Green Olive Pesto Pasta

Green Olive Pesto Pasta

I absolutely love PESTO.  I think the best thing about pesto is that there’s practically a million ways you can use it and even make it.  That’s the thing that gets me… there are so many different combinations to try, how will I ever feel like I’ve found the best?!  A few months ago, I was reading my cooking magazines and found this awesome guide for mixing and matching your own pesto.  I have to share it with you… it’s crazy how many different types you could try and also get super creative with it!  (Mix-Match Pesto!)

Let me break it down for you… here’s what you need to make your own perfect pesto:

1.  Nut or Seed (almonds in this case)

2.  Add your base (olives and parsley)

3.  Choose your seasoning(s) (garlic and pepper)

4.  Pick a cheese (Asiago!)

5.  Finish that pesto! (more cheese!!)

I can’t wait to try a few others… I have already made another one with this gorgeous heirloom tomato and fresh mozz pizza the other night… whoa!

IMG_9545

IMG_9550

YUM!  I’m hungry for that again…

Okay but really I have to share this crazy pesto recipe with you.  It was so easy to make and it was creamy, delicious, and just all around awesome.  Enjoy!

Green Olive Pesto Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Campanelle Pasta (or other pretty shape!)
  • 1 1/4 cups (6 oz) Pitted Manzanilla Olives
  • 1/2 cup Sliced Raw Almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Flat-leaf Parsley Leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper 
  • 1 large Garlic Clove
  • 2 tablespoons Water
  • 1 teaspoon White Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz) Grated Asiago Cheese

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box.  Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.  
  2. Put the olives, almonds, parsley, pepper, and garlic in a food processor.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.  With the processor on, add 2 tablespoons of water and 1 teaspoon of vinegar through the chute, processing until the mixture is finely chopped.  
  3. Combine pasta, 1/4 cup olives, sliced almonds, flat-leaf parsley leaves, black pepper, and garlic in a food processor; pulse 3 times or until coarsely chopped. With processor on, add 2 tablespoons water and 1 teaspoon vinegar through the food chute, processing until mixture is finely chopped.
  4. Combine pasta, the reserved liquid, and the olive mixture in a large bowl and toss well.  Sprinkle with extra cheese and serve immediately.

Recipe slightly adapted from:  Cooking Light

IMG_7884

IMG_7883

Fettuccine w/ Cauliflower Pesto

One of my favorite memories when I was little would have to be when my Mom would let my sister Melissa and I put food coloring in our mashed potatoes.  We could choose any color and do it ourselves.  Any of you  who know my mom probably don’t find this surprising.  Mom LOVES color.  She even has a Pinterest Board called “Rainbow” which I just love.  It’s obvious where I come from.

Directly from the Rainbow Pinterest page... don't you wish these existed, I do!

Directly from the Rainbow Pinterest page… don’t you wish these existed, I do!

Remember how gross these were??

Remember how gross these were??

Some fake colored food looks gross like the ketcup, but this Ice Cream is calling my name!

Some fake colored food looks gross like the ketcup, but this Ice Cream is calling my name!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mom didn’t let us color our taters because it was more fun of course, she did it because it made us eat our dinner!  Another favorite trick for this was Mom’s veggie dipping sauce.  The magical sauce made from fat free sour cream, a little bit of mayo, parm, garlic, salt and pepper made my sister and I eat all of our green veggies every night.

What kind of tricks do you use to get your kids to eat right?  What do you remember your mom doing?

Today’s trick is my new favorite way to get Cauliflower into the mix… and it’s not cauliflower mash- that’s just so 5 years ago.

Fettuccine w/ Cauliflower Pesto

Ingredients:

1 small head or 1/2 large head Cauliflower, trimmed, cored, and cut into chunks

3 cloves Garlic

1/8 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (large pinch)

1/2 cup Almonds, toasted and cooled

2oz Parmesan Cheese (plus more for serving)

1/2 jar Sun-Dried Tomatoes, chopped (I used trader joe’s which are strips, packed in oil.  Make sure you rinse the oil off very well)

1 Tablespoon Drained Capers

3 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley

1/3 cup Olive Oil

1/2 – 1 teaspoon White Wine Vinegar

1lb box of Fettuccine (I used whole wheat)

Directions:

1.  Prepare pesto.  Pulse 1/2 the cauliflower chunks in a food processor until it looks like couscous.  Transfer to a bowl and repeat with the second batch adding to the bowl when done.  You should have 3.5 cups of fluffy cauliflower bits.  

2.  Pulse the garlic, pepper flakes, almonds, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and parsley in the food processor until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs.  You may have to stop a few times and stir.  Add to the bowl with the cauliflower.  Add the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar, a few pinches of salt, and stir until combined.  Taste and adjust seasoning, adding vinegar if necessary.  I had to add salt and some black pepper.  

3.  Cook the pasta.  Heat a very large pot of highly salted water and bring to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until al dente (check box for timing).  When you drain the pasta, reserve a cup or so of the cooking water.  

4.  Assemble the dish!  Toss the hot pasta with the cauliflower pesto and half of your reserved pasta water.  If the pesto looks too thick, add more pasta water.  Top with some additional Parmesan cheese when serving.  Enjoy!

Recipe barely adapted from:  Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

This is what your cauliflower should look like after you pulse it in the food processor.

This is what your cauliflower should look like after you pulse it in the food processor.

Now it's time to mix the rest of the ingredients.

Now it’s time to mix the rest of the ingredients.

Not going to win any awards for being the prettiest, but here is the pesto mixed together and ready to be added to my hot pasta or some crusty bread.

Not going to win any awards for being the prettiest, but here is the pesto mixed together and ready to be added to my hot pasta or some crusty bread.

P1020024

Cauliflower Pesto

This pasta had so many tasty flavors and textures.  I just loved the crunch from the bigger pieces of almonds that wouldn’t pulse any smaller.  Along with the nutty taste from the almonds and olive oil, the sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and parm cheese left little room for the pasta to taste like cauliflower.  It all just worked so well together that you would never know there was a whole head of cauliflower in there!

While I rarely cook for enough people to make an entire box of pasta, I did cook enough to have some leftovers.  Dave and I enjoyed this pasta without reheating it the next day for lunch.  We also took Deb’s advice and saved some of our large batch of Cauliflower Pesto and spread it on top of some cut up crusty bread the next day.  What a great use of leftovers!

I’m so loving Deb’s Smitten Kitchen cookbook.  Here are a few more of her recipes that I’ve tried out so far…

Sweet and Sour Brisket

Sweet and Sour Brisket

Shaved Asparagus Pizza w/ a Cauliflower Crust

Shaved Asparagus Pizza w/ a Cauliflower Crust

Berry Coconut Macaroons

Berry Coconut Macaroons

 

 

Purple Pesto Chicken w/ Tomatoes

Present Beth would like to give a big shoutout to Past Beth for freezing lots of leftover Purple Pesto.  Back when I brought home this pretty Purple Basil from the farmers market in Baltimore, I decided to freeze the leftover Pesto I made using it into little individual Tablespoon packages.  I wrapped them separately with some Plastic Wrap and kept them all together in a Sandwich Bag.  This was a great thing to use to make a normal, boring chicken dinner into something fabulous!

Purple Pesto Chicken w/ Tomatoes

Ingredients:

2 Chicken Breasts, sliced in half to make thinner and then into half again to make into smaller strips

Salt, Pepper

2 Tablespoons Purple Pesto (recipe below, or store bought pesto sauce)

1 Large, Ripe Tomato

1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (I used reduced fat Cheddar, that was all we had)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400.  Coat a baking dish with cooking spray.  Place the raw chicken into the baking dish in one layer.  Sprinkle with Sea Salt and Black Pepper.  Put the baking dish in the oven.  Let cook for 8 minutes.

2.  Place the frozen pesto in a small saucepan with a few drops of Olive Oil.  Heat, or open up your store-bought pesto.  Slice your tomatoes to make 8 pieces or more if you’d like.

3.  Remove the chicken from the oven, flip and cook for another 5-8 minutes depending on thickness of chicken.  Take the baking dish out of the oven, add a little bit of Pesto to the top of each piece… then add tomato… and a sprinkle of cheese.  Put back in the oven for another 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is melty.

Purple Pesto Recipe:
Ingredients:
2 Cups Purple Basil Leaves, stems removed, rinsed, dried.
1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced
¼ Cup – ½ Cup Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (what I used) Cheese
¼ Cup – ½ Cup Sunflower Seed Oil (or other oil)
½ Cup Toasted Sunflower Seeds
Salt, Pepper
 Directions: 
Put the basil and sunflower seeds in the food processor.  Blend for 30 seconds or until the basil no longer takes up most of the space.  Add ¼ cup of Oil to start (you can always add more) and ¼ Cup of Cheese (again, you can always add more).  Blend in the food processor until smooth, scraping down the sides if necessary.  Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper, more cheese or oil if you need to.

Check out those Tomatoes… perfect.

We ate this dinner with a small salad on the side.  It would go great with pasta if you’d like, but I really liked how light the meal was with just the chicken.  What else should I make with my leftover Pesto?!  Yum, yum, yum!

 

Sunflower Seed Purple Pesto

It’s that Meatless Monday time again!

So, forever ago now… we bought a ton of yummy stuff at the Baltimore Farmer’s Market.  One of my interesting purchases (of many, duh) was Purple Basil.  I’ve never seen this stuff before and immediately thought it would be a cool thing to buy for the blog.  Of course life happened and I’ve been so busy and haven’t even had a chance to tell you about it yet!

My first idea was to try making Pesto, since I never have before.  I figured it would be awesome since it was purple.  While this Pesto TASTED awesome, it looked awful.  I wasn’t thinking and didn’t realize that after blending everything together, my beautiful purple basil would look more like brown goop.  Oh well!  It was delicious anyways.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been into using my Sunflower Seed Oil from Trader Joe’s, so I went with that theme and also used toasted sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts in my pesto.

 Sunflower Seed Purple Pesto

A Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook

Ingredients:

2 Cups Purple Basil Leaves, stems removed, rinsed, dried.

1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced

¼ Cup – ½ Cup Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (what I used) Cheese

¼ Cup – ½ Cup Sunflower Seed Oil (or other oil)

½ Cup Toasted Sunflower Seeds

Salt, Pepper

Pasta, Veggies (I used Squash and Fresh Grape Tomtaoes)

Extra Grated Cheese & Toasted Sunflower Seeds for topping

 Directions: 

1.  Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box.

2.  Put the basil and sunflower seeds in the food processor.  Blend for 30 seconds or until the basil no longer takes up most of the space.  Add ¼ cup of Oil to start (you can always add more) and ¼ Cup of Cheese (again, you can always add more).  Blend in the food processor until smooth, scraping down the sides if necessary.  Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper, more cheese or oil if you need to.

3.  Add to pasta/veggies, or use as a spread for sandwiches!  

I had made so much Purple Pesto that I was able to freeze some to use for later.  I took Tablespoonfuls onto small pieces of saran wrap, wrapped them up, and then stored in a freezer bag.  This way, I don’t have to defrost the entire thing when I want to use it next!

I told ya it was UGLY!

Yummy! My sister and I really liked this one!