When I was a kid Easter was a pretty intense time for my sister and me. You see, the Easter Bunny used to hide our baskets every year. But he wouldn’t just hide our baskets, he would HIDE our baskets! He was pretty extreme, and took pleasure in stashing our baskets in impossible-to-find places and delighting in the length of time it took my sister and me to find them. His signature hiding spots were places you wouldn’t think to look as a kid, like on top of the furnace in the creepy basement that my sister and I hated; or hanging in the laundry chute, suspended between two floors; or wrapped in a garbage bag under the kitchen sink. In my 8-year old mind, I was sure that the Easter Bunny didn’t give it up as easily as Santa because we left him carrots instead of cookies. He was jealous. And bitter. And everyone knows that there’s nothing worse than a bitter bunny. Well, maybe not. But still it got me thinking, surely our little cotton-tailed friend would be much happier if we left him something tastier than cold, raw carrots. Something warm and creamy and slightly sweet. Something a little bit like this….
Carrot, Ginger, & Orange Soup
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lb. carrots (about 3 cups), chopped
- 2 cups chopped yellow onion
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (see recipe in Homemade Stocks)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ cup orange juice
- Kosher salt to taste
- Finely ground white or green peppercorn
- parsley and sour cream for serving (optional)
In a medium soup pot, heat olive oil until shimmering. Sauté carrots and onion until soft and onion becomes translucent but not brown, about 5-8 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add stock, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce to low and simmer, partially covered, until carrots are fork-tender, about 20 minutes.
Carefully remove and discard cinnamon and bay, then using an immersion hand-blender, purée soup until smooth, or alternatively, working in two batches, purée soup in a blender or food processor until smooth, return to pot.
Add OJ and stir until fully incorporated, season with salt and pepper.
Ladle soup into preheated bowl, then top with sour cream and parsley.
Walnut Pesto Panini
Glancing down at this recipe it may look like it has many parts, but it’s actually very simple: 1) grill chicken, 2) make pesto, 3) assemble sandwich. Done! Oh, but I forgot, then you have to eat the sandwich, and lick the tomato juices off your fingers, and wipe the melted cheese strands off your chin, and then get up and make another sandwich because the first one was so good. So, yeah, I guess it is a difficult recipe, but I think you can handle it.
Walnut Pesto Panini
FOR THE CHICKEN
- 2 chicken breasts
- juice from 1 lemon
- 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- Kosher salt to taste
- Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
FOR THE WALNUT PESTO
- 1 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ tsp. Kosher salt
- Fresh cracked pepper to taste
FOR THE PANINI
- 2 pre-split whole wheat pita pockets, cut in half
- 4 slices mild white cheese (such as Gouda, Swiss, or Provolone), cut in half
- 4 slices of tomato, cut in half
TO MAKE THE CHICKEN
In a bowl, mix together lemon juice, Dijon, and salt and pepper. Slice chicken breasts in half horizontally (making a cutlet), and place between two pieces of plastic wrap and, with a meat mallet, pound until ¼-inch thick. Place chicken in the lemon/Dijon mixture, coating evenly, and allow to marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Lightly mist a skillet with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade, letting excess drip off, and place in the hot skillet. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes, then flip and cook second side until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing very thin.
TO MAKE THE PESTO
Combine all ingredients in a small food processor and process until mostly blended and somewhat paste-like, season with pepper.
TO ASSEMBLE THE PANINI
Preheat a panini press to medium-high heat, or alternatively, heat a griddle or skillet over medium-high heat.
Spread 1-2 Tbsp. of pesto on the inside of pita pocket, covering both sides. Place sliced chicken inside of pita and top with 1 slice of cheese, cut in half so that it fits within the pita.
Place pita sandwiches in a panini press and cook until cheese has melted and pita starts to brown, about 2-3 minutes. If using a griddle or skillet, put pita sandwich on griddle/skillet and place a plate, weighted down with a tin can, on top of pita. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then flip pita and cook on the other side, topped with the weighted plate, until cheese has melted and pita starts to brown, another minute or so.
Slide tomato slices into sandwich, slice in half and serve hot.
THIS HAS BEEN A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE EASTER BUNNY.