Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Whole Wheat Pasta with Basil Pesto and Sun Dried Tomatoes

I like the taste of Italian basil, but don't cook with it very frequently. It has very shot shelf-life and needs to be used up within two-three days of buying it. Usually, when I have some left over basil, I use it in herb oil and enjoy it with good artisan bread, but this time, I decided to make pesto in bulk and freeze it for later use.

Traditionally, basil pesto is made using fresh basil and roasted pine nuts. I ran out of pine nuts, so I used roasted almonds for this recipe. The dish tasted great, and I didn't feel that I was missing the taste of pine nuts at all.

The recipe given here will make about 2 cups of basil pesto. We will need about half of it for the basil pasta recipe. You can freeze the rest of it, and use it as you need it.

Basil Pesto
4 OZ Package of Fresh Italian Basil,
3 Cloves Garlic,
Salt to Taste,
1/2 Cup Almonds (or Pine nuts),
3/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Freshly Crushed Black Pepper
3/4 Cup Ground Parmesan Cheese

Pasta With Sun Dried Tomatoes
2.5 Cups Uncooked Whole Wheat Pasta, or Any Other Pasta of Your Choice
8-10 Cups Water, to Boil the Pasta
1/8 Cup Sun Dried Tomatoes in Oil (Optional),
Salt to taste
3/4 Cup Frozen Mixed Vegetables
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese

Take out the almonds in a shallow non stick pan. Roast on low flame for 7-10 minutes. Make sure to stir it every few minutes, so that it gets roasted evenly, and doesn't get burnt.

While the almonds are roasting, start preparing for the pasta. Take a deep cooking pan, add 8-10 cups of water, and generous amount of salt and bring it to boil. Once the water comes to boil, add the pasta  and the mixed vegetables to the pot. Make sure there is enough water to cover the pasta completely. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or per the package instruction.

In the mean time, wash and pat dry the basil. The almonds should be done by now, turn off the stove and transfer to a bowl to cool down. In a food processor cup, add the basil, garlic, cooled almonds, olive oil, salt, and crushed black pepper. Grind to coarse paste. (or to fine paste, per your preference).

Once the pasta is cooked, take out about 1 cup of the pasta water in a cooking pan, and drain the rest of it. Heat the pan on medium-low flame. Once the water starts to boil, add about half the freshly prepared pesto to the pan. Mix well, and bring it to boil (bubbles). Now add the pasta, sun dried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese to the pan. Mix well to combine everything evenly. Cook for another 5 minutes. Take off the stove, and serve hot.

This post is as a part of Sara's Corner's Healthy Food for Healthy Kids Contest  and Nithu's Healthy Food for Healthy Kids Contest 

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