Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pesto Power

It's glorious, it's green, and it's mighty good: It's pesto, and I love every last hungry spoonful of it.

It goes well with pasta, baguettes, and a good ol' panini. If you called it a condiment, I'd say it was my favorite.

Although I'm a loyal lover of chunky marinara sauce over my pasta as much as the next girl, there's something about the green goodness of pesto that just tastes like summer. Fresh green herbs, grated parmesan, and touch of garlic make the beginnings of something beautiful, don't they?

(Brief Intermission for Childhood TV Memory: Does anyone remember the "Full House" episode when Danny's girlfriend/co-host Vicki made the family pesto pasta with goat cheese pizza? It was likely my first exposure to "pesto." Oh, the memories.)

Tonight's pesto recipe is a new twist on the old and familiar. I clipped it from a Rachael Ray Magazine, attracted to its surprising addition of some unexpected greens: fresh spinach and parsley. Who would've thought?

If you've never tried making your own pesto, today is the day! It's really quite simple, and it looks fancier than it is :) I often make it thicker than recipes suggest because I don't like to use very much oil (you'll find that store-bought pesto has a shiny, smooth, spreadable consistency, but it typically has a high oil content). If you're looking for a "saucier" pesto though, you can always increase the amount of oil until you reach your desired consistency.

Tonight's homework: Clip some fresh basil, dust off the food processor, and invite Danny Tanner over for a pesto power dinner.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Pesto and Ricotta
(adapted from a Rachael Ray Magazine recipe)

I recommend serving your pesto with a smaller tubular pasta, such as whole wheat penne or elbow macaroni. While the linguine was tasty, I found it clumped together a little much!

Another addition I recommend (but forgot tonight): Add a coarsely chopped garden tomato to your pesto-pasta....mmmmmmmm

  • 1 lb. whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves, stems removed
  • 1/3 cup chopped, flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 - 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan or asiago cheese (this one is approximate! I didn't measure)
  • Part-skim ricotta cheese (for topping)
  • Fresh tomatoes, coarsely chopped (I forgot to add these tonight!)

1) Cook pasta according to package directions.

2) Meanwhile, place the following ingredients in a food processor and process until thoroughly combined: pine nuts, spinach, parsley, basil, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan or asiago cheese. Now you've got pesto! (see picture above)

3) Combine individual servings of pasta with desired amount of pesto. Mix in chopped tomatoes if desired, and top with a dollop of ricotta cheese. Rachael Ray recommended a tiny drizzle of honey on the ricotta. I tried it and it worked out quite well :)

4) Did Danny Tanner like your pesto as much as he liked Vicki's?


  1. Wow, we made extremely similar dinners tonight! I blended a sauce out of spinach, kale, garlic, and ricotta, so it wasn't a pesto...I was thinking of adding basil next time, though. I also cooked whole wheat penne but remembered chopped tomatoes and forgot pine nuts (as a topping). haha

    Full House was my faaavorite show growing up, but I don't remember that episode!

  2. Nice job with the pesto - that looks great!

  3. Kale! What a great idea to add-in to the mix. We DID have very similar dinners tonight!

    Full House rocked, didn't it? I think it might be the Brady Bunch of our generation :)

  4. Your pasta dish looks great!

    And I love any reference to Full House :)

  5. Hi Kylie! Thanks for stopping by my blog - yours looks fantastic! I'm bookmarking it. :) Love the pesto post - I made some recently for the first time and loved it!!!

  6. I cannot get enough of pesto! The garlickier (is that a word?) the better. I dab it into my sammiches, quesadillas, pasta, everything!

  7. I also saw a pesto recipe recipe that calls for sour cream. It's supposed to make a really creamy pesto.