Fresh Tomato and Pesto Pasta

This pasta dish is simple, yet really delicious.  It’s a great as a side option for Baked Shrimp Scampi or as a quick dinner on its own.  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. thin linguini or angel hair
  • 3/4 cup pesto sauce
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 – 1 cup powdered parmesan cheese, and more for topping

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • In a large saute pan, saute the garlic with 1 tbsp olive oil until it’s fragrant
  • Add the pesto sauce to the garlic combine well
  • Pour in the white wine, chicken broth and olive oil and bring to a simmer
  • Add in the chopped tomatoes and stir well over medium-low heat
  • Cook the pasta as directed and then add it into the pesto sauce mixture
  • Keep the heat on medium-low and and cook the pasta in the sauce so it absorbs the flavor
    • If the pasta seems a bit dry, add in more chicken broth or olive oil
  • Once the pasta is well coated in the pesto sauce, turn off the heat and pour in the powdered parmesan (as much or as little as you desire)
  • Top it all off with a little more parmesan and serve immediately!
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Pesto Hummus

Whenever I have some leftover pesto sauce hanging around, I throw it into the food processor with some chickpeas and tahini and – voila!  Pesto hummus.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 can chickpeas (save the water from the can)
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (if you don’t have this on hand, it’s ok without it, too)
  • Approximately 1/4 – 1/3 cup pesto sauce
  • 1 tsp roasted garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Combine the strained chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, pesto sauce and roasted garlic
  • Pour in a little bit of the water from the can of chickpeas and process the ingredients
  • Check the consistency of the hummus and add more of the water if the mixture is not loose and smooth
  • Process until you have reached your desired consistency (should be soft and smooth, not watery but not thick)
    • For some reason I love this hummus paired with Garden Salsa Sun Chips – I know it might sound like a strange combo, but it’s just so good.

Veggie Lasagna

This vegetable lasagna is loaded with flavor and is so good for you.  My meat-eating hubby even said he likes this more than “regular” lasagna.  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small onion (I like to use vidalia), chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced and then quartered
  • 1 small yellow squash, sliced and then quartered
  • 1 can quartered artichoke hearts
  • 1 package chopped frozen spinach, defrosted
  • 1 small (15 oz.) container of ricotta cheese (I use low fat and you can’t tell the difference)
  • Approximately 1/4 – 1/2 cup of pesto sauce
  • Approximately 1  1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • Approximately 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 – 28 oz. can pureed tomatoes
  • 1 – 28 oz. can ground tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 box no boil lasagna noodles

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Heat the olive oil in a a large pot
  • Add in the chopped onions and garlic and cook until softened
  • Add in the zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers artichoke hearts and cook for about 5 minutes
  • Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes
  • Stir in both cans of tomatoes and bring to a simmer
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes
  • Add the pinch of sugar, oregano, basil salt and pepper to taste
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, spinach and pesto sauce
  • Spread a little bit of sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 lasagna dish
  • Lay 4 noodles across the bottom of the baking dish, overlapping by 1/2  inch
  • Spread 1/3 of the ricotta and pesto mixture evenly on top, sprinkle with about 1/2 cup of mozzarella and a handful of parmesan
  • Top the cheese with another layer of vegetable sauce and repeat the layering in the same order
  • Layer the top with noodles and cover the noodles with sauce with no veggies on top and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and mozzarella
  • Bake at 350°F covered with aluminum foil for about 40 minutes, or until the sauce around the edges is bubbling, then bake for 5 minutes more uncovered – let it sit for 10 minutes before serving

Pesto Palmiers

These tasty appetizers can really be made with anything inside.  They’re quick and easy to make and can be done ahead of time and frozen for whenever you need them!

INGREDIENTS

  • Pesto sauce, store-bought or homemade (1/2 cup per puff pastry sheet)
  • Pepperidge Farm puff pastry (each box has two sheets), defrosted but still chilled
  • Parmesan cheese
Instead of pesto, try…
    • Olive tapenade
    • Sweet red peppers and olive puree (just place peppers and olives from Sweet Red Pepper and Kalamata Hummus recipe in a food processor)
    • Chopped sun-dried tomatoes, pesto and parmesan
    • Ham and swiss cheese

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Lay out the sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface
  • Evenly coat the puff pastry rectangle with approximately 1/2 cup of pesto sauce – you want it to be thoroughly covered
  • Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the pesto
  • Begin rolling up the puff pastry, starting with the side closest to you – roll it up tightly, halfway
  • Spin the puff pastry sheet around and roll up the other side until it meets up with the rolled side
  • Repeat this with the remaining puff pastry sheet(s), if desired
  • Turn the roll over and place it on a parchment paper lined baking sheet
  • Place the rolls in the freezer for approximately 20 minutes (you can also refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes)
  • Remove the rolls from the freezer and cut 1/2 in. wide slices down the roll
    • If you’re planning on making these ahead of time, just place them back in the freezer after you’ve cut them
  • Place the palmiers on the parchment paper  (or a greased baking sheet) at least 1 inch apart – these will grow!
  • Bake at 375°F for 15 minutes, or until golden brown

Caprese Panini

This fresh panini is classic and always satisfying – a great option for lunch or a light dinner.

INGREDIENTS

  • Fresh sliced country bread
  • Pesto sauce
  • Sliced tomatoes (about 1/4″ thick)
  • Sliced fresh mozzarella (grated mozzarella also works)
  • Balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • Olive oil

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • First, either spray or brush the outside of two slices of bread with olive oil
  • Flip the bread over and spread pesto sauce along the inside of the two slices of bread (optional: lightly drizzle balsamic vinegar on one side)
  • Next, place a layer of of sliced tomatoes
  • Top the tomatoes with mozzarella cheese
  • Place the other piece of bread on top of your sandwich and place it in a sandwich press or grill both sides of it in a frying pan over medium heat
  • When the cheese has melted and the outside of the bread is golden brown, your sandwich is ready!

Pesto Sauce

I love to use fresh pesto sauce in pasta dishes, sandwiches and beyond… it freezes well in ice cube trays, so the perfect portion is always ready whenever you need it.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups packed basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese (Parmesan works, too)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth

Pesto Tortellini

This recipe is my favorite vegetarian pasta dish.  It tastes great the first night… and even better cold the next day!

INGREDIENTS

  • Approximately 1 lb. fresh 3 cheese tortellini (I like to use Buitoni – a large package is a little over 1 lb.)
  • 1/2 cup pesto sauce (either homemade* or store-bought works)
  •  3 large roasted red peppers (either homemade** or store-bought works)
  • 1/2 cup of mixed pitted kalamata olives
*PESTO SAUCE
    • 2 cups packed basil leaves
    • 2 cloves of garlic
    • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese (Parmesan works, too)
    • 1/4 cup pine nuts
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • Salt and pepper to taste
**ROASTED RED PEPPERS
    • Red peppers
    • Olive oil

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Chop the roasted red peppers into bite size pieces
  • Finely chop the kalamata olives (I use this chopper and it’s awesome)
  • In a large saute or non-stick frying pan, combine the peppers and olives with 1/4 cup of pesto sauce – saute the mixture over medium heat
  • In a separate pot, cook the tortellini
  • Combine the cooked tortellini with 1/4 cup of pesto sauce
  • Once the peppers and olive mixture is heated through fold it in it with the cooked tortellini
PESTO SAUCE
    • Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth
      • Storage: I typically make this in bulk during the summertime and then freeze it in ice cube trays – then I can enjoy fresh pesto sauce anytime