Thursday, March 1, 2012

Eat Green!!

And boy was this Green! My husband wouldn't try it, I guess the color turned him off but I thought it was delicious, but then again I love basil and the basil paste I bought for this recipe was surpisingly very fresh tasting.

I omitted the red pepper flakes, I didn't want any heat in this dish. I found the basil paste in the produce section of the supermarket.

1 lb. penne rigate pasta
10 oz. baby spinach
¼ cup whole milk
¼ cup + 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 oz. Pecorino Romano
1 tbsp. basil paste*
¼ cup + ¼ cup walnuts, toasted
½ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
½ lb. crimini mushrooms
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
5 oz. low fat mozzarella cheese
* Basil paste is my new secret weapon in the kitchen since I don’t always have fresh basil laying around. If you have fresh basil, a few leaves should do the trick.
Putting them all together
Dice the mozzarella into ¼ in. cubes and set aside.
In a large sautee pan, toast the walnuts over medium heat and set aside (approx. 5-7 minutes).
Remove the stems from the mushrooms and quarter them into roughly equal sizes. Coat the same sautee pan with 3 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil and sauté mushrooms over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar and set the mushrooms aside.
In a blender, blend baby spinach, milk, the rest of the olive oil, Pecorino Romano, basil paste, red pepper flakes and ¼ cup walnuts until smooth. (You might have to stop the blender and help it along a few times with a spoon)
Prepare your favorite pasta (I use penne rigate) and toss with the spinach pesto, mozzarella cheese and the remaining ¼ cup of the toasted walnuts.
Plate alongside some grilled chicken and enjoy!

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