Thursday, November 13, 2014

I never get tired of a classic pasta sauce without a hint of red

Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto from Costco Wholesale dressing Garofalo Whole Wheat Pappardelle from Jerry's Gourmet in Englewood. I served the pasta on Wednesday night with stove top-grilled Chinese eggplant that was on sale for 49 cents a pound at H Mart, also in Englewood.

Editor's note: Today, I discuss my 40-year love affair with a classic pasta sauce, the best buy in pomegranates and side dishes from H Mart. 


I first tasted pesto, the pasta sauce packed with fragrant fresh basil leaves, in the early 1970s at a seaside Italian restaurant on the French Riviera.

By the late 1980s, I was buying a case of fresh basil leaves every summer, making two-cup, freezable portions from a blender recipe I found in a Marcella Hazan cookbook and enjoying pesto through the winter.

I never fell out of love with pesto, but found the versions served in restaurants often lacked enough basil to deliver the magical taste I remember from that restaurant in Nice, not far from Genoa, Italy, where it originated. 

Not only does pesto give you a break from red pasta sauces, the dressing gets its richness from grated cow's and sheep's milk cheeses, extra-virgin olive oil and pine nuts -- not the artery clogging cream and butter you'd find in Alfredo Sauce. 

Besto pesto from Costco

In recent years, I've relied on Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto from Costco Wholesale ($7.99 for a 22-ounce jar) to dress pasta, spread on sandwich bread, and add to soup, frittatas and omelets.

On Wednesday, I took out the jar of Costco pesto I had in the refrigerator, boiled water, added a pound of whole-wheat pappardelle and cooked it for 10 minutes.

I returned the drained pasta to the same pot, with the fire off; added about two-thirds of the pesto, mixed them well and served the wide, mouth-filling noodles with grilled eggplant and a salad for a delicious dinner.

I put the remaining pesto in the freezer.

The pesto's use-by date isn't written in stone, as I've found with some other products from Costco, such as Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix.

Two of the large pomegranates my wife bought at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack, above, yielded 4 to 5 cups of seeds, below. Six large pomegranates were $14.99.

Pomegranate season

You can find pomegranates at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack, H Mart in Little Ferry and ShopRite in Paramus, among other stores.

But their size, weight and price differ, making them difficult to compare in terms of which one is the best buy.

I've sprinkled pomegranate seeds over hot cereal and salad, and eaten them with a spoon. I'm wondering whether I can cook with them.

For example, the crunchy, sweet-and-sour seeds might taste great as a garnish for steamed organic brown rice or quinoa.

But can I put them in an electric cooker with the other ingredients or should I add them just before I serve the rice or quinoa? Stay tuned.

I found a Persian recipe for Jeweled Rice with pomegranate seeds sprinkled over the dish. Here is a link:

Persian Jeweled Rice (with Nuts and Dried Fruit) 

My wife simply cuts the pomegranate in half and removes the seeds with her fingers over the container we use to store them in the refrigerator.

This morning, a display of pomegranates at the ShopRite in Paramus was missing a price sign. The store circular said they are on sale for 99 cents each through Saturday. 

A ShopRite pomegranate weighed less than 1 pound.

A Costco pomegranate, which cost about $2.50, weighed 1.4 pounds, above. H Mart in Little Ferry has large pomegranates on sale for $1.99 each through Friday. The ShopRite pomegranate looks like the best buy.

Leftover Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain 10 Grain Hot Cereal made a great breakfast today when reheated and served with pomegranate seeds, non-fat Greek yogurt and Organic Blue Agave nectar.

Baby mustard greens were on sale for 99 cents a pound this week at H Mart in Little Ferry, and I bought some to serve with fresh Icelandic haddock from Costco Wholesale ($8.99 a pound), and leftover organic quinoa made with organic diced tomatoes and whole garlic cloves in an electric cooker. On Wednesday, H Mart in Englewood had long, slender Chinese eggplants on sale for 49 cents a pound. Unfortunately, you can't rely on every H Mart to have the same item on sale at the same time.


  1. You cannot cook with pomegranate seeds and expect them to not burst. Basic chemistry.

    1. Thanks. Today, I warmed up brown rice and scattered the seeds over it. Tasted great.


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