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Pesto, Artichoke, and Roasted Red Pepper Bagel

October 1, 2012

The other weekend, we had our Kenyon friends over for dinner. Although the gathering for the weekend was bittersweet, we ended the weekend with an evening of wild little kid-antics, good eats, and of course, funny story telling. As with many story telling evenings about Kenyon, AAM brought up his beloved Village Market. The market was a small store that carried the basics in college cooking and cleaning. They also happened to sell hotdogs, which I get the picture that AAM ate more than his fair share. AAM loves making fun of the people who ate at the Gambier Deli, which like any college town deli, serves gourmet sandwiches. At Kenyon, food is included in tuition, so people only ate at the Deli or the Market when they missed mealtime (rare), or elected to try something special (required some cash in an age before debit cards). To be honest, I didn’t know people even ate at the Market until I dated AAM. He is so determined to be anti-Gambier Deli, that when we went back to his reunion and I entered the deli, he sat outside and ate his market dog. So, in his story telling the other night AAM started making fun of the Deli again, and I said something to the affect of, “I don’t know what the big deal is, the Deli had more choices, a variety of ingredients, and better tasting food than the Market. Why are you insistent on defending  a hot dog.” And of course, one of our favorite things to interject in conversation when arguing with AAM, our friend CW enthusiastically cheered, “LAWYERED!”

So the next morning, being equally stubborn (Serafina is doomed), I decided to make him my favorite sandwich from the Gambier Deli. As with most college athletic programs, Kenyon gave a per diem for when we traveled, $10 for Breakfast and $20 for lunch and dinner. Since there was a hole in the track, we always traveled. Unfortunately, as a runner, I really did not eat much on the day of a meet. Between nerves and not having enough time between races, a banana and power bar was all I bought with the money. Track and Field is an all day, or even multi-day sport, so I would sometimes come home with $50 or more. We would get out of the van, and I would walk with my friends over to the Gambier Deli and order “Jon’s Sandwich.”  It was my favorite post-race meal, and at $6.00 I had a good chunk of change leftover for whatever a college student might need.

Serafina is now getting to the age where she can really help make food with me. In the past few weeks she helped me throw together a Panzanella Salad for guests, prepare French Toast for our Sunday brunch, and assemble banana bread for her morning breakfasts to go. She loves standing on a stool, stirring ingredients, or even taking a go at the salad spinner. This meal she helped me collect the basil and spinach, take the leaves off the stems, and clean them. She also watched the toaster to tell me when the bagels were done.

Keeping her busy with small tasks has several goals. First, she sees how food is made into a meal. Second, she develops a sense of pride in helping, and accomplishment in doing. Third, she is inevitably more interested in eating any meal that she prepared, which helps avoid picky-eating episodes with new food. Finally, it keeps her from having tantrums from hunger, which tends to be her one big tantrum trigger. No kidding, toddlers can be pretty dramatic around mealtime. We had tons of fun making the pesto together, and I think we were able to convince AAM that this sandwich is much better than a market dog.

When remaking the Pesto and Roasted Pepper Bagel sandwich, I wanted to make it non-dairy.  The original was a bagel, pesto, havarti, and roasted red peppers on top. It is very easy for vegetarians to get in the habit of just replacing meat with cheese, which does not necessarily make your meals much healthier. Even if you *think* you are eating healthy, dairy can really raise your basic cholesterol and fat levels. For this reason, we limit dairy at home. Non-dairy does not have to be boring.  When I write a recipe is vegan, I worry that certain readers will zone out or avoid the meal. Making a vegan or non-dairy vegetarian meal is just a matter of becoming creative with ingredients, and often adding more healthy foods into your meal. By the way, AAM said he didn’t notice the dairy gone from the pesto, and liked the artichokes instead of the cheese.

A few things on pesto:

People often do pesto with only basil. I highly recommend adding spinach into your pesto. Raw spinach is very good for you, but has a pretty bland flavor so it does not change the taste of the pesto. By blending spinach into pesto, you have just boosted the meals healthy rating.

Additionally, I did not use fresh garlic. Over the years I have used it, but raw garlic can be too biting for toddlers and even some adults. So instead, I sprinkled some Penzey’s Roasted Garlic Powder, and it was really delightful. When making a pesto for a sandwich, shortcuts are allowed.

Pesto, Artichoke, and Roasted Red Pepper Bagel

  • 1 cup of spinach
  • 1 cup of basil
  • 1/2 cup of pine nuts
  • 1 tb roasted garlic powder
  • Olive oil
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 cups of artichokes, chopped
  • 4 whole wheat/whole grain/or Oat Bagels
  • Sprinkle of sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400. Slice the red pepper into slivers, cover with olive oil. Roast for twenty minutes, then remove to cool down.

2. Meanwhile, clean your basil and spinach, and dry.

3. Place in a food processor. Add garlic and pine nuts. Pulse.

4. While the cover is on the food processor, add olive oil through the opening of the lid. Pulse the processor several times. Open the lid, push down any stray food with a spatula. Keep doing this, until the pesto is a desired texture.

5. Toast your bagels.

6. Lay your bagels down in order to make an open-faced sandwich. Spread pesto over the bagel, add artichoke, then top with roasted red pepper. Sprinkle a little bit of sea salt on top to add depth of flavor. Serve open-faced.

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