Saturday, August 28, 2010

Penne with Zucchini and Basil Pesto!

Since this time of year is the time when everyone seems to have an abundance of zucchini, here is a yummy recipe for a pasta side dish. Goes great with grilled chicken or steak! I found this on the food network, but they used a different kind of pasta, and eggplant. I thought I'd try it with zucchini, and added onion, garlic and parmesan cheese! Yummo!

Penne with Zucchini and Basil Pesto

1 pound Penne Pasta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grateed Romano Cheese
Olive oil
2 medium or 3 small zucchini, cut into approx. 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup diced onion
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
1/2 cup (approx) basil pesto (jarred pesto from the store, or fresh, see recipe below) can use more if desired.
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, (tender but still a little firm to the bite). Stir occasionally, takes about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, but reserve 1 cup of the pasta water to use later. Set aside.

While pasta cooks, in a large skillet heat 2 or 3 Tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, and saute for a couple of minutes. Then add the garlic and diced zucchini. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, or until zucchini is lightly browned on the edges and tender. Add the pesto and cook a couple of minutes more. Turn off heat, add pasta and grated cheeses, and toss to combine, thin the sauce with a little pasta water, the amount depends on how thin you want the sauce, I use a 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup. Garnish with a little more grated cheese on top. Serve along side your favorite grilled meat and enjoy!! Yummo!

Basil Pesto

2 to 3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts ( see **Note)
1 clove garlic (or 1 teaspoon minced)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/2 to 2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

In a food processor, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, and  1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until finely chopped. With the machine running, gradually add the oil until the mixture is smooth and thick ( I start with a 1/2 cup and add more if necessary) Add the cheese and pulse until just corporated. Season with a little more salt and pepper if desired. Set aside. I use about 1/2 cup of the pesto in the zucchini recipe above, with the rest, freeze in ice cube trays, when frozen pop out of tray and store in freezer in a ziploc bag. This way it's ready when you need more, just take a cube or two out and use in your favorite pasta recipe.

**Note: to toast the pine nuts, arrange on a cookie sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven until lightly toasted, about 5 to 6 minutes. Or in a small frying pan, toast over medium heat until lightly toasted. Pine nuts toast fast when they start to toast, so watch carefully.

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