Thursday, June 19, 2014

Asparagus, Mushroom, and Provolone Wraps with Swiss Chard Pecan Pesto


One of my big "secrets" to feeding myself well and in a hurry is having a cache of delicious sauces at the ready. I prefer the nights when I can linger over the cooking and eating of my dinner, but when things are busy, I follow a general recipe of protein + veggie + grain + sauce, using whatever I happen to have on hand that sounds good. Often I resort to a bottle of teriyaki sauce from Whole Foods, but it is so much better when I can dip into a batch of homemade spicy peanut sauce or pesto, like this one.

There are some pesto purists out there that might object to a non-pine nut and basil-based recipe, but I'm not one of them. As long as the combination of greens/herbs, nuts, and cheese is delicious one, I'm all for it, and I might even eat a vegan pesto from time to time. This wonderfully rich and savory sauce is a happy companion to pasta, as pestos tend to be, but there are so many more possibilities, like this wrap.

I've included instructions for cooking the asparagus and mushrooms from scratch, but I came up with the wrap when I had extra grilled asparagus and mushrooms from my Father's Day cookout to use up. If I'm firing up the grill, I always cook beyond the meal I'm about to eat because nothing beat the smoky caramelization al fresco cooking achieves. Pesto adds another savory layer to charred vegetables and smoky provolone in this simple wrap, a satisfying sandwich for carnivores and vegetarians alike. Although I definitely prefer this warm, it's still pretty good cold, so give it a try even if you don't have the time or tools for a hot wrap.

The pesto recipe makes far more sauce than you'll need for these wraps, so get creative with the rest. After you've had a bowl or two of pasta, try drizzling some on your eggs, perking up a tuna melt, making a salad dressing, or combining it with whatever protein and veggies are on the menu that day.

Asparagus, Mushroom, and Provolone Wraps with Swiss Chard Pecan Pesto
pesto adapted from The Kitchn
makes  approximately 1 1/2 cups

For the pesto:
1/2 cup chopped pecans
8 ounces Swiss chard, trimmed, rinsed and chopped
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

For the wrap (ingredients per wrap) :
4 ounces asparagus, trimmed
4 ounces cremini, shiitake, or portobello mushrooms, thickly slice
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 whole grain tortilla
1 to 2 slices provolone cheese

For the pesto:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast them in the oven until they are golden and fragrant, about 10 minutes

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Have a large bowl of cold water ready. Drop the chopped Swiss chard into the boiling water. When the water returns to a boil, swirl the kale around a few times until it becomes limp.

3. Drain the Swiss chard and plunge it into the cold water. Drain again, then place the chard on a clean dishtowel and blot away the moisture.

4. Place the nuts, chard, Parmesan, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a blender and puree until uniformly smooth. You may need to add more olive oil to reach desired consistency.

5. To refrigerate, cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pesto. Will stay fresh for up to 3 days. To freeze, place desired portions in small containers with plastic directly on the surface of the pesto, or place in plastic freezer bags, and freeze for up to two months.

For the wrap:
1. Prepare a grill over medium-high heat. Meanwhile toss asparagus spears and sliced mushrooms with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables until charred in spots and tender, about 2 to 4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the asparagus spears and mushroom slices. (Alternatively, saute the vegetables in a pan over medium to medium high heat).

2. Preheat a pan over medium heat. Lay tortilla on a flat surface and place cheese in the center of the tortilla, cutting slice(s) in half, if necessary. Top with asparagus spears and then sliced mushrooms, and drizzle a tablespoon or two of pesto over the top. Roll up the tortilla, using a little extra pesto to help seal, and place, seam side down, in the pan. Cook until tortilla is golden brown and cheese is melted, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Slice in half and serve promptly, with extra pesto on the side.

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