Pasta with pesto

No doubt the internet is awash with pesto recipes, but just in case you haven’t been inspired to make your own, I’m sharing ours. If you have small children who have not yet declared their undying hatred for green food, then I would advise putting “Green Noodles” into your meal rotation as soon as possible. My kids regularly snub green vegetables, but when a bowl of green noodles appears in front of them, they magically shut up and eat. Whew!

Once you’ve made it a few times, you’ll be able to get dinner on the table in about 20 minutes, or however long it takes to boil a pot of pasta. (I like to keep angel hair pasta or capellini on hand because it cooks in just 4-6 minutes.) Add a salad (sometimes just sliced tomatoes with a drizzle of vinegar and oil) and some crusty bread if you have it.

Pasta with pesto

1 lb. pasta (whole wheat, if you like)

a bunch of greens: basil, spinach or arugula, or a mixture; washed and dried

about 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, smashed

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (or walnuts)–omit if you have nut allergies

salt and pepper to taste

juice of half a lemon, optional

freshly grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add a couple teaspoons of salt to the water. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Before draining, scoop out about a cup of the pasta water and set it aside.

While the water is boiling, put the olive oil and garlic into a small microwaveable bowl. Warm the oil and garlic in the microwave for about a minute on half power. (You can do this on the stove top, too, in a small saucepan or metal measuring cup. And if you don’t mind the bite of raw garlic, you can skip this step entirely.) Fill the bowl of the food processor with your greens of choice, add the warm oil and garlic, salt and pepper. Purée the mixture until it is smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl, and adding a little more olive oil when necessary. Taste the pesto, and add salt, pepper or lemon juice to taste.

Mix the drained pasta with the pesto, adding the reserved pasta water as needed by the 1/4 cup, until the pesto has coated all the pasta. Serve with grated parmesan.

Artichoke Heart Variation: Substitute the greens for one 14-ounce can of drained artichoke hearts. Add a small handful of parsley or spinach if you have it. Don’t leave out the lemon. We call this one “Yellow Noodles.”

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10 responses

  1. We do a ton of pesto in the summer with all the basil we grow, but I really like your alternatives! We will have to give them a try. And with the price of pine nuts we usually go with Walnuts as well.

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