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Experiments in Food

I had a full day of editing for BRM ahead of me yesterday, but I woke up with an idea for a meal, and I had to try it.
When I was in Wegmans gathering my ingredients, I met Executive Director of Local Initiatives Support Group (LISC) Michael Clarke and told him about my food dream. “You dream about food?” he asked, somewhat incredulously.
I was about to answer, “Doesn’t everyone?” and then I remembered Michael is only half Italian. I considered that my full dose of ‘Mediterrania’ might be the factor that causes me to dream this way, so I stopped short of any answer.
The idea was to make risotto and fresh peas, which I did. I used a vegetable stock (don’t we love that creamy soup base in a jar?) and stirred forever. Making risotto is like driving for me. It’s idle-mind time when one gets to think all of their thoughts unobstructed by interruption, lest a car or pedestrian go astray or the pan scorches.


In the meanwhile, I threw a few sweet potatoes and a few yams in the oven and cheated by steaming tiny asparagus spears in the microwave. I don’t know why I think of this as cheating. After all it steams in minutes, and all I have is one CorningWare dish to wash afterward. I suppose I wouldn’t mind washing the pan and the steamer basket if I were a real kitchen person, but I’m not. I just want to eat, and I’m lazy about the number of dishes I use.


Next was the making of the pesto. I had bought some basil at Guercio’s earlier this week and the resultant pesto was so good that I was wiping the last out of the jar with a piece of bread three days later. I needed more pesto, the real signal of fall.
I loaded garlic, oil, salt, parmesan and fresh basil leaves into my 25-year-old Oscar. In its time, it has made baby food, grated carrots for my from-scratch carrott cake and blended pesto. Period. I left out the pine nuts. I had them…I just wasn’t in the mood.


Is there anything more beautiful than the emerald green of fresh pesto? Two handfuls of fresh basil leaves, 6 cloves of garlic, a palmful of parmesan and enough oil to acheive motility. Salt to taste or according to how swollen your ankles are on any given day. That’s the recipe.
So the dream concept was a bowl of fresh pea risotto with sweet potato and yam medallions on top, garnished with asparagus spears and a healthy dollop of pesto. I can’t say I loved the result. Here’s the thing…when you’re craving pesto, you should just make pesto and throw it over pasta or eat it with a loaf of bread. The pesto completely conquered this dish that could have stood alone without it.
Tonight I’ll either stuff some poblano peppers with my leftover risotto and bake them in sauce or I’ll get some crab meat and make risotto crab cakes ala Trattoria Aroma (on their brunch menu–incredible). The pesto will have to wait until after tomorrow morning’s funeral mass though because I’ll be kissing people.
I ran into Liz Martina of the Columbus Park-Prospect Hill Community at Wegmans also. When I told her what I was doing she said, “You dream about food and then you make it. I love you.” It’s nice to be understood.

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