Sunday, December 10, 2006

Working Eater Series: Festive Holiday Meal

Imagine this:

The warming fragrance of a brewing stockpot of hot apple cider, spiced with cinnamon sticks, citrus peel, and a copious handful of cloves. . .

The thick, chocolately scent of a mug brimming with steaming cocoa, with an aquiline-arched candy cane propped against the rim, permeating a strong infusion of peppermint essence in the intoxicating beverage, and all topped off with melting marshmallows, joyfully bobbing up and down like pillowy balloons. . .

The smoky, buttery aroma of roasted chestnuts smoldering in glowing and ashen coals. . .

These are the smells of the holiday season. Now I need to give you a visual.

As we are in the midst of Christmas and the holidays, I want a share two recipes that get you in the holiday mood by showcasing the classic colors of Christmas time: bright holly berry red and rich pine tree green. These recipes are easy for a hurried chef to make during the bustling holiday season.

Pestoed Angel Hair Pasta with Prawns and Cherry Tomatoes
3 cups of fresh basil leaves, firmly packed with stems discarded
1/2 cup of pine nuts, toasted in a non-stick pan (without oil) until lightly browned
1/2 cup of fresh parmesan cheese, grated with the small holes of a cheese grater or with a microplane
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
5 large cloves of garlic, with papery skins and woody ends removed and cut in half

1 lb pkg of angel hair pasta, cooked al dente according to directions, in salted, boiling water
1 lb of large prawns, peeled and deveined
1 box of cherry tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
salt, to taste

Puree the pine nuts, cheese, and garlic in a food processor, adding the basil in batches and slowly drizzling in the olive oil in the large "pouring spout" opening in a food processor. Continue to process until achieving a relatively-smooth consistency. You can either leave the food processor "on" button pressed while you slowly drizzle the olive oil, or alternate with "on/off" switches of the "pulse" button.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in wide-brimmed, non-stick skillet on medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the prawns and pan fry, tossing the shrimp frequently until the prawns are opaque, pink, and firm to the touch, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cooked angel hair pasta and cherry tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes begin to wilt and soften slightly, about 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, add the pesto mixture, and stir the pasta until the noodle strands are evenly coated with the pesto.

Serve the pasta on holiday-themed dinnerware and enjoy! For dessert, try:

Honeyed Fruit Salad with Mint
3 kiwi fruit, sliced
1/4 cup of dried cranberries or 1 plastic container of red raspberries
3 sprigs of fresh mint, hand-leafed with stems discarded
1 tsp of honey
1 tsp of orange juice (optional)

Mix the ingredients together in a large, glass mixing bowl, and serve in a large bowl emblazoned with repeating patterns of snowmen or Santa Claus on a sleigh. Enjoy and happy holidays!


  1. Hi PE, i should make some pesto soon. Such a light and refreshing dish. the food and photos look really nice.

  2. Ooo..a series! I love those! It was wonderful seeing you this past weekend, PE. I'm sorry you couldn't come out to lunch with the beau. Your presence was sorely missed.


    You are invited to Join the Fair Recipe Trade. Check out my blog for more info :) Hope to see you there!

    You commented on my blog last year when I posted my homemeade recipe for Almond Rocca...

  4. Thanks Eat, Drink, & Be Merry! You should try to make the three-herb pesto with Italian parsley, mint, and basil, that stuff tastes delicious!

    I miss you too Jinerous. I saw the pictures on the Xanga, and realized that we DO have A LOT to catch up on!!

    Thank you Suzanne, I have some recipes to share in my next post!

  5. lovely! pesto is so refreshing.

  6. I agree Pink Nest, the basil and the pine nuts provide a crunch and intense flavor that is unrivaled.

  7. That looks absolutely scrumptious! I adore pesto....having a craving right now!

  8. Thank you Rachel! Hopefully a warm and delicious dinner helps you to satisfy that craving!


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