Friday, June 22, 2012

Pesto Pasta: Perfect for the hot Texas summer!

When I think of summer food, I cannot help but think of pesto. I grew up eating pesto pasta every summer. Never in restaurants, actually, I do not really like pesto in restaurants. I really only like homemade pesto, especially the pesto that my mom makes from her own fresh basil, grown in the backyard. Although I do not grow my own basil (I have tried....but our two pups had too much fun with the basil...the basil did not have much fun), I can still make and share this tasty recipe with you.

Hanging out in her jungle...the backyard!

Cort is ready for the 4th of July!

You can also use this pesto as a spread on sandwiches, pizzas, meats or veggies. Be creative!

This is very much by feel and preference. If you prefer a different nut, use a different nut. If you think it needs a bit more olive oil, splash some more into the mixture. A word of caution: always add less at first. You can always add more, but you cannot remove what you have added.

Snuggle puppy Shafer. 

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Ingredients for the pesto:
2 tablespoons of almonds
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper
(Bunker added red pepper flakes for a kick)
1/2 a lemon

Ingredients to finish the pasta dish:
2 fully cooked chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup of cherry tomatoes cut in half
1/2 pound cooked penne pasta (I used a pasta with added nutrient goodies)

1. Get out your food processor and gather all of your ingredients.

2. Add the almonds to the processor and process until minced.
3. Add the oil, garlic, basil and salt and pepper to the almonds. Process until finely minced. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the food processor.

You can stop here if you want and add just the pesto to meats, veggies, sandwiches, little bagel chips....lots of options!

4. Return the cooked and drained pasta to the pot in which it was cooked and add about 3 tablespoons of the pesto, the chopped chicken and the sliced cherry tomatoes. Toss to combine and let everything become warm throughout.

5. Squeeze half of the lemon over the pasta and toss. This brightens the whole dish.

You could also add some cheese at this point. Perhaps some mozzarella or parmigiana. 

6. Enjoy on a hot summer evening! The leftovers make a wonderful cold lunch the next day!

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