Pistou...a little for me and a lot for you

Ahhh…its crunch time this weekend. Midterms are next week, and everyone seems to be gasping for air a second too late. Cortisol levels are high and family and friends know to return another day when the skies are bright blue and the birds are chirping. Some students maintain their energy with coffee and peanut butter sandwiches, but I as a nutrition student and food lover, still have to make the time to create something delicious and nutritious.

Today I am only going to share with you a delicious meal full of color and flavor. There will be no nutrition information or research, just the simple joy of creating something beautiful.

Last weekend I competed in Bastyr’s Top Chef, and my partner and I won! It was a magical hour, full of creativity and excitement. Sumac scented beet latkes topped with a poached egg and fresh herb pistou won the prize!

Pistou is a French creation similar to pesto. It is made of herbs, olive oil, and garlic. My version included parsley, basil, and watercress, with the bright flavors of lemon, and the earthy flavors of pure Californian grown organic extra virgin olive oil. Bright green and aromatic, this pistou is sure to please even without the nuts or the parmesan cheese. Believe me, as of late I put it in everything or on everything. Yum!

With roasted brussel sprouts and walnuts, and sautéed cranberries and shallots, I tossed whole wheat rotni pasta with a few healthy dollops of pistou. As a garnish, I used shaved asiago. To keep this lovely dish vegan, just omit the asiago, and voila there you go!

Pistou Rotini with Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Walnuts and Cranberries
Makes about 2 cups
1 bunch watercress, washed
1 bunch parsley, washed 
1 bunch basil, washed
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 large head of garlic (about 16 cloves)
1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel all the cloves of garlic and put into a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Heat until boiling.
2. When water is boiling, drain the water and cover the garlic with fresh cold water and heat to boiling again. Repeat the process one more time, however reserve 1/4 cup of garlic water.
3. Put the reserved garlic water, 3 tablespoons olive oil, and the garlic cloves into a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer the garlic paste into a separate bowl.
4. Put all the herbs into the food processor, making sure to leave the stems behind. Process the herbs until finely chopped. 
5. Add in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and garlic mixture and process. Slowly add the 1/2 cup olive oil into the mixture.
6. Finally, season with salt and pepper. Voila, your done!

Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Rotini Pasta
Serves 4-6
12 small brussel sprouts, plus olive oil, salt and pepper
1/2 cup walnut halves
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1/2 cup craisins
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup shaved asiago

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, cut brussel sprouts in half if small and in quarters if large. Toss with a little olive oil and salt and pepper in a large bowl.
2. Place the brussel sprouts onto a large baking sheet and make sure not to crowd them. 
Place walnuts onto another baking sheet.
3. Roast the walnuts for about 8-9 minutes. Do not leave in any longer! Make sure to be there because the walnuts go quickly from being perfectly roasted to burnt.
4. Roast the brussel sprouts for about 20 minutes. Stir the brussel sprouts at 10 minutes and then check periodically until tender, usually another 10 minutes. They should be bright green and a bit crispy.
5. While you are roasting the walnuts and brussel sprouts heat a little olive oil in a pan and sautee the shallot until glassy. Add the craisins and sautee about 2 more minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper.
6. When the walnuts are done, allow them to cool (about 5 minutes) and then coarsely chop. 
7. Mix the walnuts, craisins, shallots, and roasted brussel sprouts together. 
8. Heat a large pot of water until boiling and cook the rotini as suggested by the package.
9. Drain the pasta and mix with about 1/2 cup pistou. Then add in the brussel sprout mixture and serve with shaved asiago, or just more pistou!

Have a wonderful weekend!!

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