Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

I'm trying to get back in the habit of recipe planning ... instead of just seeing something I like online and impulsively having to make it.  This is the start of hopefully a week of planned meals ... cross your fingers!  The great thing about tonight's meal is that you can make it in the time it takes to cook the pasta.  It doesn't get much better than that.

Of course, despite my best intentions (making a list and everything!), I failed to remember to buy fresh parsley, so I skipped it for my version.  It was still good.  I'm leaving it in the recipe below in the thought that it'd probably be even better with parsley.  My only other major change was cutting the toasted pine nuts in half and substituting Parmesan cheese for the other half.  What can I say? I like cheese.  I also added some baby spinach to the mix because it's healthy and green.

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto (from The Perfect Pantry with a nice background on pine nuts!)

1 lb pasta (I used just enough fusilini for one serving and saved the extra pesto for other purposes!)
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
340 mL/12 oz roasted red peppers
1/2 cup firmly packed fresh parsley leaves (assuming you are less grocery challenged than me)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 pinch of mild red pepper flakes (optional, to taste or crushed chili if you prefer a little spice like I do)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper  
2 handfuls of baby spinach per serving

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook pasta according to package directions.
2. While the pasta is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a dry nonstick frying pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, shaking or stirring frequently, until the nuts are just lightly browned. Add the nuts to the food processor, along with all remaining ingredients except spinach. Blend until smooth. (Can be made ahead.)
3. Drain the pasta, but do not rinse. Add to a large bowl.  Stir in spinach.  Add in as much of the pesto as you like to coat the pasta, and stir to combine. Garnish with reserved parsley leaves. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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