Monday, November 24, 2014

{super} Spinach Pesto Pasta

I took the liberty of adding "super" to the title of this recipe because not only is this dish super good, but with an entire bag of spinach packed into it then it is super good for you too. You know I love Alfredo pasta with the best of them, but it's nice to find a pasta dish that tastes incredible and you don't have to feel guilty about eating it. I've found a new foodie crush, Chelsea Winter, a bit of a New Zealand celebrity in the cooking world. I've poured through her cookbook and have dog eared about every other page. This is the first recipe I've made from her book and it was absolutely amazing. I will admit that the green color turned off some of my kids, but once they tried it they quickly changed their minds. This will definitely be added to our regular meal rotations!

1/2 cup pine nuts
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bag baby spinach leaves (about 4 cups)
1 bunch fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbs lemon juice
3/4 /c freshly grated Parmesan (plus more for serving)
1 package spaghetti pasta (I prefer whole grain or whole wheat)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes then remove and set aside. Add the butter and 1 Tbs olive oil to the skillet and cook over low heat until butter is melted. Add the shallots and garlic, continue cooking over low heat stirring for 5-7 minutes or until a golden color. Remove the stems from the spinach. Bring one cup of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the spinach, cover and cook for 2 minutes. Drain then squeeze out the excess water. Place the spinach in a food processor or blender along with the cooked shallots and garlic, basil, 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, Parmesan and half the pine nuts. Blend to form a chunky paste.  Cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente. Remove 3 Tbs cooking water and stir into the spinach mixture. Drain the pasta, return to the pan and add the spinach mixture and remaining pine nuts, mix well to combine. Blanch the tomoatoes for a few minutes in boiling water then remove with a slotted spoon and gently mix into the pasta. Top each serving with Parmesan, basil, a squeeze of lemon and season with salt and pepper to taste.

*Source: "Everyday Delicious: Chelsea Winter"


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