Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer Vegetable-Pesto Pasta

Summer Vegetable-Pesto Pasta Recipe

I have to admit: the last meal I have on mind as I try to get ready for swimsuit season {yes I know it is mid July already but I refuse to throw in the towel} is pasta. 

And then I am reminded of Ezekiel pasta. It's an excellent source of protein and real whole grains {sprouted grains stand in for flour} and nutritionists do cartwheels when their clients tell them they are on the Ezekiel bus. Because Ezekiel is that good for you.

And then I am reminded that a pasta dish with vegetables is so right now with a host of seasonal vegetables in a variety of colors staring at me at the market... begging me to take them home. 

And then  I am reminded that pesto - not the garbage that comes in a jar - the kind that is made at home in a food processor with lots of garlic, fresh basil, pine nuts, a little lemon juice and just enough olive oil to get the right consistency - can be healthy and always elevates a dish to A+ status.

And that is how a vibrant, nutritious vegetarian dinner can come together. I hope you'll use this recipe as a starting point and allow your imagination to take over as you make this dish again. Switch up the vegetables; swap out pine nuts for walnuts for a more heart-healthy pesto version; add a dusting of pecorino cheese or crushed red pepper flakes for an extra kick. Or keep making the version below as you may not want to change a thing. 

Summer Vegetable-Pesto Pasta

16 oz Ezekiel penne
olive oil
2 c broccoli florets
2 c baby carrots sliced
1 small yellow bell pepper, diced
7 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 c pitted kalamata olives, halved
- and for the pesto
3 garlic cloves
2 c + 1/2 c fresh basil leaves
1 c toasted pine nuts
1/2 c olive oil
fresh lemon juice
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain, rinse and drain again. Transfer pasta back to pot, drizzle with olive oil and set aside.

Prepare the pesto by pulsing garlic cloves in a food processor.  Add basil, pine nuts and olive oil and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add lemon juice, 1 T at a time, to taste {2 T was my preference}. Set aside.

Bring 4 c of water to a rolling boil. Add carrots and broccoli and cook for 1 minute. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again.

Add vegetables and desired amount of pesto to the pasta and stir until combined. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4-6.

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Source: Adapted from Clean Food, Terry Walters

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