Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Taking the pesto

I have a longstanding fascination with what other people eat. This overflows into supermarkets where I love to indulge in trolley gazing and in close analysis of other shoppers' shopping as it flows along the conveyor belt to the checkout.

The old ladies, for example, with their cakes and pouches of Whiskas. Fat chavs, in low slung jeans with low slung bellies clutching sulky sullen kids, with their heaped trollies of biscuits and burgers and smiling fried potato slices.

What do they think of the contents of my trolley? Well Tesco is pretty sure that I'm a vegetarian as I never buy meat there, but I do occasionally buy fish, so what does that make me? A piscatarian? (Or possibly a 'taking-the-piscatarian'.) Anyway, I don't buy many veggies there either as I either grow them or buy them from the Farmers Market.

So what do I buy from Tesco? Those round Finn Crisp crispbreads for a start. These I top with low fat soft cheese (NOT the high fat stuff which is too tongue cloggingly bleurch) and then a scrape of pesto. This is a case in point. It MUST be Tesco's own brand fresh pesto to which I am addicted. It is, in fact, the sole reason I go to Tesco and not Morrisons, Lidl or Aldi. And Delia Smith is totally to blame. I know in the past I was scornful of Delia's How to Cheat at Cooking book, but I did get a copy and she did recommend this pesto and (as expected) Delia was right and now I'm addicted. Which means I must occasionally darken the door of my nearest Tesco to get my pesto 'fix'.

This is quite simply the best pesto I have tasted. I could eat it from the pot with a spoon (and quite often do!) My children love it too, particularly dolloped into homemade minestrone soup or stirred into a quick tortelloni pasta supper. It's also lovely on top of cottage cheese on a nice crunchy skinned baked potato.

Which takes me back to the reason for this blog. What do you eat when you're in a hurry? If it's just me I'll probably eat the crispbread/cream cheese/pesto combo, but if there's a family to feed I have a couple of store cupboard fallback positions.

One is tuna noodles: Take a couple of sheets of dried egg noodles, chop a head of broccoli and add both to a pan of boiling water. Simmer for four minutes, drain and add a tin of drained tuna and a knob of butter. Top with plenty of ground black pepper. This quantity serves two adults and two small children. It's ready in five minutes and is a bit of a life-saver.

Tortelloni gratin: This is for those packs of filled tortelloni that supermarkets offer, but NEVER the ones with meaty fillings (too much like Whiskas). Ricotta and spinach is the best, or maybe the four cheeses or pesto versions. The beef ones are far too spooky. Simmer in boiling water for the recommended time. Meanwhile sweat shredded savoy cabbage, onions, leeks and chopped garlic in a little butter or olive oil until soft and unctuous. Add half a tub of creme fraiche (soft cheese or even cottage cheese) and as much of the aforementioned Tesco pesto as you wish. Mix in the tortelloni. Now you can either serve it as it is (which is quickest) or you can pile it into a gratin dish, top with a mixture of grated Parmesan/Cheddar/Gruyere and pop into a hot oven (gas 6, 200 degrees C) until golden brown and bubbling. This is lovely with a watercress/spinach/rocket type of salad. Serves four.


WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Drool . . .

Frances said...

Once upon a time, I had a job with a salary and a schedule that allowed me to actually cook meals, consulting menus. I could even shop well ahead of meal-making requirements, to get the ingredients required to make delicious meals from not so difficult recipes.

Well, that was then. And even then, I could also afford to order a take-out meal every so often.

Now is different. I must shop wisely, seasonally ... forget the springtime produce until it really is springtime in New York, and also try to figure out how to make meals quickly.

Or, on my days off, do some slower cooking to prepare some protein-based dishes that will be even more delightful as left-over re-heats.

No microwave in my apartment.

I guess that what I am saying is that I once was able to trade money for lack of time, and now must just find that time to be in the kitchen, because that luxury money just is not around any more.

Still love to cook, and to bake!

Pondside said...

I'll definitly be trying that Tortelloni Gratin, although we don't get your favorite pesto on this side of the Pond. It all sounds yummy!

Pipany said...

Two of our fave quick meals are:
spaghetti carbonara - boil pan of water, put spag in and cook for 10 mins. During this time fry some bacon. In a bowl whisk the yolks of (pref from own hens!) eggs - 2 per person - and add grated cheese. Drain pasta and combine the lot. Eat!

Pasta al funghi - pan of water to boil. Add pasta and cook 10 mins at same time frying huge pile mushrooms. Add dash soy sauce to 'shrooms. Drain pasta and pile mushrooms on top plus some grated cheese.

We add bits to both these sometimes (herbs, etc) but they are easy 10 min meals.
Love pesto Mags and could happily eat it on everything! Will give your recipes a go xx

ChrisH said...

The trouble is I am very lazy and would probably grab toast and marmalade for myself, or a packet of pasta if I was feeling very industrious! My best plan so far is to find someone to feed me :D

Allison said...

I notice that you had few blog posts the last two years--I do love reading what you have to date and hope you write more. I was raised on a farm in Maine and now have two babies and hope to return to a style of living that embraces sustainability.