Salsa di Parmigiano

Blythe has a wonderful nanny who cares for her during the day while we are at work.  In addition being amazing with our little one and taking her on all sorts of adventures, she cooks delicious-sounding meals and brings leftovers for lunch that make me wish we could swap lunches.  I doubt she'd trade hers for what I usually pack... 

Recently she made us these Cauliflower Rice Stuffed Zucchini with Shrimp that I never would have made on my own, which were flavorful and unusual, and she introduced me to my newest obsession: vegetable noodles.  

I am now the proud owner of a spiralizer.  I try to avoid purchasing kitchen gadgets that are single use, but I've made an exception for the spiralizer because it makes these long, curly noodles that are fun to eat and cook and healthy.  An added bonus is that Blythe loves them and they are the perfect shape for her to grasp in her little hands.  These noodles actually make me think I like zucchini and I now regret not planting some in our garden. 

Yellow squash or zucchini noodles alone have very little flavor, which makes them the ideal vehicle for whatever kind of sauce you favor.  Usually my go-to sauce in the summer is pesto (made with pine nuts or walnuts), but lately I've been making Salsa di Parmigiano and adding a generous dollop of the Salsa di Parmigiano on the noodles.  It is deliciously cheesy with a kick from the red pepper flakes and I love to double this recipe and keep a Mason jar of the salsa in the refrigerator to put on vegetables (spiralized or not), pasta, or bread.  With the bountiful late-summer produce, this is the perfect sauce to have on-hand.

Salsa di Parmigiano
Recipe from Michael Chiarello via Alexandra Cooks

Ingredients
1/2 pound Parmesan
1/2 pound Asiago cheese
2 to 3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chopped scallions
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used 2, but start with 1)
1 to 1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation
1. Remove any rind from the cheeses and chop the cheeses into rough 1-inch chunks. Pulse the cheeses and garlic in a food processor until reduced to a fine, pea-sized gravel. Transfer this mixture to a bowl and stir in the scallions.

2. Add the oregano, rubbing it between your fingers over the bowl, red pepper flakes, 1 cup of the olive oil and black pepper. Stir. If mixture seems dry, add more olive oil by the 1/4 cup. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours before using.

Random aside - I've been getting emails from The Kitchn Cure, which just started last week.  For 20 days, they send a daily tip for cleaning and organizing your kitchen.  Today's task is cleaning the oven and last week was cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer (all of which are tasks I needed to tackle).

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Sesame-Chipotle Mole for Summer Grilling

Sesame-Chipotle Mole, the perfect dipping sauce for your summer grilling!

Sesame-Chipotle Mole, the perfect dipping sauce for your summer grilling!

The June issue of Bon Appétit arrived and the Grilled Short Ribs with Sesame-Chipotle Mole immediately caught my attention.  I have been operating under the assumption that a mole sauce always includes chocolate, but apparently this is not the case.  Wikipedia tells me that mole is actually a generic term used for sauces that originated in Mexican cuisine; moles include a variety of flavors and ingredients but have one common ingredient, chili peppers.

The weather here in Denver has been downright dismal for the last few weeks.  We've had rain and clouds and chilly temperatures every day.  Finally the skies cleared for most of yesterday and it seems we may be turning the corner toward summer.  It seemed like the perfect opportunity to get back into grilling (also, I love that grilling means very little clean up).  

The arrival of roses at our house typically mean summer is just around the corner.  Fingers crossed!

The arrival of roses at our house typically mean summer is just around the corner.  Fingers crossed!

I can't say that I am sold on grilling short ribs, a meat traditionally reserved for slow cooking, but I am sold on this mole.  The texture, with little bits of almond and sesame seeds, complements the meat and the chipotle-vinegar flavor is tangy with just the right amount of spice.  This would pair well with any red meat, as well as chicken or vegetables.  The recipe made double what we needed, which has me excited for pairing it with another grilled meat or some veggies later this week.

A random aside - am I the only person who says "veggies" anymore?  I've recently heard the term "veg" used with great frequency, but it just doesn't roll off my tongue.  Thoughts?

Can you see the chunks of almond?  They add nice texture to this sauce.

Can you see the chunks of almond?  They add nice texture to this sauce.

Sesame-Chipotle Mole Sauce
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Yield = approximately 1½ cups of sauce
Active time = 5 minutes

Ingredients
 cup unsalted almonds (I used raw but the original recipe called for roasted)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 cup roasted red peppers from a jar, drained
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo with a tablespoon of the accompanying adobo sauce (seed the chipotle chiles if you prefer the mole to be less spicy)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (the original recipe calls for Sherry vinegar)

Preparation
1.  Pulse almonds and sesame seeds in a food processor until finely chopped. Add red peppers, chipotle chiles, and vinegar and purée until well combined; season mole with salt.
2.  You can season the meat of your choice with the mole prior to grilling.  The recipe was written for 1½ pounds of beef, and the original recipe suggested that you use ⅓ cup of mole to toss with the meat prior to grilling.  I didn't think this added much flavor, so I'd skip that step and just use good meat and flavor it with salt and pepper or whatever seasoning you prefer.  Once the meat is grilled, serve it with the mole alongside.  The mole would work well with beef, chicken, vegetables and tofu.

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Blythe suggests you make this mole immediately!

Blythe suggests you make this mole immediately!