Pea Pesto Pasta Salad

IMG_0948Hi there– the name of this recipe sounds rather like a tongue twister.  You know, Peter Piper… But with all those sweet peas, the firmness of the pasta and that coating of creamy pea filled pesto– it’s a fine springtime dish.

One night last week, my Larry had to work late– so this little salad turned into a picnic dinner in the conference room of his office, along with some olive bread and a bottle of wine.  It was a quiet light meal before he went back to work for a bit that evening.   But I’m thinking it would be just right to take along to a bar-b-que or a pot luck with friends.

PEA PESTO PASTA SALAD
1 1/2 cup ditalini pasta (or any smallish pasta)
2 cups peas (fresh or frozen), divided
1/4 cup loose basil leaves
1 shallot, peeled and cut in chunks
1/3 cup parmesan romano cheese, grated
1 tab. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cream (or whole milk)
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
3 slices of bacon, into smallish bits

Put the pasta on to boil with a little salt and oil, according to the package directions.
Set it aside to cool.

Put the bacon on to cook, just until the small bits are crispy but not too brown.

Make the pesto by dropping one cup of the peas, the basil, shallot, parmesan romano, olive oil and garlic into a blender (or use a stick blender).  Puree until it’s all a fine mush.  Then sit in the cream and salt & pepper to taste.

Finally stir together the cooked pasta, pesto sauce and the remaining cup of peas.  Put it in the fridge to cool.  And mix in the bacon, just before setting it on the table (to keep it crispy). Enjoy!

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Salmon with Creamy Pesto

IMG_4793Hello there– A couple birthdays back, Ani gave me a stick blender.  I’m surprised how much I use that little thing.  So easy to get out and clean up (unlike my massive blender).  And for a quick job like this bright pesto, it just does the trick.  You can have it all on the table in about 15 minutes, time enough to layer a simple salad and warm a sturdy chunk of bread in the oven.

SALMON WITH CREAMY PESTO
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino parmesan cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
2 salmon filets

In a food processor or with a stick blender, blend the basil, garlic, pine nuts, oil, and cheese.  Salt and pepper the pesto until it tastes just terrific to you.  Then fold in the sour cream.

Grill the salmon in a nonstick pan with just a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of garlic salt– just about 3 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of the fish).  Simple and fresh.

That’s it.  Pretty easy (and delicious)

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Spinach Almond Pesto

IMG_9200Hello all-  I’ve grown up in the last 35 years.  When I married old Larry, I wouldn’t have touched spinach.  But I married Mr. Healthy Eater, so I’ve changed my ways.  And this here is a pretty darn yummy way to eat your spinach!  You can make it in the time it takes to cook up your favorite pasta –and it’s bright and pretty on your plate.  I think you might love it too.

SPINACH ALMOND PESTO
8 oz. of your favorite pasta– I used Orecchiette here
2 cups fresh spinach, washed and stems cut off
1/2 cup toasted almonds*
1/4 cup parmesan romano cheese, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tab. olive oil
1/8 tsp. salt
a good dash of freshly ground pepper
a sprinkle of pine nuts
1/4 cup, red bell pepper, diced to nice little bits

Put the water on to boil and cook your pasta according to the package directions.  In the food processor blend the spinach, almonds, cheese, garlic, oil, salt and pepper.  That’s it!

If you want to, you can warm it in the microwave just a few seconds (don’t cook it!) Serve the pesto spooned over your favorite pasta and garnish with the red pepper and pine nuts.

*you could also use walnuts or pine nuts, traditionally used in pesto.

Zucchini Pesto and Pasta


Hi friends– If you have a friend with a vegetable garden, chances are they’ve brought you a bag of zucchini by now.  So here’s a new way to cook it up for dinner in a garlicky pesto for a tasty veggie dinner.

ZUCCHINI PESTO AND PASTA
3 medium zucchini, chopped into chunks
1/3 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
olive oil
1 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup parmigiano cheese
2 tablespoons pine nuts (or walnuts)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, chopped fine
8 oz. of your favorite pasta (we used small shells)
1/4 cup cream of half & half
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Start the water for the pasta (with a splash of olive oil and a shake of salt).  Then sauté the chunks of zucchini in a large pan with a tablespoon or so of olive oil.  Just cook a few minutes until they are tender, but firm.  Remove them from the pan and cook the onion until it’s soft and remove from the pan too.  Wipe out the cooked oil from the pan and return the zucchini, onion and the red pepper to the pan without heat for now. Start the pasta cooking.

To make the pesto, take 1/4 cup of the zucchini, basil leaves, garlic, parmesan and pine nuts–plus 1/2 cup water from the pasts pot. Grind this all up with a stick blender or food processor.  Scrape the pesto over the zucchini, onion and pepper to warm it.  Stir in the cream and pepper.   Then layer the drained pasta on a platter and spoon over the zucchini and sauce.  Garnish with shreds of parmesan and a sprig of basil.

Garlic Chicken Pizza


It’s a happy week.  My sister’s oldest is getting married here on Saturday so my sis Lulu and her husband good old Ted are here to stay for a week.  She’s the world’s best cook– There are 11 pounds of butter and 9 pounds of cream cheese sitting on my counter right now waiting for her to start baking for the wedding in the morning!  There’s nothing more fun than cooking up a storm with my sis in the kitchen.

So it was a treat to make her a dinner last night.  I tried something new– Garlic Chicken Pizza.  It turned out just fine and here’s the recipe:

GARLIC CHICKEN PIZZA

Garlic–first break 2 heads of garlic into individual cloves and coat them with olive oil and garlic salt.  Roast them for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven in a pan covered with foil.

Dough:
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water*
1 tab. sugar
2 tab olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Let the yeast dissolve in the water and then stir in the other ingredients.  Knead 3 to 4 minutes and stretch the dough onto 2 12″ pizza pans that have been sprayed with Pam.
Put them in a warm place to rise while to do the rest of the prep.  (I turn the oven on for 3 minutes only to warm it a bit and set the pizza crusts in there to rise).

Toppings:
2 heads of garlic
olive oil
garlic salt
1 large boneless chicken breast
1 carton of pre made pesto (Trader Joe’s makes a good one)
5 or 6 oz. mozarella, shredded**
1/2 cup parmesan-romano cheese

Filet the chicken breasts (cut them in half lengthwise) and grill them in a splash of olive oil until browned and cooked through.  Then cut them into smallish chunks.

OK, so you already roasted the garlic (see above), now squeeze the garlic out of their papery skins and mash it all with a fork.  Spread the garlic onto the prepared pizza crust and then top it with the pesto.  Layer on the mozzarella, chicken then parmesan romano cheese.  This should make up two fine pizzas.
Pop them in the oven at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes until the tops are golden and the crust is cooked through.  Hot out of the oven, this is garlicky good!  Enjoy!

*Warm water means about the the temperature for a baby’s bath.  There’s more problems with yeast if the water is too hot, than if it’s too cool.

**I’m asking you to please buy a ball of good mozzarella and grate it yourself.  Pre-grated mozzarella has a coating to keep it fresh and just isn’t as good.  Please trust me on this one.