Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Winter Pesto and Pasta!

Last week, I felt the need for a little taste of summer. One of my favorite things about the summertime is the abundance of fresh greens. February is always a tough month to get through - it's the point where winter feels like it will never end, and with two days of snowfall, things were feeling desperate. While it's not easy to find large quantities of basil at this time of year, there is always spinach, and thanks to the basil plant in our kitchen (which is STILL ALIVE since MAY!!!!), I had just enough to make a wintery version of one of our favorite sauces.

I found this pasta recipe from Real Simple via Pinterest. It was so delicious - really, just what we needed to help lift the funk of February's bitter cold. 

The kids weren't interested in the pasta or the pesto, so for them, some crispy baked chicken fingers. I'm trying to cut out chicken nuggets from their diet. Even though we purchase "all-natural" and "organic" nuggets, you just don't know what is in that "meat". The kids approved of these with plenty of ketchup for dunking.

Pesto Orecchiette With Sausage

3/4 lb. orecchiette pasta
1/2 lb. green beans
1 c. frozen peas
1 Tbs. olive oil
8 oz. Italian sausage, sliced
1/2 c. pesto (recipe follows)
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions, adding green beans and peas during the last 3 minutes. Reserve 1 c. cooking water; drain pasta and veggies.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until browned, 6-8 minutes. Drain off any excess oil.

Add pasta and veggies, pesto, Parmesan, and 1/2 c. reserved cooking water and toss to combine. Add more water or pesto to taste.

Winter Pesto

2 c. fresh spinach leaves
1/2 c. fresh basil
1/2 c. toasted pine nuts OR walnuts
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese (I buy mine by the chunk - I cut off about 1" of cheese + cubed it)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. olive oil

Place all ingredients (minus the oil) in order into a blender (I use a Vita-Mix, which I highly recommend) and pulse until a paste begins to form. Slowly stream in the olive oil as the blender is running. Taste and adjust seasoning. You may need to add more oil, depending on the consistency you desire. Transfer to a glass jar. To save the pesto, top it with a thin coat of olive oil and cover tightly - this will prevent your pesto from discoloring. Keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. 


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