Friday, January 25, 2013

recipe: quick & easy pesto pasta

My pesto pasta is a super-easy dinner that I made up in college, and my husband absolutely loves it. Most people I've made it for really seem to enjoy it, so I thought I'd share the recipe. Here's what you need:

~2 Tbsp olive oil
~2Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 package of your favorite pasta (I use penne or farfalle)
1 package baby bella or white mushrooms
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 oz sun-dried tomatoes
2.5 oz sliced olives (they were out of these, so I just bought a regular can and sliced them myself. I used about 1/3 of the can)
1 8oz jar Classico pesto sauce

Begin by heating water in a large pot to a rolling boil. Add a dash of salt, and cook pasta until al dente--about 10 minutes for regular pasta (gluten-free usually has a shorter cook time.) Once it's finished, drain, and return to the pot. 

While you're waiting for the water to boil, slice the mushrooms. If you buy them pre-sliced, you can skip this step.

Pour the olive oil  into a frying pan on medium heat, and add mushrooms. Pour in the balsamic vinegar, and stir, making sure the mushrooms are evenly coated. {Note: the 2Tbsps listed in the ingredients is an estimate; I usually just eyeball it. You will want enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. The balsamic vinegar can be adjusted--or left out--depending on your taste preferences. Too much will overwhelm the pesto.}

While keeping an eye on the mushrooms, and stirring as needed, dice the sundried tomatoes (and slice the olives, if you couldn't find pre-sliced ones. If this is the case, though, make sure you slice the olives first. As you can tell, the sundried tomatoes--at least the brand I buy--come in oil and are messy!)

After the mushrooms are cooked, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and add the sundried tomatoes and olives. Stir well so the flavors start to blend together.

Lightly roast the pine nuts in the oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Set a timer for these guys because they're easy to forget and burn quickly! Once they're finished, set aside. Drain any excess oil from the mushroom/tomato/olive mixture and add to pasta. Add the pine nuts and pesto sauce and stir well.

Ta da!


1) Fresher is always better. Yes, this would taste even better with homemade pesto with fresh basil. This is just the quick & easy version--although I draw the line at canned mushrooms. Gross. :)

2) Try new ingredients and make this your own! If you don't like olives, leave them out. If you want to add in chicken for some protein, do it (it's good!). I developed this in stages, adding things as I went along. It literally started out as plain pasta and pesto sauce--nothing else. Pure experimentation has made it into one of our favorite dishes.


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