Monday, September 7, 2009

A Vegetarian Labor Day or Harvest Dinner

Labor Day can be a very social time or not so much.

We have a mix this weekend - we had a dinner with friends last night, I had friends over for breakfast this morning, but the rest of the weekend will be spent at Dancing in the Streets, Radio Free Bacon and with some good books.

Last night’s guests included a vegetarian, and since all of us love vegetarian cooking, I decided to go that route.

We had a truly great, if non-traditional, “Labor Day” dinner, that didn’t involve a grill in any way, shape or form.

Pasta with Basil-Pistachio Pesto, Roasted Tomatoes and Kale


For the slow roasted tomatoes and kale:

1 pint cherry tomatoes, rinsed and dried
1 1/2 cups washed, torn kale
1/2 TBS kosher salt
1 TBS olive oil

For the pasta and pesto:

4 cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano (domestic or other parmesan can be substituted, but it's best with the real thing)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup roasted, salted pistachios, shelled
1/3 cup olive oil minus 1 TBS

6 oz. of whole wheat fettucine
1 cup pasta water


1. About 4 1/2 - 5 hours prior to serving, preheat the oven to 225. Toss the kale and tomatoes with 1 TBS olive oil and 1/2 TBS kosher salt. Spread in roasting pan. Stick in oven and roast for 4 - 5 hours, stirring every hour and a half or so.
2. Bring pasta pot to a boil. Cook fettucine according to instructions.
3. While pasta is cooking, process pesto ingredients in a food processor or blender. Start with the garlic, cheese and nuts until ground fine, then process/blend basil, and finally process in the olive oil. There are recipes which will tell you to use the feed tube for the olive oil, but I go ahead and process the whole thing together and it's worked just fine.
4. When pasta is done, reserve a cup of the pasta water and drain and rinse the pasta with cold water to stop it from cooking and to remove some of the starch. Get a big bowl and toss the pasta with the pesto and pasta water until the pasta is well coated and the texture is how you like it. (You don't need to use all the pasta water - I usually use between 1/2 a cup and 2/3). Lastly, toss with the roasted tomatoes and crush and sprinkle the kale over all (when kale slow roasts, it becomes crisp).

Serve with lots of freshly ground pepper and grated parmesan to taste.

Serves 6.

Nutrition Facts

Servings Per Recipe: 6
Serving Size: 1 serving

Amount Per Serving
Calories 403.1
Total Fat 20.2 g
Saturated Fat 3.9 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 12.1 g
Cholesterol 6.6 mg
Sodium 172.8 mg
Potassium 500.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 46.2 g
Dietary Fiber 9.7 g
Sugars 1.3 g
Protein 14.9 g

Note: While this is not a low calorie or low fat dish, keep in mind that saturated fats are very low and monosaturated (the good fats) are high. This also has a whopping 9.7 grams of fiber and 14.9 grams of protein.

We served this with Scaletta Green Bean Salad, Kalamata Olive Twists from Mill Pond Bread and Calder vanilla ice cream with this Peach Rum Sauce.

All the vegetables are at perfect ripeness and the dinner was a snap to prepare, even if I had to be home due to the slow roasted tomatoes and kale.

Enjoy your Labor Day festivities!

Photos: Vegetarian Labor Day dinner: Basil-Pistachio Pesto with Roasted Tomatoes and Kale, Scaletta Green Bean Salad and Olive Kalamata Twists; pan of tomatoes and kale ready to go into the oven; close-up of Basil-Pistachio Pesto with Roasted Tomatoes and Kale, vanilla ice cream with Peach Rum Sauce. All photos by Jennifer Shikes Haines.

If you don't mind leaving your comments/votes for this piece at my other gig, it would be greatly appreciated!


Luisa Perkins said...

It sounds like the perfect mix!

Lauren said...

This looks great! As a sometimes vegetarian with a full-time vegetarian mother and several vegetarian friends, I always like stumbling upon new recipes to send them. Thanks!

Jen said...

Luisa - it worked well, thanks!

Lauren - I liked the twist on the pesto, which was kind of a lucky accident.

Korie said...

That looks really good. And I actually developed a tast for kale a couple years ago when I tried the South Beach diet. And pesto? I'd eat just about anything if it was covered in pesto.

Jen said...

Lilac - you can also make kale "chips" by doing the same slow roasting thing, but sprinkling them with tamari/olive oil ahead of time, and leaving them larger. They are soooooo good. Developed by my friend Diana on her blog - 365 days of kale.

anno said...

This sounds so delicious! Love the idea of "enriching" pesto with the roasted kale and slow-cooked tomatos. Yum!

Jen said...

Anno - it worked well. I was sort of trying the kale for a crunchy bacon kind of thing, without the bacon! And the roasted tomatoes I got from that lovely dinner at your house.

the twins said...

it looks so good! i'm jealous of your dinner guests =)

Brian Miller said...

your pics look amazing...and then to read what is in them...yum. hope you and your fam have a great labor day. working today myself but only a few more hours and i will enjoy it as well.

Jen said...

Twins - thanks! I so enjoy so many of your combinations.

Brian - hope you get some happy time off with the family soon! Knowing you, grilling may be involved. ;-)

glamah16 said...

I chose to use this 3 day weekend and not be so social. I need the down time after an exhausting few week. Im loving peach rum sauce! BTW, I picked you as winner for the Best Summer Drinks. Email me your address.

Brittany | the Home Ground said...

I have a canning recipe for peach rum sauce that I've been dying to try... I think you may have nudged me, with that ice cream photo :)

Anonymous said...

basil-pistachio pesto sounds WONDERFUL! Ah, I wish I was spending Labor Day with you! But then, I also had a great lunch today. YAY for good food!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

A labour day menu that is not labour-intemsive (pun intended:D)Love the pasta and all.

Thistlemoon said...

That pasta sounds so fresh and delicious! The color from the basil, kale and pistachios is gorgeous! Love all the other menu items as well!

Jen said...

Ack, I can't believe I got so behind on comments!

Glamah - thanks so much! The peach rum sauce was easy and killa! Your cakes and other goodies from the course are so, so beautiful!

Oooo, Brittany, that sounds like a wonderful idea!

Burp - yay for great lunches! And it would be lovely to have you as a guest! Guess the commute would be a bit far, though. ;-(

Val - I'm a pun lover, too! Thanks!

Jenn - thanks for the kind words. BTW... I just sent two friends your way - Joan of Popcorn Homestead and Liz of... oy, I need to find her blog. You'd really enjoy both of them!

Diana Dyer said...

Wow - roasting those abundant cherry tomatoes together with the abundant kale. Thanks for the great idea! I gotta try it. :-)


Jen said...

It made me kale-happy, Diana!

Jeanie said...

This sounds spectacular! I thought it was pesto by the photo, but adding pistacios kicks it up, and the kale/tomato combo looks great! I'll pass this on to my veggie friends, too!

Glad you had a wonderful holiday. You had a fun agenda!

Bren said...

im losing my cooking mojo so can u please send me some of this! i'll make you some flan! :)

Jen said...

Jeanie - thanks so much! Sorry I missed your comment until now.

Bren, that would be a happy trade for certain! I love flan!

Anonymous said...

DAMN IT I wish I could get my husband to eat like this......

maybe if I drug him......this looks soooooo good!