Healthy eating, my gym trainer back in India used to point out everyday, is more vital than a strong work-out routine. I would give him a well-practiced nod and move on to my cardio exercise but today I concur. Honestly, I’ve never given unhealthy eating a chance in my life because I was never fond of fried snacks and such. But after the relocating, I found myself in charge of the kitchen and the menu and hence had to concoct a steady, wholesome food plan that would neither make anemia patients out of us nor send us off into a carb dizzy. Hence, apart from a rare fried-Appalum on the menu and a semi-occasional pizza night, we pretty much skipped the generally unavoidable binge eating schedules. This brings me to today.
Evening snacks are a part of our regime, when you have a hungry person coming home to you after a long day at work, you cannot help but make it a point to get something good ready for them to eat and today being Friday, I was in the mood to make something fun, light and delicious just to get the weekend going on the right track. So I had my guidelines laid out for me just because I love challenges:
I wanted to use up the fresh basil I grabbed from the store yesterday. Since Pasta is a complete no-no for an evening snack, I decided to make a sandwich. The last time fresh basil found its place in my pantry, I made Tomato-Moz-Basil sandwich hence, I eliminated it citing reputation. What is the most obvious but awesome dish you can make from basil? I made a pesto with cashew nuts.
Pesto, weirdly, is something I associate with Chennai. A regular patron of Anokhi’s Eco Cafe, the first thng that would welcome me at the store used to be the fresh green aroma of their pesto and feta sandwich. Though I did not know back then that it was basil’s perfume, I recognized it with joy after coming to US and started cooking with the herb.
Now, I know there are a gazillion methods and variants to making the basic pesto out of basil but I improvised mine from Giada’s method and here it is:
A bunch basil
Quarter cup good extra-virgin olive oil
Three cloves of garlic
A hand full of cashew nuts
Salt and pepper to taste
Blend the basil, garlic, cashews, salt and pepper. Running the blender on its lowest speed, open the top of the container and slowly trickle in the olive oil until it is finely blended, else the oil will stand out.
After making the pesto, my obvious choices of ingredients for the sandwich were tomato and feta, both of which I had in my pantry. The tarty taste of tomato and the salty pungent taste of the cheese go artfully together with the pesto. The store-bought bread lounged beautifully on the counter top and I ended up not missing my bread.
Going back to my story, at Anokhi, their sandwiches were always served with a scanty side of fries. Since this only gave me the luxury to peck at them, today I wanted to go all out and serve a good portion of it. “Fried” is not a very healthy route so I decided to make healthy oven-baked potato chips. This recipe consumes less than 1/4th the amount of oil frying does and also lets me use the oven, so double yay!
Here is how I made the potato chips:
3 medium-sized potatoes (I used Idaho since we love the bite the skin gives) washed and dried
Less than a quarter cup olive oil (or vegetable oil)
Generous amount of salt to sprinkle on top
A teaspoon dry Italian (or any other) seasoning
Using the slicer blade on a box grater, slice the potatoes into thin rings. Pat them dry thrice just to make sure you have extracted all the water from the vegetable. Turn the oven on to 375 F (190 C).
Mix the oil and seasoning in a big bowl. Toss the potato slices to coat evenly. Line a
baking sheet with parchment paper (or in my case, aluminum foil) and spread the potato slices on a single layer. This may take up two baking sheets. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, bring it out, toss and bake again for 10 minutes. Make sure you peep in regularly to avoid the thinner slices from burning.
You can turn the oven to broil in the end for two minutes to get that golden-brown finish. Let the chips cool down. Sadly, my potatoes had a tad too much water content in them, thanks to American farming hence they turned out to be on the chewier side but if you find nice, firm taters, take advantage and make the chips!
The mister loved the unexpectedly wholesome snack and I enjoyed cooking up a party. Hence, I deem this a Win-Win situation!