Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Basil-Cilantro Pesto Pasta with Artichoke & Mushrooms


When the basil at the farmer's market looks too good to pass up, here's how to save it for another day. 

Basil



Pesto

2 cups loosely packed fresh basil
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
1/3 cup sliced almonds (or pine nuts or pecans)
4 cloves crushed garlic
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup extra-vergin olive oil

Combine basil, cilantro, nuts, lemon juice and salt in food processor and drizzle in olive oil until relatively smooth. Add a little water if it feels too thick. Freeze it if you are not using immediately. Let thaw to room temperature when you're ready, but do not nuke or cook it to thaw.

(Most pesto recipes call for cheese as a main ingredient. Leave out the cheese if you freeze it. Add it to the pasta when you cook.)

Pasta

1/2 lb spinach linguine (or any pasta)
2 tbsp EVOO
1 medium red onion, sliced into thin half-moons
4 cloves thinly sliced or chopped garlic
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 tbsp white wine (or vegetable broth or water)
15 oz can of artichokes (in water) cut into bite-sized pieces

Preparation

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.

2. Saute' onion over medium-high heat in a large sauce pan, Dutch oven or large skillet until it starts to caramelize. Add and saute' garlic another 2 minutes. Add and saute' mushrooms until tender. Add artichokes, liquid, salt and pepper and simmer until the artichokes are heated through and the pasta is done.

3. Rather than drain the pasta, spoon pasta into the sauce pan, stir in pesto and repeat until all the pasta is in the pan and is well coated. Use a little pasta water if it feels too thick.

4. Garnish each serving with parmesan cheese to taste.

The fresh basil from Johnson's Backyard Garden looked so good on Saturday, I couldn't resist it. Pesto wasn't on my menu. I wanted to use up all the fresh ingredients for eggplant marinara sauce. Basil doesn't keep well once it's picked. Plus I had an extra bunch of cilantro left from a previous shopping trip that was heading for the edge. So we prepared and froze the pesto for another day. This is a great way to save time and get the taste of summer when the season is over.

~Adapted from Veganomicon
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