Saturday, May 14, 2011

Basil Pesto with Whole Wheat Pasta Recipe

Bring on the fresh herbs!! They are one of my favorite things about summertime gardens.  Fresh herbs add amazing flavor to a standard dish, and bring it to a whole new level!

I used to think that pesto was difficult to make, but after my first try, my fear dissolved.  With my handy food processor and short list of fresh ingredients, in just a few minutes, you too can have a delicious pesto bursting with sweet basil flavor. 

Basil Pesto with Whole Wheat Pasta Recipe
Serves 6

1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
1/3 cup walnut pieces (a generous handful)
2 1/2 cups packed basil leaves
1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
Salt & Pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving a ladleful of the pasta cooking water.

In a small skillet, toast the nuts over medium-low heat, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, about 4 minutes; let cool.

Using a food processor, puree the nuts, basil, and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper. With the machine on, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream and mix until a thick paste forms. Transfer the pesto to a large pasta bowl.   Stir in the parmesan and reserved pasta cooking water.

Add the pasta to the pesto, toss and let stand for 1 minute.

      1)  Usually people use pine nuts for pesto.  If you want to substitute those for the walnuts, that is fine.  I like to use the walnuts because they are cheaper and prove the same nutty flavor.
      2)  Pesto is very versatile.  You don't have to add this onto pasta.  You can use this pesto sauce on pizza, in a soup, over grilled chicken, or as a dip for bread.

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