Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Parsley pesto and linguine

I've been trying to get rid of a big bunch of fresh parsley in my fridge for several weeks. We bought it to use in a dish at Christmas and forgot to use it, so it has been looking awfully lonely in the crisper drawer.

I didn't feel like cooking an elaborate meal tonight, so I took the ultra-easy route and went with simple Italian food: pasta and pesto! It's big on flavor, super filling, and spot on for a Wednesday night comfort food fix.

If you've never made pesto, here's the rundown. It's basically a green leafy herb purée with oil, parmesan, garlic, and usually pine nuts, almonds, or walnuts. It's typically made with basil or arugula, but it can really be made with any green leafy veg or herb. Common variations include parsley, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and cilantro.

I'm not a nut (ha...I punned again!) for the nutty texture in pesto, and I'm indifferent towards pine nuts anyway. Not to mention that's not even an ingredient I keep in the pantry. Anyway, I left that part out. I also added my own touch!

Parsley Pesto
3 c. fresh parsley leaves (some stems are okay--it'll all be puréed anyway)
2/3 c. parmesan cheese (preferably off the block and not of the grated Kraft variety, which contains fillers and not so much cheese)
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients, except oil, to a food processor and pulse to a paste-like texture. Scrape sides of processor to incorporate all ingredients. Turn it all the way on and add oil gradually in a steady stream through the opening on the top of the processor. It will bind together, but if it starts to separate before your pasta is done, just give it a quick stir.

Serve tossed with warm pasta, as seasoning in vegetable or potato soup, as a sandwich spread, or freeze in an ice-cube tray and use as a flavor starter for vegetable sautées.

Extremely cheap, easy, and versatile. Super flavorful. You really can't go wrong with pesto. Enjoy!