Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Things I Am Loving This Week

It's Tuesday and time for the "Things I Am Loving This Week"--those (mostly) food-related things I am enjoying and want to share.

Remember these fresh macadamia nuts from the Big Island, purchased at the farmer's market that I am still loving? I cracked a bunch of them (not an easy task even with the fancy cracker--it gets tiring!), and thought it would be fun to use some in a pesto.

Rather than just mixing them with basil, I added an equal amount of baby spinach for an extra nutritional boost. I also had a lemon that needed to be used and added the zest and juice to brighten up the pesto and the buttery flavor of the mac nuts. And so with all that, a new love, my Lemony Basil-Spinach-Mac Nut Pesto was born.

For the pasta I used the Quinoa Linguine from Ancient Harvest. It is a gluten-free blend of quinoa and corn and has a decent amount of fiber at 4g per 1/2 cup serving. It also has a very similar texture to regular semolina pasta which I like. I had some leftover roasted chicken breast that I chopped and threw in for some protein.

Lemony Basil-Spinach-Mac Nut Pesto
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 1 & 3/4 cups pesto)

2 cloves garlic
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp macadamia nut oil or olive oil
1 cup packed fresh baby spinach leaves
1 cup packed basil leaves
1 cup macadamia nuts
salt & pepper to taste

Combine garlic, lemon juice and zest and oil in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add spinach, basil and mac nuts and puree' until desired texture. (Add water as needed for a thinner pesto). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve with Quinoa Linguine with Chicken: Cook pasta according to package instructions and drain reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Toss pasta with the pesto mixture (Use as much pesto as you like) and chopped chicken breast. Serve with some chopped toasted mac nuts and basil leaves as garnish.

Notes/Results: Delicious--it really hit the spot with bright color, great flavor and some good healthy fats. Mac nuts are a great source of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese and zinc and also contain of fiber and B-vitamins. While higher in fat than some nuts, it is mostly mono-unsaturated fat and mac nuts contain no cholesterol. However you could easily sub another nut like cashews, walnuts or pine nuts. I left out the cheese that is so often in pesto and didn't miss it but if you must have cheese, grate a little and put it on top in place of the buttery chopped macadamias. I will make this again.

I loved this pesto and I am going to send my entire dish (with a very long name) Quinoa Linguine with Chicken in Lemony Basil-Spinach-Mac Nut Pesto along to Ruth's Presto Pasta Nights, one of my favorite blog events. PPN is being hosted this week by Savory Specialist at Our Taste of Life. You will find the round up for PPN 156 on her blog on Friday.

From pesto to pickles. Have I ever expressed my great love for really good dill pickles here? It must have something to do with the salty brine as in my beloved capers. I get pickle cravings sometimes and when I saw The People's Pickles from Rick's Picks, I knew I had to try them.

Crisp pickles with tons of garlic--what could be better? These will definitely keep any nearby vampires (or non-garlic eaters!) at bay---they are full of garlic flavor and they are yummy. I love the thick and chunky pieces and that they are low in sodium too--a bonus when snacking on pickles.

Plus you have to love the slogan on the label--so true!

Chocolate isn't the next logical step from pickles but I am so loving this Vosges Organic Peanut Butter Bonbon Chocolate Bar! Made with organic peanut butter, pink Himalayan salt, Maldon sea salt in a deep milk chocolate, it really nails that salty-sweet, peanut butter flavor.

The chocolate crisps just right, the thin layer of peanut butter filling inside is just creamy enough to be almost perfect and the salt level is good without being overpowering. This may be my new favorite flavor of Vosges (I was a confirmed Barcelona Bar fan) but keeping my mind open, I bought some little sample-size bars in a few other flavors that I have yet to try and will talk about in another post.

So that is what I am loving this week--pesto, pickles and peanut butter-chocolate bars.

How about you? What are you loving this week?


  1. that pesto looks good! I love adding spinach to pesto...it really makes the green pop. Maybe this is what I should use the tiny bit of mac nuts I have sitting in my cupboards for...they are two few to bake anything with. Good call!

    That PB chocolate bar - you KNOW I'm in heaven!

  2. mm everything sounds so good! especially that chocolate at the end :)

  3. The Pesto looks especially wonderful. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights. I always love your dishes.

    As for pickles & chocolate - I love both...just not together ;-)

  4. I've been wanting to try that chocolate bar for a long time! I've been on the fence about whether or not to spend the $8 on one or not.

    I also like how you decided to use your mac nuts in a pesto. It fits the green theme from last week : )

    Love those garlicky pickles!

  5. The chocolate looks delicious!

  6. The chocolate looks delicious!

  7. That mac pesto looks INCREDIBLE! I love that green!!!

  8. Great TIALTW!
    Love the pesto with the spinach and macs. Pine nuts are not my favourite anyway. And quinoa pasta sounds great!
    The packaging for the pickles is hilarious and I need a bite of that bonbon. By a bite I mean I need a whole one. Two. Okay three.

  9. Oh my - I'm loving everything here! The pesto sounds incredible - very fun to use macadamia nuts, and nice healthy addition of spinach there. I love even bad pickles, so those amazing garlicky pickles sound incredible to me! And the chocolate peanut butter bar? I wouldn't trust myself alone in a room with that.

  10. We picked up one of those bars when we were in Vegas last. They are so good! You are right on with the balance of the flavor. The Naga is still my favorite though with the curry and coconut. I need to try the Barcelona!

  11. Recently I've been loving coconut water. I know it has nothing to do with cooking, per se, but it is such a refreshing drink!! Not only that, but it has a lot of electrolytes!

  12. Joanne--I thought of you when I bought the PB Bonbon bar! ;-)

    Kat--It was yummy! ;-)

    Ruth--yes they are best eaten apart!

    Kim--for an occasional splurge it is worth it. ;-)

    Erica--thanks! ;-)

    JennDZ--I should have made it for St. Paddy's Day. ;-)

    Natashya--it would be easy to eat more than one of these bars--they are really good.

    Cathy--thanks! I have to take a square & put the candy bar far, far away. ;-)

    Lori--the Naga is really good too, but try The Barcelona if you get a chance--another great balance of salty/sweet. ;-)

    Krissy--I am a big fan of coconut water too--it is very refreshing.

  13. Wow! I love everything from Things I am Loving This Week. I often pass by Rick's Picks at the Union Square farmer's market. I'll have to pick up a jar next time.

    The Vosges chocolate bars offering a diverse variety of intriguing flavors. I can understand if you have more than one favorite.

  14. I love the idea of quinoa pasta. I have never seen it or heard of it. I must look for it.

    This pesto must make anything you add it to, a lot tastier.

  15. I love to visit here. It's never boring and there is always something new to see. Your pasta looks and sounds delicious and you've sorely tempted me with that chocolate bar.

  16. Well done with the pesto.
    I haven't had anything with quinoa, something else to go on the laundry list. :)

  17. Deb that pesto looks fantastic and the spinach really seems to bring the colour alive, and I really like the idea of a quinoa pasta, if only I could find some here.I recently made a pesto of macadamia nuts and rocket that was also delicious and I served it with a prawn and pasta salad.

  18. The pasta looks heavenly and sounds so light yet flavorful! I have to try it. Thanks for the recipe!

  19. Everything looks awesome! I love the pesto with macadamia and lemons - what nice flavors. And that chocolate bar looks heavenly!

  20. Brilliant round up! Low sodium pickles? I had no idea that was possible! And as for that chocolate, it sounds delicious!

  21. Fresh Local & Best--I overindulged a bit on my last trip to NYC sitting in Vosges ;-)

    Comfy Cook--All of the natural foods stores here have the quinoa pasta and Whole foods too.

    Mary--thank you! ;-)

    Andreas--How long is that list?! ;-)

    Sue--I bet it was great with that peppery rocket. I can get local arugula here, I should try that next.

    Rebecca--thanks! ;-)

    loneilteaches--thanks! I hope you enjoy it!


    Foodycat--amazing isn't it. Only 70 mg in a serving of them--several big pickle chunks. ;-)

  22. The vibrant green of the pasta looks amazing! A perfect way to usher in spring!


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