Tag Archives: flat leaf parsley

Pasta with Pesto, Tomatoes, and Shredded Beef

I had a bunch of roasted tomatoes and poblano peppers in the freezer from the garden and friends, and I had used a few of each on hamburgers, but I was looking for something else to do with them and ended up making a big batch of pesto, using 1/2 cup for today’s dish and putting the rest in the freezer. It’s a parsley-walnut pesto base with the typical additions of Parmesan cheese and garlic and olive oil, then made richer with roasted tomatoes and poblano peppers.

The poblanos at first made me think of doing a Tex-Mex dish, like beef enchiladas or burritos, but the tomatoes and parsley had me leaning in more of a pasta direction. The Parmesan could go either way, because it’s a lot like the Mexican Cotija cheese. What finally led me in the pasta direction were those last five fresh tomatoes from the garden—well, not really the last because there’s a big flat of green ones in the garage that I’m hoping will ripen this fall. So this dish makes use of both roasted and fresh tomatoes.

This recipe is also about what else to do with a chuck roast than make pot roast with potatoes, carrots, and gravy. Nothing wrong with pot roast, but a chuck roast is flavorful and can be used in many other ways. I have a small chuck roast (about 2 lbs) roasting in the oven on a bed of the fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded, and 1 cup of beef broth. When the beef is done and falling apart, maybe after 3 hours, there should be a nice sauce in the pan, although it may need to be reduced on the stove. Then I’ll add the pesto and some sautéed mushrooms and mix it all with the pasta, whole wheat bow ties in this case.

Pasta with Pesto, Tomatoes, and Shredded Beef

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 350°

2 lb chuck roast

4-5 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped

1 cup beef broth or stock or bouillon

salt & pepper

1/2-1 cup Roasted Tomato and Poblano pesto (see below) or your favorite pesto

12 oz button mushrooms, sliced and sautéed in olive oil

1/2 lb pasta, cooked according to package directions

  1. On bottom of small roasting pan, place tomatoes and beef broth.
  2. Arrange chuck roast on top of tomatoes and broth. Salt and pepper the roast.
  3. Cover and roast for about 2 1/2-3 hours, until meat is easy to pull apart.
  4. Remove roast to cutting board and pull meat into shreds, discarding fat and connective tissue.
  5. If necessary, pour tomatoes and beef broth into small saucepan, bring to boil, then simmer, uncovered until it cooks down to about 2 cups.
  6. Stir in 1/2 cup pesto and taste. I don’t add any extra salt, because I find pesto to be salty enough for the whole dish. You can add more pesto to suit your taste.
  7. Stir in sautéed mushrooms and shredded beef. Pour over cooked pasta.

Roasted Tomato and Poblano Pesto

2-3 cups flat leaf parsley

1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated

8-12 roasted tomato halves (roasted with salt, olive oil, and thyme)

3-4 roasted poblano peppers, peeled and seeded

3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup walnuts

olive oil to reach desired consistency, maybe 1/2 cup

salt & pepper to taste (I felt my tomatoes and the cheese added enough salt)

  1. Place all ingredients, except oil, in a food processor.
  2. Begin processing the ingredients, adding olive oil through the chute until it all comes to a fine and thick consistency.
  3. Reserve 1/2-1 cup for the pasta dish.

Spaghetti Squash Gratin with Apples and Sausage

Gratins are classically defined as some ingredient, usually a vegetable, baked with a topping of cheese or breadcrumbs that browns during the baking process. Most gratins also include something that binds it all together, like cream or sour cream or milk, even a white sauce or eggs. The gratin sauce, though, is not so heavy that it overpowers the main ingredient. I like to just use cheese and cream. I would say, also, that most gratins are simple, using only a few ingredients, and mine is a little more complicated because I’m bringing in the apples and sausage, but I’m still basing it on the principle of a gratin.

Here’s a terrible one-handed video of me trying to film and work at the same time, adding the cream and cheese:

Spaghetti Squash Gratin with Apples and Sausage

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 350°; butter a shallow 1 1/2-2 quart baking dish.

I used a small squash of probably less than 2 pounds (about 3 cups of cooked squash), so a larger one would yield more servings.

1 spaghetti squash, 3-5 cups of cooked squash

1 medium onion, diced

1/2-1 pound smoked sausage, sliced (mine was an uncured, but fully cooked beef sausage)

1 large apple, diced (forgot to mention I peeled mine, but it’s not necessary)

1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

1-2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter

salt and pepper to taste

1/2-1 cup heavy cream, heated in microwave for about 1 minute

1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Roasting the Squash

There seems to be a consensus on the web about cooking a spaghetti squash whole and then opening it and removing the seeds, but that yields more of a steamed interior. I like to roast a spaghetti squash as I would an acorn squash. The roasted flavor is much better than the steamed result. This step can be done in advance and assembled on another day.

  1. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Cutting a winter squash in half is never easy, so be careful and use a good knife. Take your time, rocking the knife through a little at a time.
  2. Scoop out the seeds.
  3. Place the halves, cut side down in a baking dish, with about a half inch of hot water.
  4. Roast at 350° for 30 minutes. Turn the halves over and brush the flesh with butter. Roast for another 30 minutes. The water will evaporate and look burnt in the dish, but it comes right off with some soaking.
  5. Pull the flesh out into strands with a fork. Set aside.

Preparing the Gratin

You can prepare the other ingredients while the squash is roasting. This is a dish in which all the main ingredients are partially cooked before assembly. I like to cook the onion, sausage, and apple in layers, instead of all together.

  1. In a medium to large sauté pan, heat the oil and butter over medium high heat.
  2. Sauté the onions until they begin to brown. Remove carefully, trying not to remove all the fat in the pan.
  3. Add the sliced sausage and cook until browned. Remove to a plate.
  4. Add the diced apples to the pan, which will have a lot of browned bits on the bottom. Cook for a few minutes and then add about 2 tablespoons of water to de-glaze the pan.
  5. In your baking dish, add the spaghetti squash, parsley, onions, sausage, and apples, tossing all to combine without breaking the squash strands.
  6. Pour over enough cream to moisten. I ended up using about 3/4 cup of the cream. Sprinkle grated cheese over top.
  7. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned.

Note: I only seasoned the onions during the prep with salt and pepper. Parmesan is a salty cheese and that was plenty for me.