Welcome to FOOD & FELLOWSHIP: Old & New Recipes from the Green Acre Kitchen. Each week we will share three recipes, both old and new. When the day comes—and it will—that we can sit at a table and break bread together again, perhaps we will all have a few new dishes to share.
Sauces are a simple way of elevating a basic meal to something sublime! Here are a few of our favorites.
Yields: 1 generous cup
Pesto is one of those basic recipes where the ingredients can change according to what is in season. It’s quick, versatile and well worth the time. It can be used on pastas, pizza, flatbread, spread on sandwiches and so much more. One of my favorite winter pesto recipes uses arugula and hazelnuts. Delicious!
2 cups fresh basil leaves
⅓ cup toasted pine nuts
2 large cloves garlic
½ cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Zest from ½ lemon, optional
Variation: replace the basil partially or completely with:
Variation: replace the pine nuts with:
Process in food processor: Combine the herbs, salt, nuts or seeds and garlic into a food processor. Pulse while drizzling the olive oil into the processor. Pulse until chopped fine but not completely smooth. Remove the mixture from the processor and put it into a bowl. Stir in the grated cheese and lemon zest if desired.*
Adjust to taste: Because the pesto is so dependent on the individual and seasonal ingredients, taste the pesto and adjust the seasoning and ingredients as desired.
*Pesto can darken when exposed to the air, so to store, cover tightly in a small container and cover with plastic wrap making sure the plastic is touching the top of the pesto and not allowing the pesto to have contact with air. If you prefer not to use plastic, you can cover the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil. I like to freeze my pesto in ice cube trays. You can then take out only what you need and the pesto remains fragrant and fresh.
Yields: 1 cup
Bechamel is one of the five classic French mother sauces that serve as the foundation for a wide variety of milk based sauces. Besides being used in classic French sauces such as mornay (Gruyere cheese) or soubise (onion), Bechamel can go into lasagna, macaroni and cheese, moussaka, chile con queso, scalloped potatoes and countless other dishes. The ratios of the 3 primary ingredients can vary from recipe to recipe but usually start with a roux of equal parts butter and flour with milk being whisked in. The ratio of roux to milk can vary depending on the desired thickness.
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk, warmed
Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
In a saucepan heated to medium, melt the butter then add the flour. Stir with wooden spoon or whisk for 2 to 3 minutes making sure not to brown the roux (butter and flour mixture). Whisk in a slow drizzle of warm milk. Allow to cook another 2 to 3 minutes while stirring as sauce thickens. Add salt and nutmeg (optional) to taste. If not using right away, cover with parchment paper to prevent a film from forming.
Marcella Hazen’s Tomato Sauce
Yields: Sauce for 1 pound of pasta
One of the famous Italian cook, writer and teacher’s most well-known recipes is a model of simplicity. It can serve as perfect sauce for pasta or a base for any recipe that calls for tomato sauce. Needless to say, for a recipe so simple the quality of the ingredients is paramount, particularly the plum tomatoes.
1 (28) ounce can of San Marzano plum tomatoes in their juices, unseasoned
5 tablespoon butter
1 onion, peeled and halved
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the onion halves and brown slightly. Add the tomatoes and juice, crushing the tomatoes in your hands.
Set to a simmer, stir regularly. Continue for 45 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down. Remove the onion and salt to taste.