Easy to Make Dinner Combo

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TODAY AT THE OPEN MARKET: Caesar Salad & Pesto

We recently moved 40 minutes north of Beverly Hills to a suburb called Westlake Village in California. I have been trying to get my husband to move here for over 27 years. He finally gave in last summer and I immediately found a home where I can garden, take long hikes in the mountains, dine on the lake with friends, and support our local businesses. I love it here and I never want to leave, I feel at home and my soul is calm. To make it even better our whole immediate family and dear friends live 10 minutes in any direction from where we are. I cook every single day for who ever wants to come over and join us for a meal and it’s an open invitation to everyone on a Sunday.

Saturday mornings I hit the open market in Calabasas where I have made some great connections with local sustainable organic farmers.  Everyone is so friendly and helpful. By the time I leave my little shopping cart (I need a bigger one) is filled to the brim with the sweet earthy aroma of fresh fruits, veggies and flowers! Oh and let’s not forget the farm fresh eggs!

I am going to start to blog about my trips to the open market to share with you what’s in season and include recipes along with great food finds. Today I found beautiful organic Romaine lettuce and I am going to make a Caesar salad with a light dressing. I am also going to make homemade garlic infused croutons from the sour dough bread I found at the market.

I also found beautiful basil and Italian parsley so of course I am making pesto and will serve it with Farfalle pasta. (Bow tie)

Together the Caesar salad and the Pesto pasta make a great lunch or dinner!

CAESAR SALAD

GARLIC INFUSED CROUTONS

1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 cups ½ inch bread cubes from 1 baguette or sour dough loaf

SALAD AND CAESAR DRESSING

3 to 4 medium-small heads of romaine lettuce or 2 large heads

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 small to medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press

4 anchovy fillets, chopped into a paste

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons canola oil

½ cup plus 2 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 small can anchovies, for garnish

Wash the leaves and dry them well using a salad spinner and tear them into 1-1/2 inch pieces (9 or 10 cups. Place them into the refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill.

CROUTONS

Make the croutons first. Place the oven rack in the middle position.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Add the smashed garlic clove to the olive oil and let sit  20 minutes to infuse the oil with the garlic flavor.

Place the bread cubes in a bowl. Remove the garlic from the oil, pour the oil over the bread cubes, and toss to coat. Spread the bread cubes in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden and crunchy. Stir occasionally while baking to make sure they don’t burn. Cool on the baking sheet until they reach room temperature.

 

DRESSING

In a medium glass bowl combine the lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic, and anchovy paste, and whisk until smooth. Combine the olive oil and canola oil, and whisk together for a few seconds. Whisking constantly, add the oil in a slow, steady stream to the anchovy mixture.

To assemble the salad, place the chilled lettuce in salad bowl. Add 4, tablespoons of dressing and toss, distributing evenly. Add 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese and toss again. Add the croutons, and anchovies (if you are using them) and toss. Sprinkle on 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and handful of extra croutons.

The croutons can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. You can also use them to make breadcrumbs.

 

PESTO

1 bunch fresh basil

(about 3 cups, packed) rinsed and spun dry

1 bunch Italian parsley (about 2 cups,) rinsed and spun dry

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1-12 cups extra virgin olive oil

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

8 ounces farfalle (bow-tie pasta)

Red pepper flakes

In a food processor, combine the basil, parsley, and garlic. Process gently. Slowly and gradually add the olive oil until blended.

Place the pine nuts in a small dry frying pan, and cook over medium heat until they start to release their oil, around 5 minutes. Shake the pan back and forth to keep from burning. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.

Return the pasta to the pot. Add ½ cup of the pesto and mix well, Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Add grated Parmesan and toasted pin nuts, and mix well

Pour into a large serving bowl, add more Parmesan cheese if you like (I like) and red pepper flakes. Serve immediately or at room temperature

4 to 6 servings!