Food

Pasta with Pesto & Green Beans and Italian Eggplant Salad

A few years ago, we started having meatless meals on a regular basis at the Green House.  And by “regular” I mean more than just when I either need to 1) go grocery shopping or 2) use up some stuff before it goes bad.  After we completed a whole foods cleanse without strangling each other, I decided it would be good to do it even more regularly.

I used to try to stick to “Meatless Monday” because it was a good way to ease into the week after a weekend of indulging in pretty much everything.  But now “Meatless Monday” has turned into “Meatless Anyday I Remember To Do It”.  I just try to have a meatless meal at least once a week.

I’ve been slacking.  We haven’t had a meatless meal since before vacation (almost a month), so we are well overdue.

3 things happened recently that may get us back on track:

  1. I started a little garden of small veggies and some herbs.
  2. My DH realized that carbs are not his friend and requested that we cut back on fillers like rice & potatoes.  Good thing pasta still made the cut because the kids love it and I can make so many quick meals with it.
  3. A few days ago my grandmother brought me an eggplant from her garden.  I wanted to be sure to use it before it had a chance to start going bad on me.

My garden started out pretty slow, probably because I was hovering and watering and watching, but vacation did them a world of good.  It’s amazing what happens when you stop paying attention and let mother nature do her job – the garden grows.  And so does the grass – mother nature does not discriminate.

Growing Garden

Another wonderful thing about gardening, the more you use what you grow, the more it grows.  I’ve heard this before but since my “crops” never did too well, I didn’t get to experience it.  I’ve been using a lot of my mint and it’s been true so far for that.

READ  Homemade Vegetable Broth

Now that everything is growing so well and I am inspired to get back into my meatless meals, I’m going to test out this cutting and growing theory in a major way.

This week I’m making Pasta with Pesto and Green Beans & Italian Eggplant Salad, courtesy of Williams-Sonoma. I’m using LOTS of basil from my garden for the pesto –  so much that I’m actually nervous about how much I harvested.

I’m sure I could have found these recipes online, but I’m old school and still enjoy thumbing through actual books sometimes.  I got this set of Williams-Sonoma cookbooks for my birthday last year and I love them.  Not just because they look great hanging out on the side of my cabinet, but they have some pretty great and simple recipes.

 

Here’s the 2 I modified.

Pasta with Pesto & Green Beans

Ingredients:

Pesto is pretty straight forward.  Main ingredients are some form of leafy green herb or veg, nuts, garlic, olive oil, and cheese blended together to make a semi-smooth sauce.

Making pesto
Making Pesto – the tomatoes & onions are for the Eggplant Salad below

This one is a (almost) traditional pesto with:

  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted sunflower seed kernels (I used what I had on hand, this would normally be pine nuts)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • (wine is optional; they say never trust a skinny chef, I say never trust a dry {sober} chef! ;-))

Use a blender or food processor to finely chop the basil, pine nuts, garlic and salt.  Add the olive oil a little at a time and process until smooth. Add the cheese a handful at a time and pulse to blend it all together.

For the pasta, you really could use any kind.  I almost always have linguine, angel hair, and penne.  I chose to use the linguine this time.  And I used fresh frozen whole green beans because 1) canned is NOT fresh and 2) I hate really don’t like cut green beans.

Cook the pasta according to package directions but make sure to add lots of salt to the boiling water.  Throw in the green beans at the same as the pasta and let them cook together about 6-8 minutes.  Less is more, nobody likes overcooked pasta or veg.
Drain the pasta and green beans, and keep a little of the cooking water.  Add the pesto to the pasta & green beans. and toss it all together. Use the extra pasta water to thin the sauce if you need to.

Italian Eggplant SaladGrilling eggplant

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced lengthwise
  • olive oil
  • 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  •  clove garlic, minced
  • salt
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • splash of apple cider or red wine vinegar (optional)

Brush the sliced eggplant with olive oil and cook on medium heat in a grill pan for about 5-7 minutes per side.  You want it tender but not mushy.  Pretty grill marks are great too!

Let it cool completely when it’s done.  Then chop into bite sized pieces, not too small.  In large bowl, add the eggplant, tomatoes, onions, garlic, salt, & cheese.  Toss to combine.  Add the vinegar to taste if needed.

This entire meal took less than 30 minutes, including all the chopping.  The best part is the leftovers, if there are any.  Pesto and the eggplant salad are even better the next day.  You can use the pesto for more pasta or for sandwiches, eggs, snacks… whatever you can think of.

Try it, you’ll love it. Pasta with Pesto & Green Beans

Enjoy!

\ní-ˈkō-lä\
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I love food & wine, paint & power tools. I am a creative introvert, programmer turned decorator, wife and mom, & mental health advocate. I am the decorator owner of Xtraordinary by Design. My mission - rid the world of builder beige & furniture sets.

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