Presto Pesto…

Until I started watching Food Network more and more I thought pesto was your basic basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and cheese combo.  I didn’t realize that you could make anything pesto.  Spinach, arugula, red peppers, etc.  While in London I saw that one of the vendors at Burough Market, who was selling various dips and sauces, was selling Red Pesto, which I was super intrigued by.  It consisted of sun dried tomatoes, cashews, pecorino, etc.

After seeing this and coming home, I was inspired and decided that I was going to try to make it myself.  I’ve made Pioneer Woman’s Pasta with Red Pepper Sauce before and thought that the sundried recipe was somewhat similar.  Of course, I used what I had on hand.  Instead of pecorino I used Parmesan.  Instead of using cashews I used the pine nuts.  Remember that’s the key to budgeting and cooking, inspiration of recipes and using what you have on hand and making it your own.  🙂

I made this recipe during lent and yes, I’m only sharing this it now.  Instead of using regular pasta, I made it with Trader Joe’s tortellini.  I made this dish on a Friday and I wanted to put more carbs in our meal since we didn’t eat meat all day.  Feel free to make this with penne or fusili or any kind of pasta you’d like.  I definitely bumped it up a notched by adding some cherry/grape tomatoes and spinach.  I must say it was a success.  YUM!

TORTELLINI with RED PESTO

INGREDIENTS

1 package of Trader Joe’s refrigerated cheese Tortellini
1 jar of SunDried Tomatoes in Olive Oil
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
handful of basil leaves (you don’t want too many, as you’ll mask the tomato flavor)
Olive Oil
Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, Halved
1/2 lb of spinach
Salt
Pepper

DIRECTIONS

Cook Tortellini according to package instructions.  Note:  If you’re using the refrigerated pack, this should take probably 5 minutes.  If you’re using dried it will take 10-15 minutes.

In a food processor, combined the sundried tomatoes with olive oil, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, basil leaves.  Start pulsing.  Let the food processor go and start streaming olive oil in until its a desired consistency.  Taste and add salt or pepper as needed.

Prior to draining off the tortellini, reserve a cup of pasta water.  Add the Tortellini back to the pot and pour in red pesto.  If too thick, add a little bit of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce a bit.  This also helps the pesto become more of a sauce consistency.  Add in spinach.  When the spinach is wilted, add cherry tomatoes.

Top with a little bit of parmesan cheese and serve with garlic bread.

Super easy and super delish!

Spanish Flare

As part of my London Haul, you may remember that I snapped up some Spanish Chorizo.  While I LOVE Mexican Chorizo especially in my breakfast burrito’s from Cafe Rosalena (OMG TO DIE!), I like the firmness and taste of the Spanish Chorizo.  It’s almost like Chinese Sausage but not really.  So I thought I’d make some paella using Rocco Dispirito’s Now Eat This recipe.  Pretty tasty.  The one modification I did make is that I didn’t use brown rice as I didn’t have any, I used arboro rice.  I would’ve used sushi rice (got my husband to convert to sushi rice from jasmine rice), but I thought it would end up being too sticky.  I would’ve also used Jasmine (long grain) rice, but I didn’t have any.  PLUS the husband doesn’t believe that brown rice is real rice aka he doesn’t like that stuff.  LOL!  I’m indifferent.  Other than that I didn’t make any variations to this recipe.

Rocco Dispirito’s Shrimp and Chorizo Paella

INGREDIENTS

2 ounces chorizo, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup long-grain brown rice
1 3/4 cups chicken broth, or more if needed
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
8 ounces medium peeled shrimp
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup frozen peas

DIRECTIONS

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chorizo and cook until the fat begins to render (about two minutes).

Add garlic and saute until fragrant (about one minute). Add saffron, rice, and broth. Cover pot and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and cook at a gentle simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in diced tomatoes and juice. Cover pot, and continue to cook another 25 minutes.

Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Stir shrimp and peas into mixture, adding more broth if the rice appears dry. Cover, and continue to cook until shrimp are cooked through and rice is tender (about 10 or 15 minutes).

Allow paella to rest for five minutes, covered. Fluff rice with a fork.

The Dressing Room – bows and stripes

I showed you my gouty necklace find that I snapped up at Notting Hill.  I was SO in love with the necklace that I wore it the day after I got it… actually I wore it that night, but sadly I don’t have a picture.  LOL!  Yeah I’m that girl.  Whenever I get something new I have to wear it or use it that day or the following day to show it off.  I was meaning to take a little more formal lookbook picture of the outfit in my room but I woke up late that morning and had to rush getting ready so that I could make the checkout time.  So sorry if this picture is a little ghetto-fied.  I took it while I was trying on dresses in the fitting room at Zara’s.  LOL.

Shirt:  French Connection, thrifted
Blazer:  Banana Republic (Note:  In the UK I have to dress business professional, so instead of bringing an extra blazer to go out I used this one and hoped/prayed I wouldn’t get a stain on it, creating more room in my bag for shopping finds.  🙂  *packing tip*)
Jeans:  Forever21 jeggings
Boots:  Bakers
Necklace:  Notting Hill
Ring (on right ring finger):  House of Harlow, purchased on Gilt

Along with bows, I’m really obsessed with stripes right now.  It’s been my go to outfit: striped shirt, blazer/cardigan, short/jeans, necklace, accenting shoes.  DONE.  Run out of the house.  I’ll be posting another post with a striped blouse soon.  The common misconception with stripes is that it’ll make you look bigger.  I used to think that, so I stayed away from the trend; however, lately I’ve embraced it.  It really is about the quality of the fabric, the complete outfit look, the size of the stripes and your frame.  For me, because I’m petite but a little thicker than most asian girls, I find that smaller stripes work.  I stay away from tops that have larger stripes, which is what I used to wear before because I thought that was slimming.  I look at pictures from a couple years ago when I was wearing the larger striped trend and I was not too happy.  Grant it I was a little heavier, it was not a good look for me.  Key tip here:  Know what best works for you.  When in doubt, take a picture of yourself (as vain as that sounds), to see how the outfit looks.  I’ve surprised myself in how different outfits look in the mirror versus digital picture.

In other news, I’ve FINALLY changed the name of the blog and the domain name to LittleBlackApronBlog.com, hence the new tag above.  It’s an ode to the little black dress, black pumps, and the apron that keeps your clothes clean while in the kitchen cooking up that delicious dinner.  Corny I know, but I like it.  In the coming weeks, you’ll see a new banner and pictures being tagged differently, along with some other changes I hope to put together with the help of my hubs.  🙂  Stay tuned!