Saturday, January 12, 2008
With a unique flavor that dances on your tongue hours after a meal, Dill is perhaps one of the most potent herbs out there, and one of my favorites. In Bombay, where I grew up, we ate it as a vegetable. I remember my mom buying huge bunches of fresh dill from the vegetable market to make a mouthwatering side-dish flavored with simple spices.
Dill is great in a variety of dishes -- you can add it to plain rice to spike up the flavor, and it is a wonderful garnish for bean and lentil dishes, although be warned that it will tend to overshadow most other flavors. This lovely herb is also said to offer potent health benefits, including protection against free radicals and carcinogens.
My dill-artichoke pesto requires just about half a cup of dill, although you can use more if you want a stronger dill flavor. I used canned artichokes because I had a huge bottle gifted by a friend that was waiting to be used up. It was a marinated variety with a strong vinegar-sour flavor, but some silken tofu mellowed that down while adding a great creaminess as well as good protein.
As I always do, I used whole wheat pasta which has tons of fiber and protein and tastes really great. The fusilli spirals hold the sauce beautifully, making each bite an explosion of flavors.
I threw in some vegan"meatballs" that I had remaining from my Spaghetti with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and Mushroom "Meatballs" although this dish would be just as tasty without them.
Fusilli with Mouthwatering Dill-Artichoke Pesto
1 13-oz box of whole-wheat Fusilli pasta, cooked according to package instructions (if desired, add about 1 cup of green beans, chopped into 1-inch pieces, to the pasta water five minutes before the pasta is fully cooked)
4-5 artichoke hearts (I used canned but you can go with frozen if that's what you have on hand)1/2 cup chopped dill
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup silken tofu
Salt to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil2 green or red bell peppers + 1 tsp olive oil
10-12 vegan "meatballs" (optional)
1 tbsp parsley, chopped + 1 tbsp dill, chopped, for garnish
Put the dill, artichoke, garlic, red pepper flakes, walnuts, tofu and salt in a food processor and with the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
In a skillet, heat 1 tsp olive oil and add the bell peppers, chopped in a one-inch dice. Cook about 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until it begins to just get tender and brown spots appear on the skin.
If using "meatballs," add them to the skillet along with the bell peppers.
Finally, drain the pasta and place in a large bowl. Add 1 cup of the pasta water, the cooked peppers, meatballs and pesto to the bowl and mix thoroughly but carefully. Garnish with chopped parsley and dill. Serve.