I really like when an entire month is devoted to a particular food. January is National Soup Month, which after a solid few weeks of plague settling in my home, seems just awesome to me.

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Did you get that crazy cold/flu/sinus personal fiasco that’s been going around? I really hope not, but if you did, this is a nice soup to get you through. I started this recipe with the intention of using up the rest of a massive bunch of parsley I had, and it became a not-too-heavy soup that is packed with veggie goodness.

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Cauliflower Cheese Soup with Parsley-Almond Pistou

For the soup:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large head of cauliflower, stem and leaves removed, broken into medium-large chunks
4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup white cheddar cheese or gruyere, shredded
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

For the Pistou:

1 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems removed
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 c. roasted almonds
1/3 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Roasted almonds, roughly chopped, for garnish
Olive oil, for garnish

For the soup:

Place an 8 quart heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the oil. Stir the onion and garlic in and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the cauliflower, stock and bay leaves and continue to cook, covered, until the cauliflower is fork tender. Remove from heat. Fish out the bay leaves and discard.
Working in batches, puree the mixture in a food processor or blender until smooth. Return the mixture to the pot and place over medium heat. Add the milk and bring up to a low simmer. Add the cheeses a handful at a time, stirring until fully melted between each addition. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the pistou:

Combine the parsley, garlic, almonds, and cheese in the bowl of a food processor and pulse into a chunky mass. With the machine running, drizzle in the lemon juice, followed by the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour the soup into a nice, big bowl and garnish with a healthy dollop of pistou, roasted almonds, and if you like, a little more olive oil.

Slurp with reckless abandon.

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My resolve is firm, if I could choose my very last meal on Earth, it would be a very well-composed sandwich. It would be warm, crunchy, and balanced. There would be bacon. And something a little weird.

So, it’s National Sandwich Day, and without focusing too much on my own mortality, I have a sandwich that could contend for chosen last meal status.

It’s finally getting a little chilly out over here, and everything good (aside from apricots) that is orange is coming into season. I’m taking advantage.

The one actual recipe is pepita (pumpkin seed) pesto. It is made just the same way as basil pesto, but is 100% Autumn.

Pepita Pesto

1 c. roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
2 c. flat-leaf parsley, stems removed, lightly packed (about one bunch)
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
Salt & pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp water, optional

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Place the pepitas, parsley, lime juice, and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor, and process until smooth. Add the Parmesan, salt, and pepper and pulse until just combined. If the pesto seems a bit too thick, gently stir in the water to thin it out (DO NOT use the food processor for this step). Remove from the processor and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the sandwich

Ciabatta bread
Pepita pesto
Olive oil
Roasted yam, peeled, sliced, and kept warm
Bacon (I used applewood smoked)
Smoked gouda, sliced
Red onion, sliced
Baby arugula

Split the ciabatta lengthwise. Brush with olive oil and toast it under a broiler until golden and crispy.

Spread the pesto generously over the top half.

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Place the gouda on the bottom half and return to the broiler to melt.
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Once melted, place the still warm yam slices on top, followed by the bacon and onion. Pile the arugula on top of that, drizzle with a little more olive oil, and place the top half of the bread on it.
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Slice into portions and eat with reckless abandon.
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Autumn is without a doubt my favorite time of year. The weather is the most temperate it will be all year- not too hot or cold, gray skies in the morning with sunshine by noon. Comfy.

Though apples are flooding the markets, one is just as likely to pick up some of the most delectable tomatoes to be found all season, just as they make their way out for the year. Over here in my corner, we are still picking some very fine raspberries from the bushes, but the fig tree is beckoning us over for some more attention.

Those tomatoes, though. ┬áIt has been a great summer, and this month I have been enjoying them with particular gusto. And I’m not quite willing to give them up quite yet.

Today is National Linguine Day, and I am dressing mine with almond pesto. This is one of my favorite recipes. Almond pesto integrates late Summer’s robust flavors with Autumn’s meatier, softer palette. A little bit of pinenuts are replaced with a larger amount of toasted almonds. I keep the bunch of basil, but add in a bit of Italian parsley too. I blend in a good amount tomatoes, but leave out the cheese (it would be too heavy, so I put it on top instead).

 

Linguine with Almond Pesto

 

3/4 cup blanched almonds

3 garlic cloves

1 bunch basil

1 handful of flat leaf parsley

12 oz. heirloom tomatoes

1/2 cup olive oil

pinch of red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

 

Pulse the almonds until in a food processor until it looks like coarse cornmeal. Add the garlic, basil and parsley and process until the well combined. Add the tomatoes. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes and process just until combined.

Cook the linguine to al dente and drain, reserving a little pasta water for later.

 

 

 

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