Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Menu ideas and recipes for herb pesto (lemon basil, Thai basil, mint and cilantro), tilefish, tuna, roast beef, eggplant, potatoes and beets

Menu ideas and recipes for herb pesto (lemon basil, Thai basil, mint and cilantro), tilefish, tuna, roast beef, eggplant, potatoes and beets

Lemon basil pesto and southeast Asian-inspired pesto

Between my deck garden and CSA share, I can’t keep up with all the herbs coming into my kitchen. I made a pesto with lemon basil from the CSA, My recipe mix included cashews (but you can use any type of nut), garlic and parmesan cheese. I put the pesto on top of blueline tilefish fillets that were heading into the oven. Quick and tasty.

The next night, I made a southeast Asian-inspired pesto with Thai basil, cilantro and mint from my garden to toss with large pieces of pan-fried blackfin tuna. So good! Here’s the recipe.

  • 2 cups of a mix of Thai basil, mint and cilantro leaves (soft cilantro stems are fine too)
  • 2 cloves garlic, each cut in thirds
  • 1/2” piece of ginger, minced
  • 3 tablespoons plain roasted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon agave, coconut palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (or lime juice)
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree. Add enough grapeseed oil to get the right consistency. If you’re not going to use it all right away, spoon the pesto into an ice cube tray and freeze. When frozen, pop the cubes into a freezer bag.

One of my favorite eggplant recipes

We’re getting close to eggplant season so keep this one handy. Alongside the tuna, I served a favorite, Chinese-inspired eggplant. I added corno del toro peppers and green onions to the pan.

Menu ideas and recipes for herb pesto (lemon basil, Thai basil, mint and cilantro), tilefish, tuna, roast beef, eggplant, potatoes and beets

Roast beef cravings satisfied

Until last weekend, I had never made roast beef. When I saw this NY Times article, I got an immediate hankering for a roast beef sandwich with cheese, sautéed onions, peppers and mushrooms, slathered with mayo and horseradish. So last Sunday, we had roast beef for dinner and every day since we’ve had a sandwich—or at least I have. Heaven. I added garlic powder to the roast’s salt and pepper rub.

Rachael Ray potatoes

Earlier in the stay-at-home period, I binged on a bunch of videos that Rachael Ray’s husband took of her cooking at home. I’m due for another binge, come to think of it. One night, she made baked salt and vinegar smashed potatoes. I’ve had that stuck in my head ever since so they appeared alongside the roast beef. Excellent!

Menu ideas and recipes for herb pesto (lemon basil, Thai basil, mint and cilantro), tilefish, tuna, roast beef, eggplant, potatoes and beets

Lithuanian chilled beet soup

When I lived in the DC area, my brother and I used to go to the Baltimore Lithuanian Festival every year for our fix of people who looked like our relatives (we’re a strong quarter Lithuanian), sausages, dumplings, potato pancakes, Lithuanian beer, viryta (spiced honey kick-ass liqueur), and šaltibarščiai (Lithuanian chilled beet soup). I found an excellent recipe for shull-tee-barsh-chay in a Facebook group, Our Mom’s Lithuanian Recipes. Jim won’t touch it (fool!) but I’ve been enjoying it as breakfast, snack and appetizer all week.

Until next week, stay awkward, brave and kind.*

*I picked this up from Brené Brown whose podcast I’ve been enjoying lately.


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