Tuesday, February 19, 2013

You Can Have Your Pasta and Eat it Too!

Good evening everyone!  As we are currently focusing on healthy recipes, sometimes we have to bid fond farewells to certain dishes that would not qualify as healthy.  For me, those dishes would be either include cheese or pasta.  Granted, if the quantity of the ingredient is minimal, it would still be healthy, but nothing too heavy or else it would be filled with hidden calories.  For tonight's recipe, I will be focusing on one of the "forbidden" ingredients, and also, how to make it on a relatively limited budget.

The Recipe:  Linguine with Spinach-Herb Pesto
Original Recipe Found In:  Cooking Light Magazine, March 2013

What You'll Need:
4 Ounces fresh Baby Spinach
1/4 Cup slivered blanched Almonds
1/4 Cup fresh Basil leaves
2 Teaspoons chopped fresh Oregano
1 Teaspoon chopped fresh Thyme
1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 large Garlic clove, chopped
2 Tablespoons organic Vegetable Broth
2 Teaspoons fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 Ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated and divided (about 1/4 cup)
8 Ounces uncooked Linguine

To start, heat a large pot of water over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Next, place the spinach in a microwave safe bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.  Microwave the spinach on high for two minutes or until the spinach begins to wilt.  Remove the bowl from the microwave and remove the plastic wrap off the bowl.  Let the spinach cool slightly.  I found that this not only softens the spinach, but reduces on some of that spinach-y flavor that some people aren't a fan of.  This will help tremendously in the end flavor of the pesto.

After the spinach is cooled, place it in a food processor, along with the almonds, basil leaves, oregano, thyme, black pepper, and garlic.  Process these ingredients until everything is chopped, but not completely blended.  Next, add the broth, lemon juice, and salt and pulse this mixture five times.  With the processor on, slowly pour the olive oil through the food chute until this combination is well blended.  After the pesto is formed, pour (or scoop, depending on your consistency of pesto) into a bowl and stir in half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

I love pesto so much, I could probably eat this whole bowl (no joke!)

By this time, the pot of water should be at a boil.  Place the linguine in the pot and cook according to package directions.  After the pasta is al dente, drain the pasta in a colander to remove the excess water.  Return the pasta back to a serving bowl and toss the pasta with a half cup of pesto.  Divide the pasta into 1 1/2 cups (one serving size) into bowls.  Serve with a sprinkling of the remaining cheese and enjoy!

The End Result:

This version of pesto is nothing like any pesto I've ever tasted.  The spinach gives it a refreshing, earthy flavor, instead of a strong herby flavor that would inhibit it if we used just basil leaves.  Your tongue doesn't feel like it's been ran through the herb aisle.  The pesto also clings to the linguine, which is an added bonus of using this type of pasta.  Trust me, you won't be begging for more sauce that won't be on the pasta.  But the overall surprise of this dish is that it is only 353 calories a serving, which is a delight to any pasta lover.

I had also mentioned earlier that this recipe is a budget saving dish.  Normal pesto is made from entirely basil leaves and pine nuts, with a sprinkling of olive oil thrown in.  While basil can be found for relatively cheap, it's the pine nuts that are almost always outrageously priced.  We've seen a four ounce container of pine nuts sell for almost $8 dollars in a regular supermarket.  With this version of pesto, using spinach and almonds, it greatly reduces the cost, without skimping on the flavor.

That's all we have for you tonight.  Tune in tomorrow as Tyler presents a brand new recipe.  Until then,


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