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Pesto Avocado Portoburger

Categories: Lung Yin Vacuity

Pesto Avocado Portoburger
makes 2 sandwiches
2 portobello mushrooms
1 ripe avocado
handful of crisp greens, such as lettuce or watercress

1 tablespoon basil pesto

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Kaiser rolls, halved
Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe
Makes 1 cup

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Special equipment needed: A food processor

1 Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.
2 Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.


1.Slice the mushrooms into about 1/2″ thick slices, cross-wise.
2.Heat a large sautee pan with the oil. Once hot, add the mushrooms and season with pinches of salt and pepper. Cook for about 1 minute, then flip. Cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and let cool a few minutes.
3.Spread the pesto on the bottom halves of the rolls.
4. Divide the mushrooms and arrange them on top.
5.Slice the avocado into about 1/4″ wedges and arrange on top of the mushrooms.
6.Top them with the lettuce or other greens, and the top halves of the rolls. Slice in half and serve.

TCM Analysis:
Olive Oil: neutral, sweet, sour, astringent, clears heat, detoxifies, promotes body fluids, quenches thirst, clears lungs, benefits the throat

Mushroom: slightly cool, sweet. Detoxifies, improves appetite, stops diarrhea, resolves phlegm
Avocado: Sweet, bland, cool. LU, LI. Nourishes yin and blood, lubricates Lung and LI, clears heat, promotes fluids
Basil: Pungent, Warm. ST, LU. Induces sweating, harmonizes ST, antidote for seafood poisoning
Cheese: neutral/ sweet. Strengthens weakness, nourishes qi and blood, lubricates dryness.
Pine nut: warm, sweet. Lubricates LU, stops cough, lubricates intestines, promotes body fluids
Garlic: Hot, pungent. Ant-viral, anti-fungal, detoxifies meat and seafood, removes food and blood stagnation, reduces abscess.
Pepper: hot, pungent. Warms digestion, dispels internal cold, antidote to food poisoning.
Overall Recipe function: LU Yin Xu
The cool avocado and mushrooms are balanced out by the warm basil and pine nuts. The mushroom resolves phlegm if present while the avocado nourishes the yin and lubricates the Lung. The pine nuts assist with lubricating the Lung as well.


Categories: Articles, Cooking tips

Recipes for Health
Pestos: Not Just for Pasta

August 31, 2009

Pesto once meant one thing to me: pesto Genovese, the famous and fabulous basil paste from the Italian Riviera. It was such a revelation the first time I tasted it. When cooks in this country caught on, pesto Genovese became so ubiquitous that now it’s hard to find a sandwich that hasn’t been slathered with it.

Pesto Genovese is made by grinding pine nuts, garlic and basil to a paste, which is then enriched with olive oil and Parmesan (or a combination of Pecorino and Parmesan). It’s traditionally used as a pasta sauce, and I think that’s the best place for pesto Genovese.

But there are sauces made with copious amounts of other herbs or greens not destined for pasta. They aren’t called pestos, yet that’s what they are. All made by grinding herbs and other ingredients to a paste, then thinning out and enriching with oil. If you are looking for ways to get more healthy green herbs into your diet, you can’t do better than these sauces. None of them requires pasta or bread to enjoy.

The Tunisians make a wonderful sauce using cilantro, parsley and spices called chermoula, which is traditionally served with fish. Another cilantro sauce is a signature dish of the Republic of Georgia, this one a beguiling mixture of ground walnuts, dried apricots (in the form of apricot leather), garlic, cilantro, parsley and other herbs, and walnut oil. It’s served with chicken, meats, fish and vegetables, and stirred into cooked red beans. In Apulia and the Abruzzo in southern Italy, I found a delicious pesto made with arugula, served with pasta and stirred into a barley risotto. I use it to fill tomatoes, which I then roast.

Each of these sauces has its own distinctive flavor, but they have one thing in common (besides a certain addictiveness): they’re all pungent with garlic.

Arugula Pesto

In addition to serving this vibrant pesto with pasta, I use it with grains (risottos made with rice, barley, or wheat) and as a topping for tomatoes. It’s great on its own, spooned onto a thick slice of country bread. Don’t use a sharp olive oil with this, or it will overwhelm the arugula.

2 garlic cloves, cut in half, green shoots removed

2 heaped tablespoons shelled walnuts

4 ounces arugula, stemmed, washed and dried (2 cups leaves, tightly packed)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, as needed

1/3 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, to taste

1. Turn on a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and drop in the garlic cloves. When they are chopped and adhering to the sides, stop the machine, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the walnuts. Turn on the machine, and process until they are finely ground. Scrape down the bowl again, and add the arugula and the salt. Pulse until the arugula is finely chopped, then turn on the machine and run while you slowly drizzle in the olive oil. When the mixture is smooth, stop the machine, scrape down the sides and process for another 30 seconds or so. Scrape out into the bowl of a mortar and pestle. Grind the mixture with the pestle for a smoother texture. Work in the cheese and combine well.

Yield: Makes about 2/3 cup.

Advance preparation: Cover the top with a film of olive oil, and this will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

Martha Rose Shulman can be reached at

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company