What a fabulous meal! This was my first time making homemade pesto and the smell of it brought me back to my childhood and images of my grandfather tending to his garden. This was a great break from our usual dinners and something that I will definitely make more often. Thank you to Barefoot Blogger Elizabeth of Ugg Smell Food for choosing this recipe!
I adapted this recipe a bit to suit what I could find in the store, my allergies, and the inability for us to eat a meatless meal. First things first, my allergies. I am allergic to all nuts, so I had to venture out and make my own pesto sans the nuts. Quite easy, actually, and Nick said that it tasted no different than the traditional pesto he has eaten. Next, I couldn’t find much basil at our store and knew I wouldn’t have enough, so I supplemented what I had with baby spinach. I thought it added a great dimension of flavor! However, since I did this I eliminated the frozen chopped spinach (as well as the mayo and lemon juice). And since we like to incorporate protein in the form of meat in most of our dinners, I added some sauteed chicken breast to the dish. So in the end you get a bow tie pasta dish with chicken and a spinach-basil pesto. Honestly, it was fabulous and I really enjoyed it!
See how the other Barefoot Bloggers liked this dish here.
The original recipe as well as my spinach-basil (no nut!) pesto after the break…
2 cups packed baby spinach
1 oz. (or small handful) basil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic (depending on the size you may want just 1 – ours was pretty strong)
1/2 cup olive oil (approximate – drizzle until you get desired consistency)
Combine spinach, basil, parmesan, and garlic in a food processor or blender. With the machine still running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until it has reached desired consistency.
Ina’s original recipe for the dish is below – please note how many servings it yields, so you can scale appropriately should you want to try the recipe and not make it for a small army!
Yield: 12 servings
3/4 pound fusilli pasta
3/4 pound bow tie pasta
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 cups pesto, packaged or see recipe below
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 cups good mayonnaise
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
1/3 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cook the fusilli and bow ties separately in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 to 12 minutes until each pasta is al dente. Drain and toss into a bowl with the olive oil. Cool to room temperature.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the pesto, spinach, and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise and puree. Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta and then add the Parmesan, peas, pignolis, salt, and pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve at room temperature.
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.
Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.
To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.
Yield: 4 cups