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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Presto - pesto!

Fresh herbs - ahhhh.  They smell so good.  They look so good.  And they die so fast.  At least mine do.

One of the best ways to use them up before it's too late is to make pesto.  Homemade pesto is delicious.  Nothing beats it.  I try to make enough and freeze it for the colder months, although there usually comes a time when I have to use store bought (Kirkland, Costco's brand, makes a good one).

I like this version - it's different from the typical all basil/pignoli nut recipe.  It definitely adds a whole new level of flavor.

Another thing that I love about pesto is how easy it is to throw over pasta for a quick meal.  Frank loves it for that reason - if he's making his own dinner, all he has to do is boil pasta and throw some pesto on top...mix it in...done.  It's husband-proof, and we know how valuable that can be!

This time around, I made a nice pasta salad with it.  A bunch of us were getting together for lunch at my Nana's nursing home, and each made a contribution for all to share.  Since I was leaving for a week long shore stint the next day, I threw this together with ingredients I had on hand.

Keep this in mind for your Labor Day parties this weekend - it's an easy prep for a big crowd!

Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken
1 pound rotini
4 boneless chicken breasts, seasoned and grilled, cut into bite size chunks
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1 can black olives, sliced
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup pesto (see recipe below)
pecorino romano cheese

Prepare pasta according to package directions.  In a large bowl, add all other ingredients except for pesto and cheese.

Drain pasta and cool slightly before adding to bowl (you can run it under cold water for a few seconds).  Toss all ingredients together, then add pesto.  Add a handful of cheese before serving.

Serves approximately 10-12.

Basil Mint Pesto with Walnuts
slightly adapted from Pinch My Salt

1 1/2 cups basil leaves
2 cups mint leaves
5 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese

Put the basil, mint, garlic, walnuts, salt and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop ingredients, scraping down the bowl as necessary. With food processor running, drizzle in olive oil in a slow but steady stream. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula, add cheese, then pulse again to combine.

Makes one cup.

Linked to:  Mangia Mondays

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At August 30, 2011 at 9:37 PM , Blogger Reeni said...

Pesto works so good in pasta salad! It's one of my favorite ways to eat it. I love this one!


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