Archive for the 'Pasta' Category

11
Apr
11

Pistachio Pesto Pasta

I think nuts should be a bigger part of the average American diet. They are naturally tasty, they come in all different varieties, and many kinds of nuts have a lot to offer nutritionally. What’s your favorite kind?

Where my personal tastes are concerned, I’ve always found that my favorite nuts to eat are the ones that have the lowest nutritional value. On one end of the nut spectrum, we have walnuts. They’re full of fiber, B vitamins, and Omega 3 fatty acids. They have been shown to lower cholesterol and be good for the heart. Too bad I think they look like larvae and their texture, to me, seems stale. On the other end of the nut spectrum: peanuts. (Technically a legume, I know…) They’re sweet and tasty, fun to shell, and don’t even get me started on the butter…but alas, peanuts are high in fat and calories.

I’ve always assumed that pistachios, being almost as rich and versatile as peanuts, probably had little to offer nutritionally. That’s why I was surprised when I recently learned that pistachios actually have a lot of the same health benefits as walnuts! What good news! (Though anyone who reads this blog can tell you that poor nutritional value won’t necessarily stop me from eating something I like.)

In honor of my new favorite nut, I made a pistachio pesto. I think it would be good plain, on bread, in a sandwich, and probably lots of other ways that are more creative than those. Today, I just added it to some pasta and trust me, I’ll be making this again!

Ingredients:

For the pesto:

(makes a little more than 1 cup of pesto)

1 cup roasted, unsalted pistachios, shelled*

2 cups spinach

1/4 cup fresh parsley

3 tbs olive oil

2 tbs lemon juice

1-2 tbs water

salt and pepper, to taste

*Hopefully you can find the shelled ones at the store…otherwise, you’ll have to remove the shells yourself.

For two servings of pasta:

about 2 tbs olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced

1 large handful grape tomatoes, cut in half

2 servings of your favorite kind of pasta (I used fettucini)

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Pulse the pistachios in a food processor until they’re pretty finely ground. Add the rest of your pesto ingredients and process until smooth. If you prefer a thinner pesto, you can add a little more water. I kept mine pretty thick though, figuring I’d thin it out later if I needed to.

To make the pasta, boil some water and add the noodles. A few minutes before they are done, heat a couple tablespoons olive oil in a pan and add the minced garlic and shallot. When they seem softer and more translucent, add some pistachio pesto to the pan and mix. For two servings of pasta, I only used about 1/4 cup of my pesto.

Drain the pasta when it’s finished, reserving a couple tablespoons of the water to help thin the pesto.

Add the pasta and water to the pesto, garlic, and shallot. Toss to combine. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper and toss again.

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17
Feb
11

Artichoke Ravioli

Everyone seems to love artichokes, but for some reason you don’t see them much in ravioli. They’re perfect for it, really, since it’s so easy to puree them. The tricky part is finding vegan wonton wrappers. If your supermarket doesn’t have them, you could always make the pasta from scratch, it’s just a bit more work.

This recipe makes about 20 ravioli.

For the ravioli:

1 can artichoke bottoms or artichoke hearts, roughly chopped

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1 clove minced garlic

2 tbs olive oil

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1/4 tsp nutmeg

salt and pepper, to taste

vegan wonton wrappers (I used ten 6″ x 6″ sheets)

For serving:

olive oil

lemon juice

fresh parsley

Instructions:

Sautee the artichokes, onion, and garlic in olive oil until the onion is soft and the artichokes start to brown, about 10 minutes.

Place almonds in a food processor and grind them as finely as you can. Add the sauteed vegetables to the almonds and puree. Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper and mix to combine.

On a lightly floured surface, place a wonton wrapper.

Spoon approximately teaspoon-sized balls of the artichoke puree onto the wrapper. Leave at least an inch of space around each one.

Using your finger, spread drops of water on the wonton wrapper around each ball of puree. You should feel the wrapper become more sticky.

Place a second wrapper over the first and press the two sheets together around each ball. Try not to leave air bubbles.

Finally, cut around each ravioli with a knife, leaving at least 1/4 inch of wonton wrapper around each ball of puree. I cut mine into squares, but you could do any shape you like.

You can cook these immediately or you can store them in the refrigerator for a few days and cook them later. They also keep in the freezer for up to six months.

To cook, gently place the ravioli in boiling water. When it floats to the top, drain the water. Fresh ravioli takes 3-4 minutes and frozen ravioli takes 4-5.

Serve drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice and top with fresh parsley.

06
Feb
11

Gnocchi Primavera with Cashew Cream

 

I am always in the mood for gnocchi. Those warm little potato dumplings are so filling and quite the comfort food, especially with a creamy sauce. This recipe would work with whatever veggies you like, but I chose asparagus and mushrooms. If you use asparagus, don’t forget to break off the tough ends before you chop it. If you use mushrooms, you might want to see if your grocery store sells a “gourmet blend,” which often comes pre-chopped and includes cremini, shitake, and oyster mushrooms.

Makes four small servings.

Ingredients

1 cup raw cashews

3/4 cup vegetable stock

1 small shallot

3 cloves garlic

2 tbs Earth Balance

chopped veggies of your choice

2 tbs olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

2 tbs chopped chives

1 16 oz pack of gnocchi

(The supermarket near my house sells gnocchi both with and without egg, so be sure to check the ingredients if you care about that kind of thing.)

Instructions

1. Put the raw cashews in a small bowl and add just enough vegetable stock to cover them. Let them soak for at least an hour. This step is not really necessary, but it will make the nuts softer and easier to puree into a smooth cream sauce.

2. While the cashews are soaking, you can prepare the other ingredients. Chop the chives and set aside for later. Mince the garlic and the shallot and chop the vegetables.

3. Pour the soaked cashews into a food processor or blender. Add the minced shallot and one clove of the minced garlic. Puree, slowly adding the rest of the vegetable stock until the mixture looks smooth. You will have to stop to scrape the sides of the blender with a spatula periodically.

4. Melt the Earth Balance in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the pureed cashew mixture and stir until the Earth Balance is well incorporated. Add salt to taste. If you would prefer a thinner sauce, you could also add more vegetable stock. Keep the sauce on low heat, stirring occasionally, until bubbles start to form. Then remove it from the heat.

4. Begin cooking the gnocchi according to the package instructions. Usually you just have to boil it for 2-3 minutes, until it floats. Then take it off the heat and drain the water out.

5. In a large pan, begin sautéing your vegetables in olive oil. Add the remaining 2 cloves of minced garlic and some salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for just a few minutes until the veggies are browned.

7. By now, the gnocchi should be cooked and drained and the sauce should be heated through. As soon as you’re satisfied that the vegetables are cooked, you can add the gnocchi and the cashew cream sauce to the veggie pan. Mix to combine and add salt and pepper to taste.

8. Serve immediately, topped with chives.

 




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