Monday, November 4, 2013

Basil and Spinach Pesto Pasta

Jeff and I are spending Christmas with my mom and stepdad in Athens, Georgia this year, so naturally I'm daydreaming about all the home cooking we're going to enjoy. I have a fairly long list of my favorite things that always taste better when parents make them, but I got a strong craving for one dish in particular, Mama's pesto, and couldn't wait to give it a try.

This was my first time making it, but like so many of her recipes before, I was left wondering why it had taken me so long. This pesto is simple, healthy, and absolutely scrumptious. Best of all, it tasted exactly like she makes it. Instead of being a few tablespoons as a side dish, it is the main event and leaves you wanting seconds, and not feeling too guilty about a big portion. I'm excited to try some other mix-ins - sundried tomatoes, red peppers, kale, or arugula to see what flavors I can bring out. For now, this classic version is a new favorite in our house.

(Makes approximately 4 cups of pesto or 10 servings of pasta*)

1 small bunch of fresh basil
1 large bunch of fresh spinach
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup of pine nuts
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons nonfat milk
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
10 cups dry rotini (I used gluten-free brown rice rotini)

Wash your basil and spinach and pat dry. Cut off ends and discard. Roughly chop leaves.
In your blender or food processor, add all of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Depending on the thickness that you want, add additional olive oil and/or milk.
Cook pasta per directions. Pour pesto over hot pasta and stir gently until full coated.
Season with additional salt and pepper.
I served ours with baked chicken thighs and oven roasted cherry tomatoes.

*I made the full recipe, but will freeze half of the pesto for another time. You can also keep it in a sealed jar or container in the refrigerator for up to one week.



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