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book review, recipe

The Summer of Impossible Things + Italian Rainbow Cookies

Imagine my surprise when a few months ago, I came across another Hungry Bookworm blog since that’s my blog’s name! We bloggers introduced ourselves and I found out that she’s based in England, and where my blog was named to evoke a combination of food and books, hers was named after the beloved children’s book The Hungry Caterpillar. We decided to try our hand at a collaboration, reviewing the same book and posting our own thoughts. If you’d like to check out her post on this novel, go here. (If anyone’s visiting from Julie’s blog, welcome!)

I chose our first title, opting for a British book I had heard amazing things about: The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman. It wasn’t easy to find over here in the states for free (fair warning, readers), but since it wasn’t in the library and I really wanted to give it a try, I bit the bullet and bought it from Amazon, which did have a few copies available. As you all know, I don’t usually buy books before knowing I like them, but I’m glad I took a chance on this one!

This book is along the lines of other “realistic time travel” love stories, as I call them – books like The Time Traveler’s Wife and movies like the lovely About Time – though it’s not exactly a traditional love story. If you’ve seen the movie Frequency, it’s more akin to that. Coleman’s novel is about a daughter’s seemingly impossible quest to save her mother – with a will and power she didn’t even realize she had.

I found this book to be very immersive, and though it’s a concept I’ve seen (and loved) in many other stories, I thought it was accomplished in its own unique way. I didn’t expect the love story that develops, but I quite enjoyed it. And not to give it away too much, but it was the inspiration behind the recipe I chose to make – at some point in 1977, our main character Luna stumbles into someone who works in (and I think eventually owns) an Italian bakery.

Though they’re not mentioned in the book, when I think of Italian pastries, I often think of the popular tri-color, or rainbow cookies, and their pop of color reminded me of the seventies. Instead of finding a recipe online, like I often do, I turned to a good friend (and fellow food lover), who graciously shared their family recipe with me. These cookies intimidated me, but I was assured they were very easy. My friend makes them every Christmas, and he’s right, I had no reason to be nervous about them.

First, I began with the almond paste and sugar, crumbling them together in the food processor. This recipe was the perfect opportunity to use some almond paste that I’d made myself, primarily because I couldn’t find it in the store when I looked for a previous recipe, but I’m told it’s not that hard to find. (Perhaps I was looking in the wrong spot, but if you have the same problem, it is quite easy to make; recipe link below.)

Then, I transferred my almond paste and sugar mixture to a bowl and beat in the softened butter (2 sticks). I also beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, making sure it was well-blended before I stirred in the flour. It was time to color the batter, so I split my batter into 3 different bowls and, using food coloring, colored one of the bowls pink and one of the bowls green. The third bowl remained uncolored.

I spread each batter evenly in its own pan before popping into a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 11 minutes.

While the layers baked, I made the chocolate glaze by heating semi-sweet chocolate and heavy cream in the microwave. I then set it aside to cool. I also heated the raspberry jam (my preferred flavor, but you can use apricot instead) in a small saucepan until it was smooth and spreadable.

I turned each layer out onto the cooling rack, and once it had cooled a bit and was no longer warm to the touch – about 10 to 15 minutes – I began assembling the final cookie. Green layer goes on the bottom.

I spread about half of the jam (I heated approximately a cup) on top of the green, added the white layer, pressed gently, and spread the rest of the jam on top of that.

Then, I added the final layer – the pink layer, pressed gently and topped with the chocolate glaze.

This does need to sit for about 30 more minutes, to make sure the glaze sets before slicing it into pieces, so I had to be patient. Once cooled, first order of business is to trim the edges and then they can be sliced, resulting in these little cookies as my final product.

Mine turned out a bit thicker than I remember them being when I had eaten them in the past. They’re still delicious, but more than a mouthful’s worth of cookie – mine are better eaten with a fork, like a tiny cake. (Please see my notes below on pan size.) These are a quite cakelike cookie, and more delicious than I recall as well, so they’re definitely worth a try. Thank you so much to my friend, for sharing their recipe with me and the blog! I hope our novel’s Italian bakery owner would be proud. 🙂

Tri-Color Cookies (Italian Rainbow Cookies)

  • Servings: 50-72 cookies
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 can/tube (8 oz) almond paste*
  • 1 cup butter (no substitutions), softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 6 drops red food color
  • 4 drops green food color
  • For assembly and the glaze:

  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • 3 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate, chopped
  • Apricot or raspberry jam (seedless)

Directions

  1. Lightly coat three 8×8** pans foil baking pans with vegetable cooking spray and dust with flour.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the sugar and almond paste until the almond paste is crumbled and broken into small pieces. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
  3. Beat in butter, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula, until smooth. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, blending well after each addition. Stir in flour.
  4. Divide batter evenly into 3 bowls. Tint 1 bowl of batter pink (food color amounts above are a guide and can be adjusted as needed to achieve correct color) and tint 1 bowl of batter light green. The last bowl will remain uncolored.
  5. Evenly spread each type of batter onto its own prepared pan. Bake for approximately 11 minutes, or until the top springs back when gently pressed with finger. Allow each pan to cool slightly before inverting onto a cooling rack.
  6. Meanwhile, make the glaze. Microwave the heavy cream and chocolate in a small bowl on high for 1 minutes. Stir until smooth. Let cool until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.
  7. Heat the jam in a small saucepan on the stove, until it’s no longer gloopy.
  8. Once the layers have cooled for about 10-15 minutes, place green layer on a plate or serving tray. Brush the top with half of the heated jam. Top with the white layer and gently press. Brush remaining jam over the white layer and top with the pink layer, press gently.
  9. Spread cooled glaze over the top of the layered cookie. Let stand for at least 30 minutes so the glaze can set.
  10. With a serrated knife, trim the edges. Cut crosswise into six 2-inch wide strips. Cut each strip into 12 slices.
From: A friend’s family recipe

Notes: *If you prefer to make your own almond paste, that’s what I did for a previous recipe. It’s really easy and leftovers can be frozen for up to 3 months. Use this recipe from Taste of Home. **If you are doubling the recipe, use the larger foil pans, 11½ x 16½. However, if you still want to make only a single batch, I would recommend using 9×9 pans instead so the cookies are not quite as thick as mine ended up. 😛

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book review, recipe

When Dimple Met Rishi + Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza

In many ways, Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi follows the same formula as many time-tested and beloved romantic comedies. And, honestly, that’s part of what made it so enjoyable. It is unabashedly a young adult love story, and a clever, funny one at that. Dimple is a future-minded high school graduate, hoping to enroll in a web development program and forget about her mother’s matchmaking for the summer. Rishi is also a future-minded recent graduate, though he’s focused more on meeting and wooing his fated wife before heading off to MIT.

Rishi is traditional where Dimple is modern. He learned Hindi before English, strives to be a good son, and is willing to put his dreams of being a comic book artist aside to do so. Dimple wants to code apps and can’t wait to take a break from her traditional Indian parents to make her own way in the world. Rishi is looking forward to meeting the girl his parents have chosen for him to marry, and Dimple has no idea such an arrangement has been made.

In fact, when they do meet, it doesn’t go exactly as Rishi had planned. He’s a bit overzealous, to say the least. It’s hardly a meet-cute, but it’s hilarious. Somehow, Rishi recovers and gets another chance to make an impression. During their first official “hangout” at a pizza shop, a relationship between Dimple and Rishi doesn’t seem meant to be, but as we all know, some people are born to defy expectations.

In true rom-com fashion, the novel is full of ups and downs and obstacles the young couple must overcome to end up happily ever after. That said, it’s well-done, enjoyable and not as expected as you may think. As a bonus, the entire novel is quite amusing – funnier than I expected. I often found myself laughing out loud (even while Scott slept next to me, oops). I wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone looking for something lighthearted and entertaining. It’s a lovely choice to wrap up the summer.

One other thing I found quite interesting was the fact that A Wrinkle in Time, which Dimple considers one of her favorite childhood stories, played such an integral role within the story. Funnily enough, I had just read A Wrinkle in Time before picking up this book. The constant mentions of Meg and her journey stood out to me a little bit more, and it was cool that I had so recently become familiar with the story myself. Since something like that had never happened to me before, I was excited to share the coincidence. Like Dimple and Rishi, it almost seemed fated that I read them in this order.

To accompany Dimple and Rishi’s story, I decided to make pizza with an Indian spin. I knew I wanted to use naan as a crust (something I’ve done in the past with leftover pieces) and wanted to bring in the flavor of chicken tikka masala. I found a recipe from Raya Malaysia to use as a base.

First, I created the marinade for the chicken, combining a half teaspoon each of ground cumin, cayenne pepper, garam masala and minced fresh ginger; a quarter teaspoon each of salt and black pepper; one Tablespoon of lemon juice; two Tablespoons of plain yogurt; and a pinch of cinnamon. Then, I tossed the chicken in the marinade until it was well-coated, covered the bowl with plastic wrap, and set it in the fridge for about an hour.

It’s a lot of ingredients, yes, but I had all of them at home already. Most of the spices are common, especially if you cook any type of ethnic food with regularity in your home. Hopefully you won’t have to buy many to make this marinade, but then again if you do, you’ll have everything handy to just make it more often. 🙂

To cook the chicken, I preheated the oven to 450 degrees F. I lined a baking pan with foil and arranged the chicken in a single layer. I allowed it to bake for 6-7 minutes.

While that baked, I made the pizza sauce. First, I mixed cumin, paprika and garam masala in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, I combined the tomato sauce, yogurt and heavy cream.

In a small saucepan, I melted/warmed the ghee and added minced garlic and finely diced jalapeños, sautéing for a few minutes, until aromatic. Then I added my spice mixture and continued to heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring often.

I removed as much of the jalapeño as I could, per the original directions (see my notes with the recipe), before adding the tomato sauce mixture. I added some salt and allowed it to thicken a bit, cooking for about 2 more minutes.

At this point the chicken was finished cooking in the oven, so I took it out and began assembling my pizzas. To start, I brushed each piece of naan lightly with olive oil. Then, using a spoon, I dolloped sauce into the center of each piece of naan, and with a circular motion outward, spread the sauce until each piece was completely covered.

Then, I topped the sauce with a little less than half of the shredded cheese, before adding the chicken, thinly sliced red onion and cilantro. Finally, I added another layer of cheese, using the rest of it.

I baked the pizzas for about 10 minutes each. Since the chicken is already cooked, the pizzas are done when the cheese is melted and the naan is a bit more firm. For garnish, I added the remaining chopped cilantro to each pizza before serving.

These pizzas were absolutely delicious! If you’re a fan of Indian food and a fan of pizza, there’s no reason not to give this a try. It’s easy and so flavorful! This is definitely going down as one of my favorite recipes this year and it will absolutely be making some additional appearances in our kitchen. (I can’t wait!)

Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza

  • Servings: 3-4 personal pizzas
  • Print

Pizza Ingredients

  • 10 oz skinless and boneless (1 large) chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and marinated
  • 3 or 4 pieces of naan (traditional or garlic; I used traditional)
  • olive oil for brushing
  • pizza sauce, recipe below
  • ¼ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 to 1 ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • handful of cilantro, chopped (plus some for garnish)

Chicken Marinade Ingredients

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons plain yogurt
  • pinch of cinnamon

Pizza Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ jalapeño, deseeded and finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (or butter)
  • salt to taste
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • 4 oz tomato sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream

Directions

  1. In a bowl, cover the chicken with the prepared marinade and allow to marinate for at least an hour in the refrigerator.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and line a baking pan with foil and spread the marinated chicken in a single layer on the pan. Discard the remaining marinade. Bake for 6-7 minutes, turning halfway through if desired.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, begin to prepare the pizza sauce. Combine the cumin, paprika and garam masala in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine the tomato sauce with 2 Tablespoons of yogurt and 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream.
  4. Heat a small saucepan and warm/melt the ghee (or butter). Sauté the garlic and jalapeño until aromatic. Pour in the combined spices from step 3 and sauté until fragrant over medium heat, stirring often, for about 1-2 minutes. Remove the jalapeño and discard. (If you prefer it spicier, you may leave in the jalapeño.)
  5. Add in the tomato sauce mixture and stir well to mix. Sprinkle salt to taste and continue to simmer until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  6. To prep the pizzas, lay the naan on foil-covered cookie sheets. Brush lightly with olive oil. Spread the pizza sauce onto the naan “crust,” covering evenly. Sprinkle with about half (erring on the side of less) of the mozzarella cheese. Arrange the chicken, red onions and chopped cilantro on pizza and cover with the remaining cheese.
  7. Reduce the temperature to 425 degrees F and bake the pizzas for 8-10 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven and garnish with the remaining chopped cilantro.

Adapted from: Raya Malaysia

Notes: Pertaining to fishing the jalapeños out of the spice mixture, I don’t think this is entirely necessary – unless you’re extremely averse to spice. In that case, perhaps leave them out altogether, but if you do use them and want to remove them, it’s okay if you don’t get them all. This task can be somewhat annoying, based on my own experience. I removed about half before I decided we probably wouldn’t mind the jalapeños. Use your own judgment, based on your spice preference.

When I made my pizza sauce, I doubled amounts of tomato sauce, yogurt and cream within the pizza sauce because typically store bought cans of tomato sauce come in 8 oz and the recipe said it made up to 3 pizzas but I planned to make 4. I had quite a lot of sauce leftover after covering the pizzas to our liking, so I think as-is should be sufficient for 4 pizzas, but if you like your pizzas on the saucier side, this may be necessary.


This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

book review, recipe

Goodbye, Vitamin + The Most Dangerous Chocolate Cake in the World

I finally got around to reading my July Book of the Month selection, a debut novel by Rachel Khong titled Goodbye, Vitamin, and it was such a quick read that it felt like I barely had it open before I was finished. It is both funny and touching, following a year in the life of 30-year-old Ruth as she quits her job and moves back home to spend time with her father who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Khong’s writing style is unassuming, and the results are comical and endearing. Ruth’s struggle isn’t one that I personally relate to, but it felt truthful and hopeful at the same time. When she arrives home just after Christmas, Ruth unhappily discovers that her mom has become afraid of cooking at home, convinced that her husband’s memory loss was caused by not only the packaged ingredients but the pots and pans themselves. After taking some time to get her bearings (and get over the heartbreak of her recently called-off engagement), Ruth throws herself into caretaking and doing whatever she can to help improve her father’s memory.

At one point, Ruth attempts to make a jellyfish-centric meal to help stave off further dementia, and while it’s not a success, it doesn’t stop her culinary adventures. In an email forward, she stumbles across THE MOST DANGEROUS CHOCOLATE CAKE IN THE WORLD, so-named because “from the moment you decide to make it until you sit down to eat is above 5 minutes!” Armed with a mug and a microwave, she makes it one day and sends a picture of the results to her forward-happy friend. I knew I wanted to make it too.

I can’t be sure, but I may have found the exact recipe Khong references in the novel. Both the one in Goodbye, Vitamin and the one I found online from the lovely Ree Drummond require 3 Tablespoons of chocolate chips, and I knew I was on the right track. Though I suppose it’s entirely possible all mug cakes have the same requirement, I was still pretty excited about it.

I actually brought all of the ingredients (and mugs) over to my sister’s house last weekend to try it out. We were belatedly celebrating her birthday together, and I thought chocolate cake was the perfect addition to our already fun-filled Sister Day.

I used a separate bowl to combine all the ingredients before scraping them into each mug, but the recipe calls for them to go straight into the mug, so do whatever you think works best. I wanted to make sure everything was well-combined (no lumps), but on the other hand, I had slightly more cleanup.

First, I mixed my dry ingredients – 3 Tablespoons each of all-purpose flour and sugar, 2 Tablespoons of cocoa powder, ¼ teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of salt – using a mini whisk. Then, I added the wet ingredients – 3 Tablespoons each of milk and vegetable oil followed by a splash of vanilla. I made sure those were well-combined before adding 3 Tablespoons of chocolate chips.

I poured the mixture into one of the waiting mugs and put it in the microwave for 90 seconds. As Ruth remarked in the novel, “they look[ed] like beautiful souffles fresh out of the microwave.” I made 3 all together, one for each of us (my brother-in-law included), and after snapping some pictures while they cooled for a few minutes, we dug in.

They were delicious, and yes, absolutely dangerous. We finished them in a hurry!

I’m not normally a huge chocolate cake fan, but this wasn’t too decadent nor too much. It would go great with a scoop of ice cream, and it’s super easy to make for just the 2 of us – no tempting leftovers! Also, if you’re craving some chocolate in the summer, there’s no need to heat up the whole house with the oven.

The Most Dangerous Chocolate Cake in the World

  • Servings: 1
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Put the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a 12-ounce microwave-safe ceramic mug. Blend thoroughly with a fork or small whisk. Add the milk, vegetable oil and vanilla and blend until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  2. Microwave on high for 90 seconds. Do not overcook or the cake will be dry. Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes before eating.

From: Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman

If you like your cake a little less rich, feel free to reduce the chocolate chips to 2 Tablespoons instead.


This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

book review, recipe

Pachinko + Kimchi

Pachinko, for those of you who don’t know (and I didn’t until I read Min Jin Lee’s novel of the same name), is a Japanese game of chance, a combination of pinball and a slot machine. Like the game it’s named for, Lee spins an epic tale that goes up and down, away and back again, all as the Korean family we follow move to Japan and either suffer or thrive there. The novel starts with the parents of our strong central female character Sunja and spans over seventy years and several generations.

I liked Pachinko, but despite being well-written, it wasn’t a particularly enjoyable read. Lee really put her characters through the ringer, and the suffering they experienced left me feeling very defeated. It was an interesting perspective on an immigration story – one we aren’t often exposed to here in the United States but one that didn’t leave me with much hope either.

It was a book we chose for our August book club, and I’ll admit I put it on the list because I already owned it (checking off that TBR!) and because I wanted to make and eat sushi. It turned out that while sushi did show up a couple of times in the novel, kimchi is what really made an impression. Sunja and her sister-in-law used their skills in the kitchen to make kimchi when times were tough, supporting their family the only way they could.

Kimchi, which is made of fermented vegetables – usually cabbage, requires about a minimum of a week to make. So, it was about two weeks ago that I set to work. I found a recipe that didn’t seem too intimidating and stopped by the trusty 168 Asian Mart (you may remember from my dumpling-making adventures) to gather all of the Korean-specific ingredients, such as salted shrimp and red pepper powder.

I chopped my cabbage into roughly 2-inch pieces, put them in a large bowl and sprinkled them with a generous amount of salt (half a cup), tossing the leaves to make sure they were well-coated. Then, I covered the cabbage with water – I ended up using about 15 cups – and covered the entire bowl with plastic wrap. I let it sit for about a day.

Then, I placed the cabbage in a colander, rinsed it and squeezed it out. While that sat, I combined all of the other ingredients in a large bowl – radish cut into matchsticks, scallions cut into 1-inch pieces, what seemed like a ton of Korean red pepper powder, fish sauce, minced ginger and garlic, Korean salted shrimp and a little bit of sugar.

Once it was well-combined, I added the cabbage and tossed it until it was well-coated and pretty red too. Then, I stuffed everything into my large glass jar and sealed it. I snapped a quick picture before I left it in the dark, cool basement for another full day.

Then, I opened the lid and allowed the gases to escape – the product of our fermentation process was quite pungent. I’d recommend doing this with the windows open, or in a very well-ventilated room. After about a half an hour, I sealed it back up and placed it in the fridge. The jar hung out in the fridge for about 10 days, until yesterday, when I opened it up to attempt to make kimchi fried rice.

You can use kimchi for a lot of different things, but the one I thought I might enjoy the most was kimchi fried rice. (Disclaimer: I’m not a huge kimchi fan to begin with.) Luckily, I was already familiar with fried rice from my Boston Girl blog entry earlier this year.

I ended up tweaking the recipe I found a little bit, but I loved the idea of serving it with an egg on top, so I had Scott fry some up while I put the finishing touches on the rice. The whole meal turned out really well – the kimchi added a little bit of an extra kick to the fried rice, and I liked it much more than I expected to! Now, we just have to figure out how to use the rest of the kimchi 🙂 Any suggestions, fellow foodies?

Basic Napa Cabbage Kimchi

  • Servings: 1½ quarts
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Ingredients

  • 1 (2-pound) napa cabbage
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • about 12 cups cold water, plus more as needed
  • 8 ounces daikon radish, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks
  • 4 medium scallions, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces (use all parts)
  • ⅓ cup Korean red pepper powder
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • ¼ cup peeled and minced fresh ginger (from about a 2-ounce piece)
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic cloves (from 6 to 8 medium cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons Korean salted shrimp, minced
  • 1½ teaspoons granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 2-inch pieces, discarding the root end. Place in a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and toss with your hands until the cabbage is coated. Add enough cold water to just cover (about 12 cups), making sure the cabbage is submerged (it’s OK if a few leaves break the surface). Cover with plastic wrap or a baking sheet and let sit at room temperature at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
  2. Place a colander in the sink, drain the cabbage, and rinse with cold water. Gently squeeze out the excess liquid and transfer to a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the cabbage and toss with your hands until evenly combined and the cabbage is thoroughly coated with the mixture.
  4. Pack the mixture tightly into a clean 2-quart or 2-liter glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and seal the jar. Let sit in a cool, dark place for 24 hours (the mixture may bubble). Open the jar to let the gases escape, then reseal and refrigerate at least 48 hours before eating. (Kimchi is best after fermenting about 1 week). Refrigerate for up to 1 month.

From: Chowhound

I used the kimchi to make Kimchi Fried Rice (from Rasa Malaysia), though it can be served as a side or in a variety of dishes.


This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

book review, recipe

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine + Pasta al Pesto

I first heard about Gail Honeyman’s novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine when someone suggested it for one of my book clubs. I jotted it down, added it to the poll for September, hopped on the library wait list (just in case), and didn’t think much more about it. I’m actually glad I came into it with no real expectations because the whole experience turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

Eleanor Oliphant has worked in finance in the same small company her entire career. She is socially awkward and a bit of a curmudgeon, who is very reliant on her routine. A routine which includes eating pasta with pesto for dinner every night and drinking vodka until she passes out most weekends. Despite all of her peculiarities, Eleanor on the page is quite charming. My heart warmed to her, and I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions.

I’m excited to see what the rest of the book club thinks of Eleanor. I hope they enjoy her as much as I did! And while we chose to visit an Irish pub for our book discussion (as close to a British pub as we could find), I opted to make Eleanor’s favorite staple for today’s post – pasta with pesto.

I very much doubt she makes her own, but I couldn’t exactly plop some store bought pesto onto some pasta and call it a day. (However, if I had to make a recommendation for store bought pesto, I quite enjoy Trader Joe’s Pesto alla Genovese.) The pesto recipe I chose was so easy and delicious though, that I’ve been thinking of taking up my herb-growing again, just so I could have an abundance of basil and make this more often.

Best of all, it uses walnuts which are much more affordable than pine nuts – I think Eleanor would approve of that choice. To start, I toasted the garlic until it had some little brown spots.

Then, I moved them out of the pan to cool and toasted the walnuts as well. While those cooled, I assembled the rest of my ingredients – basil, parsley, grated parmesan, olive oil and salt and pepper.

I added everything to my food processor and blended everything until smooth.

I ended up having to add just a touch more olive oil, but use your best judgment as it comes together. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

I tossed some ribbed penne pasta (great for the pesto to cling to) with my freshly made sauce, dished it up and topped with some extra parmesan cheese for good measure.

Use your pasta of choice, and if you have any leftover pesto, it will keep in the fridge for a short while, or it can be frozen. Enjoy!

Basil Walnut Pesto

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

  • 6 cloves garlic unpeeled
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cup packed fresh parsley
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Toast the garlic cloves in their skin in a small skillet over medium heat, shaking often, until brown spots form, about 5 minutes. Remove to a small bowl to cool before peeling.
  2. Meanwhile, return the skillet to medium heat and add walnuts. Toast until fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes, shaking frequently to prevent scorching. Remove from heat.
  3. Combine peeled garlic, walnuts, basil, parsley, parmesan cheese, and olive oil in a blender or food processor; blend until smooth.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve as a topping on pasta (3/4 c. pesto per pound of pasta), as a spread on sandwiches, or as a garnish to soups.


This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.