for next year because the season is gone and I ran out of time.

    Truffle Pesto and Asparagus Flatbread with Goat Cheese and Dressed Arugula // Karista's Kitchen

    However, you are in luck today.  This little beauty happened one winter day after Little Lace Box sent me a jar of La Favorita Pesto Genovese (Italian Truffle Pesto) to sample for the Karista’s Kitchen Store.  One dip of the finger and I was hooked.  I had to find a spoon and take a bigger sample… and another sample… and another.   Same thing happened when I sampled a Buttered Salted Caramel sauce only I think I “sampled” half the jar.

    Truffle Pesto and Asparagus Flatbread with Goat Cheese and Dressed Arugula // Karista's Kitchen

    The Italian Truffle Pesto is a clean and fresh tasting basil pesto laced with Italian truffle and perfectly suited for a variety of recipes.  Our weather is warming a bit here, the days are longer and dinner seems to become lighter fare.  We dine later in the evening year round but it seems during the spring and summer months dinner is typically after sunset, so a quick and tasty Flatbread often shows up to the table.

    Because it’s spring, asparagus had to make an appearance – along with crumbled goat cheese and the exploding arugula from my garden, lightly dressed in a lemon vinaigrette; making this a gorgeous and delicious flatbread for brunch, lunch or supper.

    You can certainly prepare this tasty flatbread with your favorite basil pesto (jarred or homemade) but if you’d love a chance to win a jar, I’m giving away one jar for two fabulous readers over at VRAI Magazine.  Feel free to jump on over and enter to win! Or, you can head on over to my kitchen store, Karista’s Kitchen, hosted on the fun and fabulous (and re-designed) Little Lace Box website and purchase a jar (or two!).  While you’re there, stay a while and browse our delicious selection of gourmet and artisan food products.  With more products being added soon!

    Wishing you all a most delicious spring!

    Karista

    Truffle Pesto and Asparagus Flatbread with Goat Cheese Crumbles and Dressed Arugula

    1-2 servings depending on the size of your flatbread

    Truffle Pesto and Asparagus Flatbread with Goat Cheese Crumbles and Dressed Arugula

    Ingredients

    • 1 prepared or store bought flatbread
    • 1 jar La Favorita Pesto Genovese or your favorite basil pesto
    • 1/2 - 1 lb spring (thin spears) asparagus spears, trimmed
    • 2-4 ounces goat cheese
    • 1-2 handfuls fresh baby arugula
    • 1 lemon
    • Dash of extra virgin olive oil
    • Fleur de sel or sea salt for garnish

    Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425F.
  • Place the flatbread on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Spread a few tablespoons of the pesto onto the flatbread (enough to cover the surface) leaving about a 1 inch edge around the flatbread.
  • Place the asparagus spears onto the flatbread in a single layer. I like to place them "head to toe" so I can fill the flatbread completely with the asparagus.
  • Sprinkle with just a pinch of salt and pepper and then layer with goat cheese crumbles.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until the edges of the flatbread are nice and golden brown and the goat cheese is soft and golden on top.
  • Remove the flatbread from the oven to cool.
  • While the flatbread is cooling, toss a few handfuls of baby arugula with a squeeze of lemon and dash of olive oil.
  • Place a mound of dressed arugula onto the center of the flatbread and sprinkle with a little fleur de sel or sea salt. Slice and serve.
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    Karista's Kitchen Pork Sauces, Salsas and More

    Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Roasted Red Pepper Hazelnut Sauce

    Roasted Red Peppers, Hazelnut, sauce for pork

    Roasted Red Pepper Hazelnut Sauce

    I always keep a spare pork tenderloin, or two, in the freezer.  It’s one of those quick fix meals that pairs beautifully with most any sauce or roasted winter fruit.  I had planned to use this tenderloin with a spiced apple compote, which is delicious, but I just wasn’t feelin’ the apples that day.

    I must be longing for summer, or maybe I need extra vitamin C,  because my taste buds have been craving the flavor of roasted red peppers.  A little smoky, slightly sweet with a touch of tang, that makes for a lovely pairing with pork, lamb, poultry, pasta and veggies.

    And don’t get me started with the mini roasted sweet peppers.  I can eat them like candy.  So sweet and so flavorful, I often roast them with a little oil, salt and pepper and serve them as a side dish.  They’re also fabulous stuffed with cheese.

    Bell peppers (and mini sweets) make the loveliest sauces, salsas, and relishes.  Complimenting grilled or roasted meats and fish so beautifully.  I read somewhere that bell peppers are like the Christmas ornaments of the vegetable world.  All that bright beautiful color in all those wonderful shapes and sizes.

    This sassy little sauce is no exception.  Combined with toasted hazelnuts, fresh herbs and olive oil, this sauce’s bright orange/red color is pleasing to the eye and tantalizing to the taste buds.

    Extravagant in taste, but simply prepared.  My favorite kind of weeknight meal 🙂

    Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Roasted Red Pepper Hazelnut Sauce

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    1 1/2 pork tenderloin, sliced into 1/2 to 1 inch medallions

    Salt and pepper

    4 tablespoons high heat oil, or clarified butter (ghee)

    Fresh chopped Italian parsley (for garnish)

    Sauce Ingredients

    2 large red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded

    1/3 cup Hazelnuts, roasted and skinned

    2 cloves garlic, peeled

    2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

    1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves

    1 teaspoon sugar

    1 teaspoon salt

    ½ teaspoon Thai Kitchen roasted red chili paste or a dash of hot sauce

    ½ cup extra virgin olive oil  (decrease the olive oil to ¼-1/3 to use this sauce as a pesto or dip)

    Directions

    To Prepare the Sauce:

    Place all the sauce ingredients, except the olive oil, in the bowl of a food processor or blender and blend until the hazelnuts are finely ground.

    Next, with the processor running, pour the olive oil over the mixture until well blended.  The sauce should have a very thick salad dressing consistency.  You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl several times in between blending.

    The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to one week.   Bring the sauce to room temperature before using or warm lightly in a double boiler, never getting the sauce to hot as the oil will separate.

    Serve over any grilled meats and poultry.  Or serve as a dip for crudités or pesto for Crostini. 

    To Prepare the Pork Tenderloin Medallions:

    Season the medallions with salt and pepper on both sides.  Heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons oil over medium high heat.  When the oil is hot and shimmering,  add the medallions (you may need to cook in batches) adding more oil as needed.

    When they are brown on the first side, flip and brown them on the second side.  It shouldn’t take long for the pork medallions to cook through, 2 minutes on each side depending on thickness.  Pork should be cooked to 145F internal temperature for perfectly moist and juicy pork.

    Ladle the sauce on a platter and place the cooked pork on top of the sauce.  Garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley and serve immediately.

    Recipe adapted from Chef Jerry Traunfeld, The Herbfarm Cookbook (a must have in your cook book library!)

    Chicken Grilling Kid Friendly

    Yogurt, Fresh Lemon and Basil Pesto Marinated Grilled Chicken

    Marinated Grilled Chicken

    Yogurt, Fresh Lemon and Basil Pesto Marinated Grilled Chicken

    I put my baby on a plane this morning.  My youngest gal who happens to tower over me by three full inches.

    Holding back the tears and putting on a brave Mommy face at the airport was harder than I expected.   I absolutely could not shed a tear.

    Grilled Chicken

    Yogurt Marinated Grilled Chicken

    Suzie Q had given me a lovely little dissertation in the car about how this trip would be another big adventure for her and she’d be back in a week.  What’s to cry about Mom?!

    My youngest is an independent, capable gal and quite the planner.  Her lists for packing are detailed, down to including a mini first aid kit for her backpack.  You know, just in case? 🙂

    kayaking Orcas Island

    Kayaking Orcas Island

    If there was an award in school for preparedness,  Suzie Q would win.

    Kayaking Orcas Island

    Looks like I’ve been left behind.

    Maybe it was the family hiking adventures that ended with a skinned knee or two, or biking Northwest trails that left her with a few skinned elbows and one goose egg on the forehead (actually that was my darling niece!) or the snowboarding that resulted in not so happy feet.  And most recently, kayaking and hiking Orcas Island that resulted in a few band-aids taped to her shins.

    Kayaking Orcas Island

    Suzie Q Kayaking Orcas Island

    Of course, after all that hard work and fun in the sun, I had to prepare one of her new favorite meals.  After the third piece of Yogurt Marinated Grilled Chicken, Suzie Q declared this dish the best chicken she’s ever tasted!

    Did I mention she’s also quite the charmer?

    Yogurt and Basil Pesto Marinated Grilled Chicken

    Serves 4

    *The marinade can easily cover up to 5lbs of chicken

    Ingredients

    3-4 lbs chicken pieces, bone in, skin removed so marinade can soak in

    2 cups Greek plain yogurt

    ½ cup basil pesto (I’ve listed a recipe below, but for a quick fix Cibo Naturals has a lovely basil pesto)

    2 lemons, juiced

    Splash of Sriracha or fave hot sauce, about 1-2 tablespoons

    1 teaspoon salt

    ½ teaspoon black pepper

    Directions

    Place the chicken in a glass bowl, baking dish or non-reactive container.

    Whisk together the yogurt, pesto, lemon juice, Sriracha, salt and pepper and then pour over the chicken to coat.

    Let the chicken marinade overnight for best results.

    To Grill:  Pre-heat the grill to 400F.

    Shake off the excess marinade and place on the grill.  Turning down the heat if necessary so the chicken doesn’t burn.

    Let the chicken cook for about 20-30 minutes or until it reaches internal temperature of 165F.

    Serve with your favorite grilled veggies, tossed mixed green salad or pasta salad.  Or… all three! I love this chicken with grilled mini sweet peppers.  Just toss the mini peppers with a little oil, salt and pepper and grill until toasty and soft.

    Basil Pesto Recipe:

    2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

    1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

    1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

    ¼ -1/3 cup coarsely chopped almonds (or pine nuts)

    2 cloves garlic

    Squeeze of lemon

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Place the basil, cheese, almonds, garlic and squeeze of lemon in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse a few times and then start adding the olive oil in a steady stream until the pesto is smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Salmon Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

    Cilantro Salmon

    Cilantro Salmon

    Last week I told Ranger Craig I’m in need of a field trip.  For those of you who don’t know Ranger Craig, he’s my main man, best bud, adventure partner, resident food critic and husband.  I had a reader ask me once if he was my boyfriend. (Hee hee, that gave me a good chuckle!)  So I went back to my about page and made it clear he’s legally mine. 🙂

    Ranger Craig... with Charley, our Cessna 182

    Ranger Craig is not a Forest Ranger. Although he’d love to be one.  He served in the US Army as an Army Airborne Ranger.  So, I call him Ranger Craig.  And he’s fearless. Which is why I don’t usually let him plan our little field trips lest we end up jumping out of an airplane and that’s where I draw the line.  I don’t mind flying in the airplane, I just don’t want to jump out of it.

    I should have known his inclination for adventure years ago when our first date was a long hike up our local lone Mountain.  Ranger Craig came prepared. Hiking shorts, hiking shoes, appropriate hiking shirt, water canteen, one of those handy tool knifes just in case of an emergency, and would you believe he even had a few Band-Aids in his backpack.

    Me? Adorable pink shorts, bright pink and white matching off the shoulder shirt (it was the 80’s), and gold sparkle sandals with hot pink painted toes. I looked great.  For about 10 minutes.

    Fast forward twenty-five years and I’ve got my own water bottle, travel medical kit, sensible shoes and an appropriate outfit for every adventure occasion. Lucky for me, this field trip didn’t even require sensible shoes.  I could look cute and wear my favorite cowgirl boots.

    My favorite boots from El Paso, Texas

    The Glass Art Museum was breathtaking. Art beyond my imagination. I couldn’t wait to photograph every piece.  Until, to my huge disappointment, I spotted the “No Photography” sign.

    Glass Art by Chihuly

    I did manage a few snaps of the Chihuly Art display. Breathtaking.  So full of vibrant color it inspired my desire for a vibrantly colorful dinner.

    And what better way to celebrate color, than with one of my favorite colors, green.  Fresh Pan Seared Salmon with bright spring green Cilantro Pesto.  It’s a plate licking good sauce that goes with anything.  Just like my favorite cowgirl boots.

    Cilantro Salmon

    Serves 4

    For the Pesto:

    1 large bunch cilantro, lower thicker stems trimmed (upper stems are fine in pureed pesto’s or sauces)

    ½ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

    ¼ cup toasted pine nuts (or substitute with walnuts)

    1-2 cloves garlic

    1 lemon juiced

    ¼ cup grated parmesan

    Pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper

    Salt to taste

    Directions

    Place the cilantro, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice and parmesan in a blender or food processor.  As you pulse/puree the ingredients add the olive oil until the pesto is smooth.

    Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes.

    For The Salmon:

    1 ½ – 2 lbs fresh wild salmon cut into 4 pieces

    1-2 tablespoon high heat oil ( I love using Spectrum’s Asian flavored oil for pan searing salmon)

    Salt and pepper

    Lemon slices and fresh chopped cilantro for garnish

    Directions

    Heat a large skillet on medium high heat and add the oil.  Season the salmon with salt and pepper.

    When the oil is hot add the salmon flesh side down. Let the salmon cook for about 3 minutes or until the salmon easily lifts off the pan.  It should be a lovely golden brown.

    Flip the salmon skin side down and continue cooking until just pink inside, about another 3-4 minutes depending on thickness.

    If the salmon is thick, turn the heat down to medium and cover with a lid and let the salmon finish cooking.  The salmon should lift off the pan easily, leaving the skin in the skillet.

    Drizzle the pesto on a platter or plates and lay the skinless salmon filets on top and garnish with additional chopped fresh cilantro and lemon slice.

    This pesto is fantastic on grilled salmon and grilled chicken too! Enjoy 🙂

    Appetizers Kid Friendly vegetarian

    Bruschetta Open Face Sandwiches

    karistaskitchen.com

    Bruschetta Open Face Sandwich

    The word “sandwich” is rarely used in my house.  Especially if you’re referring to something that’s being served for dinner.  “That’s lunch food” as my little gal would say.

    However, on warm summer evenings I love to prepare an assortment of giant open faced Bruschetta sandwiches.  A traditional Bruschetta is a must of course.  I can’t resist those beautiful and sweet summer tomatoes.

    karistaskitchen.com

    Asparagus and Proscuitto Bruschetta with Arugula Pesto

    And I can’t forget all the delicious spring and summer asparagus.  I was completely beside myself last week when I saw the beautiful local organic spring asparagus in the market.  I absolutely had to purchase a few pounds.  Once I got home with my stash, I needed to think of a new and creative use for my three pounds of delicious asparagus.  Behold, an asparagus and prosciutto Bruschetta was born.

    Two divine giant Bruschetta sandwiches that burst with intense flavors and satisfy even the hungriest diner. (Even if my little gal thinks a sandwich is for lunch!)

    Bruschetta Open Face Sandwiches

    Tomato, Mozzarella and Fresh Basil with a Balsamic drizzle

    Ingredients

    1 large loaf Rosemary Garlic or French Artisan Bread

    2 large vine ripe or heirloom tomatoes, sliced

    1 large mozzarella ball, sliced

    ¼ cup fresh chopped basil

    ¼ cup balsamic vinegar

    Extra Virgin Olive Oil (my fave is California Olive Ranch Everyday Fresh EVOO, light, fragrant, clean and fresh)

    Sea salt and cracked black pepper

    2 cloves garlic, halved

    Directions

    Slice the artisan bread into 1-2 inch thick slices.  Brush or drizzle each slice with olive oil.  In a skillet over medium heat and add the bread slices.  Toast on each side, adding additional olive oil if needed.  You can also toast the slices in the oven at 350F or under the broiler (but watch carefully as they burn quickly!) until each side is golden brown.  As soon as the bread slices have been pan toasted, rub each piece with the halved garlic.

    Transfer the toasted bread slices to a platter and top each with a tomato slice, and then a slice of mozzarella.  Drizzle each Bruschetta with a little balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.  Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and then garnish with the fresh basil.

    For a reduced balsamic glaze, heat ½ cup balsamic vinegar in a small pan over medium heat.  When the vinegar comes to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and let the vinegar reduce by half.  It will be a thicker, richer glaze for the Bruschetta.  Very yummy!

    Asparagus and Prosciutto Bruschetta Open Face Sandwich

    Ingredients

    1 loaf Artisan bread (rosemary and garlic, French, etc.)

    ½ cup arugula or basil pesto (can be store bought or homemade)

    1 lb fresh asparagus, steamed, roasted or grilled

    8 oz prosciutto, sliced

    Shaved or shredded fresh parmesan or Romano cheese

    Extra virgin olive oil from California Olive Ranch

    Sea salt and fresh pepper

    Directions

    Slice the artisan bread into 1-2 inch thick slices.  Brush or drizzle each slice with olive oil.  In a skillet over medium heat and add the bread slices.  Toast on each side, adding additional olive oil if needed.  You can also toast the slices in the oven at 350F or under the broiler (but watch carefully as they burn quickly!) until each side is golden brown.

    Transfer toasts to a platter and spread a teaspoon or two of pesto on each slice.  Add a layer of prosciutto and then top with 2-3 asparagus spears.  Drizzle each Bruschetta with a dash of olive oil, and sprinkle with a little sea salt and pepper.  Garnish with shaved or shredded parmesan or Romano cheese.  (if you want to use up the rest of the balsamic vinegar/glaze, drizzle a little over the asparagus, Yum!)

    Halibut Pasta Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood

    Basil and Roasted Walnut Pesto over Pan Seared Halibut

    When I was growing up I thought there were only two types of nuts, peanuts and walnuts.  My Mother adores walnuts.  If we were out of milk and bread, we’d still have an endless supply of walnuts. 

    We would often find them in our cookies, muffins, cakes, pies, on our oatmeal, in our cereal and sometimes on our spaghetti.  Walnuts were the Taylor family nut.  So, as you can imagine, it was a beautiful day when I discovered there were many other types of nuts to be consumed.  

    Consequently, I moved on to other delicious nuts such as pecans and hazelnuts.  And just like my Mother, I too have an endless supply of pecans and hazelnuts in my freezer.  

    As luck would have it, nuts are extremely healthy and highly recommended in our daily diets.  As well, I think my Mother knew a thing or two, because walnuts seem to get the highest of praise from nutritionists and doctors when it comes to heart healthy foods.   Here is a great article on the benefits of walnuts: http://www.healthcastle.com/walnuts-benefits-heart.shtml

    Naturally, I decided it was time to jump back into the walnut bag and create something yummy with these healthy little nuts.  Because walnuts aren’t my favorite, I roast them to give them a little extra flavor and crunch.  So when I was thinking about how to use my giant container of fresh basil, I thought, why not a basil and roasted walnut pesto?  It’s simple, delicious and can be whipped up in a snap. 

    I tested this recipe over pan seared halibut, however, I think it would delicious over any type of grilled or roasted chicken, or tossed with your favorite pasta and then sprinkled with toasted bread crumbs.  And of course, I’d even drizzle this lovely little pesto over my favorite creamy polenta.  I also tested this pesto over crostini, topped it with a little roll of proscuitto ham and thin slice of parmesan for a fun bruschetta starter.  Divine!

    Make dinner fresh, simple and delicious.  Happy Cooking!

    Serves 4-6

    Ingredients

    1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed

    ½ cup roasted coarsely chopped walnuts

    ½ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

    2 tablespoons lemon juice

    ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

    Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

    1 ½ – 2 lbs fresh Halibut

    Directions

    Using a food processor or blender, add the basil, walnuts, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and olive oil.  Blend until nicely pureed.   If needed add a tablespoon or two of water.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    To pan sear the halibut, heat a large oven proof skillet on medium high heat with a high heat oil such as safflower or sunflower oil.  Season the halibut with salt and pepper and when the oil is hot add it to the pan.  Turn the heat down to medium and let the halibut sear for several minutes.  Typically the fish will turn easily when it’s ready. If it won’t budge, let it sit a little longer.  Sear on each side for several minutes, and if the fish is thick, pop it in a preheated 375F oven to finish cooking.

    To oven roast the halibut, preheat the oven to 375F.  Drizzle a little olive oil over the halibut and season with a little salt and pepper.  Place in a baking dish and roast until the fish is flaky to the touch.  This will be about 8-10 minutes depending on thickness

    When the halibut is done, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the halibut and then transfer to individual plates or a platter.  Top each portion of fish with a tablespoon of two of pesto.  Serve immediately.

    Options: This pesto is also delicious on grilled or roasted chicken breasts.  Serve with roasted fresh spring asparagus, roasted sweet potatoes with honey butter or a salad of fresh greens with citrus vinaigrette.