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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Savor the Sauce

I know I have been a bit obsessed with my electric grill, but it really has been the best kitchen appliance that I have purchased. Though with a good friends impending nuptials I may have to invest in a Kitchen Aid mixer to bake their cake! More on that soon. For now back to dinner.

Delicious food is often deceptively simple and inexpensive. I am a firm believer in the power of sauces to transform mundane meals and elevate them to a home gourmet level. That is why there is such an emphasis on sauces, dressings, marinades and vinaigrettes on this blog. Sauces are flexible, can be stored and used in different contexts to very different effects. A good vinaigrette can make a simple green salad something transportive and a red sauce can dress pasta or become a wonderful bake.

This week I knew I had to plan two meals for friends, one for Octavio and one as a pre-practice dinner. So, I wanted to spend less than $15 for both meals not including wine and I came in well under budget.

For dinner on Tuesday I made grilled scallops (1 pound for $7.00 at the Canal St Fish Market on Canal and Baxter) with Bitter Herb Walnut Pesto. One bunch cilantro and one bunch parsley came to $1.60 from a vegetable vendor on Bayard St at Mott. I had a box of cous cous already open and some left over frozen veggies and I keep bags of nuts from Trader Joes at all times (Walnuts are $4.99).

Then on Wednesday I used the leftover pesto and tossed it over some lightly sautéed broccoli ($1.50 from a street vendor in Midtown) and thin spaghetti with some domestic feta from East Village Cheese ($1.50 for half a pound) and a pinch of red pepper flakes to give a bit of heat. Kelly supplied a delicious Rioja and then we went to work!

Bitter Herb Pesto

*these are just guestimates. Please adjust the ratios as you see fit.
Half a bunch of Cilantro
Half a bunch of parsley
1 clove of garlic chopped
juice of half a lemon
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1-2 tablespoons of water
sea salt to taste

Put the herbs, lemon, walnuts, gralic, salt, and water into a blender or food processor and pulse until chopped. Slowly add the olive oil and blend until a nice paste texture is achieved.

I spooned mine over the grilled scallops with a mixed veggie cous cous.

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