Pesto Farro

Lately we’ve been trying to up our lunch game- up the nutrition, up the flavor and up the wow factor- without upping the prep time.

Enter the grain bowl trend.

It’s pretty brilliant actually. Take a grain – think brown rice, quinoa, cousouc- add some vegetables and protein and boom, lunch. Even better? Easy to make in bulk. Boom, lunch for the week.

We discovered farro a few months ago while watching Extra Virgin on Cooking Channel. It’s an ancient grain with a somewhat nutty flavor that you can treat sort of like pasta.

I buy the kind that you cook just by boiling in water for about 20 minutes.

I whipped up some basil pesto


boiled the farro


sliced some tomatoes and black olives


And poured it all into a big bowl



stirring until the pesto coated every grain.


Portioned out in tupperware containers, this was an easy grab and go lunch for the week.

Pasta Primavera with Pesto



Is there any dish that says spring more than Pasta Primavera?

I mean, it screams Spring!

Fresh vegetables tossed in pasta, lightly seasoned, after months of heavy starchy foods. Vibrant greens burst in the bowl…

Plus, you know, primavera means spring in Italian.

For primavera, you can use whatever fresh, springy vegetables you wish, which is one of the beauties of this dish. Tailor it to your tastes and to what looks the best when you go to the farmer’s market.

The basil smelled utterly delicious, so I decided to make a pesto to top my pasta, sauteed asparagus and mushroom concoction.

Pesto is super simple to make. See my recipe here, use your favorite recipe, or use store bought.

I’m going to make this dish in one pot, so bonus points for less dishes to do.

Start with a frying pan with high sides- mine’s about 4-5 inches high.

Drizzle some olive oil and add sliced mushrooms and asparagus spears that have been cut into one inch chunks.


Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until mushrooms are browned and asparagus is softened. Season with salt and pepper.




Dump the mixture into a bowl, and place off to the side for a bit. Fill that same pan with water, about 2 inches high and bring to boil. The water will pick up the bits of asparagus and mushrooms and infuse the pasta with the flavors.

When the water is boiling, dump in your pasta. Use whatever shape you like, as long as it is one of the shapes with lots of nooks and crannies for pesto to fall in. Farfalle are great, penne rigate (that means with ridges, not the smooth ones). I used Campanelle, which means little bells (which is what the pasta looks like).




When the pasta is cooked, drain and then pour back in the pot. Add the pesto and mix well.




Add the asparagus and mushrooms and mix again.





Serve up in bowls and top with parmesan.






This makes great leftovers and can be eaten warm or cold. Would love to find this in my lunchbox or picnic basket!

Parsley Pesto Pistachio Pasta

Lordy lou is it hot!

Pardon my slipping into the mouth of an 85-year-old southern grandma, but that’s the only thing I can think to say.

Everyone is melting in the heat. But rather than rant and rave about it, I want to take a moment to share this picture I snapped on my way home from work.


You know it’s hot when the sidewalks are that empty!

We’re experiencing a full on heat wave here and today really is another salad day. But I think my boyfriend will rebel if I plunk another salad on the table and call it dinner.

Tonight needs something fresh and bright though.

And when I think fresh and bright, I tend to lean towards parsley. And tomatoes. Which I have a ton of still left over from making yesterday’s shirazi salad.

So the wheels started turning.

How about a bright and fresh parsley and mint pesto with tomatoes over some pasta?

Pasta is quick cooking, so less time standing in the hot kitchen, and the pesto just requires  some ingredients to take a trip in the Cuisinart. Brilliant!

Pesto can be made with anything. Take some herbs, some garlic and some olive oil and blend it up and you have pesto. The standard variation is basil and olive oil. There’s usually pine nuts or walnuts, but I prefer to leave the nuts out of the pesto itself and instead chop them up and sprinkle them on top of the pasta. I like the texture.

Tonight, I wanted something really light and fresh and with a bit of a different flavor. So I chose to go with parsley and mint as my herbs and then sunflower seed oil in stead of olive oil. Everyone makes basil and olive oil pesto. March to the beat of your own drum!

I usually don’t like mint. But I do like mint and parsley together. Strange? Oh well.

So into the Cuisinart go the garlic, parley, mint and oil.


Whiz it up until smooth.


I suggest popping in the fridge for a bit so the flavors can meld. If you don’t have much time, just the few minutes it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta will suffice.

Part of the reason for the trip to the fridge is my love of temperature differences. The steaming hot pasta and the cool pesto in one bite. Yum. It’s the same concept as warm brownie and cold ice cream.

I used mini shells, but you can use any pasta you have on hand.

Cook the pasta to al dente.

Toss the pasta with the pesto and some diced tomatoes.


For some texture, sprinkle over chopped pistachios. Pistachios are so summery to me. Maybe I associate them with sitting on a beach towel, cracking the shells and snacking after a swim in the ocean. They also compliment the parsley and mint nicely. But you can use any nut. Walnuts would be great, too.

For a final layer, some parmesan cheese.


A bright and colorful bowl of pasta bursting with flavor. The mint and parsley bring enough freshness to the table that you’re not weighed down in this heat.

And dinner is on the table in about 15 minutes, so you can spend the rest of the evening lolling on the couch with a cocktail.

Experiment with the herbs in your fridge! Share some of your favorite combinations with me and I’ll give them a try.

Oh- S*- what’s- for-dinner-broccoli-pesto

I have a confession.

I, I who touted simplicity in kitchen equipment and who tut-tutted at fancy gadgets, own a food processor.

I said it.

I got it off my chest.

I feel a little bit better now that I am being honest with you.

I know. Bitty kitchen. And high rent. Where do you put it and how do you afford one?

Let me explain.

My boyfriend is Greek. Well, Greek and Armenian, but this story concerns his Greek side.

His father’s mother, my boyfriend’s yia-yia, passed away a number of years ago, long before i knew him, long before we knew of each other’s existence even.

I’m close with my boyfriend’s father. He and I are both only children, so we get each other. I understand his independence and stubbornness and his occasional need for solitude and for quiet because, well, I’m the same way.

My boyfriend and I were discussing the other day, that everyone always focuses on the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law. But father-in-law and daughter-in-law is a very under valued relationship. His dad has two sons and no daughter. It’s nice for him to add a female to his family. Especially since it’s great practice for the four granddaughters I pray he gets!

But back to yia-yia. I didn’t get to meet her, but my boyfriend’s dad says I remind him of her. From what I’ve heard, she was an elegant and incredibly intelligent woman (spoke 7 languages and had a Masters degree from NYU! A Masters. At the time! Imagine!). So I happily take the comparison as a compliment.

When yia-yia passed, the contents of her house were moved to her son’s basement. This was more than ten years ago, keep in mind.

So, we were at their house. And I happened to mention wanting a food processor one day.

His mom jumped right up to say she had one in the basement, unused, still in the box. It was yia-yia’s.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you yia-yia’s ancient Cuisinart!


This thing weighs a ton.

It’s a great weapon in case someone ever breaks in.

But guess what? It works. Perfectly.

I don’t care that it’s ancient.

It’s a little bulky, but I made space for it. It’s yia-yia’s!

And I kind of like that it was hers. It brings her into our kitchen and gives our home that feeling of history and of family that’s not always easy to get in a rental apartment.

So now, I can make one of my favorite things ever.


I know I could have made it before with a mortar and pestle the old-fashioned way.

But, I want more than just basil.

I want to spice things up and mix up tradition.

Get it? Mix up? Food processor? Tradition? yia-yia’s food processor?

Also, we were away all weekend celebrating my boyfriend’s brother’s graduation from college.


After getting back at like midnight on a Sunday from a weekend of heavy dinners, too much wine and lots of running around to sit in auditoriums, I just don’t have the time.

I need something ridiculously easy.

And when I’m standing in the kitchen going Oh s*, what’s for dinner? I always turn to broccoli pesto.

I always have parmesan cheese, olive oil and garlic in my kitchen. If you keep so frozen veggies in your freezer, you’re good to go for any last minute guest or any moment of crap, there’s no food in my house!

I make this in the morning before work sometimes so it can hang in the fridge all day. You can make this in advance and freeze it too.


Broccoli pesto.

You will need

2-3 cloves of garlic

olive oil

broccoli florets

parmesan cheese

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Or, if you’re using frozen broccoli, follow the defrosting directions on the package.

Or, put a little bit of water in a microwave-safe bowl, toss in the broccoli and zap!

You don’t really want to cook the broccoli, you just want to take away the rawness.

I throw mine in a pot of boiling water for like thirty seconds, until the florets turn a bright green.


Meanwhile, throw the garlic cloves into the food processor and pulse.

I put the garlic in by itself to get it all chopped up so it combines more evenly with the broccoli. But you can put everything in at once.

Remove the broccoli from the water and put in with the garlic. Pulse to chop a bit.

Drizzle in some olive oil and blend.

If the mixture seizes, add more oil. Or, if you want to keep this lighter, add a little bit of the water from boiling the broccoli.

I try not to use a lot of oil. Especially after the four course meal we ate in Baltimore this weekend.


Blend until you have the consistency you want. I get it fairly smooth with little bits of broccoli peeking out so you can tell this is not your ordinary basil pesto.

If you’re serving immediately, throw in a handful of parmesan cheese and blend.

If you’re storing this for later, hold off on the cheese for now.

I’m putting this into Tupperware and refrigerating until dinner.

Tonight, I’ll boil some hot water, toss in some angel air and pour the pesto over.

A sprinkle of cheese on top, a crispy romaine side salad and some bread to mop the bowl.