Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pinday: Roasted Red Pepper & Basil Pesto Penne

So, how about another vegetarian Pinday recipe???  Alright, then.  Your wish is my command.  This week's recipe is Roasted Red Pepper & Basil Pesto Penne.  I hesitate to share it because I loved it, but neither of my boys liked it.  You use your own discretion about whether or not to try it.  Read on for how to avoid making the mistakes I did, and yours might be received better.  Pin here, recipe here.  My photo and original recipe below.
Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Pesto Penne
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup roasted red bell pepper (fresh or jarred)
1 cup basil leaves
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. penne pasta
¼ cup heavy cream, optional

Place garlic and pine nuts in a food processor.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Add Parmesan, red pepper, basil leaves, salt and pepper.  Pulse until well combined.  With the motor running, add olive oil through the feed tube and process until incorporated.  Set aside.
Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and return to the pot.  Add the pesto to the pasta and stir to combine.  Stir in heavy cream if desired for a creamier sauce.  Heat until warmed through.  Serve immediately.
This recipe was really simple to make, and I "healthified" it by using whole wheat penne and fat free half & half instead of the cream.  My first mistake was in using all 3 cloves of garlic, because it just so happened that the head of garlic I had on hand had HUGE HONKIN' cloves.  I should've probably only used one, but I went ahead and used 3 because hey, we like garlic!  But geez, not that much!  So if you use normal-sized cloves of garlic, then go for the 3.  If you have mutant-giant cloves, consider using fewer.  :)  But hey, we were all set in case of any vampire attacks that week.

My second mistake was trying to substitute a different nut for the pine nuts.  Because man!  Pine nuts are really expensive!  And our Wal-Mart only had big bags of them, so I couldn't justify that expense.  So I tried to sneak in walnuts, which I know Justin doesn't like, but I hoped chopping them tiny in the food processor would make them ok for him...  Alas, it didn't.  I like walnuts, so I didn't mind the taste of them, but I definitely could taste them.  Next time I would either try pecans, which I think wouldn't have tasted as strong, or just spring for the pine nuts. 

The one GOOD substitution I made was using fat free half & half in place of the heavy cream.  I only used about 2 tablespoons instead of the full 1/4 cup, and it worked perfectly to give it just a hint of creaminess. 

I served this with oven-roasted vegetables, which both my boys DO like, so they got their veggies that night!

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