Friday Night Dinner

On Friday nights after a busy week, I like to relax at home. Like most, I prefer a home cooked meal to take out, and I'm usually too tired to cook.

Tonight was different though. While driving home I remembered that jar of Crespi Pesto I'd purchased at Surfas, one of my favorite cooking supply stores. [Surfas, 8824 National Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232 (310) 559-4770]

I'd never purchased premade pesto and did so an experiment. I remember looking at the label and admiring all the excellent fresh ingredients with no preservatives, a big plus.

I wish I had tried it sooner. The taste is absolutely superb. It is chock full of fresh basil, olive oil, cheese, pine nuts, salt, no additional seasonings are necessary.

I looked it up on the internet and apparently it is well known. One website states that many chefs use Crespi and claim it as there own. I see why. I'm all for cooking, I love it, but when you can buy a delicious pesto in a jar I say, save your energy for other things.

Dinner was so easy to prepare tonight and tasty. While the angel hair pasta was boiling (4 minutes) I prepared a new zucchini dish I made for a party the other night. This is a raw zucchini salad with the squash sliced so thin it takes on another taste when the dressing and mint is added. Today I left out the pine nuts and cheese and it was just as good. As far as I'm concerned, excellent olive oil along with frest ingrefients is the trick here. I get my olive oil from a private reserve my aunt and uncle make in Italy. It makes all the difference.

The Summer Squash Salad recipe is from one of my new favorite cooking blogs of the moment Simply Recipes. http://www.elise.com/recipes/archives/002099summer_squash_salad.php

I sliced the zucchini by hand instead of using a machine. It is less of a hassle and somehow food seems to taste better when it is made by hand. When I made it the second time around I added a little more mint and lemon too. Both ways are delicious. Here's the recipe:

4 small zucchini or mixed yellow and green summer squash (1 lb total)
1/3 cup loosely packed mint leaves
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Pepper to taste1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (1 oz.)
Grana Padano, Parmesan or Asagio cheese for shavings
Fresh mint sprigs for garnish

1 If you are starting with raw pine nuts, toast them first. Heat a small skillet on medium high heat. Add the pine nuts. Stir gently as the pine nuts start to brown. When slightly browned, remove from heat and let cool.
2 Slice the squash into paper-thin slices using a mandoline or other slicer. Set aside in a bowl.
3 Stack the mint leaves, roll them together lengthwise and slice crosswise to make very thin slivers. Add to squash in bowl.
4 Combine the oil and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk together. Whisk in the salt and pepper and pour the dressing over the contents of the bowl. Add the pine nuts and toss all together, gently, but thoroughly. Let mixture stand for at least 10 minutes to soften the squash and develop the flavors.
5 Transfer salad to serving dish or to four individual salad plates. Garnish with shavings of cheese made with a vegetable peeler and a few sprigs of fresh mint.
Serves 4.

In less than 7 minutes I was eating a delicious (mostly) home cooked meal. Surfas doesn't sell their pesto online so you can get it at Pennsylvania Macaroni Company. http://www.pennmac.com/items/2667

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