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>XO’s Friday Foodie: Desperation Salsa and Pre-season Pesto

Category : Healthy Eating

>It’s been such an early spring that it’s hard to believe that fresh, local produce isn’t available in abundance yet.  I’ve been craving fresh tomatoes and basil from the yet-to-open farmers market to make pico de gallo and real pesto (we ran out of our frozen homemade pesto months ago).  So, with over a month before the De Pere Farmer’s market opens in July (waaaaaah!), I turn to my old stand-by favorites: Desperation Salsa (which I make almost weekly anyway) and what I just dubbed Pre-season Pesto which I just made this week.  Note: These recipes, of course, also fit nicely into my “Blender Bender” series of simple but tasty blended goodness. 

Ryan’s Desperation Salsa:
1 Large Can Regular Diced Tomatoes (28oz)
1-2 cloves Garlic
1 Tablespoon Cumin
½-1 teaspoon Oregano (Mexican Oregano if you’ve got it!)
½ teaspoon salt (to taste)
1/4- 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne to preference (or a hot green chile with veins & seeds removed)

Desperation Preparation:
Drain & squeeze as much liquid out of the diced tomatoes as possible*. Put half the tomatoes in the blender with all the other ingredients and puree the heck out of it. Add the rest of the tomatoes and pulse a couple of times to mix but retain some texture. Eat.  *It’s highly recommended to drink the tomato juice, it’s way better than a V8!

Pre-Season Pesto (AKA Desperation Pesto)
1/4 cup dry basil (High Quality such as Penzey’s makes a HUGE difference)
1-2 cloves Garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
Olive Oil to blend (1/4 cup or more)
Walnuts, Pine-nuts or raw skinless peanuts
Parmesan Cheese, finely grated

Place the first 4 ingredients into the blender and puree.  Add Olive Oil as needed to blend (really small batches are difficult to do in most blenders).  Taste and adjust salt if needed.  Add nuts if desired and pulse a few times until nuts are finely chopped.  Add oil to achieve desired consistency. Dab on top of pasta and sprinkle with shredded Parmesan (or other hard italian cheese like romano, asiago etc…)  You can easily freeze any leftovers.  One of my clients suggested freezing leftovers into an ice-tray for ready to use pesto-cubes.  What a great idea!

BTW: You can use the pesto to make one of my favorite fresh mozarella salads:  Combine halved grape or cherry tomatoes with an equal amount of small fresh mozarella balls and coat with pesto… YUM!!!

Enjoy!  -XO