Recipes, both original and favorite ones from other authors. Vegetarian with vegan-friendly (most of the time!) options.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Pasta with Pesto

I realize that most of my readers probably already know how to make this dish. But I thought I'd post it, because it's my favorite dish for a quick summer dinner. I usually make it on marketing day, for two reasons: one, it's easy to make for the end of a long day, and two, when I'm using basil from the farmer's market I want to use it as soon as possible to preserve the good flavor and freshness.

A food processor works best here. You don't have to have one of those big fancy ones--a simple mini-processor can be had for $50 new, or find one at a consignment shop or garage sale. If you don't have a food processor, a blender will do in a pinch. You could try the old-fashioned method--a mortar and pestle, but I've never had that work for me.

Pasta with Pesto

Start a pot of water to boil for one pound of pasta. We like angel hair, but you could use any kind of pasta. Angel hair cooks very quickly.

Use a colander full of fresh basil from your garden, or one bunch of basil from the farmer's market. Pull the leaves off the stems after you wash it and place in the bowl of your food processor. Add two cloves of garlic and a small handful of pine nuts or other nuts. I sometimes toast the nuts before I add them--be careful not to burn pine nuts! They are very small and burn easily. I have become quite the pine nut burning expert. :-P Process these together for just a few pulses, then add olive oil through the feeder, about 1/4 cup. If you aren't serving a vegan, you can add about 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese now.

Remove the pesto to a large pasta bowl.

Cook the pasta until al dente. When it's almost done, remove about half a cup of the cooking water. Add some to the pesto and stir. You want it to be a nice, spreadable consistency. When the pasta is done, drain and add it to the pesto. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the top, then drizzle a bit of the cooking water over that. Then toss the pasta and pesto together.

I love to top this with halved cherry tomatoes, but I also serve it with roasted zucchini when the cherry tomatoes aren't in season yet. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese to sprinkle.

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