The Pesto Experiment!

We’ve had a lot of rain the past week or so. In general we’ve had a lot of rain this summer, actually. Back in April, I planted an herb garden. It looked like this:

Now, part of it (the delicious basil-y part) looks like this:

The basil has absolutely exploded, as have some of the other herbs (including the parsley). You know what to do with lots of basil, don’t you? Of course the answer is pesto! But since I’ve been trying to be healthier with my foods, I decided to make some slight modifications to the traditional, fattening approach to pesto.

First I gathered a bunch of basil and parsley from my garden. I figured having a bit of parsley in there mellowing the basil would help to counteract the fact that I was going to add some sharp tastes (like garlic and lemon as you can see in the first photo up there). I washed up all the herbs in my nice little colander:

Into the food processor went basil, parsley, garlic cloves and walnuts (they are cheaper and healthier than pine nuts and work just as well!) In addition to zesting the lemon, I also squeezed a few tablespoons of lemon juice into the food processor to replace some of the oil. Then the ever-delicious parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Instead of using a cup of extra virgin olive oil (like these proportions would normally call for), I only used about 2/3 of a cup (maybe even a little less) because of the lemon juice. Rather than just dump this in, I poured it in slowly through the mouth of the food processor while the herbs, nuts and cheese were spinning. I think this helped me be more stingy because it made use of the liquid as needed. The finished pesto came out to the perfect consistency:

While I was assembling the pesto, I had decided I needed to add some veggies so it was not all carb, nut and cheese. I quick trimmed some green beans and halved some cherry tomatoes, tossed them with salt and pepper and a teensy bit of olive oil, and threw them in the oven for 13 minutes at 400 degrees. Here’s a before and after shot:

The pesto was ready to go, the veggies were roasted, and all that was left was to wait for the campanelle pasta to finish cooking to al dente perfection. I chose campanelle because it has lots of nooks and crannies for the pesto to cling to. Most of the time I see pesto served with straight pasta, which I never understand, since straight pasta is not very clingy for sauces. Once everything was assembled, it was delicious! Not a very difficult process, and a great result. Here are two shots of the “finished product.”

Very fun to cook and to photograph! Recipe below:

Campanelle and Roasted Veggies with pesto-lite

Ingredients (pesto):
– 3 cups fresh basil
– 1 cup fresh parsley
– four garlic cloves, crushed, peeled and cut in half
– zest from 1 medium lemon
– 2 to 3 tbsps lemon juice
– 3/4 cup shelled walnuts
– 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions: blend all ingredients in food processor until smooth. stop a few times and push the non-blended herbs down from the sides of the processor with a spatula. This will make 2x the sauce you need for the pasta & veggie portions below. My friend Jeff cleverly recommended using the extra on sandwiches, in dips, or (my idea) on a homemade pizza.

Ingredients (pasta):
– 8 oz campanelle pasta
– large handful of grean beans (about 1 1/2 cups maybe), ends snipped and cut in half
– cup cherry tomatoes, halved
– 1 tsp olive oil
– salt and pepper to taste
– sprinkle garlic powder

Directions: Toss veggies in olive oil and S&P, spread out on tinfoil covered baking sheet (no cleaning!). Sprinkle with garlic powder. Roast at 400 degrees for 13-15 minutes (depending on how accurate your oven temp is). While veggies are roasting, cook pasta in boiling water. Combine veggies with cooked pasta and 1/2 your pesto and you’re done!

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June 28, 2012 - 9:25 am

Leftover Pesto Makes Great Pizza! « scenes from my lunch hour - […] my pesto experiment from a few weeks back? Well it left me with a generous portion of leftover pesto sauce to use […]

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