Spring Avocado Basil Pesto with Pasta

I really love pesto of any sort: basil, kale, swiss chard, you name it, I’ll eat it. So, I decided to try a new recipe out that had been in my head for awhile and, lo and behold, it was delicious! Even G. loved it (he had two helpings of pasta). This dish just screams spring!

  • 1 avocado, seeded and halved
  • 1.5oz pkg of basil, washed
  • couple glugs of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated Pecorino Romano (optional)
  • cooked pasta of your choice

Cook your pasta, whatever shape you decide, (I used gemeli, about 2 cups uncooked), set aside in a large bowl. Add avocado halves, basil, olive oil in a food processor and process until smooth. Use your best judgment with the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bam, you’re done. Add pesto by spoonfuls to the cooked pasta (you don’t want to over-saturate it), and serve. I added a bit of grated Pecorino to our servings and halved grape tomatoes to mine. This goes well with red or white wine too.

Spaghetti Squash “Pasta” Bake

It’s 61 degrees today in Brooklyn. In January. Ummm, oookaaaay. My apartment is a tad bit warm from roasting the spaghetti squash and then baking the “pasta” dish. But, hey, my dinner is done and I just need to reheat it later on this evening. I love it when a plan comes together. Also, I realized that there is a better way to cook spaghetti squash. My friend, Molly and I were just talking yesterday about struggling to cut the squash in half and how comical it was. Newsflash: pierce squash all over with a fork and cook in the microwave for 12-15 minutes, or, in a baking dish in the oven at 400 degrees for 60 minutes. SO. Much. Easier this way! Also, I used my favorite jarred Muir Glen pasta sauce because it’s Sunday and I’m feeling a little lazy.

  • 1 cooked spaghetti squash
  • 1/2 the jar of pasta sauce
  • 1/2C panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2C (or more) of grated pecorino
  • Italian herb blend
  • Crushed red pepper

Let the cooked squash cool (or be a doofus and burn your hand like I did earlier), then use a spoon to scoop out the innards and seeds, discard those. Then, use a fork to scrape out the squash, add it to a large mixing bowl. Add the sauce and stir until combined. Add mixture to an 8×8 baking dish. Combine the breadcrumbs, cheese and herbs, sprinkle on top of the spaghetti squash mixture. I added a bit more pecorino romanao cheese too Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, or, until the topping is browned and bit crispy.

Farro Asparagus Pesto Salad

Cold Farro Salad

I had meant to post this recipe in 2014 and didn’t notice it was hanging out in my drafts folder until just now. (Whoops). This salad can be eaten either hot or cold. It kind of reminds me of spring or summer, which is when it was originally supposed to be published. You can either make your own pesto, or use your preferred jarred brand.

  • 1C. cooked farro
  • 1/2C. cooked/roasted corn kernals
  • 1/2 bunch of steamed asparagus, sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • pesto (recipe below)

For the Pesto

  • 1 bunch (or 2, if small) of basil, cleaned, patted dry
  • Handful of toasted almonds
  • 1/4 – 1/3 C. extra virgin olive oil (or more if necessary)
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped.
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in food processor until well blended. I omitted cheese, but, you can certainly add some grated pecorino.

Cook farro according to directions. Add sliced asparagus and corn to a large bowl, then, add cooked farro (this will steam the asparagus a bit, or, you can steam in a dish with a bit of water in the microwave until crisp tender. I like my asparagus a little crunchy, so, I just steam it with the farro). Add the amount of pesto you desire, grate some pecorino on top and serve, or, let sit and eat cold. This salad is really good the following day.

Spicy Golden Zucchini and Snap Pea Pasta

Sometimes you have bright yellow zucchini in your fridge and don’t want to make grilled corn and yellow squash tacos AGAIN. A colorful, crisp pasta with some kick sounds like a really good alternative, even if you do sweat to death in your kitchen because there’s no cross-breeze. But, hey, that’s summer in Brooklyn. This is a simple past dish that pairs well with a crisp rosé and a side salad of fresh diced tomatoes, drizzled in olive oil. I am always amazed at the vibrant colors (and flavors) of summer vegetables. It’s dishes like these that I miss in, say, January…

  • 1 small/medium golden zucchini, sliced thin
  • 1/2lb sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1 jalapeño minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2TB olive oil
  • Dash of crushed red pepper
  • 2C pasta, cooked, drained
  • grated pecorino romano

Cook your pasta (I used campanelle) and set aside in a large bowl. (You can add a small drizzle of olive oil so it doesn’t stick). Heat skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and wait for a few seconds until it’s warm. Then add minced garlic and jalapeño. Cook for about 30 seconds to a minute, or until it’s sizzling and fragrant. Add your sliced squash and snap peas. I saut&eactue;d them for about 5 minutes until the squash has softened, but the snap peas were still crisp. Add vegetables to pasta and toss with a little grated Pecorino Romano.

Veggies sauteing.

Sautéing the vegetables.

Dinner's on!

Dinner’s on! Add some Pecorino Romano too.

Shredded, Roasted Brussels with Tiny Pasta and Cheeses

I hate to say it, but I think I’m over winter vegetables. Don’t get me wrong, I love meals with simple roasted root vegetables with olive oil and garlic, but, I seriously crave fresh Summer tomatoes and grilled corn…and sugar snap peas… I do enjoy all seasons, but I’m ready to end this Winter chapter and move on. I am so looking forward to seeing the trees bud and daffodils and lillies…Ok, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Tonight’s dinner. I had some Brussels sprouts in my fridge that needed to be used. I was going to make a raw, slivered salad with a light honey dijon, white balsamic vinegar dressing, but decided against it and made something up instead. I had some shallots, tiny pasta shells, breadcrumbs, pecorino and Bulgarian feta. So, I mixed it all together in a 9×13 baking dish and roasted it for about 45 min, or until the Brussels were crispy. I added the chopped almonds last minute (read: after I put the dish in the oven for 5 minutes) and I’m glad I did because they gave the dish a nice crunch. I have to say, it was pretty freaking delicious and super simple. Mind you, I didn’t really measure anything, so, just eyeball the ingredients until you’re satisfied with how it comes together.

  • 1 bag/container of Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
  • 1- 1 1/2c. tiny pasta shells cooked, al dente
  • 1 medium shallot, sliced
  • olive oil
  • 1/3c. bread crumbs
  • 1/3C shredded Pecorino cheese
  • Handful of crumbled Bulgarian feta
  • Handful of chopped almonds (or, hazelnuts if you have them)
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook pasta until al dente, drain. Wash, trim and thinly slice the Brussels sprouts, add both to the 9×13 baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil. (You can also spray the baking dish with cooking spray). Add bread crumbs (I used the Progresso Italian ones rather than the Panko breadcrumbs I also had on hand), shallots, almonds, shredded pecorino and feta. You can stir it up at this point if you choose. Bake at 400 for about 35-45 minutes, or until the Brussels sprouts are browned. I prefer them a bit crispy. I had the meal with a nice, crisp white wine (Grüner). Hey, it was a long work day. Oof. I’m sure there are typos above.