J. is out of town tonight, and I just made myself the most yummy dinner. One of those dinners that's so good you want to eat it again as soon as you finish even though you're stuffed.
Last night, late, I got a wild hair to make cilantro pesto. The cilantro in the garden is about ready to bolt, so I've been telling the neighbors to help themselves and I've been trying to think of ways to use it. J. suggested cilantro pesto last week.
I tossed a couple big handfuls of cilantro, a couple big handfuls of roasted peanuts -- I was going to use walnuts, but I burned them in the toaster oven; we got a new one, and the controls on it are still a bit of a mystery to me -- a few cloves of garlic, two big pinches of salt, a pinch of red pepper flakes, a splash of lime juice, and probably about 1/2 cup of olive oil in the blender. I had to add a little water to make the thing go, but no more liquid than you need, because you don't want it to be runny. You have to stop and start and poke at it every once in a while until it finally gets ground up smooth. You could do it in the food processor, and it would be less work, but it'll never grind it as fine as the blender.
I froze some of it in small containers and put the rest in the fridge.
So, tonight, I made pasta with a cilantro pesto smoked gouda cream sauce! The sauce is so easy. At the restaurant in Utah where I worked the last two summers, we made a quick mac and cheese for kids that is so quick and delicious, I have to be stern with myself not to make it more often. It's probably the main reason I weigh about 15 pounds more now than I did before I worked there. The sauce is just butter, cream, cheese (use some kind of melty cheese, like Monterey Jack or a young cheddar), and a pinch of salt and pepper.
After I cooked the pasta -- about 1/4 to 1/3 pound for one serving -- I rinsed it in the colander under hot water. Then I melted a tablespoon of butter in the pan and added about 1/3 cup of half and half (at the restaurant we used heavy cream!), and a pinch of salt and swirled it over medium heat until it was bubbling and steaming. I stirred in a big handful of grated smoked gouda. Stir it quickly over the heat, or whisk it; you don't want it to scorch. Lower the heat and stir in a big heaping tablespoon of cilantro pesto, and then the pasta. More salt if it needs it.
Can't beat it. I put it in a big bowl and ate it with a spoon on the porch with a beer and watched the thunderstorm.