Friday, September 24, 2010

Warm Pesto Salad

If that photo doesn't have you enticed, then please, you're going to have to leave my blog. Because really, if you don't think that warm pesto salad looks entirely delicious, then we're never going to agree on anything, and we probably can't be friends. This is serious business.

Today in one of the major supermarket chains I found a jar of fresh pesto, which, due to a serious turn of luck, didn't have any cheese in it. Yep, that rarity of pre-made pesto: one without any milk products. And it was actually made here in Germany, which surprised me even more, knowing of the German penchance for anything and everything 'dairy'. The jar was a little overpriced, I thought, but I justified it by thinking about pasta coated in a layer of garlicky, nutty, basil-ish goodness. Sold. I'm not a difficult consumer when it comes to artisan foods, I assure you.

My jar was originally going to be used as a spread for some bread that I bought, in that I'd be on the train back to Pb from Muenster across the normal span of my lunchtime. Plus, I was already getting a little peckish. But, sitting on the train, I somehow couldn't bring myself to do it. I already had higher plans for my little jar of pesto, and it involved the remnant vegetables in my fridge. It's generally slim pickings before market day, and today was no exception.

My surprise find was the tomato, which I'd cleverly stashed in my fruit bowl, still wrapped in its paper bag. The beans and zucchini, both from the Dom Markt, were on their last legs. The mushrooms had fared surprisingly well, and still felt firm and fresh. The entire vegetable content of my shelf in the fridge went into the pan, and it ended up being amazing. Thankfully, tomorrow morning is the Saturday market, so I can eat all of the leftovers for dinner, without having to make my vegetables stretch for another day... because, really, when I say that I have no food in the house, what I really mean is that I don't have fruit and veg. Some people label rice and pasta as their staples, but really, I don't eat them all that much. Maybe once a week, each. But vegetables? No, I couldn't live a day without those. So here's what to do with your stray vegetables and that amazing jar of pesto that you couldn't live without.

Warm Pesto Salad

300g green beans
2 small zucchini
handful of mushrooms
2 tomatoes
4 tbsp basil pesto
pepper, to taste

First, prep your veg: the beans should be halved, the mushrooms and zucchinis sliced, and the tomatoes cut into thin wedges.
Now, heat a little oil in your frying pan. I used the oil that was the layer on top of the pesto: I couldn't bear the thought of adding more oil to a product that already used a lot of olive oil. If you're not using fresh (refrigerated) pesto with a layer of oil as a preserving measure, just use a little olive oil.
Sautee the mushrooms and zucchini for 2-3 minutes over a medium-high heat. Add the beans and cook for a few minutes longer, until they're just tender.
Add the tomatoes at the very end - they don't really need to cook, and if they're as ripe as mine were, then they'll soften with the residual heat of the vegetables anyway.
Take the vegetables off the heat and mix through the pesto. Serve warm, liberally sprinkled with pepper, and with plenty of fresh bread to wipe your plate clean. Or you can just lick it.

*Use whatever veg you like: leftover cooked potatoes would be pretty amazing, too.
*If you're going to serve this cold or at room temperature, take the vegetables off the heat before they're tender: the residual heat will cook them further, and you want them to keep a good texture. Mush vegetables are not friends with this salad.

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