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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

Asian Noodle Article (from web site RSS feed)

Categories: Articles


Tired of Potatoes and Pasta?
Try Asian Noodles.

Written by Gloria Tsang, RD
Published in February 2006

asian noodles grains flour( A reader wrote to us asking for grain product suggestions. She said she was getting tired of having potato and pasta for every dinner. I thought of my grandmother immediately. She was a vegetarian. By taking advantage of various textures of Asian noodles, she would make the most delicious vegetarian dishes (in my biased opinion)!
Asian Noodles Show Down!

* Noodles made with Wheat Flour
These include Japanese udon and many types of Chinese noodles. For instance, the Chinese chow-mein and wonton noodles are made with wheat flour and eggs. The nutritional value of these noodles is very similar to pasta.

* Noodles made with Buckwheat Flour
Japanese soba is a classic example for this category. They are usually brownish gray in color, but sometimes you can find green versions. Buckwheat flour is rich in protein, making soba an excellent choice among vegetarians.

* Noodles made with Rice Flour
Chinese rice noodles and rice vermicelli are the most known rice noodles out there. However, other ethnicities such as Vietnamese and Indonesian also have their own versions. Rice noodles come in various forms: fresh, dried, thick, thin, sticks, bundles and even in macaroni shape. They taste great in soups or cold salads. Unfortunately, rice noodles are mostly starch and low in other nutrients.

* Noodles made with Mung Bean Flour
Thai call them glass noodles whereas Chinese call them bean threads or bean vermicelli. They are also known as cellophane noodles and usually turn translucent after being cooked. Similarly to rice noodles, mung been noodles are also mostly starch.

* Noodles made with Potato Flour
Some noodles are made with potato flour (such as Japanese harusame) and some are made with sweet potato flour (such as Korean dang myun). Similar to rice flour, potato flour is also gluten free.

The Bottom Line

asian noodles grains flourStay away from Instant Noodles: These noodles are usually individually packed and come bundled with a flavor sachet. They are often dried by deep-frying so they are usually high in fat; only a handful of brands are air-dried. The MSG sachet is loaded with artificial colorings and flavorings. In other words, they are low in nutritional value.

asian noodles grains flourHow about Healthier Grains? All noodles mentioned above are refined grains. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans of January 2005 recommend that all adults eat half of their grains as whole grains – that’s at least 3 servings of whole grains, such as oats and whole wheat, a day. For more information about whole grains, click the Whole Grains Guide below.