Friday, December 9, 2011

All Aboard... The Pesto Train!




Being an "occasional" vegetarian, (as in I sometimes indulge in chicken or fish) often leads me to always be on the lookout for easy meat free recipes. On a recent trip to Fresh and Easy (which i love!) I saw they had premade tomato & mozzarella pasta with pesto which looked amazing! However, I remembered that one of pesto's major ingredients is Parmesan cheese. && me being the picky eater that I am, cannot stand Parmesan cheese. & as you can tell by the picture above I decided to take a chance & make it on my own. I pulled out my iPhone && looked up a recipe, then grabbed any ingredients that I didn't have, and went home. To my surprised my pasta came out pretty amazing. Not bragging of course LOL, but I truly was proud of myself and the final outcome. As usual, I tweak recipes to my liking and to satisfy my needs, so this recipe may not be the traditional one that is often used. Either way, I simply could not keep something so awesome to myself, so below is my recipe for super easy, vegetarian, pesto-ey, tomato & mozzarella pasta goodness! (:





To Make the Pesto:


1. Take [a handful of the spinach (right hand side), a few leaves of basil (left hand side; i put in less than what is shown), juice of 1/2 a lemon, chopped onions (add as much as you desire, depends on how strong you want the onion to taste. I personally love onions so i added about a quarter of a large one), a clove of garlic (more or less), 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt & pepper.] and place it all in your food processor, magic bullet, or whatever knock-off you have.


2. Blend it for about 20-30 seconds, depending on how chunky you want it.


3. Transfer the pesto in a container and then place in the refrigerator, so it can cool.


**Personally, I don't measure much. I like to gauge how much of each ingredient I put and taste as I go.





4. Go ahead & boil the pasta (I usually do this before doing the pesto) till it gets 'al dente'. I like to also add in half an onion, salt & pepper to to the boiling water out of habit. (I always saw Mom do it, so why not follow up with the tradition?) (:


5. Once the pasta is all done, drain, and run it under cold water. Place it in a bowl.


6. Go ahead and add a few tablespoons of pesto at a time, tasting after every spoonful you add. Pesto can be very strong, so you dont want to overpower by adding too much.


7. Add a bit of olive oil, S&P, your cherry tomatoes, and pearl mozzeralla (which you can find in most local grocery stores near the cheese section), and you're done! Plate nicely with some basil leaves and some pesto sauce on the side (see below)






See how easy that was?! Delicious, refreshing, and easy! So you ask yourself now, what do I do with any leftover ingredients?! Here are a couple of ideas;


Pesto Bread!: yup, just as the name states. Just add some pesto dressing on top of freshly baked french bread or baguettes and you got yourself a winner for amazing appetizers at your next get together.




Caprese Sandwich; This is by far one of my favorites. Take your extra tomatoes, mozzarella, and pesto, add a few alfalfa sprouts, place it on artisan bread or regular whole wheat, toast && you got one rad sandwich. Toasting it will melt the cheese, while giving the bread that hearty crunch.


White Bean Pesto Dip; Almost like hummus, but not quite. Take a can of white cannelini beans, 2-3 tablespoons of pesto (depends on how strong of a pesto taste you like), 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a squeeze of a lemon, and some salt. Pulse 1/2 clove of garlic (if any) first then add the rest of ingredients and blend until smooth (or blend less for chunkier dip). Place in bowl and serve.



So there you have it. Some easy vegetarian recipes that will leave you pesto-fied. <-- not much of an appealing word. Hope you enjoyed, and if you try any of these, tell me about your experience in the comments (: I would love to hear how your experience goes!

Will post again soon,

<3 Stef


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