The first time I ever had pesto, it was homemade. After tasting this, I can never imagine eating the drab premade pestos you can buy in a jar at the supermarket. And once you make this sauce, you’ll never touch that stuff again either! It requires a blender or food processor, and is precisely the reason why I bought a food processor when I moved into my first apartment alone.
Uses: toss with pasta, dip crackers or veggies in it, smear it on a toasted baguette, put it on a sandwich, use as a pizza sauce… Sometimes I even put it on my morning eggs. You’ll find plenty of ways to use this all up. Trust me. It’s that good!
One of my favorite ways to use pesto at home is tossed with bow tie pasta, cherry or grape tomatoes, and feta cheese.
In the unlikely event you’ve got too much pesto on your hands, put the extra in an ice cube tray, lightly cover with plastic, and freeze. When they’re solid, pop them out using a knife and throw them in a ziploc bag. Keep them in the freezer and you’ll have pesto sauce ready in a moment’s notice.
The recipe comes out thick, so if you’re using it with pasta, go ahead and leave a little bit of water in your pasta (about a tablespoon per cup of cooked pasta), then spoon the pesto over top and mix until well coated and the sauce gets slightly creamy.
fresh basil pesto
- 8 large stems of fresh basil
- 1/2 cup pine nuts or 3/4 cup walnuts, cashews, or almonds (in a pinch, any of these will do!)
- 1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 garlic gloves
- Kosher salt or table salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Put all of the ingredients, except the olive oil, into a blender or food processor. Pulse until the mixture becomes coarse. Stream in the olive oil. The pesto will be thick and bright green – a vivid color you’ll never find in a jar!
I haven’t yet described my love affair with pesto. The problem is, it’s not the lightest dish in the world (but it’s sooo worth it sometimes. A lot of times). But when it’s the middle of February and you’re still trying to ease the damage you did over the holidays, this recipe will do just fine as a replacement.
The original calls for parsley, but not being a huge fan of parsley, I nixed that real quick, replacing with basil. This recipe is heavy on the lemon flavor, which balances well with the buttery tasting beans. The broccoli is a surprising but healthful, fiber-packed way to stretch the sauce out without adding fat and calories.
pasta with white beans and light broccoli pesto
- coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 bunch broccoli, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
- 10 ounces fusilli pasta
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 teaspoons water
- 1/2 ounce grated Parmesan
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 can (15.5 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Cook broccoli in a large pot of boiling salted water, until bright green, about 4 minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon and put into a food processor.
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Save 2 cups of the pasta water and drain the rest. Return the pasta to the pot.
In the food processor, add oil, water, Parmesan, lemon zest and juice, basil, and garlic. Puree until smooth.
Add the pesto to the pasta. Stir to coat the pasta with the sauce, adding water as necessary to thin it out. Add the beans and heat until warm. Season to taste with salt and pepper and top with additional Parmesan.
It’s hard to find words to describe this recipe. It’s THAT good. This combines three of my favorite things that are green into a flavorful, creamy dish. Don’t leave me alone with this dish. Please. It’s not healthy to eat 4 servings as one giant serving for just yourself…Wait, what? You say we suddenly live in a world without calories and weight gain? I gotta go–I need to get to the market and buy more asparagus and sage.
penne with asparagus, sage, and peas
- 1/2 pound penne
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound thick asparagus, cut into 1-inch lengths
- 2 cups Swanson vegetable stock (Swanson’s is best, trust me! Worth it.)
- 2 cups (10 ounces) shelled English peas or frozen baby peas, thawed
- 1/4 cup fat-free half and half
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (gotta be fresh here)
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
- Salt and black pepper
Cook the pasta until al dente.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add the garlic and asparagus and cook over low heat until the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and boil over high heat until the liquid is reduced by half and the asparagus is tender, 5-8 minutes.
Add the peas and cream to the pan and boil over high heat until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add the penne and toss until coated and heated. Remove from heat and add the butter, sage, and half the cheese, stirring until melted. Season with salt and pepper. Plate up and sprinkle more cheese on top, if you’d like.
to anyone. You don't have to know a lot about cooking or be a foodie to prepare and enjoy nutritious homecooked meals! Read more...